Saturday, July 02, 2005

Debate on Macedonia 1993-94

The articles below were paert of a debate in the pages of Green Left Weekly on the Macedonian issue in 1993-94, between myself, defending Macedonian self-determination against Greek, Serbian and Bulgarian chauvinist opposition, and a number of suporters of the Greek nationalist position.

The country and people that `don't exist'
Macedonia: The Last Peace To be screened on SBS Television as part of the Cutting Edge series of documentaries Tuesday, April 6, 8.30 p.m. (8 p.m. in Adelaide) Reviewed by Michael Karadjis

One might begin to gain an insight into the Macedonian issue by watching this documentary. It is certainly very useful to know what ordinary people in the streets, coffee shops, churches and discos are thinking. However, you can't talk to everyone, so some kind of overview usually helps, and there is not much of it here.
“It's all the Communists' fault ... The churches are all empty”, was a pretty important theme at the beginning. Each to their own, I suppose, but anyone interested in the causes of the horror that has engulfed former Yugoslavia wouldn't find this very enlightening. Whatever the sins of the former “Communist” rulers, the current nationalist massacre has been launched since the fall of “Communism” by revived anticommunist, nationalist, pre-World War II forces, particularly in Serbia, including the Serbian Orthodox Church.
In quite an interesting section, members of Macedonia's 20% Albanian minority spoke of their grievances. They claimed that very few Albanians are in the public service and that there was only one Albanian high school in the Macedonian Republic's capital, Skopia. They spoke of the division of the Albanian people into five separate parts in 1918, “imposed by Europe”. Nevertheless, they insisted that they did not want to separate or join Albania; they only wanted equal rights.
On the other side of the political spectrum within the republic is the highly nationalist opposition party VMRO. While they spoke of the division of Macedonia into three parts in 1913, they likewise insisted that they don't want to take over the other parts of geographic Macedonia in Greece and Bulgaria, but merely want rights for the Macedonian minorities in these countries.
Watching the program, one might be led to believe that there is no Macedonian government, only the VMRO opposition on the one side and the Albanians on the other. It is fine for the Albanians to discuss their legitimate grievances, but when they claim that they want representation in government, it would be helpful if viewers knew that nearly 20% of MPs in the Macedonian parliament are Albanians -- a somewhat better situation for a minority than anywhere else in the Balkan region.
Things get worse when we get to Greece. Talking to a number of “ordinary people” who all happen to have the same view on
the Macedonian issue, one is led to believe that the Greek population is unanimously behind the current nationalist tidal wave of “Macedonia is and always has been Greek”. We are also informed that this feeling is completely spontaneous.
All the “ordinary people” interviewed indicated that they would be ready to “take up arms” and fight “with all means” if the neighbouring republic was recognised. Greeks, then, are not only unanimously nationalistic, but also warmongers.
In fact, this “spontaneity” is a highly orchestrated campaign by all major political parties, daily newspapers, the church, the military and various witchdoctor “historians”. Every other view is meticulously censored from all the mass media, and anyone opposing the nationalist frenzy is castigated as a traitor to “Hellenism”.
The unanimity in the documentary is belied by the 15 Greeks who have been given heavy jail sentences in the last year for simply distributing leaflets, posters or pamphlets opposing this view, and by petitions signed by hundreds of academics, unionists, artists, writers, political activists and others. Members of the Communist Party have spoken against the policy, only to be silenced by the most horrendous red-baiting.
But watch the documentary for the last section. The film makers take a trip to Florina, in western Greek Macedonia, and visit the ethnic Macedonian minority there, which the Greek government insists doesn't exist. It is a particularly rare event to see this hidden minority on the screen. Some of those interviewed even had their faces chequered out because of fear of reprisals by the Greek government and police. “We are not doing anything wrong, but they are always after us.”
When the people here were asked if they could speak Macedonian freely in the streets, for some reason there were no English subtitles for the answer.
Eighty per cent of the towns in this region were originally Macedonian. Hellenisation over the last 80 years has included the changing of every street and geographical name.
Some great pictures of Macedonians at their May festival, with their traditional music and dancing, made it clear that, despite decades of forced Hellenisation, mass exile and cultural oppression, the Macedonian minority still does exist.
After denouncing 80 years of oppression by “chauvinist Greeks”, one local went on to explain that he wasn't talking about Greek people in general: “Greek people are good, we form trade unions with them ... We have nothing against the Greek people and their culture ... We just want our rights ... for Macedonian to be taught in schools ... we have no schools, churches, newspapers.”

Ambiguous names and places
By Gyorgy Scrinis
In his review (GLW, March 31) of an SBS documentary on the “Macedonian issue”, Michael Karadjis once again uncritically expresses a “Slav-Macedonian” nationalist position and a fairly naive understanding of the construction of national identities.
One way of highlighting Karadjis' fairly one-eyed representation of this conflict is to look at the way he sets up a simple and unproblematic distinction between “Macedonians” and “Greeks” -- as if “Macedonians ” and “Greeks” were two clearly distinct and defined cultural groups or nationalities. Yet the crux of this conflict centres around definitions of who are the “Macedonians”. This is what it's all about, though you wouldn't know it reading Karadjis' analysis.
The dominant positions within the two opposing camps express contrary answers to this question. For most people in Greece, “Macedonians” are, and can only be, Greeks from the Macedonian part of Greece; and they describe the people of “Slavic” descent in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia who refer to themselves as “Macedonians” as “really” being Slavs, or Serbians, or Bulgarians -- anything but “Macedonians”. On the other hand, for the people of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia who call themselves “Macedonians” (whom I will refer to as “Slav-Macedonians” for brevity's sake), they themselves are the only “true” Macedonians; and for them, all Greeks are simply Greeks.
Karadjis has clearly aligned himself with the latter, Slav-Macedonian nationalist position. For Karadjis, Greek claims to a Macedonian identity are simply the result of Greek government nationalist propaganda; while the (Slav-)Macedonian national identity is seemingly “natural”, as if it has not required a nationalist movement and ideology backed by the state.
There is only the space for a few brief comments here to begin to outline an alternative and more critical standpoint on this conflict. Once you begin problematising and qualifying the term “Macedonian”, it can get awfully messy trying to follow who said what to whom. But the key to trying to come to grips with this conflict lies in recognising that there are, and have always been, not one, but many types of Macedonian people. We need now to refer to them as either Greek-Macedonian, Slav-Macedonian, Bulgarian-Macedonian, perhaps even Albanian-Macedonian, and so on.
To attempt to use the term “Macedonian” as if it referred to one homogeneous and clearly distinct cultural grouping, is the sort of monopolising strategy that both Greek-Macedonian and Slav-Macedonian nationalists have pursued, and which stands in the way of any dialogue between the two camps.
Apart from the military unity of ancient times, there has never existed a unified Macedonian state or nation, nor ever a Macedonian people. It has always been divided into several administrative areas by its ruling empire.
Throughout medieval and modern times, the greater Macedonian region has been the dwelling place of very diverse groups of people -- speaking Greek dialects, Slav dialects, Turkish dialects, Vlach dialects -- all of whom were “Macedonian” to the extent that they all lived in the region. However, the name “Macedonian” was not yet used in itself to signify a particular cultural identity; that is, there was no group of people known as “the Macedonians”. Nor was there any strong sense of the unity of all the people in Macedonia. The local village remained the dominant level of cultural identity for most of these people.
A “Macedonian” identity per se doesn't seem to emerge till the late 19th century, following the rise of nationalism in the surrounding new nations of Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria earlier that century. Each of these nationalisms attempted to win over the hearts and minds of the people in the Macedonian region. After 1913, following the eviction of the Ottoman empire, the greater Macedonian region was carved up between these three states, to become Greek Macedonia, Bulgarian Macedonia and Serbian (later Yugoslav) Macedonia.
Greek-speaking Orthodox-worshippers in the new province of Greek Macedonia more readily took on a Greek nationalist identity, and “Macedonia” became for them more a regional-cultural identity than a national identity. Greek-Macedonians also “imagine” continuities back to the ancient Macedonians and consider ancient Macedonians as having been essentially culturally the same as the ancient Greeks.
The Slavic-speaking people in Serbian Macedonia were not so willing to adopt Serbian nationalism as their own, partly because they already identified more strongly with Bulgarian nationalism. Instead, these people slowly began to throw off their orientation to either the Serbian or Bulgarian nations, and to transform their Macedonian regional identity into a nationalism in its own right. This was a perfectly “legitimate” development -- as far as nationalisms go -- and involved clinging to their more local cultural expressions, instead of being made-over by the homogenising impulses of a neighbouring state's nationalism.
It's important to add that while the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia itself remains a culturally diverse “nation”, there is also a minority of “Slav-Macedonians” who have been living in the province of Greek Macedonia, and who have been culturally oppressed by successive Greek governments.
But the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has also been extremely provocative over the years by stating its intention to “reclaim” Greek Macedonia, and “reunify” the greater Macedonian region. This ideology has extended into their education system, and to the production of maps of a unified greater Macedonia. Their intention to use the “Vergina Star”, an ancient Macedonian symbol, as their national symbol reflects their view of themselves as the (perhaps sole) descendants of the ancient Macedonians.
Both Greek-Macedonians and Slav-Macedonians have lived in the Macedonian region continuously for at least hundreds of years. At the same time, their cultural or national “Macedonian” identities have only recently been “constructed” or “imagined”. It seems to me that, in the modern period, no one nation or cultural grouping should now be able to monopolise the use of the term “Macedonia”. A qualifying adjective will always be required to specify which Macedonia, and which Macedonians, are being referred to. Until both sides recognise the other's right to use that name, with a qualifier, I cannot foresee an end to this conflict.
Without wanting to impose an alternative name upon the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, a possible name would be “Vardar-Macedonia”, which is the name they themselves use to distinguish their state from the two other Macedonian regions.

