Macedonian Human Rights Movement International President Bill Nicholov met with David Sproule and Andrew Turner, the Director General and Deputy Director of European and Eurasian Affairs for Global Affairs Canada, and called for Canada to immediately reverse its ill-advised support of the forced name change of the Republic of Macedonia.
Nicholov noted that Canada's policy of “Euro-Atlantic integration” cannot be pursued at the expense of human rights, international law, and the human rights conventions to which Canada is a signatory.
Despite being aware of the brutal and illegal tactics imposed on Macedonians in order to force through the name change (see MHRMI's meetings and discussions with Deputy Prime Minister Freeland, while she was Minister of Foreign Affairs, and her foreign policy advisors), Canada chose to celebrate it as a “resolution of a diplomatic dispute” with Greece – the country which has publicly admitted to creating the artificial “name dispute” with Macedonia in 1988 (after generations fiercely suppressing any use of the word “Macedonia”) for its own political ends, namely, its official denial of the existence and persecution of the large Macedonian minority in Greece.
Nicholov explained to Sproule and Turner that Canada's position is enabling Greece to achieve this goal, as Article 7(2) of the “Prespa Agreement” specifically denies the existence of Macedonians in Greece, hands the terms “Macedonia” and “Macedonian” to Greece, while Article 8(5) mandates that a panel of Greek diplomats rewrite Macedonian history and that Macedonian textbooks be rewritten.
Nicholov posed again MHRMI’s long-standing question as to how a document such as the “Prespa Agreement” can exist, much less be celebrated, when it is designed to redefine and ultimately eradicate the existence of an ethnic group.
Nicholov also noted to Sproule and Turner that Bulgaria has followed the anti-Macedonian lead of Greece, demanding concessions that would hand over modern Macedonian history to Bulgaria, and the identity of all Macedonians in the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria and Albania as “Bulgarian”. Both countries threatened to use their veto power in the EU and NATO unless their demands were met.
As Nicholov explained, the forced renaming affects all of partitioned Macedonia (divided in 1913 among Serbia [now the independent Republic of Macedonia], Bulgaria, Greece and, in 1919, Albania) and includes the hundreds of thousands of Macedonians who emigrated to Canada from Aegean Macedonia (the part of Macedonia annexed by Greece). Macedonians came to Canada to escape persecution by Greece for being Macedonian, never expecting that, decades later, their adopted home of Canada would side with Greece's anti-Macedonian policies.
Canada has thus far declined to change its position on Macedonia, stating that the government of Canada does "not get involved in disputes” involving other countries. Nicholov rebutted this false claim by pointing out Global Affairs Canada's own mission statement and the statements already made by Canadian government officials concerning the “Prespa Agreement” and many other examples of Canada's involvement in the disputes of other countries, including:
- Canada's condemnation of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014 because of his pro-Russian policies. Former Foreign Minister John Baird said“We certainly don’t apologize for standing with the Ukrainian people in their struggle for freedom" when asked by CTV News if "Ottawa’s support for anti-government protesters and condemnation of Yanukovych’s regime may affect diplomatic relations".
- Nicholov highlighted the months-long protests against illegitimate PM Zoran Zaev (installed through election rigging), in which hundreds of thousands of Macedonians (in a country of 2 million) participated, every day, against his policies that appeased Greece, Bulgaria and Albania.
- Canada's condemnation of Venezuelan President Maduro in 2019 and recognition of opposition leader Juan Guaidó,“In response to attacks on Venezuelans’ democratic and human rights by the regime of Nicolás Maduro.”
- Nicholov highlighted the continued imprisonment, beatings, intimidation and threats against dissenters of the Zoran Zaev regime, with women and their families specifically targeted.
- Canada's ongoing statements on Belarusian President Lukashenko, including,“Canada joins its partners in the international community in condemnation of the crackdown on peaceful protestors following the presidential election in Belarus. We do not accept the results of this fraudulent presidential election in Belarus and call for free and fair elections.”
- Nicholov highlighted the riot police beating and arresting of peaceful protesters and mass voting irregularities in the last several elections and referendum in Macedonia.
Nicholov concluded the meeting by calling for equal treatment for Macedonia and Macedonians. In order for Canada to try to regain its former reputation as a global human rights leader,it must immediately take a stance against the Zaev regime and the forced Macedonia name change.
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI)has been active on human and national rights issues for Macedonians and other oppressed peoples since 1986. MHRMI demands respect for Macedonia's name, identity and human rights for oppressed Macedonians in the Balkans. For more information: 1-416-850-7125, firstname.lastname@example.org, mhrmi.org, twitter.com/mhrmi, facebook.com/mhrmi, instagram.com/MacedonianHumanRights #OurNameIsMacedonia