1. In December 2016 parliamentary elections were held in Macedonia pursuant to the Western-imposed Przino agreement signed by the leaders of the major Macedonian political parties in 2015. The agreement could have been rejected, but both major political parties have decided to put obedience to the West well before any defence of Macedonia. The coalition led by then ruling “VMRO-DPMNE” (herein referred to as DPNE) gained 51 seats, the coalition led by “SDSM” (herein referred to as SDS) 49 seats and the ethnic Albanian parties won the remaining 20 seats, of which 10 were won by DUI.
2. DPNE attempted to form a governing parliamentary majority with DUI, however meddling by the EU and the USA prevented this from happening. The SDS party, which had shown that it was even more willing than DPNE in doing the bidding of the West/USA and thus more amenable to changing Macedonia’s name cobbled together a parliamentary majority of 62. However, President Gjorgi Ivanov refused to grant a mandate to form government to its leader, Zoran Zaev, on the grounds that the platform of his proposed government violated the Constitution and threatened Macedonia’s sovereignty by incorporating the Tirana Platform which sought a redefinition of Macedonia on the basis of a program of political demands drawn up in Albania. Ivanov’s refusal to grant Zaev a mandate was supported by the mass “Zaednicka Makedonija” movement which had since 28 February 2017 been staging marches and protests against the prospect of a Zaev-led government and calling for fresh elections.
3. On 27 April 2017, former terrorist and commander of the ethnic Albanian insurgent movement KLA/UCK, Talat Xhaferi, was illegally elected Speaker of the Macedonian parliament in a sham vote by MPs of the Zaev-led coalition. This “vote” was taken in a parliamentary press room and decided on a show of hands without any minutes taken of the “proceedings” in violation of all parliamentary procedures and without any debate whatsoever. Protestors outside stormed Parliament and attacked Zaev, Radmilla Sekerinska and Ziyadin Sela. Months later, many of the leaders of the “Zaednicka Makedonija” movement, many of whom were not present in parliament, were arrested in an obvious attempt to quash any further protests against the forced Macedonia name change.
4. On 17 May 2017, President Ivanov, after coming under intense pressure from the EU and USA, which included threats of physical violence against him, granted a mandate to form government to the coalition led by Zoran Zaev. Instead of defending Macedonia, exposing these threats and appealing to the international community for support, Ivanov succumbed to the pressure. In a transparent, and futile, attempt to save face, he “required” Zaev to provide written “guarantees” that his government would not threaten Macedonia’s sovereignty, violate the constitution or place the country in a subservient position vis-a vis other states.
5. The newly-formed Zaev government embarked on a program which included implementing the Tirana Platform, renouncing Macedonia’s historical and constitutional name and pandering to Greece’s, Bulgaria’s and Albania’s demands that Macedonian identity, history, language and culture be redefined and watered down through official treaties and agreements.
6. In August 2017 the Zaev government and Bulgaria signed the so-called “Agreement on Friendship and Good Neighbourliness” pursuant to which Macedonia was required to renounce and cease to defend the rights of the large Macedonian minority in Bulgaria and to rewrite its history in accordance with the Bulgarian view that “Macedonians are wayward Bulgarians”.
7. In January 2018, the Law on the Use of Languages was passed in Parliament whereby the Albanian language was made official throughout the whole territory of Macedonia in direct violation of the Constitution which stipulates that the Macedonian language is the only official language throughout the whole country and in its international relations (Article 7 of the Constitution). President Ivanov refused to sign the edict proclaiming this law due to its anti-constitutional nature.
8. On 17 June 2018, the Zaev government and Greece signed the infamous Prespa Agreement. This agreement, which was opposed by an overwhelming majority of Macedonians, not only demanded the use of the name “North Macedonia” erga omnes (internally and externally) for official purposes, it also included an acceptance of Greek demands which redefines Macedonian ethnicity, language and identity; demands which arise from the mechanism whereby Greece is able to veto Macedonia’s entry into NATO and the EU which Macedonian politicians are eager to join, thus providing Greece with a “whip hand”. In addition, and despite irrational claims to the contrary, nowhere in this anti-Macedonian, asymmetric and unequal agreement is it stated that Greece recognizes Macedonian ethnicity and the Macedonian language. Article 7 is key in this regard. Article 7 (2) states that the terms Macedonia and Macedonia "denote not only the area and people of the northern region of the First Party( Greece), but also their attributes, as well as the Hellenic civilization, history, culture, and heritage of that region from antiquity to present day”. In Article 7 (3) it is stated that "when reference is made to the Second Party ( Macedonia), these terms denote its territory, language, people and their attributes, with their own history, culture and heritage, distinctly different from those referred to under Article7 (2).” However, the Macedonian language, people, history and heritage are not explicitly mentioned here, unlike in point 7 (2), which mentions the Hellenic civilization, history, culture and heritage in the northern part of Greece (Aegean Macedonia). Thereby the myth that only “Hellenes” live in the northern part of Greece- without any mention of the large ethnic Macedonian minority living there on its ethnographic territory- is cemented, while in the Republic of Macedonia (North Macedonia according to the Agreement) live people with their own separate history, culture, and heritage, without however pointing out exactly who they are in an ethnic and national sense- namely, a nameless, amorphous mass.