Macedonia: the real issue
By Michael Karadjis
In his article “Ambiguous names and places” (GLW, April 21), Gyorgy Scrinis claims that I set up a simple distinction between “Greeks” and “Macedonians”, whereas in reality different peoples regard themselves as Macedonians. He therefore proposes that the term “Slav-Macedonian” be used when referring to the people of the former Yugoslav republic and the minorities in Greece, Bulgaria and Albania, to distinguish them from the “Greek-Macedonians” -- i.e. the ethnically Greek majority of Greek Macedonia.
However, the term “Slav-Macedonian” is rejected by both sides, and we can't impose a name on a people against their will.
Moreover, Scrinis is completely incorrect to claim that I “set up” this terminological distinction. The official name of this community for many decades now in Australia and the rest of the world is “Macedonian”. In government offices interpreters are available in Macedonian. There are Macedonian programs on TV and radio, and Macedonian is taught in schools. The terminology has been accepted in Australia for the last 40 years -- including by the Greek community until recently.
However, in Greece I would use the term “Slav-
Macedonian” to make clear who I was talking about, as the term “Macedonian” there would be taken to mean the Greek population of Greece's Macedonia province.
Scrinis claims that this debate over terminology is the “crux” of the matter. In fact, the crux of the conflict is “Who is oppressing whom?” The dispute about a name is only a cover.
There is a difference between Greeks in Macedonia having a Macedonian identity, and the nationalistic tidal wave that has engulfed Greece in the last two years.
No matter how often it is put to Greek representatives, the crux of the matter is never answered. Do the minority in western Greek Macedonia (no matter what you call them) have the right to use their own language in the press, radio, TV or in other publications? Can they learn their language in schools? Can they use it in church? Can they have their own newspapers, schools or churches? Their music and dances? Can they set up a cultural centre? Are refugees from the late 1940s allowed to return? The answer to every question is “No”.
Scrinis accepts that there is oppression but claims that the Macedonian republic is equally guilty because it allegedly has claims to Greek Macedonia, wants to create a “greater Macedonia” and produces maps of this state.
He is mistaken. In late 1991, Macedonia introduced constitutional amendments declaring that it has no territorial claims anywhere. However, there are forces in opposition with a more nationalistic stance, and some of them have produced such maps. Rightist groups in Greece produce maps showing Greece double its size too.
I agree with Scrinis that nationalists on both sides identify themselves with the ancient Macedonians to push their line, but in reality no-one can claim to be their pure and sole descendants. (Macedonian President Gligorov has declared that his people have no relation to the ancient Macedonians.)
Scrinis is mistaken again, however, when he claims that a Macedonian “identity per se doesn't seem to emerge till the late 19th century, following the rise of nationalism in the surrounding new nations of Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria earlier that century”.
The implication is that there was no independent Macedonian identity, but rather a Greek, a Serbian and a Bulgarian Macedonian identity. Scrinis makes this clearer when he states that the Slavic-speaking people in what became Serbian (later Yugoslav) Macedonia were unwilling to adopt Serbian nationalism, because “they already identified more strongly with Bulgarian nationalism”.
He doesn't consider the possibility that they didn't adopt Serbian nationalism because they weren't Serbs. “Slavic” is a broad language family, not a language; Macedonians are not Serbs or Bulgarians just as English are not Germans even though both speak “Germanic”.
The rise of an independent Macedonian identity began in the mid-19th century. The first Macedonian-language schools and printers appeared in the 1840s. In the 1850s, the Macedonist current arose, declaring clearly the difference between the Macedonian and Bulgarian peoples and languages. In 1893, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation (IMRO) was set up to fight against Turkish rule. It emphasised that Macedonians were a separate people from Bulgarians, and struggled for an independent Macedonia.
This struggle, opposed by the Bulgarian ruling class, occurred over all parts of Macedonia before it was divided between Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria in 1913.
Scrinis states that “Greek-speaking Orthodox worshippers in the new province of Greek Macedonia” took on a Greek national identity. That's true, but what he does not say is that in 1913 Greeks were a minority of 10% in the whole of Macedonia, and a minority even in Greek Macedonia.
They became a majority through massive population exchanges with Turkey and Bulgaria in the 1920s. The overwhelming majority of Greek Macedonians today are descended from refugees who came to Macedonia in the 1920s from Asia Minor, where they had lived for thousands of years.
By contrast, since 1913, the Slav-Macedonian population of Greek Macedonia have suffered mass expulsions, forced Hellenisation and cultural oppression, thus dramatically reducing their numbers. The fact that these people have long called themselves Macedonian is clear from many sources in the 19th and early 20th centuries, above all Greek sources.
In fact, a people living solely in Macedonia calling themselves Macedonian is only to be expected. Greeks, Albanians, Serbs and Bulgarians living in Macedonia identify with Greece, Albania, Serbia or Bulgaria. The people in question live only in Macedonia and have no
foreign point of reference. Decades of oppression have cemented this identity.
In 1926, the Greek Education Ministry published the first primary school reader in Macedonian, and clearly distinguished it from both Bulgarian and Serbian. This was soon abandoned, but just compare that with now: in January 1992, the right-wing Greek newspaper Kathimerini produced a lift-out on the issue which claimed that the minority in northern Greece didn't exist. The following week the Education Ministry declared this lift-out would be distributed to all the schools of Greece!
The difference tells us that today's campaign is about something more than names. In 1926, Greece wanted to ward off Serbian and Bulgarian territorial claims. In 1991-3, is its aim to ward off similar claims by the Macedonian republic?
In fact, even if Macedonia had such claims, Greece would hardly feel threatened by a country of 2 million people without an army. Furthermore, the massive Greek nationalist campaign took off after the republic amended its constitution to declare it had no territorial claims -- a good time to start a dialogue, one would have thought.
The reasons are elsewhere. On the one hand, an independent Macedonia would be a boost to the minority within Greece struggling for democratic rights. Such a struggle would expose the Greek government's appalling history on this question.
The more aggressive wing of Greek capital would no doubt like a chunk of Macedonia, as expressed in many of their mass circulation dailies. While the current government has a more pragmatic approach, it would also see Macedonia kneeling to its demands as a step towards domination of the region by Greek capital.
And while it's all going on, getting thousands of people into the streets to demonstrate Greek unity on the “national issues” is a useful way of diverting their attention from the class war being waged against Greek workers and farmers by the Thatcherite government of Prime Minister Mitsotakis. This is the real crux of the matter.

