Every day, I listen to old white men discuss how they're going to change MY ethnicity, my country's name, identity, language, and history - all in the name of appeasing our oppressors - who deny our right to exist.
Imagine this happening to you and your ethnic group. It's surreal.
Case in point, one of these people that I described above is UN Special Envoy Matthew Nimetz (no offence Matt). He is charged with being the "mediator" in the artificially created, anti-Macedonian, anti-human rights "name dispute" between Macedonia and Greece. How it's possible that a job exists that is designed to change an age-old nationality to appease Europe's worst human rights offender is beyond me, and goes against every human rights convention that the West claims to hold dear.
Greece is trying to force the Republic of Macedonia to change its name in order to continue its policy of denying the existence, and persecution, of the large Macedonian minority in Greece. A point admitted by former Greek PM Constantine Mitsotakis in 1995. Other Greek leaders have admitted to the obvious - that Greece used to deny the existence of Macedonia until 1988, when it suddenly started claiming Macedonia as their own. The "name dispute", as they admit, has nothing to do with Macedonia's name. It's all about denying Greece's cultural genocide of the Macedonian people - which continues to this day.
Macedonia was partitioned in 1913 among Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and later, Albania, and each country has tried, and some are still trying, to eradicate our existence. These countries have varied their policies, have denied our existence, temporarily acknowledged it, then reverted to past totalitarian practices, banned the use of our name, then decided to claim our name, sometimes our ethnicity, sometimes claiming that our ethnicity really belongs to one of our neighbours. I could go on. So, the question is this: How can Macedonians be Bulgarian, Greek, Serbian and Albanian all at the same time? Macedonia is Macedonian. God forbid that common sense prevails.
Back to the West's romanticizing of Greece which is leading to the downfall of my entire ethnic group. When I met with Matthew Nimetz on that day in his New York office, the first thing he said to me was "I just finished reading 'Greece - The Republic of Irrelevance'". That is one of my op-eds about how an oppressor cannot change the name and identity of the oppressed in order to mask heinous human rights violations against it. In other words, a seemingly unnecessary, but tragically necessary, piece of writing. I asked Mr. Nimetz to point out any argument that I made that he thinks is incorrect. He wasn't able to.
The next thing he said is "Out of respect and in spite of Greece's opposition to it, I'm going to refer to you as Macedonian during our meeting". Was I supposed to celebrate? Later on, his secretary asked me to call him "Matt", not "Mr. Nimetz". So I did. But in international circles I refer to him as "Bob", and I'm doing my best to get his international name recognized as such. But he needn't worry, I'll still allow him to call himself Matt.
And this is the ridiculousness of the artificial "name dispute". The United States and European Union, at Greece's behest, claim that Macedonia must change its name internationally to appease Greece, but they might "allow" us to refer to ourselves as Macedonian internally, but nowhere else. Wow. Thanks. What happened to all of the European Court of Human Rights cases that Macedonians have WON against Greece and Bulgaria for violating our right to exist as who we are - Macedonians. What happened to the United Nations demanding that these countries immediately recognize Macedonians and stop violating our human rights. The vast majority of the world has recognized Macedonia, yet are either ignorant or complicit in allowing Greece's tactics to wipe us out.
I ask you again - put yourself in our shoes. If this were your ethnic group, you would, rightfully, expect everyone to jump to your defence. Well, Macedonians are still waiting. Surprise me. Contact me and ask how you can help. Easier still, as Macedonian Human Rights Movement International has been doing since Macedonia's declaration of independence, simply demand an end to the anti-Macedonian name negotiations and declare to the world that Our Name Is Macedonia. And always has been. Common sense. And hope springs eternal.
During my meeting with Bob/Matt, I pointed out that the first UN mediator for the "name dispute", Robin O'Neil, resigned and came out in clear support of Macedonia by saying, "Macedonia must not and will not change its name in order to appease Greece. If Macedonia succumbs to pressures and changes its name, such events will only give more firepower to Greece until it reaches its final goal - Macedonia to vanish from the map."
I called for the second UN mediator to follow suit, immediately resign and respect the UN's core principles - the Universal Declaration of Human Rights - and end the blatantly racist, and illegal, name negotiations.
Bob, I have to ask you this. During our meeting, you told me that you are of Jewish origin. What if I told you that "Out of respect, I'll refer to you as Jewish", but that I would work tirelessly, every day, to change your ethnic identity and whitewash all of the human rights abuses that your people have endured?
For the rest of you, defend my right to exist. I am a person. We are people. And Our Name Is Macedonia.
Bill Nicholov, President
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) has been active on human and national rights issues for Macedonians and other oppressed peoples since 1986. For more information: www.mhrmi.org, twitter.com/mhrmi, facebook, firstname.lastname@example.org, 1-416-850-7125.