In Article 7 (4) it is stated that "the Second Party” (Macedonia) but not the First Party (Greece), “notes that its official language, the Macedonian language, is within the group of South Slavic languages. The Parties note that the official language and other attributes of the Second Party are not related to the ancient Hellenic civilization, history, culture and heritage of the northern region of the First Party”. In this regard , nowhere is it mentioned here that Greece recognizes the existence of the Macedonian language and a Macedonian people/ethnic group, but Macedonia assumes an obligation to recognize the “Hellenic culture” etc of the northern part of Greece and that the Macedonian people speak a South Slavic language. The goal of this formulation is to relativize and deny the status of the Macedonian language as a distinct language and to emphasize its Slavic roots in order to distance it from its Macedonian essence as a language and in that way to support the unhistorical and exclusively denationalizing political thesis that there is a "Greek-Macedonian linguistic" history and heritage. Moreover, the descriptor for nationality (citizenship in this case, and not ethnicity) "Macedonian/citizen of North Macedonia" relativizes the word Macedonia and introduces another politically-inspired way of denoting citizenship whose aim is to persuade the world that it refers to a new nation that is different from the one which existed before the signing of this asymmetric agreement which has been forced on the Macedonian people.
This agreement creates a new state entity "North Macedonia" and consequently a new official "North-Macedonian" state identity, which is located strictly within the borders of “North Macedonia”. The constitutional amendments provided for in Article 1 (3) and (12) of the agreement that relate to the Preamble, and Articles 3 and 49 of the Constitution, separate Macedonian identity in “North Macedonia” from the centuries-old Macedonian identity of the Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia.- as is also the case with the agreement concluded with Bulgaria in August 2017 regarding the Macedonians in Pirin Macedonia. At the same time, the agreement allows Greece to officially appropriate and monopolize the words Macedonia and the adjective Macedonian, as the Republic of Macedonia agrees to officially use for all purposes the new name “North Macedonia” and the phrase "of the Republic of North Macedonia or North Macedonia" (Article 1 (3) (f)). It is clear that Macedonia has assumed such an obligation in Articles 1 (7) (8) and (9).
There is no need to talk here about those articles of the agreement that limit the right to free speech in Macedonia, allow Greece to directly participate in the rewriting of Macedonian history in accordance with Greek ideological preconceptions and to demand that manifestations of “irredentism and hostile activities” be punished (i.e. protection of the rights of Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia and even the mere mention that ethnic Macedonians exist in Aegean Macedonia). ( Articles 6 and 8)
This damaging agreement commits ethnocide against the Macedonians in the Republic of Macedonia, completely abandons the ethnic Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia, promotes the notion that Macedonians are "Slavs", breaks any connection between the ancient and modern Macedonians and permits the word Macedonia and the adjective Macedonian to become the exclusive property of the Greek state.
9. The Zaev regime, in an attempt to obtain the Macedonian people’s approval for the Prespa Agreement, announced that a referendum with the question “Are you in favour of EU and NATO membership by accepting the Agreement between the Republic of Macedonia and Republic of Greece?”, would be held on 30 September 2018. Zaev, who previously had said that the result of the referendum, although consultative, would be binding on everyone, that there would be no erga omnes name solution, nor a change of the constitution, changed course immediately before the referendum- as he understood that it would be unsuccessful- and stated that he and the regime would not respect the result if it was negative and that Parliament would decide the fate of the Agreement and the necessary constitutional amendments. However the referendum was illegal from the outset due to the fact that President Ivanov had not concluded or signed the Prespa agreement as required by the Constitution. In addition, given that the President had not signed the decree for the promulgation of the Law on the Ratification of the Agreement, no formal Agreement legally existed at the time of the referendum and does not exist now. The Agreement is also unconstitutional as it was not concluded on behalf of the Republic of Macedonia and was not entered into by the President of the Republic of Macedonia given that it is an international agreement, but by Nikola Dimitrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Even if the Law on the Ratification of the Dimitrov-Kotsias Agreement had entered into force, the decision to call a referendum on an issue involving accession to the EU and NATO had to meet the requirements of Article 120 of the Constitution, and be adopted in Parliament by a two-thirds majority (81) of the total number of representatives (120) which it was not. In addition, this Law would have entered into force only if a majority (at least 900,001 and not 450,001) of the total number of registered voters (at least 1,800,000) voted in the referendum. Moreover, such a referendum must under the law have been binding on all and the referendum question should have related to one matter, not three, and should not have been ambiguous and manipulative.