The Macedonian question and nationalism
By Gyorgy Scrinis
In his article on Macedonia in GLW, May 5, Michael Karadjis again fails to engage with the way various nationalisms have been constructed in the Balkans in modern times. He seems unwilling to deal with the question of nationalism in itself, and instead, in a move typical of some left reductionist approaches, tries to explain away the current conflict by reducing it to the familiar categories of oppressor/oppressed, capitalists/workers and left/right.
In brief, I had argued (GLW, April 21) that there is not one Macedonian people, as Karadjis continues to claim. Rather, the diversity of people who have lived in the greater Macedonian region have fragmented into a number of national/regional/cultural identities. There are currently at least three Macedonian regions: the province of Greek-Macedonia in Greece, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (now an independent nation-state), and the Macedonian part of Bulgaria.
I referred to the majority of people who live in these states respectively as Greek-Macedonians, Slav-Macedonians and Bulgarian Macedonians. Depending on what criteria we use to distinguish them, we could also add Albanian-Macedonians, Vlach-Macedonians, etc, as other inhabitants of this region.
I referred to the people of the former Yugoslav Republic as “Slav-Macedonians”, for want of a better name. These people refer to their part of Macedonia as “Vardar”, to distinguish it from the Greek and Bulgarian Macedonian regions. For this reason, I suggested that a possible name for this new nation would be “Vardar-Macedonia”. I will from here on refer to “Slav-Macedonians” as “Vardar-Macedonians”, for it seems a more appropriate name.
In my article, I described how the slow emergence of a Macedonian cultural/national identity in the 19th century was fragmented into a number of
regional/national identities following the carve-up of the region between Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria in 1913. In particular, people in Greek-Macedonia largely took on a more general Greek national identity, and Macedonia became for them a more particular regional level of their identity. The exchange of populations that took place in the region also ensured the dominance of the Greek-Macedonian identity in Greek-Macedonia.
But for a number of reasons, the Slavic people of Serbian-Macedonia (which became the Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) did not adopt a Serbian national identity, nor later a Yugoslav national identity. Instead, theirs developed into a “Macedonian” cultural-national identity in itself, with no other national orientation.
Unfortunately, these Vardar-Macedonians began to claim that only they were the “true” Macedonians, and they fashioned their nationalist ideology, including their written history, accordingly. Meanwhile, the Greek-Macedonians were also claiming that they were the true Macedonians. This fairly tragic turn of events has led to great confusion and conflict over the name to this day, and has also been used to further all sorts of political agendas -- from Yugoslav expansionist aims to the current Greek government's use of nationalism as a diversion to boost its ailing popularity.
I did not imply that Vardar-Macedonians are really Serbians or Bulgarians, as Karadjis claims. In fact, Karadjis' accusation again reveals how thoroughly he takes for granted national identities as if they always existed throughout history. For Karadjis, one is either a Greek, or a Serb, or a Macedonian etc, whether we are speaking of the present or 200 years ago. Yet the thrust of my analysis was to problematise these names, by recognising that all national identities and ideologies have emerged and been constructed since the rise of nationalist movements in the 18th century. I outlined the way the emerging nationalisms of Serbia and Bulgaria failed to win over the hearts and minds of all the Slavic people in the Serbian-Macedonian region, who instead went on to fashion their own national identity. They were not always
“Macedonians”, since before the 19th century (ancient times aside for now) there was no group of people known as “the Macedonians”. Instead the local village and religious affiliations formed the primary level of their identities.
There are a minority of people of Slavic background living in Greek-Macedonia who identify with the Vardar-Macedonian national identity. As I stated, these people have been and continue to be oppressed by Greek governments, to the extent that they are not allowed to speak openly the Vardar-Macedonian language or dialects, nor to refer to themselves as “Macedonians” in this way. The Greek government has pursued this course because it does not recognise any use of the name other than its own, not to mention because of the ongoing expansionist rhetoric of Vardar-Macedonia, which has only been curbed in the last couple of years as it seeks international recognition. This is not to say that I don't, all the same, condemn such oppression.
Yet for Karadjis, the dispute over the name is merely an attempt to divert attention from the “real” issue: the oppression of this Vardar-Macedonian minority in Greek-Macedonia. But the two issues cannot be separated. Karadjis dismisses the question of the name, yet offers no other reason why these people are oppressed.
The other “real” issue for Karadjis is the attempt by Greece to move towards the domination of the region by Greek capital, and to direct attention from the class war waged against Greek workers by the conservative Greek government. This is familiar language, intended to assure left-wing readers that this issue can neatly be divided up into the categories of capitalists/workers, oppressors/oppressed, left/right, us and them. I am not suggesting these categories and these issues are not always at play in this and all other conflicts -- indeed they are. But it seems to me to be a poor attempt to divert attention from a conflict of nationalisms which I believe resists any such reductionist analysis. Neither Greece nor Vardar- Macedonia has the moral high ground in this conflict, since both have attempted to monopolise the term Macedonia to this day, and have both used that as the
basis of other indefensible strategies.
Karadjis himself is unable to break out of a narrow Vardar-Macedonian nationalist understanding of this conflict, which he tries to convince us is “really” just a class war dressed up in nationalist clothing. I see nothing particularly left/progressive about Karadjis' participation in the attempt to monopolise the use of the name Macedonia, as if it referred to one homogeneous cultural identity -- this is in fact a common nationalist strategy.
An adequate understanding of the construction of national identities, and of the current re-emergence of nationalist sentiment worldwide, continues to elude those who over-emphasise class as the key category of all political analysis. An understanding of the emergence and co-existence of local, national and global identities requires a framework of analysis which classical Marxism does not in itself offer.
Significant steps in this direction are to be found in the theoretical framework developed in the pages of the local left journal Arena over the years. Paul James in particular has tackled the question of nationalism within a broader theoretical framework. Other writers such as Benedict Anderson and Eric Hobsbawm have also theorised nationalism from non-reductionist left perspectives.
To summarise again my position here: no nation or people now has the right to monopolise the name “Macedonia” or “Macedonian”. A qualifying prefix will always be necessary, such as Greek-Macedonian, Vardar-Macedonian and so on.

Gyorgy Scrinis (GLW May 26) claims that I participate in a campaign to monopolise the name Macedonia. In fact I have no problem with either “Greek-Macedonians” or “Slav-Macedonians,” simply calling themselves “Macedonians.”
He thinks the name “Macedonian” is the reason that Greece oppresses the minority: “The Greek government has pursued this course because it does not recognise any use of the name (Macedonian) other than its own ...” He states I offer no other reason why these people are oppressed.
But why would using the same name create oppression, rather than a little mistrust at worst, if not interested curiosity? This is where the other factors come in, which Scrinis calls “left reductionism.”
Scrinis can't imagine any other reason for oppression, yet he explains that the current national identities in the region arose only from the late 18th century. This was due to the growth of a capitalist middle class in various regions, each of which sought to set up its own national state. But as there were no clear boundaries between peoples in the region, each new ruling class, in order to justify territorial claims, often expelled or forcibly assimilated other groups who didn't identify with the ruling group. The main such states were Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria, and their oppression of the “Slav-Macedonians” had its origins in this process.
He doesn't understand that these people developed a national identity in their own right and didn't identify with any outside power and hence called themselves simply Macedonian. Since he incorrectly believes that an independent Macedonian identity developed only in the Serbian ruled region after 1913 (simply ignoring historical facts), he demands these people call themselves “Vardar-Macedonians.”
If the name is so important, how is it that Greece had a consul in the Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia for over 40 years despite the name, that Greek students studied at Skopia University and that the Australian weekly Greek Herald had a “Macedonian page” in the Macedonian language until a couple of years ago?
Regardless of all this, the concrete issues are:
1. The Greek government's oppression of the minority, which we both condemn.
2. The Greek government's bullying and embargoing of the Macedonian republic to make it change its name before being recognised. Where does Scrinis stand on this?
3. There can be no territorial changes in the Balkans, because wherever minorities exist the regions contain a mixture of nationalities. The issue must be to ensure minority rights rather than changing borders. Macedonia has made it clear that it has no reece, but Scrinis brushes this aside, since this would mess up his “even-handed” line.
Michael Karadjis

Greece and Macedonia: what hope for settlement?
By Tony Johnston
MELBOURNE -- The hot and sometimes violent battle between Melbourne's Greek and Slav Macedonians over the future of the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia has gone off the boil following Greece's victory in the European High Court over its economic blockade of FYROM, and a dismal showing by Greece's so-called oppressed minorities in the European Union elections.
When the Greek Minister of Macedonia and Thrace visited Melbourne recently, surprisingly, there were no demonstrations. There were, however, conciliatory words from the minister. The UN's special envoy Cyrus Vance will meet in Cyprus with representatives of both sides to try and find a final solution that will also hopefully reunite Melbourne's Greek and Slav Macedonians.
The Greek bodyguards and the local motorcycle police who shadowed Kostas Triaridis between the Regent Hotel, the Greek Pan Macedonian Symposium in Clifton Hill and the premier's office (to talk trade) were hardly needed.
The lack of action surprised everyone caught up in both sides of the tactical battle between Melbourne's ethnic Greeks and the Slavs of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (referred to internationally as FYROM).
A couple of months ago, outspoken members of both communities were the victims of firebombs and other acts of violence. Even federal immigration minister, Senator Nick Bolkus (a Greek Australian), was punched and spat on when he arrived at the opening of a migrant resource centre in Wollongong in April. (The Slav/Macedonians are outraged at the Australian federal government's line on the issue, particularly the use of the term Slav-Macedonian. They prefer “Macedonians”.)
But for Triaridis, a man at the seat of the issue, and a representative of the so-called protagonist government, nothing. And the fact that he was to have trade talks with Jeff Kennett, who caused a local outcry by taking sides during a recent visit to Greece, did not stir the Slav-Macedonians of Melbourne either.
Perhaps it was because Triaridis was not an official guest of the Victorian government, but a guest speaker of the Eighth Symposium of the Federation of Pan Macedonian Associations.
But there could have been other reasons. For instance, the local Slav-Macedonians' claims of discrimination and oppression among their minority community in (northern) Greek Macedonia, took a battering when their political party, the Rainbow Party, contested the recent European Union elections and could only attract 5500 votes nationally.
The very appearance of the Rainbow Party also put paid to the claims by some Slav-Macedonians of northern Greece that they were being denied democratic representation, and hence their human rights.
Their other champion of human rights, professional protagonist Christos Sidiropoulos (who has toured Canada, the US and Europe claiming persecution of minority ethnic groups in northern Greece) has lost his clout since it was revealed that his personal persecution (demotion and eventually the sack) was due to prolonged absenteeism from his public service job, and not his ethnicity. He was also accused of using government money to pay for his propaganda trips.
The subject of persecution of minorities in the Greece/FYROM squabble diminishes by the day. The real issue, according to representatives of both sides, is the use of the name Macedonia, and a section of FYROM's constitution that refers to territorial ambitions of a “Greater Macedonia”.
The Slav-Macedonians of former Yugoslavia, by attempting to call their new republic Macedonia, seek to disenfranchise 2« million Greek Macedonians from their birthright, and at the same time (according to the Greeks) hijack Greek history back to Alexander the Great and Hellenic antiquity.
But the biggest blow to FYROM's highly successful propaganda campaign to gain worldwide sympathy as the bullied fledgling republic came unstuck when the European High Court ruled in favour of Greece's crippling economic blockade of FYROM -- the European Commission had sought to have the blockade ruled illegal.
Perhaps surprisingly, most Greeks are sympathetic towards the people of FYROM and their desire for identity, and a new nationalism. They do not, contrary to FYROM propaganda, fear invasion or armed conflict with FYROM's fledgling 20,000 strong army. What they fear is the repetition of Balkans history that has seen Macedonia, and its coveted Aegean port of Thessaloniki, as the apple of the dipping barrel of a general Balkans conflict involving the same old foes: Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, Albania and Turkey.
Until now, at least in Australia, the Greeks have been seen to be the bullies in the squabble. Perhaps it's the Aussie thing about supporting the underdog. That the 2 million ethnic mix of FYROM are also at the virtual mercy of the Serbs should their war machine turn south, has made their small determined bid for freedom and identity seem just and supportable to non-Greek Australians.
The other major confusing aspect for the average non-Greek Australian has been the Slav refugees from Tito's Yugoslavia (post WWII) settling in Australia and creating a neo-Macedonian identity. There were Macedonian clubs, Macedonian restaurants. After 40 years of saying they're Macedonians and going uncontested, they have, in Aussie eyes, become Macedonian.
The Greeks here and at home have been outflanked on the whole issue, certainly from a propaganda point of view. Triaridis, during his brief Melbourne stop-over, admitted as much. There is no Macedonian nationality; it is a region that happens to cross three borders. (51% in Greece, including the core of the ancient kingdom). There is no such thing as a Macedonian ethnicity, he said.
For me, oppression started with student life, said Triaridis. Until his political career, a professor of surgery at Aristotle University in Thrssaloniki, Triaridis had joined George Papandreou's (the current Prime Minister's father) movement in 1958 and played a leading part in the political struggles of the sixties generation, who fought for full recognition of Greek citizens' constitutional rights. Eventually he stood for parliament in the 1967 elections, which were subsequently forestalled by the military coup of April 21. Then, as an active member of the resistance, he was eventually arrested and exiled to a remote mountain village for three years.
The experience he said, gave him plenty of time to read and think. It also gave him a progressive outlook.
At the time that many of the Slav-Macedonians came to Australia from Yugoslavia and northern Greece (1950s and 60s) they were oppressed. “These people have memories of that time and I sympathise with them because I too was oppressed. But that is in the past. There is no discrimination against minorities now,” he says.
The results of the European Union elections paint a vivid picture of a modern and rapidly changing Greece. Twenty per cent of the vote turned away from the two major parties. (This turned out to be a trend in most EU member countries.)
Surely all of this is representative of a free democratic society, where there is a free climate for people to express themselves. Triaridis is optimistic of FYROM and Greece solving their differences; the main stumbling blocks being FYROM's insistence on using the name Macedonia and Greece's retaliatory economic blockade of the struggling republic.
The major hope of a settlement now rests with the intermediary role of the UN mediator Cyrus Vance in discussions between the protagonists.
Perhaps Kostas Triaridis represents the more conciliatory face of the Greek government, until now uncompromising in its demands on FYROM. As members of his entourage crowded in to whisk him off to a late appointment he dallied longer to get his conciliatory message across. I'm an open man, he said, I've paid my price to be this way.
The only hope is the future. Kostas Triaridis put it -- life is progressive, we will find solutions to suit everybody. [Tony Johnston is a freelance journalist. This article was submitted by the Hellenic Council of New South Wales.]

