|07-08-2012, 11:18 PM||#1|
Join Date: Sep 2009
Macedonian Human Rights Review no.11
Macedonian Human Rights Review no.11 July 2012
Just Released, please click the link for a free download option: http://www.macedonianhr.org.au/wip/i...=107&Itemid=99
Inside this issue of the MHR Review:
*McDougall’s 2009 UN Report – George Vlahov
*Our Mirror and the Foresight of Lepen – George Papadakis
*For Many Years to Come: Nova Zora, as the Persecution Continues – Dimitri Jovanov
*Beyond Human Understanding? – Jim Thomev
*An Alternative Solution to the Macedonian Name Dispute – Dr. Chris Popov
*How Many Greeks are there in Melbourne? – Dr. Chris Popov
*Greece will eventually have to accept the use of ‘Macedonian’ - AMHRC
*Greek Government ‘Frequently’ Interferes in Australian Policy on Macedonia – AMHRC
*The Macedonian Community of WA and Melville-Jones – Chris Angelkov
*The 29th Annual AMHRC Dinner
*All-Macedonian Sandanski Gathering in Melnik – Stojko Stojkov
*The Macedonian Poet, Nikola Vaptsarov – Dr. Michael Seraphinoff
*Interview with Anton Klimev – Johnny Tsiglev
|07-08-2012, 11:53 PM||#2|
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Macedonian Colony of Australia
Another good read, highly recommended, great work and poignant content, well done AMHRC!
On Delchev's sarcophagus you can read the following inscription: "We swear the future generations to bury these sacred bones in the capital of Independent Macedonia. August 1923 Illinden"
|07-10-2012, 12:09 AM||#4|
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Sidnej, Avstralija
A great read! Thank you AMHRC
You want Macedonia? Come and take it from my blood!
A prosperous, independent and free Macedonia for Macedonians will be the ultimate revenge to our enemies.
|07-10-2012, 02:36 AM||#6|
Join Date: Sep 2009
Spolaj ti everyone.
Here is something from inside:
In Review: McDougall’s 2009 UN Report,
Macedonians, a Reminder of Realties Greece Needs to Accept
By George Vlahov
The United Nations Report on the “Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in Greece” was prepared by the U.N.’s expert on minority issues Ms Gay McDougall and is dated 18/2/09. The Report is based on information gathered by a mission to Greece that was undertaken by McDougall on behalf of the U.N. from September 8 – 16 in 2008. Although there are many facets to the Report, as indicated by the heading above, the focus of this discussion shall be on Greece’s Macedonian minority.
The mistreatment of ethnic minorities in Greece is a perennial issue. The Report found that there has been some improvement in Greece’s treatment of its Roma and ‘Muslim’ communities, though it also makes it abundantly clear that there is still a fundamental xenophobic essence pervading Greek national culture and that it remains a serious problem. The Report explains that “Greece recognises only one minority, the Muslim minority in Western Thrace…” (p.2) and aptly reminds the Greek authorities that “Minorities are constituent groups of Greek society, not a foreign element” (p.2).
The Fusion of Ethnicity and Citizenship = Denial of the Ethnic Other
The Greek state has entwined Greek citizenship too closely with Greek ethnicity and thus ethnic minorities are not only denied various citizenship rights, they are often treated as dangerous foreigners – in spite of the fact that their ancestors inhabited regions like Macedonia and Thrace, long before these lands were annexed by the Greek state, early in the 20th century. The Report put it this way:
“One also senses an interest in promoting a singular national identity. This approach may leave little room for diversity. It can contribute to a climate in which citizens who wish to freely express their ethnic identities face government blockages and in some instances, intimidation from other individuals or groups. … Some consider those who want to identify as a person belonging to a minority ethnic group to be conspirators against the interest of the Greek state” (p.22, point 82).
The most peculiar and incredible aspect of the Greek fear of the other is that it extends to the point of actually denying the existence of any ethnic minorities. This not only indicates that the xenophobia is quite extensive in scope; it also encourages the perception of a Greek political and administrative elite that has lost the capacity to engage in reasoned discussion. As the Report explains, the Greek authorities refuse for example, to admit the existence of both ethnic Turks and Macedonians (p.2). Indeed, on the issue of the existence of Macedonians, the Report states that there is in Greece, a rather vehement denial (p.13, point 41). That this denial is quite futile and senseless is made clear in point 45 of the Report, which emphatically states:
“The independent expert met numerous individuals identifying as ethnic Macedonian. Some described themselves as fluent in the Macedonian language having learned it within their families as it is not taught at school. Others described frustration that they lack fluency due to lack of learning opportunities. They claim to have made numerous approaches to the Greek Ministry of Education regarding language education, which have never been acknowledged” (p.14).
