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Interview with Rainbow party leadership member Pavle Voskopoulos

I Accept Prefix 'Ethnic Macedonian'

January 11, 2010

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Pavlos Filipov Voskopoulos Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Dhimitris Dhroutsas should explain on the basis of what criteria and standards he proclaims to be a Macedonian, while denying the same right to me and a number of other citizens, asks Pavle Voskopoulos, member of the collective leadership of the ethnic Macedonian party in Greece Vinozito. He believes that statements such as that by Dhroutsas, in which the existence of a separate ethnic Macedonian identity is utterly negated, promote neo-Nazism in Greece.

How do you interpret the public statement by Minister Dhroutsas, who was born in Cyprus, that he was "born and will die a Macedonian"?

This statement in itself indirectly confirms a lost Greek position when it comes to the Greek citizens' identity. Only a "lost" man debates "origins." In other words, a person in Greece cannot possess two identities with the same connotation and determination, that is, be both a Greek and a Macedonian. This is because the Macedonian identity is different from the Greek and it is a reality and a fact not only in the Balkans but also at an international level. Greece adopted Macedonianism as part of the Greek identity after 1912. The Greek ideology and myth do not recognize another, different Macedonian identity, so Greek nationalism has been serving this to the Greek citizens for 90 years now. If a difference needs to be made, because Macedonianism here has been identified as part of Hellenism, I am ready to accept an addition to our name for the sake of a so-called compromise or a technical solution, because Greece wants exclusivity over the term "Macedonian." I, for example, accept to be "an ethnic Macedonian." Greece may define its Hellenism or "Greek Macedonianism" as it pleases as long as it respects my affiliation. There is an excellent prefix - "ethnic" - because this prefix is not used in Greece. Will Dhroutsas or other people in Greece accept it and agree with it?

When it comes to "birth," what are Dhroutsas' arguments? I want to know with what arguments I may be deprived of this right. We are waiting for their reply about how we should declare ourselves - in compliance with our "birth" or something else. It is a basic principle and a fundamental human right for individuals and the collectivity to comprehend their identity in accordance with their conscience, so it should be respected as such.

In your initial party reaction you said that this was a statement from the arsenal of totalitarian ideologies from Nazi Germany's time.

The statements that identity is acquired by birth are associated precisely with the Nazi totalitarian ideologies. It is the Nazis who speak of "Aryan" origin and that they are born as "Aryans." It is catastrophic when one determines one's identity with birth and provenance and directs it towards the genes. Here is an absurd example related to "genetic identity." Imagine a child of a Venezuelan-Laponian couple who is adopted in Greece immediately after birth. That child is adopted by a couple of whom the father is a Greek and the mother is an Austrian, but they live in Greece. Incidentally, Dhroutsas' mother is Austrian, too. Now, when this child grows up, what will he say about himself? That he is a Greek? That he is a mulatto? Who can tell who his real parents or their ancestors are? Where is the beginning and the end of provenance? How will he reply to the question of identity in compliance with origin? This is ridiculous, is it not? In modern times the identity issue is expressed through the right to self-determination, according to which individuals and the collectivity understand identity according to their conscience, so their personal determination should be respected. Still, we know well that the state and national ideologies "feed" the national identities with the glorious past, famous origins, and national myths. Yet, to make origin exclusivity and to directly relate identity to origin/birth is a destructive ideology.

The same refers to the destructive characters in the Republic of Macedonia, so we in Macedonia should say that we have had enough of the discussion on the alleged glorious origin from ancient times. There is no need for this because this region has a very beautiful past beginning from the homo sapiens stage until the present day. In the Balkans the name Macedonia was used in the classical period and in various historical periods. Still, there is no need for us, the contemporary Macedonians, to selectively rely either on Alexander [the Great], or Philip [of Macedon], or [King] Samoil, or the Slavs, or any particular person. The deeper you dig the more you contest your identity. This is simply because my conscience determines my Macedonianism as my special identity different from the other Balkan nations.

The resolution of the Macedonian-Greek dispute has been deferred for the next six month. Do you think that a compromise will be reached?

It is a good thing that the Republic of Macedonia has finally realized that the undermining of the state's stabilization through the name dispute is hidden in the attacks against Macedonian identity. This is because the state name provides a permanent definition both of the nation and the identity. Of course, the time will come for post-national identities and collectivities, but this topic should be discussed on some other occasion. Some people in the Republic of Macedonia may rejoice when they are being told that they are Alexander's successors, but Europe is sick at the mere mention of "but, our history..." The Europeans have also felt sick over the past 15 years when listening to the Greek arguments of their exclusivity of the past and history. It has finally crossed the Greek politicians' mind not to mention history after 15 years in order not to weaken the Greek position, which is already lost. Because of its well-known mistakes with antiquation, the Republic of Macedonia should act constructively by offering proposals to resolve the name row. We would be happy to see the political factors emerge from the dead end, stop accusing each other, and halt the unproductive labelling of traitors and patriots. For the internationals to help you, you need to make specific proposals, and this is the responsibility of all the political structures in the Republic of Macedonia.

I have to stress something that is very important for us here. As it is destructive to propose a compromise with geographic prefixes, it is just as destructive to talk about ancient times and origin. With the historical arguments, our future will become conflicting and filled with "arrogation" of someone's glorious histories for centuries. This will cause quarrels and divisions among the Balkan nations.

Still, what is even worse, the geographic prefixes may be associated with "secession," "unification," and "liberation," which may be quite easily promoted by the destructive elites both in Macedonia and Greece in the future. We may explain the irrelevancy of this "geographic type of a solution" to Europe and beyond. Success can be attained only in this way, through the required state reforms, and with patience.

Branko Gjorgjevski, "Dnevnik" - Skopje

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