Shedding some light on Greece's ethnic Macedonian minority
By Mike Karadjis
From Tony Johnston's account, we would have to believe that today everything is rosy for Greece's ethnic Macedonian minority and there are hardly any of them anyway -- a view based almost entirely on the testimony of a visiting member of the Greek government (perhaps his next article will be a discussion with a Turkish leader called “Paradise in Kurdistan”).
The point should be made that journalists should endeavour to know what they are talking about. When Johnston writes of a section of Macedonia's constitution “which refers to territorial ambitions of a Greater Macedonia” he is simply using the Greek government's “big lie” technique. There is no such article in Macedonia's constitution, but there is an article which states:
“The Republic of Macedonia has no territorial pretensions towards any neighbouring state” (Article 3). Does such a provision exist in the Greek constitution?
As for Johnston's comments that “there is no such thing as a Macedonian ethnicity” and that “until a couple of decades ago there was no such thing as a written or spoken Macedonian language” and that it is a “Serb-Bulgar mix”, this well-worn Greek nationalist line does not stand up to historical scrutiny -- but that would require an article of its own.
Incidentally, does Johnston believe that Aboriginal languages which were not “written” were any less real?
His prettying of the situation of the Macedonian minority contrasts not only with the views of many Greek activists who I worked with in Greece from 1988-91 and with my own observations, but with the recently released report by the widely respected Human Rights Watch/Helsinki called “Denying Ethnic Identity: The Macedonians of Greece”. This is one of the most thorough reports done on this issue and anyone with doubts about the existence or oppression of the minority in Greek Macedonia ought to get a copy. It is essential reading for “Greek patriots” like Tony Johnston, Jeff Kennett and the like. It also sheds some insight into the “free climate for people to express themselves” referred to.
But of course, how can they be oppressed when they were able to run in the European elections? And aren't they irrelevant anyway, given their party “Rainbow” got only 5500 votes? And why let the facts ruin a good line?
It was actually quite a struggle for the Macedonian organisation, the Macedonian Movement for Balkan Prosperity (MMBP), to be allowed to contest the elections. The good will of the “Rainbow” forces, a Europe-wide group of parties, in allowing the Macedonians to use their cover, helped this process.
Rainbow was finally set up on May 21. Eight days later the High Court ruled that Rainbow and two far-left parties were barred from standing in the election due to a legal technicality which had not been used since the time of the fascist junta (1967-74). When the absurdity of this became apparent, the Court responded by allowing the other parties to stand, but outlawing Rainbow! A cross-section of progressive groups and individuals forced this ruling to also be reversed a couple of days later. By the time this was all over, Rainbow had about ten days to campaign for the June 12 elections.
And that wasn't the end of it. Its campaign was meticulously kept out of the mass media, except for some references to its members as “paid agents of foreign enemies of Greece”. Its ability to produce and distribute election material was already impaired by the forced closure of MMBP's bank account two months earlier -- apparently without reason.
Even the material they did distribute didn't all reach its destination, according to the MMBP, which had previously denounced similar problems with the distribution of its newspaper. Similar problems have been reported by the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Greek observers of the Helsinki human rights agreement, and the Greek Communist Party. Indications point to a fascist group around the newspaper “Stohos”, which appears to have powerful links in the Greek secret services.
In such a situation, 5500 votes isn't all that bad. Some Macedonian activists screamed fraud, a charge difficult to prove. Still, many people thought it strange that the state electoral body didn't release Rainbow's results for so many weeks after everyone else's.
In a joint statement, Rainbow and the MMBP declared that “the biggest achievement from the elections was that Macedonians in Greece freed themselves of the feeling of oppression and fear, imposed on them for years”.
In any case does every member of a particular ethnic group vote for an ethnic-based party? On the basis of the votes gained by various Aboriginal parties or candidates in the recent past, we would have to conclude that there were only a few thousand in Australia and, using Johnston's logic, that they are not oppressed as they were allowed to stand in elections.
Yet when a Macedonian candidate stood in the Greek elections last year and received only 369 votes, some Greek-Australian journalists confidently told us that this was the size of the minority. By Greek nationalist logic, the ethnic Macedonians have increased in number by 1500% in nine months!
Of course, existence and oppression of a minority don't depend on its size. As left-wing Greek journalist Nikos Filis writes, if the size of the minority is based on these votes, “then the Slav-Macedonian minority is much larger than the Greek minority in [the Turkish capital] Constantinople (2000-3000 altogether). Further, let's remember that the Party of Human Rights in Albania gained less than 50,000 votes, while officially Greece speaks of 250,000-600,000 ethnic Greeks in the neighbouring country”.
Of course the Macedonian minority is much bigger than its 5500 votes, but no one doubts it is massively smaller than it was when Greece conquered 50% of Macedonia in 1913. Then ethnic Macedonians numbered 326,000, compared to 240,000 Greeks out of a population of about 1 million.
Talking of the very small size of the Greek minority in Turkey, Greek journalist V. Syros wrote, quite correctly “after a long period of discrimination and persecution by the Turkish rulers, the minority suffered a serious decline, and from 110,000 in 1923 it has fallen to 2500 today!”
Why not admit the truth about the similar reasons for the decline of the Macedonian minority in Greece?

In Defence of Macedonian Self-Determination 1992-95

In Defence of Macedonian Self-Determination 1992-95

Macedonia: focus for a new Balkan war?

In 1912, Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia attacked the Turkish Ottoman Empire to carve up its last possession in Europe, Macedonia. The victors immediately fell out, and Greece, Serbia, Romania and Turkey went to war against Bulgaria. In 1922, the Balkan wars came close to being repeated, as Greece put its military forces on the Macedonian and Albanian borders on alert, the Turkish military requested detailed military maps of neighbouring Greek islands, 100,000 Serbian troops were massed on the Bulgarian and Macedonian borders, and Bulgaria called a general mobilisation. Seventy years later, there are again threats of war centred on Macedonia. MIKE KARADJIS examines the issues.