The Report further explains that:
“The response of earlier Greek governments was to suppress any use of the Macedonian language and cultural activities. In recent times the harsh tactics have ceased but those identifying as ethnic Macedonian still report discrimination and harassment. [This is elaborated upon in points 46 and 47 on p.14 of the report.] They consider it of crucial importance for their continued existence that their ethnic identity and distinctiveness is respected. The Macedonian language is not recognised, taught, or a language of tuition in schools” (p.13, point 41).
A Tradition of Denial
An ethnic Greek tradition of denying the existence of Macedonians extends back at least to 1912. It was in 1912/13 that the Greek state, via its military forces, illegitimately occupied and seized around 51% of Macedonia. Since 1912/13, with a view to aiding the denial and concealment of Macedonians, successive Greek governments have implemented various abusive measures. Some, though by no means all of these, are noted in the Report:
“In the 1920s and 30s laws required the replacement of non-Greek names of towns, villages, rivers and mountains with Greek names. The family names of the Macedonian speaking population were also required to be changed to Greek names. Individuals seeking to re-instate Macedonian family names have had their petitions refused by authorities on administrative grounds. Community representatives note that traditional names continue to be in common usage and call for reinstatement and the official usage of a dual nomenclature e.g. Florina/Lerin” (p.13, point 42).
One might refer to these measures as a form of symbolic ethnic cleansing. We note here, how this UN Report, unlike recent “human rights” reports issued by the U.S. State Department, values the self ascription of Macedonians and avoids the disrespectful practice of referring to Macedonians and the Macedonian language with the generic linguistic and ethnically meaningless label “Slavic”.
In renaming Macedonians, the US State Department is serving to encourage the Greek state’s current stance and to reinforce the maintenance of negative stereotypes. The terms “Slav”, “Slavic” and “Slavo”, have long been in pejorative use in Greece and current Greek policy is in fact to refer to Macedonians as “Slavophone-Greeks”. In any case, to include “human rights” in the title of a report which does not respect the self ascription of the people it is describing, is to preach one thing and practice another.
International Politics does not offer a Legitimate Escape for Greece
There is an international political aspect to the present day Greek policy of minority denial. To quote the Report: “The Greek government’s understanding of the term minorities is too restrictive to meet current standards…” (p.21, point 81) because it treats minority issues as if they are inter-state matters. However as the Report rightly asserts, the “decision that a certain group should receive the protections due to minorities does not have implications for inter-state relations” (p.2). Certainly it would not have any legal implications.
Though we here suspect that Greek governments of all persuasions are motivated by the fear that their policy of preventing the international integration of the neighbouring Republic of Macedonia, would be practically undermined if the step of finally recognising the existence of Macedonians is taken. Such a development is quite possible; however it can in no way justify the continuing mistreatment and non-recognition of Macedonians in Greece. In any case, Greece’s significant efforts to prevent the international community’s acceptance of the Republic of Macedonia are also quite unjust. The Greek state objects to the name democratically chosen by the inhabitants of the Republic of Macedonia, however, it simply does not have a right, legal or moral, to impose a name change of any kind on that country.
The irony in this discussion is that the Greek state is more than happy to complain about the treatment of ethnic Greek minorities in other countries, especially in neighbouring Albania. Yet the Albanian state not only recognises the existence of its Greeks, it affords them rights in practice which Greece’s unrecognised minorities can only dream about. The shameless nature of the double standard is revolting and makes it impossible to express even a smidgen of ‘sympathetic understanding’ for Greek state policy and practice in regard to the minorities inhabiting Greece.
Issues connected to respect for the law and for the elimination of discriminatory laws are extensively examined within the Report. For example the Report explains that the Greek state apparatus and judiciary, in refusing to permit the registration of a Macedonian organisation, Home of Macedonian Culture, is in contravention of European Court findings (p.13, point 43).
Moreover, the Report condemns the Greek state’s introduction of discriminatory laws in 1982 and 1985, which were specifically designed to prevent ethnic Macedonians who fled Greece for their safety during the Greek Civil War (1946 – 1949), from reclaiming their Greek citizenship and property. These laws, which are still in force today, explicitly state that only “Greeks by Genus” are permitted such rights (pp.13-14, point 44).
