Greek propaganda claiming that "The name Macedonia is Greek"
This sign on Danforth Ave. in Toronto did not exist before 1988
Greek Denial of Macedonian Name | Greek Denial of Macedonian Minority | Greek Myth of Ethnic Purity
In its October 30 1997 edition, the ultra-nationalistic Greek newspaper, Stohos, published an article about my website. It claims that "Skopjiani" like myself are "spreading propaganda against Greece". The only response I have is - Thanks for the free advertising!
Greek Denial of Macedonian Name
The most important thing to remember about the "Macedonian conflict" is that the Greek position has changed dramatically over the past decade. Official Greek government policy was that
Macedonia did not exist. When Greece took over Aegean Macedonia in 1913, they killed, tortured and ethnically cleansed hundreds of thousands of Macedonians. They changed the names of people, villages, and landmarks from Macedonian to Greek in their attempts to eradicate the Macedonian name.
In the 1980's when it became evident that Yugoslavia was going to disintegrate and a part of Macedonia would become independent, Greece was afraid that they would lose Aegean Macedonia to a reunified Macedonian state. Therefore, propaganda that "Macedonia is 4000 years of Greek history" began. The very country that tried to destroy the Macedonian name now claims that Macedonia is Greek.
- After the Balkan Wars of 1912-13 and the partition of Macedonia: "Greece acquired the largest Macedonian territory, Aegean Macedonia. Even though this territorial acquisition did not necessarily satisfy its maximal pretensions in Macedonia, officially Athens claimed, as did Belgrade, that Macedonian and the Macedonian problem had ceased to exist. For the ruling elite in Greece, Aegean Macedonia became simply northern Greece and its Slavic-speaking Macedonians were proclaimed Greeks or, at best, 'slavophone' Greeks." Once the new rulers had consolidated their control over the respective parts of Macedonia, they initiated policies which aimed to destroy all signs of Macedonian nationalism, patriotism or particularism. This was to be accomplished through forced deportations and so-called voluntary exchanges of populations, colonization, social and economic discrimination, and forced denationalization and assimilation through the total control of the education systems and of cultural and intellectual life as a whole. These policies were pursued systematically and with great determination by Greece. 1
- "...Macedonia was split apart in 1912 when the Bulgarians, the Greeks and the Serbs united to push the Turks out of the Balkans. Succeeding in that, they split Macedonia between them. Aegean Macedonia was taken by Greece by conquest, never by any act of self-determination. Both Serbia and Greece tried to obliterate the name of Macedonia, and the use of the Macedonian language in the conquered territories. The northern portion was called South Serbia, the southern portion was called Northern Greece. For many years the Greeks avoided the use of the name Macedonia to describe its northern province."2
- "Only in the last three years have the Greeks decided to reclaim the name they abandoned and actually tried to suppress for so many years."3
- "Funnily enough, northern Greece was for so many years called just that, 'Northern Greece', and it had its own minister...the name Macedonia was considered somehow suspect."4
This is a non-issue. Before the Greek propaganda changed, you could not say the "M" word to a Greek. They vehemently denied the existence of such a land, people, or language. Now they
claim that the land is Greek, but there are still no ethnic Macedonian people or language, that it is simply "Slavic" or "Bulgarian".
In Greece, the government tried to eliminate any trace of Macedonia. Since the independence of the Republic of Macedonia, however, a concerted programme was implemented in order to
prove the "Greekness of Macedonia". Institutions such as the "University of Macedonia" opened in Solun (Greek name-Thessaloniki), the "Museum of Macedonia" and a news agency called the "Macedonian Press Agency".
Here is a quote from Traianos Hadjidimitriou, Greek journalist and former member of the Greek parliament.
- "In August 1988 Greece renamed "Northern Greece" as "Macedonia". Only since this renaming have Greek claims to Macedonian heritage gained widespread publicity." 5
- "...Greece did not refer to any part of its current territory
as Macedonia until 1988, when Papandreou's government officially adopted the name Macedonia to replace that of Northern Greece. This point added weight to the notion that the dispute with Macedonia was a manufactured one." 6
- "Today, Macedonia is an accomplished fact. For 50 years, we Greeks avoided raising the issue, mostly under pressure from the United States. Today, ladies and gentlemen, we are paying for our own indifference and our lack of foresight."7
As Mr. Hadjidimitriou stated, Greeks avoided "raising the issue" of Macedonia. If it was such an integral part of Greek history, as they now claim, why didn't they always claim it to be Greek? Educated Greeks will admit to this, although they give excuses, because there is no way around the fact that they used to deny the very existence of Macedonia.
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Greek Denial of Macedonian Minority
When the Republic of Macedonia was seeking international recognition of its independence in 1991, the Greek Council of Ministers defined its terms of recognition of this new state.