The Macedonians are a Slavic people with a language distinct from both Bulgarian and Serbian. Yet the Greek, Serbian and Bulgarian ruling cliques maintain the Orwellian myth that the Macedonian people and language “don't exist”.
Some progress was made in 1945, when the Macedonian republic became one of the constituents of the new Yugoslav federation. The great majority live in this republic; Macedonians are a minority in the Macedonian geographical region of Greece, and are largely assimilated in Bulgarian Macedonia.
However, the drive by Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic to create a Greater Serbia has again stirred the pot. Milosevic views the Macedonians as “south Serbs” and the region as “southern Serbia”.
The overwhelming vote for an independent Macedonia in a referendum late last year also aroused the furious opposition of Greece and, initially, Bulgaria -- both afraid of the effects on their own Macedonian minorities.
Macedonia sought allies against this Greek-Serbian-Bulgarian axis, and an opposing Macedonian-Albanian-Turkish axis came into being.
Both Greece and Bulgaria have Turko-Muslim minorities, whose rights are championed by the Turkish regime (not renowned as a champion of national rights of the Kurds, Armenians and Greeks in its own state). Likewise, Greece champions the rights of the Greek minority in southern Albania, and Albania the rights of the Albanian majority in Kosovo province, occupied by the Serbian regime.
However, these alliances have come unstuck due to a Bulgarian-Macedonian rapprochement and an Albanian-Macedonian split.
The Bulgarian regime has made an about-face and moved in as Macedonia's protector; Bulgaria and Turkey were the first governments to recognise Macedonia as independent. However, Bulgarian “protection” is a double-edged sword, for Bulgaria views Macedonians as nothing other than Bulgarians! “Protection” therefore is part of a Greater Bulgaria strategy.
On the other hand, Macedonia has come under attack from its Albanian the population. Representatives of the minority appealed to the European Community not to recognise Macedonia, claiming national oppression and exclusion from the Macedonian constitution. The regime declared illegal a referendum on Albanian autonomy.
Macedonian leader Vasili Toukourkofski claimed that the “legal arrangements for the protection of the Albanian, Sindi and Rom minorities meet all recent European credentials ... the Macedonian minorities in Greece and Bulgaria can't say the same.” Further, he stated that Macedonia, “unlike Slovenia and Croatia, will avoid talk of `the state of the Macedonians' and will instead talk of `the republic of the citizens of Macedonia'”.
Unfortunately, the ambitions of the Albanian regime seem to go beyond protection of the minority. Albanian sources recently released a survey which alleged that the 2 million people in the Macedonian republic consisted of Albanians, Serbs, Bulgarians, Greeks, Muslims, Gipsies, Vlachs, Pomaks ... anyone but Macedonians! Such nonsense suggests that Albania wouldn't mind taking part in a Greek-Serbian dismemberment of Macedonia.
Serbian chief Milosevic has stated quite clearly that if Macedonia declares independence, “the Serbian and Greek borders will meet”. Leaders of Macedonia's Serbian minority warned the EC that recognition of Macedonia would lead to civil war.
The Albanian “discovery” of 250,000 Greeks in the Macedonian republic seems a gift to Greece, to keep it out of southern Albania. No-one in Greece, not even among the most chauvinist circles, had ever noticed them before; while chauvinist Greek circles have advocated the seizure of southern Albania, because of its Greek minority, their claims to a chunk of the Macedonian republic relied exclusively on alleged “historical” rights. The Greek alliance with Serbia was largely designed to get Milosevic to do the dirty work on this.
Now, however, a variety of Greek political, military and media bodies have “independently” confirmed the Albanian claim about these imaginary Greeks. A good example of the scientific method used was the discovery of 239,000 Greeks by the Army General Staff on the basis of the answer “Greece” to the question “With which outside country would you like to see stronger ties?” in a survey in Macedonia!
Lest one think only the loony far right has military adventures in mind, the respectable liberal daily Kathimerini has run a number of articles by its regular journalists claiming, among other things, that Greece and Serbia should “dismember” the Macedonian republic. An official, unsigned, article stated that Greece should use state intervention to politically organise the imaginary Greek minority in Macedonia, and that this should be a primary aim of foreign policy.
All this from a country that denies the existence of a Macedonian minority in Greece. The real issue is the oppression of this minority by the Greek state.
Macedonians in Greece do not advocate separation. The issue is elementary human rights. The 50,000 Macedonians are denied all rights to use their language in print, on radio or TV, to have their other cultural events, even to speak the language loud enough to be heard. No legal documents are recognised in the Yugoslav language, such as degrees by Greek citizens from the minority who have studied in the Macedonian republic. 30,000 Macedonian leftists, expelled at the end of the civil war in 1949, have never been allowed to return, or even to visit their relatives, though all other Greek leftists have.
On December 16, the EC agreed to a Greek demand that Macedonia not be recognised unless it changed its name, denied the existence of a Macedonian minority in Greece and renounced any territorial claims to Greece. Macedonia promptly inserted into its constitution that it had no territorial claims on any other state and that it would not interfere in the internal affairs of other states. On January 15, this was accepted by the EC, but rejected by Greece as not good enough.
Why all the fuss? Macedonia is a country of only 2 million people without an army, relying on Greece for access to the sea. Why deny elementary democratic rights to a minority of 50,000 among a Greek Macedonian population of around 1.5 million? Could it be that the maintenance of absurd chauvinist myths is necessary to justify some military adventure to divert people from their disastrous economic plight?
Greece is the strongest industrial power in the Balkans and the only EC member. The collapse of the Stalinist regimes in the region has opened the way for further penetration. Its chief capitalist rival is Turkey.
But both Greek and Turkish ambitions have come up against the radical nationalism which has become a key ideological prop of all the Balkan regimes trying to restore capitalism following the collapse of Stalinism.
National minorities exist in every state in the region, and nowhere are their rights respected. At the same time, every regime not only supports the rights of related minorities in other states, but all are also quite ambiguous about the status of the borders, all coveting chunks of territory from each other. However, this has no basis; nowhere do the minorities form a solid geographical bloc or a majority of the population.
Hence the two principles that must hold are respect for the rights of the minorities in every country, and no military adventures to change borders. This includes the borders of the beleaguered Macedonian republic.

Macedonians’ long history of struggle
By Mike Karadjis

Several weeks ago, the Greek community held 50,000-strong rallies in Sydney and Melbourne to oppose the independence of the Macedonian republic -- that is, the formerly Yugoslav part of Macedonia. The success of these rallies was largely due to the campaign which said, falsely, that Macedonia has territorial claims on the Greek province of Macedonia.
But while this was just a lie, the Greek government's campaign has a more
subtle side. It has tried to convince the world that the modern Macedonians are simply a creation of the Yugoslav Communist regime in 1945 in order to make claims on Greek territory; that the Slavic population of Yugoslav and Bulgarian Macedonia are not a separate nation from Bulgarians or Serbs; that even if they are, they never called themselves “Macedonian” before 1945; and that they “don't exist” in the Greek part of Macedonia.
Certainly, the ancient Macedonians were Greek in language and culture. But from the seventh century AD, Slavic people entered the region, blending in with the local Greek, Latin and Illyrian peoples. Gradually, they became differentiated into a number of distinct cultures. Those in the Macedonian and Bulgarian regions were close in language, with different cultural influences. Their languages were clearly distinct by the 11th century. The first written Slavic language, Old Church Slavonic, was based on a Macedonian dialect.
Greeks also continued to live in Macedonia. They did not call themselves Macedonian, but, like all Greeks in medieval times, “Romaioi” and, after 1821, Hellenes.
In the 1880s, the Macedonian people rose four times against the Ottoman empire. In 1893, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation (IMRO) was set up. Greek historians paint this as a Bulgarian front, but in reality it was divided between a pro-Bulgarian wing and the leading wing, which advocated an independent Macedonia as part of a Balkan federation. The IMRO had a socialist orientation.
A mass uprising in 1903 led to a brief Macedonian republic, bloodily suppressed by the Ottomans. Following this, Greek and Bulgarian nationalist forces got the upper hand in Macedonia. This led to the joint Greek-Bulgarian-Serbian attack on the Ottoman empire in 1912, dividing Macedonia between them.
This attack was opposed by socialists from Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Turkey at a Balkan conference in 1910, who called for an independent Macedonia in a Balkan federation.
Who lived in this region? An Ottoman census in 1906 for all Macedonia showed 1,150,000 Muslims, 627,000 Bulgarian Orthodox and 623,000 Greek Orthodox. Even if all Greek Orthodox were Greek, which is unlikely, clearly they were a minority. Even in the part taken by Greece, Greek Orthodox were only 43% of the population according to a 1912 census. On the other hand, Muslims were not just Turks; a large percentage were Muslim Slavs.
In the 1920s, Greece, Turkey and Bulgaria carried out a population exchange of some 3 million people. Muslims were sent to Turkey, Greek Christians to Greece, Slavic Christians to Bulgaria. Hence Greeks became a majority in Greek Macedonia.
However, 200,000 Slav Macedonians refused to leave Greece, largely because they did not consider themselves Bulgarian. The official Greek census of 1928 found 82,000 “Slavophones” in Greek Macedonia.
Ironically, documentation of the differences between these people and other Slavs and the fact that they called themselves Macedonian comes largely from Greek sources; “Slav-Macedonians” was a term invented by the Greek Foreign Affairs Department to describe people who called themselves Macedonians (Evangelos Kofos, Nationalism and Communism in Macedonia).
In 1936, the fascist dictatorship of Metaxas took power in Greece. The Macedonians' language was banned with heavy penalties, while mass exile of sections of the population took place. The Yugoslav and Bulgarian regimes followed the same policy, with thousands jailed and exiled, and attempts at Serbian colonisation of the region.
In Yugoslavia this resulted in daily demonstrations by Macedonians throughout 1939 and 1940. In Bulgaria, a guerilla struggle through the 1920s and 1930s was brutally put down.
In the 1940s in Greece, the mass of Macedonians joined the left-led resistance to Nazi occupation. The resistance organisations in Florina and Edessa were largely Macedonian. In 1944, the Slav-Macedonian People's Liberation Front (SNOF) was set up as their arm of EAM, the broader resistance front. There was a Macedonian leader, Keramitzev, in the underground government. When the Stalinist leadership of EAM surrendered Greece to the right in 1945, the new government's “white terror” organised massacres of Macedonians, 7000 of whom fled to Yugoslavia.
In Yugoslavia, Macedonians fought on the side of the Communist-led resistance under the Macedonian General Tembo. They formed their own section of the resistance before the Yugoslav CP officially recognised them.
In April 1942 Macedonian partisans organised an uprising against the Bulgarian occupation army in Yugoslav Macedonia, which was bloodily suppressed. The unarmed Macedonian population then poured into the streets to confront the Bulgarian forces, and were likewise drowned in blood.
Following the end of the Nazi occupation in Greece, the successor of SNOF, the National Liberation Front (NOF), was set up with the aim of “defending the national rights of the Macedonian people within a democratic Greece”. From 1946 to 1949 it fought on the side of the Communist Party against both the white terror regime of the Greek right and Bulgarian nationalist groups in the region. By 1949, Macedonians made up 14,000 of the 40,000 troops of this CP-led struggle.
This led to mass exile: 35,000 Macedonians fled Greece in 1949. But unlike Greek leftist refugees who have since returned, the Macedonians are barred from returning or even visiting relatives.
Greeks should recognise that the Macedonians have paid a heavy price fighting for freedom from Turkish, Greek, Serbian and Bulgarian oppression. The chauvinist policy towards Macedonia has been the historical property of the Greek right.
While the left has had an inconsistent policy, it has generally been associated with the Macedonian struggle. Hence this is not an “issue concerning all Greeks”, as the Greek right would have us believe. Leftists shamefacedly taking part in the current chauvinist hysteria are reinforcing the equally reactionary “national consensus”.