The Report also emphasises that the Greek state needs to bring itself up to date as its
“...interpretation of the term “minorities” is too restrictive to meet current standards: it focuses on the historical understanding of “national minorities” created by the dissolution of empires or agreements concluded at the end of wars—the so-called Minority Treaties. This historical paradigm limits the definition to those communities identified in specific bi-lateral treaties...” (point 81).
This is a polite way of informing the Greek political establishment that requirements have changed since pre-WWII Europe and that the Greek government needs to:
“…consider its obligations with respect to minority populations as arising within the post-1945 legal framework of modern human rights treaties and jurisprudence based upon the principle that protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including those of persons belonging to minorities, is the responsibility of the state in which the persons and/or minority groups reside. These rights are universal and are elaborated in multi-lateral treaties and other documents that constitute core aspects of human rights law, including minority rights” (pp.22-23, point 86).
More reasons as to why Greece needs to be reminded of its legal responsibilities are made clear in point 84:
“…Roma (those who are not Muslims), Muslims who are not from Western Thrace, those who claim a Macedonian ethnicity and more recent but settled immigrant communities are limited with respect to the full enjoyment of their rights of self-identification and the particular enhanced protections that they may be due as minorities. … Further, those who identify as belonging to an ethnic Macedonian minority face social pressures and a challenge to their motives by the government. Associations have been denied registration because their name includes the words “Turkish” or “Macedonian”. Their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of association as protected under Article 19 and Article 22 of the ICCPR respectively have been infringed” (p.22).
This point is particularly important because it underlines that Greece is not only legally obliged to reverse its policy of minority denial; the Greek state also has obligations which require it to take positive steps to ensure that Macedonians, Turks and other minorities are protected from xenophobic social elements.
Taking all of the above into account, the Report logically advises that:
“The government should retreat from the dispute over whether there is a Macedonian minority or a Turkish minority and place its full focus on protecting the rights to self-identification, freedom of expression and freedom of association of those communities. The Greek government should comply with the judgments of the European Court on Human Rights that associations should be allowed to use the words Macedonian or Turkish in their names and to freely express their ethnic identities. Those associations denied in the past must be given official registration promptly. Their further rights to minority protections must be respected as elaborated in the Declaration on Minorities and the core international human rights treaties. (90)
The government should guarantee the right to personal security and freedom from intimidation or discriminatory actions by private or public actors on the grounds of the exercise of their right to self-identification.” (91)
These findings are not new and have been made by other reputable organisations, like the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) and Helsinki Watch; the question that needs to be asked, is: when will institutions like the U.N. and the E.U. consider implementing some serious sanctions in order to ‘encourage’ Greece to end the practice of mistreating its ethnic minorities?
In the immediate aftermath of the Report’s publication, the Greek government made it clear that it was not going to accept the Report’s criticisms and that it certainly was not going to recognise the existence of the Macedonian minority. The mainstream Greek daily newspaper, Ta Nea, on the 7th of March 2009, reported that the Greek Foreign Minister, Dora Bakoyannis, responded by expressing her “annoyance” at the Report’s author, Gay McDougall and this was specifically connected to the Report’s recognition of Greece’s Macedonian minority.
More than three years have elapsed since the publication of this UN Report and despite the election of a new Greek government, we may categorically assert that the Greek state has done absolutely nothing in regard to implementing the necessary changes, in relation to human rights for Macedonians. Considering the precariousness of the Macedonian minority’s position in Greece, the danger is that any further delays in attempting to bring Greece into line might be too late to be of any assistance to Macedonians....
A few more General Observations on the Greek Denial of Macedonians
The desire of mainstream Greek nationalist culture to see the death of Macedonian ethnic/national identity is something that has become increasingly detestable. Many years of observing it and interacting with it first hand, has certainly contributed to making it so. It is also very discouraging to observe that there has not been any major effort from within the mainstream of the Greek world, whether in Greece or Greek Diaspora communities, to develop some sort of reconciliation movement or social re-education programs.
Yes there are honest Greek historians like Litoksou and Sofos; debunkers like the Anti-Nationalist Movement of Greece and the Greek Helsinki Monitor – but they are still only peripheral in their influence at best. There is next to nothing from the mainstream of Greek political or academic culture, other than efforts to sure up the denial and the hatred.