Therefore, by calling such a consultative referendum, Zaev and the regime not only violated the laws and Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, but also made it clear that the expressed will of the Macedonian people would not be respected if it decided to defend the name and the right to self-determination and self-identification by means of a boycott. This despite the fact that the right to boycott is explicitly guaranteed by Article 7 (3) of the Referendum Law, which reads: "(3) No one can be called to account for voting or not voting at a referendum.
10. Nevertheless, on 30 September 2018 the Macedonian people overwhelmingly rejected the referendum question by means of a successful boycott. Millions were poured into the regime’s campaign and it received huge support from the West, USA, EU and NATO, however it did not succeed in defeating the grassroots #Bojkotiram campaign which was starved of funds and air time and subjected to harassment by the Zaev government. Despite feverish ballot-stuffing in the last hours of the vote, the regime could only manage a low turnout of around 36.9% (while the true voter turnout was under 20%), which ensured that the result of this illegal referendum on Macedonia’s age-old name ,under both the constitution (articles 73 and 120 which mandate a 50+1 % turnout of all voters for any result to be legally valid) and the Law on Referendums ( article 7 (3), which protects the right to boycott) was invalid. Yet, Zaev’s regime engaged in farcical attempts to present this crushing defeat as a "great victory".
11. Despite the Macedonian people’s resounding rejection of the referendum and the Prespa Agreement, the Zaev regime, at the urging of its Western backers who wish to see Macedonian in NATO at all costs, arrogantly announced on the night of the 30thof September that it would not respect the Macedonian people’s clearly expressed democratic will and that Parliament would decide the fate of the Agreement. On 19 October 2018 the Zaev regime, employing a combination of threats, financial inducements and release from detention of opposition MPs held on trumped-up charges in exchange for their vote, pushed through a vote which it claimed gave it the right to proceed to amend the Constitution to incorporate the Agreement. However even this “vote” was illegal as it only gained the support of 80 MPs and not 81 as required by the Constitution.
12. In January 2019 the constitutional changes stipulated by the Prespa Agreement were passed in Parliament. At the same time, contrary to relevant laws and the Constitution, illegitimate Speaker Xhaferi signed into law the law making Albanian an official language in Macedonia, thus advancing Albanian demands for federalisation of the country. On 13 February 2019, the Zaev regime began to illegally implement the Prespa Agreement and changed the name of the country to North Macedonia and the names of all state institutions to reflect this illegal change. In March 2019, 17 persons who had been arrested and tried on trumped up charges of “terrorism” (tragically ironic since the installed Speaker Xhaferi was granted amnesty for his terrorist activities and involvement in the murder of Macedonian soldiers in 2001) and “violation of the constitutional order” (also ironic because Zaev et al. have purposely violated the constitution at the behest of their American overlords) in connection with the storming of parliament on 27 April 2017 were sentenced to prison terms totalling 211 years. The handing down of such sentences represents an attempt by the quisling Zaev regime to intimidate Macedonians into not challenging its illegal, corrupt rule and the name change forced on the country.
13. The basis of the Prespa Agreement is Greece’s attempt to erase Macedonia’s name based on its desire to cover up the egregious human rights abuses it has committed against its indigenous ethnic Macedonian population since it annexed that part of Macedonia in 1913; abuses which have included ethnic cleansing, murders, mass expulsions, confiscation of properties and rescinding of citizenship, total denial of the existence of Macedonians in Greece and a refusal to grant Macedonians their most basic of human rights. Such violations have been well documented by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights (http://digitallibrary.un.org/record/649291?ln=en) , Human Rights Watch (http://www.pollitecon.com/html/ebooks/Denying-Ethnic-Identity-The-Macedonians-of- Greece.pdf (and the Council of Europe (https://rm.coe.int/16806db821) inter alia. Greece has been supported in this attempt by the servile Zaev regime which since coming to power has been marked by selective prosecution of political opponents, nepotism ,widespread corruption and subservience to the interests of Greece, Bulgaria and Albania which do not recognise a distinct Macedonian ethnicity, history, language and identity, as well as NATO, the EU and the USA which have forced their foreign policy priorities on Macedonia .
14. The name change imposed on Macedonia represents an attempt at cultural genocide in the 21st century and cannot be allowed to stand. This is not a “diplomatic dispute” as the Western press quaintly puts it, but a concerted attempt to erase an old and proud people by denying them their most fundamental human rights of self-determination and self-identification; those which the countries of the EU and NATO which are attempting to impose this agreement on Macedonia would not dream of denying to their own citizens. Democratic and progressive forces throughout the world cannot sit idly by and allow this to happen.
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: 1-416-850-7125, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.mhrmi.org, twitter.com/mhrmi, facebook.com/mhrmi, mhrmi.org/OurNameIsMacedonia #OurNameIsMacedonia