Greek parties stir up chauvinism
By Mike Karadjis

Four women have been arrested in Athens for handing out leaflets supporting self-determination for the Macedonian people and opposing the chauvinist hysteria which has gripped Greece in recent months.
The four were handing out a leaflet which stated, “We are not endangered by `Skopia' [the Greek government's term for the Macedonian republic], but by the hypernationalism which is likely to drag the country to war”.
It concluded: “The neighbouring peoples are not our enemies. Down with nationalism and war.” It claimed that the government and political parties are using the cover of the name “Macedonia” to intensify aggressive and racist policies against the neighbouring people.
The authorities were further annoyed that in the leaflet the name yugoslav (without a capital) Macedonia was used instead of the compulsory Greek newspeak, “Skopia”.
Earlier this year, four people were sentenced to six months in prison for putting up posters calling for the recognition of “Slavic Macedonia”.
Likewise, when Communist Party leader Aleka Papariga mentioned a “Slavophone” minority in parliament, without even using the word Macedonian, she created a virtual uprising from chauvinist MPs across the political spectrum and a vicious media assault.
For months now, editorials and articles in daily newspapers from the right, “left” and centre have openly advocated the dismemberment of Macedonia.
For example, a recent article in the left-liberal paper Avghi claimed that Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria should divide Macedonia and then Greece should give its share to Albania in exchange for southern Albania, where there is a big Greek minority.
The extent to which this chauvinism cements “consensus” was recently shown when a leader of the Left Coalition was interviewed on the Macedonian issue in the openly fascist newspaper Eleftheri Ora.
This has been reflected in the Greek-Australian press. An editorial in the April 6 issue of the right-wing Greek Herald asks whether, in the event of EEC recognition of Macedonia with any name that includes the word “Macedonia”, Greeks “will take up arms and march on Skopia”.
There is strong pressure from the EEC for Macedonia to be recognised as “Slavic Macedonia”, which pleases neither Greece nor Macedonia. In the event of Macedonian compromise on this, the Greek government of the right-wing New Democracy appears deeply divided.
Prime Minister Mitsotakis appears likely to accept a compromise to prevent Greek isolation from western allies. But the ambitious foreign is Samaras, is opposed to any compromise which includes the name Macedonia. The main opposition Social Democratic Pasok party is also playing the chauvinist card against Mitsotakis.

Jailed for handing out a leaflet
By Michael Karadjis

On May 6, a court in Greece, which regards itself as “the birthplace of democracy”, sentenced four people to 19 months in prison for handing out a leaflet. Another six people are already spending six months in jail for putting up posters.
The leaflet was distributed by the Antiwar-Antinationalistic Campaign, which is composed of a broad spectrum of the revolutionary left, anti-authoritarians, anarchists, student caucuses, sections of the ecologists and others. This group aims to counter the nationalistic and war hysteria that has built up over the last six months in relation to former Yugoslav Macedonia, which has now declared independence.
The campaign has carried out a number of activities, including a demonstration of about 1000 people on April 16.
“... a dirty game is being played behind our backs, which will have painful consequences on our lives, even if it does not end in a war”, the leaflet said.
It accused the powers that be of fostering nationalist hysteria “in order to make us forget the economic misery, unemployment, shrinking of income, the downgrading of the quality of our lives, the oppression of soldiers ...
“They want us to passively accept the murders of Albanian fugitives on the borders by the special army-police bodies they have formed. They want us to be indignant when somebody makes nationalistic statements in Skopje [the Macedonian capital], but to applaud when the same or even worse statements are heard in Athens or Salonica ...
“It is shameful for us to accept without protest the continued economic blockade of the neighbouring country, as well as the various proposals for military invasion of it ...
“We want to live in peace with all the Balkan peoples. And we are threatened by imperialist interventions, nationalistic governments and nazi-style preachings about race purity and extermination of minorities!
“... There are Turks, Pomaks, Slavomacedonians and Gypsies living also in Greece. We feel for these minorities living in our country exactly the same as for the rest of the Greek citizens. We do not want to cause them to disappear or to integrate them. On the contrary, we fight for them to enjoy as many freedoms and opportunities as we all enjoy, and we defend their particular language, religious and cultural rights. Doesn't the Greek government demand the same rights for Greek minorities living in other countries?”
The leaflet concludes: “Is there anyone who can dispute that in any unjust war our rulers may lead us into, the certain losers will be the working people, the youth and the peoples who will be dragged into them?”

Balkan war may spread to south
By Michael Karadjis

The Republic of Macedonia could be the next target in Serbian warlord Slobodan Milosevic's campaign against his neighbours.
On June 26, the European Community caved in to Greek demands and decided to refuse recognition of the republic unless it adopts a new name that does not include “Macedonia” in it.
The US immediately stated its agreement with this resolution, which has opened up Macedonia to mortal danger.
Having conquered one-third of Croatia and two-thirds of Bosnia-Hercegovina, which were recognised by the EC and the US, Milosevic is not likely to feel restrained about turning his guns southwards against unrecognised Kosovo and Macedonia.
Moreover, the July 5 declaration of a Croatian state in the third of Bosnia-Hercegovina not already occupied by Serbia could indicate plans to divide the Balkans among the stronger states. In order to find a balance between the competing nationalist ruling groups which have taken over since the collapse of Stalinism, and also between them and the Greek and Turkish ruling classes, the weaker peoples will be sacrificed.
These weaker peoples include the Bosnian Muslims, the Macedonians and the Albanians of Kosovo, who face a particularly brutal and racist occupation by the Milosevic regime.
In this context, the EC's refusal to recognise Macedonia is an open encouragement to the appetites of this small state of 2 million people.
Serbia's aggression has been stepped up with the siege of the town of Gorazde, which is 70% Muslim. Its 40,000 residents and 30,000 refugees have been without drinking water and electricity for months.
The Serbian militia -- made up of monarcho-fascist Chetniks and the remains of the Yugoslav army -- aim to drive the Muslim majority from the town. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims and Croats have already been driven out of the Serbian-controlled parts of Croatia and Bosnia-Hercegovina in a gigantic “ethnic cleansing” operation.
The declaration of a Croatian state in Bosnia by the Croatian militia leader, Mate Baban, was supported by Croatian President Franjo Tudjman. Strong evidence suggests this was a result of a secret deal between Tudjman and Milosevic for the dismemberment of Bosnia-Hercegovina.
This leaves the Bosnian Muslims, half the population and the absolute majority in 52 out of the 96 cantons in the republic, completely under foreign domination. “Does this mean the end of us as a people?”, asked
Bosnian leaders called the Croatian declaration a stab in the back to a planned joint offensive against the Serbian besiegers of Sarajevo.
However, despite some reports of fraternisation between Serbian and Croatian militias, in much of the republic Croats have continued to fight alongside their Muslim allies. Further, the Tudjman regime is still under pressure from the enormous refugee population to take back Croatian territories conquered by Serbia.
There are also indications that the Chetnik militia are having trouble keeping control over the hostage Serbian population. Some recent gains against Serbian-occupied territories showed the local Serbs had little interest in siding with the murderous rabble in control.
Even more dramatic have been several demonstrations of Serbs in the occupied regions of Croatia demanding the return of the expelled Croatian population! This is not so surprising given that millions of Yugoslavs are in mixed families. The “Greater Serbia” drive has forced the break-up of enormous numbers of families.
The actions of the Serbian forces, particularly the siege of 300,000 people in Sarajevo, who have been trapped without food and medical supplies for months, have opened the region to western military intervention.
The UN has declared sanctions against Serbia, and 16 NATO warships have moved into the Adriatic to police them. The US warned that it was prepared to use air power to cover operations aimed at bringing relief aid to Sarajevo.
While any relief to the starving population is to be welcomed, in the longer term the Serbian regime and its actions in no way threaten western interests. On the contrary, apart from the initial relief effort, the most likely role of any UN force will be to enforce the new borders carved out by the stronger states.
At the very most, the west may have decided that Milosevic and his “Socialist” party are now something of an embarrassment, and sanctions may aim at helping the right-wing opposition to topple his government.
This opposition, consisting of the Orthodox Church and the Serb-medievalist Draskovic, have recently hijacked the leadership of the peace movement. However, they are extreme partisans of “Greater Serbia” and until late last year enthusiastic supporters of the war. Draskovic has openly declared Croats to be “inferior” since the Serbs “brought them language”, and the Macedonians to be nothing but a communist plot.
Even the moderate Democratic Party has declared that “if the Albanians raise the political demand for independence, all necessary means must be employed against them”. All deputies in the Serbian parliament sures against the Albanians.
Clearly, these forces see the peace movement as a road to power. The peace movement has declined markedly since they took it over. These forces would bring “peace” once Milosevic has finished the dirty work. They do not even hint at withdrawing from the occupied territories.
Meanwhile, in Greece, state repression against the antiwar movement continues. Five Greek socialists, members of the Socialist Revolution Organisation, have been charged for producing a booklet which opposes the Greek's government's line on Macedonia and supports the Macedonians' right to self-determination. The three charges carry a five-year prison sentence.
Already 200 trade unionists have signed a declaration demanding that the charges be dropped, as have the Greek Communist Party and all the far left forces.
This latest repressive move follows the six months prison sentence given to six people in January for putting up posters calling for recognition of “Slav Macedonia”, and the 19 months sentence given to four others in April for handing out an antiwar leaflet which had been signed by 169 people, including several MPs and many prominent unionists, artists, writers and academics.