Official report after report from ECRI, the UN, Helsinki Monitor, various academics and supposedly legally binding obligations and still nothing; nothing but the “annoyance” of the Greek mainstream and elites. Present day Greek national culture is certainly a phenomenon which the advocates of primordialism should be looking into...
For it is a social phenomenon that seems to have become so obdurately attached to a perception of itself as the culture of an ethnically ‘pure’ nation-state, and to an interconnected mythical version of its historical origins, as to have become unmalleable in this regard. Those citizens of Greece who exhibit ethno-cultural difference, by, for example, possessing and speaking a native language which is not Greek, perforce, generate existential historical uncertainty and thereby create an anxious surplus energy within the ‘pure’ Greek majority, which is then sublimated into peculiar forms of xenophobia and ethnic hatred.
When objective outsiders point out the facts, in the eyes of Greek political leaders, they are alchemised into “Skopje conspiracies”. The comparatively small and weak Republic of Macedonia, somehow managed to ‘manipulate’ the UN. Gay McDougall met with ‘phantoms’ in Aegean Macedonia; ‘phantoms’ indeed from one perspective – the Macedonian ‘bogeymen’ who by their mere ethnically distinct existence, undermine the fairy tale propagated by Greek historiography, of the modern Greek nation’s direct social descent from the ‘glorious’ ancient Greeks and Macedonians.
Modern Greece – Romance without the Rational
The romantic gaze of western European modernity, which liked the idea of creating a reminder of the Classical past, might have been enough to begin to build a modern Greek state in the 1830’s, but it was never going to be enough to sustain the state in terms of a stable and proficient long term existence.
Tales of the ‘glories’ of the ancient City States and the Eastern Roman Empire seemed to provide enough glue to begin the process of creating a nation out of the disparate linguistic cultural elements (speakers of Albanian, Vlach, Greek, Slavic, Italian and Turkish) inhabiting the former Ottoman province during the early years of the new state’s existence. But there is more to western modernity than just romance – the work ethic; the pursuit of economic, legal and bureaucratic rationalism in rejection of hereditary rights, nepotism and cronyism; civic acceptance of cosmopolitanism and secularism etc.
Albanian, Vlach and Greek speaking merchants, who more or less had some feel for the ‘ways of the west’, did play a crucial role in the establishment of the new state, but they were not the only important ‘players’ – the Orthodox Church, with its dreams of recreating the Eastern Roman/Byzantine Empire and various culturally heterogeneous ‘bandit’ type leaders of the peasant masses, who possessed values more in line with those of the romantics, were no less important in the process of constructing this new nation state, called Greece.
The compromises implemented to establish the new order were hardly an equitable balance between what is required by modernity and those social forces that had little in common with such requirements. Considering the nature of the pre-modern Ottoman context out of which the new state emerged, it is no surprise that salient aspects of the rational and cosmopolitan sides of modern nation building were short changed in the process; and the Greek nation-state has been stumbling along ever since, enduring crisis after crisis, economic - the current financial collapse of Greece is the latest in a series of major economic crises which extend back well into the 19th century* - and political, from the Asia Minor disaster of the 1920’s, to the Metaxas dictatorship in the 30’s and the despotism of a military junta in the 60’s and 70’s. This is not however to suggest a teleological determination of events.
Rather, it is to observe that decisions have been made throughout the nation’s existence to neglect the development of a cultural shift that would encourage the rise of a more socially aware/responsible citizenry focused on creating a contemporary commonwealth and instead, to maintain, via the state education system, an intense dependence on preserving the unity of the nation by imbuing every generation with an obsessive affinity for the ‘glorious’ ancients and a deep belief in the conjoined myths that they are the sole legitimate ‘inheritors’ of this ‘glory’, and its direct ethno-cultural descendents. It was thus that the diverse cultural origins of the new nation were systematically obliterated and ‘forgotten’ and ‘maintaining’ the ethnic ‘purity’ of the nation developed into a core value of modern Greek national culture.
The Greek Economic Catastrophe and Greek Xenophobia in Relation to Macedonians
The continuing fanatical determination of many Greeks to place ‘top priority’ on denying the Republic of Macedonia and Macedonians in general, their human rights, indicates that they see very little of worth in the Greek nation at present, other than something quite removed from the present - their imagined ancient ancestors. As if the purpose of the nation is to exist, mainly as a reminder of an extremely distant ‘magical’ past, even if only as a very mediocre modernistic reflection of it. The angel of history, to use Walter Benjamin’s phrase, can be quite cruel.