"It should not use the name 'Macedonia' which has a purely geographic and not an ethnic meaning. It should recognize that it has no territorial claims on our country. It should recognize that, in Greece, there is no 'Macedonian' minority". 8
The Greek government denies the existence of a Macedonian ethnicity,even worse it denies the existence of a Macedonian minority within its borders and refuses to grant these people their basic human rights. The United Nations and other international organizations recognizes each nation's right to self-determination. The Macedonians throughout the Balkans, regardless of what borders they find themselves in, have their own language, history, culture, and traditions. Greece and Bulgaria are the only two countries to continue to deny them this right.
"...they have carefully fostered this delusion, as if to give the impression both to their own people and to the world that there that there was no Slav minority in Greece at all; whereas, if a foreigner who did not know Greece were to visit the Florina (Lerin) region and from his idea of the country as a whole, he would conclude that it was the Greeks who were the minority. It is predominantly a Slav region not a Greek one. The language of the home, and usually also of the fields, the village street, and the market, is Macedonian, a Slav language." 9
One of the worst examples of Greek discrimation against its Macedonian minority occurred in September, 1995. The Rainbow Party (the Macedonian minority party in Greece) hung up a sign in their office in Lerin displaying the words "Lerinski Komitet," (Lerin Committee) in their native Macedonian language as well as in Greek. Their office was subsequently burnt down by a mob of Greeks, including local officials, yet the Rainbow Party was charged under Article 192 of the Greek penal code for "inciting citizens to commit acts of violence upon each other"! The following is a quote from the Greek Helsinki Monitor after these events took place:
- "Greek is regarded as almost a foreign language and the Greeks are distrusted as something alien, even if not, in the full sense of the word, as foreigners. This obvious fact, almost too obvious to be stated, that the region is Slav by nature and not Greek cannot be overemphasized." 10
- "...we note Greek claims that Northern Greece, or Aegean Macedonia, is 'more than 98.5% ethnically pure.' The purity is held to be Greek. However, the statement is not accepted by reputable opinion outside of Greece. For instance, the 1987 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica indicated that there were still 180,000 Macedonian speakers in this area, indicating a much greater percentage than 1.5%. If Macedonian activists from these areas are correct, there may be as many as 1,000,000 people from Macedonian-speaking backgrounds in Aegean Macedonia." 11
- "For most of the past eighty years, the Greek government has consistently denied the existence of both a Macedonian nation and a Macedonian minority in northern Greece and has adopted a policy of forced assimilation toward the Slavic-speaking inhabitants of Aegean Macedonia." 12
- "The United Nations, the United States State Department, Amnesty International, and various chapters of Helsinki Watch throughout the world disagree with the Greeks, in particular, about the presence of Macedonians (and other minorities) in Greece and have pressured them in recent times to change their behaviour toward their Macedonian-speaking minority."
- "Greece is the only Southeast European country that does not recognize the presence of any national minorities in its territory. Turks are recognized as a mere “religious, Muslim” minority (which nevertheless is educated in Turkish), while Macedonians are not considered even a linguistic minority. The words “Turkish” and “Macedonian” have repeatedly led to the prosecution of their users, with courts handing down prison sentences or banning minority associations."14
- "Whereas, concerning the Muslims, the controversy relates to the character and the identity of the minority, when dealing with the Macedonians, there is a near unanimity in denying the very existence of any such minority, and supporting the persecution if not the prosecution of such claims." 15
- "The Macedonian minority continued to face various forms of harassment and discrimination in 1996. These included restrictions on freddom of cultural expression, violations of the freedom of association, harassment of its political party, Rainbow, denial of entry to Greece by ethnic Macedonians and former Greek citizens living abraod, and citizenship issues." 16
- "Greek Helsinki Monitor and Minority Rights Group-Greece urged that the Greek state finally recognize the Macedonian minority in Greece; allow its members to form associations; and grant the Macedonian refugees the right to return to Greece and to visit it. They also gave their support to the EU's encouragement to establish 'inter-cultural' schools where languages of minority groups would be instructed." 17
- "Since the civil war, the official denial of a Macedonian minority in Greece has remained constant regardless of the government in power, whether democratic or the military dictatorship of 1967-74."18
- "The Macedonian minority remained unrecognized by the Greek government and consequently faced various forms of harassment and discrimination. Ethnic Macedonian associations and particularly the Rainbow political party, continued to face difficulties. Established in September 1995, Rainbow was attacked by local Greek extremists, including the mayor of Florina, and hindered from operating freely."19
- "The official Greek position with regard to the ethnic composition of Greece is that there are no ethnic or national minorities in Greece at all."20
- "The co-operating organizations Greek Helsinki Monitor and Minority Rights Group - Greece condemn the violence against, the prosecutions of, and the setting on fire of the offices of the ‘Rainbow’ minority party, a party which expresses the Greek citizens belonging to the ‘Macedonian national minority’ (as it is recognized internationally but, unfortunately, not yet in Greece). Given the fact that the local authorities have played a leading role in these events, the conclusion is easily drawn that Greece, on the one hand, does not respect its international obligations on issues of freedom of expression and minority rights and, on the other hand, proves that the Macedonian ethnic minority is significant in magnitude (and not ‘a handful of agents’ as most politicians and journalists usually claim) and, for this reason, it wants to suppress its political expression today as it had banned its cultural expression in the past (prohibition to establish a Shelter for Macedonian Culture, a case which is pending in the European Court for Human Rights [on 10 July 1998, Greece was convicted by that Court, for violation of the right to freedom of association]."