Repression against Macedonians in Greece
By Mike Karadjis

While the Greek government insists that there are no (Slav) Macedonians in Greece and therefore they cannot be oppressed, when actual people put holes in this convenient theory by claiming to exist, the government's response is oppression.
Amnesty International has written to the Greek government expressing its concern about the alleged violent treatment of Archimandrite Nikodimos Tsarknias upon his return to Greece after holding an Easter mass at a Macedonian church in Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia.
Archimandrite Tsarknias, a Greek citizen of the Macedonian ethnic minority, was reportedly beaten by Greek border guards on May 4 when returning to Greece. His sister, who had come to meet him, was also reportedly attacked. Following further interrogation in Florina, he collapsed and was hospitalised.
He was later released without charges being laid. Amnesty International is therefore concerned that the only reason for his mistreatment was his outspoken defence of Macedonian national rights in Greece. Last year he faced a church court for using the Macedonian language in his church and was defrocked.
Amnesty reports that another ethnic Macedonian, Christos Sideropoulos, is facing trial on May 25 charged with “spreading false information which may cause disruption of the international relations of Greece”. This charge relates to a statement he made at an international human rights conference in Copenhagen in 1990, where he claimed to belong to the “Slav-Macedonian” minority in Greece whose rights were violated.
Following this conference, Sideropoulos faced considerable harassment, including having his job transferred to the other end of Greece in order to encourage him to quit.
Amnesty states that, if imprisoned, “he will be a prisoner of conscience and should be immediately and unconditionally released”. The International Helsinki Human Rights Federation has demanded that Greece withdraw the accusations against Sideropoulos.
Sideropoulos and another Macedonian, Anastasios Boulis, were sentenced last year to five months in prison on another charge, that of claiming to “feel Macedonian” and stating that their people were oppressed. Following an appeal, their sentences have been stayed.
Sissy Vovon, from the Left Feminists Forum in Greece, was recently in Skopje as a guest of the Civilian Forum for Dialogue between Greece and Macedonia. Over Macedonian radio, Vovou said that the Anti-Nationalist Anti-War Campaign in Greece, of which she is a leading member, has made attempts to organise demonstrations in Salonika, demanding an embargo on nationalism rather than on Macedonia.

Greek CP, leftists oppose chauvinist campaign
By Michael Karadjis

The impression that Greeks are unanimously behind the Greek government in its campaign against Macedonia has been widely fostered in Australia, by both the Greek media and the establishment media. The reality is vastly different.
For a start, the Greek Communist Party (KKE), which has traditionally been the third party in parliament, voted against the embargo that the Greek government recently imposed on Macedonia. This embargo, essentially an act of war, stops virtually everything from reaching landlocked Macedonia through the Greek port of Salonika.
Greece imposed the blockade following recognition of the new republic by the US and European countries under the name “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (FYROM) earlier this year. The ruling parties in Greece organised a new round of nationalistic mass rallies against the republic being recognised, culminating in up to a million people demonstrating in Salonika. However, the size of these rallies was partly due to all schools and many workplaces being closed and students and workers, along with everyone else, getting free transport from all over northern Greece to attend.
The KKE opposed these rallies, as it has other such rallies, because of their chauvinist character. It also protested against the forced closing of schools. The other major left current, the Coalition of the Left and Progress (CLP), which two years ago was in the thick of the chauvinist hysteria, has since changed its position and opposed the latest rallies.
Slogans at the rallies included “Macedonia, 4000 years Greek” (there was no such thing as a Greek 4000 years ago) and even “To arms! To arms! Let's take Skopje!”
Similar rallies have been held in Australia by sections of the Greek community. The odd thing about all these rallies is that they protest against recognition of the new state under the ridiculous name “FYROM”, even though Greece supported the entry of the republic into the UN last year with that name.
KKE leader Aleka Papariga has even broken the ultimate taboo by referring to the minority population in Greek Macedonia. While not using the term “Macedonian” but simply referring to the rights of the “Slavophones”, she nevertheless created a chauvinist uproar in parliament, followed by a vicious media assault and attempted attacks by right-wing thugs, and she was declared “persona non grata” in various cities.
The clearest opposition to the government's line on Macedonia has come from the far left and many prominent individuals. They have organised rallies of 10-15,000 people.
Last year, 358 academics, artists, unionists and others put their names to a petition which stated, “Only Greek Macedonia is Greek” -- counterposed to the official slogan “There is only one Macedonia and it has always been Greek.” Another 169 prominent people put their names to a statement headed “The neighbouring peoples are not our enemies”, which called for the recognition of Macedonia and democratic rights for the minority in northern Greece.
For handing out this leaflet, four people were sentenced to 19 months in prison. There are now around 20 people facing prison sentences for expressing oppositional views on this issue in this “land of democracy”.
Last year, 17-year-old Michael Papadakis was sentenced to a year in prison for handing out a leaflet calling Alexander the Great a war criminal and stating that there are no races, since everyone is of mixed ancestry. Three Macedonians face prison sentences for crimes such as saying that they “feel Macedonian” and suggesting that their people are oppressed.
Even sections of the right have expressed discomfort with where the chauvinist tidal wave is taking Greece. Former Prime Minister Mitsotakis, who is on record when PM as saying that Greeks will “get used to” the name Macedonia, has recently raised the possibility of breaking with his right-wing New Democracy party, over its support for the blockade imposed by the current PASOK government.
This position may reflect a more sober “European” view than the isolationism of the ex-socialist PASOK and its ultraright allies in the Political Spring party. Greece's blockade has been condemned by the European Union, and the European Commission has referred Greece to the European Court of Justice.
Greece's allies have shown little interest in Macedonian self-determination, taking two years to recognise the republic, and then under the name FYROM with various conditions attached. However, Greece's more extreme measures, such as the blockade, threaten economic collapse in Macedonia, possibly followed by a flare-up between the regime and the large Albanian minority.
This could invite intervention by the surrounding states and a wider Balkan war, bringing in NATO allies Greece and Turkey on opposing sides and dramatically increasing the flow of refugees to western Europe. It is this scenario that Greece's Western allies want to avoid.

Greek state's `non-existent' minority
NIKOS SAKELARIOS is a member of the "Rainbow" organisation and the Macedonian Movement for Balkan Prosperity in northern Greece, representing the officially "non-existent" ethnic Macedonian minority. He was interviewed by MICHAEL KARADJIS.