At first glance, it’s really quite astounding, the whole economic edifice of Greek society is rapidly crumbling and yet all that many Greeks can still think about, is how to destroy the “Skopians” (a pejorative term commonly used by representatives of the Greek Government, ethnic Greeks in Greece and the Greek Diaspora, in reference to Macedonians).
Actually, the dynastic elites who have been mismanaging the country’s affairs for generations (it is common knowledge in Greece, that the leadership of the country has been mostly in the hands of a few families whose surnames appear again and again, in the upper echelons of the political and economic realms), instinctively, for their own sakes, attempt to strike out any evidence which might undermine the ancient fairy tale, as it may be all that stands between them, the disintegration of the nation’s current form and the emasculation of their privileges.
Thus, when everything else is failing, and it certainly appears at present that all else is indeed failing in Greece, then it can seem even more imperative to despise and deny those social elements, who by their ethnic otherness, put both the ancient narrative and the ethnic ‘purity’ of the nation into question. Moreover it is useful for those in power to in fact point out the existence of these others and then to also deny it, by playing silly semantic games with ancient names. The propagation of xenophobia in this form serves not only to prevent the deconstruction of the ‘glorious’ ancient direct descent narrative, it also assists, like the ancient narrative itself, in diverting attention from the serious problems stemming from a culture that is ill equipped to navigate the challenges of modernity.
It appears to be common in popular thought to think of the current fiscal collapse of Greece and the country’s pervasive xenophobia as social phenomena which are not directly connected or even quite unrelated – actually, upon reflection, it is obvious that they are intimately entwined. Those European and sensible Greek political leaders who think that now is not the time, the main thing at this moment is to put the country’s finances in order, are missing the point – the mismanagement of Greece’s finances is connected to every other aspect of Greece’s inability to bring itself more into line with all that is worthy within Modern thought, values and standards.
Choosing to not utilise the financial bail outs as a means to pressure the country to end its human rights violations and continuing to pander to its unjust campaign against the Republic of Macedonia, is affording Greece’s corrupt elites the ability to unnecessarily delay the process of fundamental bureaucratic, economic and educational reform, as well as aiding them to maintain their hegemony via myths and xenophobia....
* “Greece is the only known example of a country that has lived in bankruptcy since the day that it was born. If such a situation were to prevail in France or England for just one year, we would see terrible catastrophes. ...
... The powers that protect Greece have been obliged to guarantee the solvency of the Greek state so that it can negotiate with external lenders. But the loans thereby obtained have been squandered by the government without any benefit to the country: and now that this money has been spent, the guarantors have no other option but to have the good grace to pay the interest, which Greece cannot reimburse.
Today, the country has given up all hope of paying off its debts. And if the three powers continue to pay indefinitely in its stead, Greece will not be much better off because its outgoings will always be greater than its income.
... The taxpayers have followed the example of the tax collectors: they do not pay. Wealthy property owners, who wield significant influence, succeed in frustrating the state by bribing or intimidating its agents. The agents, who are poorly paid and may be dismissed at every change of minister, do not defend the interests of the state as they do in our country.
Their sole aim is to cultivate the rich and powerful and to line their pockets in the process. As for the small property owners, who are called on to pay for their wealthy neighbours, when they are not protected by their own poverty, they have powerful friends to ensure that their goods may not be seized.
... In Greece, the law is not the intractable entity that we know. Tax collectors are careful to listen to the taxpayers, sure in the knowledge that when formality has been swept aside by brotherly feeling, it will be easy to reach agreement. The Greeks know each other very well and like each other a little. But they have virtually no acquaintance with the abstract being we call a state, which they do not like at all. Finally, tax collectors are prudent: they know they should avoid exasperating their countrymen, that there are bad stretches on the road home and that accidents can happen.
They believe, as they did in the time of the Turks, that their masters are their enemies and that a man’s most noble right is the right to hold on to his money. It is for this reason that ... Greek ministers of finance produced two revenue budgets. One, the current fiscal year budget, indicated the sums the government ought to receive; the other, the administrative budget, indicated what it hoped to receive.”
These extracts come from an article that was written by Edmond About in 1858. It was recently reproduced on the internet by presseurop: http://www.presseurop.eu/en/content/...plus-ca-change
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