Question: How many of you "don't exist" in Greek Macedonia?
That's very hard to say. On the basis of the 7000 votes that Rainbow received in the last elections, we could say at least 10,000 conscious Macedonians, but we received these votes despite total media blackout and attempts to obstruct our campaign.
Broadly speaking, we can say that apart from this conscious minority, there is a sector that has long ago been completely Hellenised, and a large group in the middle who still speak Macedonian, have a part-Macedonian and part-Greek identity, and try to conform in order to keep their jobs, avoid harassment by police and other civilians, and to not jeopardise the chances of their overseas relatives returning. We believe that in conditions of freedom, many in this middle group would embrace Macedonian ethnicity.
Question: What are Rainbow's principal aims?
We struggle for the democratic rights of the Macedonian minority. Above all this means the right of our children to learn their language at school, which is essential to our survival. Also, in practice, we cannot use our language in print, as no printer will print it, due to fear, and we are banned from radio, even our songs.
One of the main issues is that of Macedonian refugees who fled after World War II. While Greek leftists have returned and reclaimed properties, or received compensation, our people are banned by legislation from doing the same, or even visiting.
This means that thousands of Macedonians in other countries have to keep their heads down and declare themselves Greek just in order to be allowed to visit relatives, let alone return and reclaim property. Those who are openly Macedonian are banned even from visiting to bury dead relatives. These racist laws need to be abolished.
Question: The Greek state charges that you also want to unite Greek Macedonia with the Macedonian republic.
They know very well this is nonsense, aimed at fooling and scaring the local Greek population. Besides, such ideas have no meaning. We struggle for the rights of the minority within Greece, but we also want the right to have cultural and other contacts with Macedonia.
Question: You said you were obstructed during the elections. In what way?
About two weeks before the elections, Rainbow and two other small parties were banned from standing. Soon after, this was reversed for the other two parties, but Rainbow was outlawed. Again this was overturned a few days later, but we had little time left.
Besides this, we were completely "non-existent" in the media. Just before the elections, every party had a special 10 minutes on TV -- except us. So we were happy with 7000 votes.
Question: But if the minority is so small, what does the Greek government fear? What would it lose by granting democratic rights?
One thing is what I said before: a free atmosphere may mean many more of us than we are now. The Greek state has always been very intolerant of difference, and a free coexistence between Greek and Macedonian communities would undermine this state ideology with which Greek workers are whipped into line.
But even if it overcame this, the big problem would be how to explain history. They would have to admit their decades of oppression and ethnic cleansing of our people, and that much of what is taught as Greek "history" at school is myths.
Question: Greek sources claim you have no right to call yourselves Macedonians because in the past you always called yourselves "Bulgarians" until Tito came to power in Yugoslavia in 1945, baptising you "Macedonians" in order to push territorial claims on Greece.
That is all complete nonsense. In any case, it is rather unlikely that a state could force a whole people, with no apparent resistance, to be a nationality that they didn't want to be. And if we look at Macedonian communities abroad, many came from Greek Macedonia before Tito established his power in Yugoslav Macedonia, yet they are fiercely Macedonian. Tito must have been a miracle worker.
Official Greek records from the 1920s and 1930s referred to us as Macedonians, and in 1926 we were even briefly recognised and textbooks in our language were produced. If we called ourselves "Bulgarians", how do you explain that Admond Bouche, travelling in Macedonia in 1928, wrote that "nine out of ten times a villager will reply `Macedonian'" to the question of what nationality he/she is. Or Greece's very own Stratis Myrivilis, a famous novelist clearly beyond suspicion of being a "Skopjean agent", wrote, "... they don't want to be Bulgarian, Serb or Greek. Simply `Macedonian Orthodox'".
Question: And they always called themselves "Macedonians" not "Slav-Macedonians"?
Almost never "Slav-Macedonians". The Slavic family of languages, to which Macedonian belongs, has never been part of our national consciousness, any more than English, who speak a language in the Germanic family, regard themselves as German. We recognise that some in Greece who support our cause use the term "Slav-Macedonian" with good intentions; however, this has no tradition among the Macedonians themselves.
Question: Nevertheless, many who support your cause think the word "Macedonian" by itself is not enough to distinguish you, in practice, from the Greek population of Greek Macedonia, who also call themselves Macedonians.
We have no objection to the Greeks in Macedonia calling themselves Macedonian, but ethnically they consider themselves Greek. Ethnically, the only name we have ever had for ourselves is Macedonian. This needn't cause as much trouble as some might imagine. For example, people in the USA call themselves "American" without causing any apparent problem for the other 20 or so nations that make up the two continents of America.
However, it may satisfy such anxieties that we often use the term "local Macedonians". This has a real historical basis, because after the Greek army occupied the southern half of Macedonia in 1913, it referred to our people, usually in a derogatory way, as "locals".
This distinguishes us from the bulk of Greeks in Macedonia, who were not local, but refugees from Asia Minor in the 1920s. Then, we were the "locals", they were the "refugees".
Of course, there were also local Greeks, particularly in the far south of Macedonia, and Vlachs and Jews, but they considered themselves Greeks, Vlachs and Jews. "Local Macedonian" was the name reserved for our people, and in time we took it up to maintain our specificity during years of forced assimilation. In practice, we have used the terms "local" and "Macedonian" for ourselves and our language interchangeably throughout the century.
This interview was recorded before the signing of the Greek-Macedonian accord of September 13. While Rainbow and the Macedonian Movement for Balkan Prosperity came out in support of the agreement, the actions of the Greek state do no look very promising.
On the very day of the signing of the accord, the offices of the above organisations in Florina were raided by Greek police, who seized documents and literature and stole the sign on the front of the office on which the names of the two organisations were written in both Greek and Macedonian.
Soon after, the offices were destroyed by a deliberately lit fire. It is suspected that the criminals belonged to one of the ultraright Greek nationalist groups opposed to the accord.
The reaction of the Greek state to this outrage was to charge the two Macedonian organisations with "spreading propaganda which may create confusion and discord among the population", using laws from the 1930s fascist dictatorship of Metaxas.
The pretext was that their names on the sign were in the "non-existent" Macedonian language and the Cyrillic script. Clearly, whatever the spirit of the accord, it will take some struggle to stop the "birthplace of democracy" from using fascist laws for racist repression. -- Michael Karadjis

Greece ends attempt to crush Macedonia
By Michael Karadjis

The US-sponsored negotiations between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia, resulting in the September 12 interim accord, began before Greece lifted its embargo on the neighbouring state. This was a setback for Macedonia's understandable insistence that the embargo be lifted before talks begin.
The US never had any intention of letting down its NATO ally on behalf of tiny, weak Macedonia, and refused full recognition until Greece's concerns were met. This is despite the conspiracy theories of right-wing and "left-wing" Greek nationalists, who were forever seeing the US using "Skopje" (Greece's name for the Macedonian republic) to undermine Greece. Just why the US would want to undermine Greece's loyal capitalist rulers was always a mystery.
Yet the whole agreement is a defeat for the Greek government's attempt to destroy the new state. The embargo will be lifted and in any case had been only on paper for several months. Greece recognises the sovereignty of the new republic.
Macedonia will drop its current flag, which displays a symbol from ancient Macedonia. Greece particularly objected to the flag, because the question of who "owns" the ancient people of world conqueror and slaughterer Alexander the Great has been important to nationalists on both sides. However, this flag was not an original issue in the dispute.
One of Greece's other demands was that Macedonia change its constitution, yet in the accord it reaffirms its constitution, merely making an explanatory declaration about certain clauses.
Until now, the Greek government's dishonest assertions that Macedonia's constitution contained articles which suggest a "Greater Macedonia" and hence territorial claims have been the main piece of propaganda with which the government has whipped up nationalistic hysteria.
Supposedly the major difference has been Greece's demand that Macedonia change its name and adopt one that does not include the word Macedonia. Discussion of this is to begin later, yet no conditions have been set. While Greece has made no official statement, in practice the population is being groomed to accept the sort of combined name that Greece fought until now -- "New" or "North" Macedonia, for example. For his part, Macedonian foreign minister Chervenkovski stated that "no promises" are being made.
Bipartisan support
In Greece, the agreement has the support of both the ruling PASOK and, with some polite reservations, the opposition New Democracy. The main opposition has come from a small populist-nationalist section of the gutter press. Their furious headlines about "betrayal" have been met by complete indifference from the mass of the population. Gone are the gigantic rallies, organised as they were by the entire state apparatus.
The Coalition of the Left and Progress over the last couple of years has swung away from its original participation in the chauvinist tidal wave of 1991-92, and so was in favour of the spirit of the agreement. However, like New Democracy, it managed a little polite criticism of the government from the right, calling for all of Greece's 1992 demands to be met.
To its credit, however, the Coalition opposed the US role, as did the Communist Party (KKE). The KKE had always opposed the chauvinist campaign over Macedonia and the embargo, and called for direct negotiations without US mediation. It declared that "the ease with which the `obstacles' were overcome ... shows the differences were largely artificial, and the aim had been to maintain US-controlled instability throughout the region".
The Rainbow party, representing the ethnic Macedonian minority in northern Greece, welcomed the agreement.
Within Macedonia, the nationalist opposition -- VMRO-DPMNE, MAAK (Conservative) and the Democratic Party -- have opposed the agreement, particularly stressing that it leaves out all mention of the rights of the minority in northern Greece. However, in the agreement the two countries confirm their support for a long series of human rights conventions and declarations, some of which refer to Greece's treatment of the minority.
Nationalist contradiction
If Greece has been forced to accept the sovereignty of Macedonia, it is because the basic contradiction of the Greek nationalist position has come to the fore.
For Greek capital, and particularly for small business in Greek Macedonia, the embargo against the neighbouring republic has meant a dramatic loss of opportunities to invest and trade, from a position of obvious economic power. Greek capital is capable of "conquering" Macedonia economically if it establishes normal relations. While it has been wasting this opportunity, rivals such as Turkey and Bulgaria have been making inroads.
According to Sissy Vovou, from the Anti-Nationalist Anti-War Campaign, at the onset of the chauvinist campaign in late 1991, a group of Greek capitalists came out in open opposition for precisely these reasons, but soon swung into line.
Vovou pointed out that the most extreme chauvinism came not from the capitalists but from sections of the middle class, generals, Orthodox bishops, populist media and the then opposition PASOK.
Vovou emphasises the role of PASOK and the use of nationalism in party rivalry. "Socialist" PASOK, in reality a middle class populist party, campaigned furiously against the then ruling New Democracy, claiming that ND was about to "sell out" Greece.
Leaders of ND, being more direct representatives of big capital, now admit that they did not want to follow the confrontational approach, but were forced into it by PASOK, and from then on the two parties tried to outdo each other. Now that PASOK is in power, however, it has come to the same "pragmatic" conclusions.
However, if the nationalist ruling cliques in Serbia, Bulgaria or Albania had attempted to divide up Macedonia, Greece would have been ready to share in the spoils. The nationalism helped prepare the population for such an eventuality, but now it has become an impediment to the real economic game.
Furthermore, the break-up of Yugoslavia occurred at a very opportune time for the Greek ruling class, trying to force through horrific economic adjustments, at the expense of Greek workers, to improve its competitive position within the European Union.
Several years later, the massive cuts, privatisation, mass unemployment and the trebling of many prices while wages have remained low, indicate that the ruling class has been rather successful. The nationalistic atmosphere, directing the energy of the masses against an imaginary "foreign threat" rather than against the government, made it easier to get away with such policies.
According to Vovou, more important was the role of nationalism among the traditional middle classes. While big Greek capital can compete in the European Union, much of the middle class will be crushed. This is the basis for large-scale populist nationalism.
The final reason for trying to crush Macedonia was the feared effect an independent Macedonia might have in encouraging the related minority in northern Greece in its struggle for democratic rights. What remains to be seen is whether the legitimacy now conferred on the neighbouring state does indeed encourage this struggle, or alternatively, the dominant position of Greek capital further erodes national self-determination in practice.