For more information on the Rainbow Party trial, including its verdict, please click here.
For yet another example of the existence of the ethnic Macedonian minority in Greece and Bulgaria, please have a look at the CIA Ethnic Map of the Balkans.
The spokesperson of the Greek Helsinki Monitor, Panayote Elias Dimitras, is actually an ethnic Greek, and is working hard for the achievement of human rights for the ethnic Macedonians. He faces numerous threats by fellow Greeks for his stance on the ethnic Macedonian minority. Unlike other Greeks who vehemently deny any human rights abuses, Mr. Dimitras is dedicated in his attempts to achieve equality for all in Greece. Some information can be viewed at the website of the Greek Helsinki Monitor.
The following quotes are from various Greek newspapers in reaction to the U.S. State Department's 1995 human rights report on Greece: 21
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- "The despicable report of the State Department on the oppressed minorities in Greece..." - Eleftheros Typos, 8/3/96 p.4
- "...human rights which are allegedly oppressed in Greece" - Ta Nea, 19/3/96 p.6
- "Anti-Greek hysteria against our country via the report on human rights" - Apogevmatini, 10/3/96 p.10
- "The State Department sees minorities-ghosts" - Apogevmatini, 7/3/96 p.7
- "They maintain the matter of a 'Macedonian' minority in Greece" - Ethnos, 7/3/96 p.10
- "A concurrence of lies" - Apogevmatini, 10/3/96 p.10
- "Greece, say the agents of Washington, denies the existence of Slav-Macedonians in the country...they saw Turks...they saw Arvanites and Vlachs" - Eleftheros Typos, 8/3/96 p.4
- According to PASOK MP St.Papathemelis, the report is "offensive, inadmissable and all too clear fictitious, as far as Greece is concerned...The gentlemen who prepared the report must understand that there are neither a Turkish nor 'a Macedonian' minority and decide to honor the international conventions the USA have signed" - Apogevmatini, 8/3/96 p.6
Greek Myth of Ethnic Purity
- "The editor of The Sunday Telegraph argues that Greece has been ruthless in erasing traces of ethnic diversity, and suggests that the desperation of its actions, including the Greek claim to a monopoly of the classical past (in which all peoples of European origins have a share) can be explained by the fact that the Greeks today are a mixture of Slavs, Turks, Greeks, Bulgars, Albanians, Vlachs, Jews and Gypsies." 22
The official Greek government position is that there are no ethnic minorities in Greece, only the religious "Muslim minority" in Thrace. (recognized by the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923) Greece, however, refuses to allow this minority to call itself by its ethnic and national name, Turkish. Similarly, Greece denies the existence of the Macedonian, Albanian, Vlach, Pomak, and Arvanite communities (among many others) and refuses to grant them human rights.
- "More specifically, towards minorities, Greece's official attitude can be simply summarized in one sentence:"
"In Greece there is only one minority recognized by international treaty, it is a religious minority, the Muslims of Thrace, it is blossoming and enjoying its full rights, and makes up some 1.5% of the total population." 23
The Greek government claims that in the entire country, there is only one minority, and that is a religious one. The human rights record of Greece towards all of its minorities, including the Turkish one, is horrendous, despite official Greek government claims.
The following is a quote from "The World Almanac '94", under the heading, "Greece".
How can one country be so homogenous? No other country in the world claims to have no ethnic minorities within its borders. It reflects the racist and intolerant attitude of
the Greek government and the Greek population as a whole.
- "Ethnic groups: Greeks 98.5%; Languages: Greek; Religions: Greek Orthodox 97% (official)." 24
The following is a European Union-sponsored survey published in "Eurobarometer" in June 1993 in which 1,200 Greeks participated. It further illustrates the racist attitudes of Greek society.
- "Modern Greek identity is based on an unshakable conviction that the Greek State is ethnically homogenous. This belief...has entailed repeated and official denial of the existence of minorities which are not of 'pure' Hellenic origin. The obsession with Greek racial identity involves the distortion of the history of the thousands of years when there was no such thing as a Greek nation state." 25
- "The following national, ethnolinguistic, religious, social and immigrant minority communities in Greece are monitored: Macedonians, Turks, Roma, Pomaks, Vlachs, Arvanites, Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah's Witnesses, New Relgious Movements and Immigrants. The composition of the minority population is Roma 3.3%, Arvanites 2%, Macedonians 2%, Vlachs 2%, Turks 0.5% and Pomaks 0.3%. (Mostly illegal) immigrants make up some 5-6%. The religious minorities make up 1%. The members of minority groups - ethnic and relgious - and the immigrants have all been subjected to various forms of discrimination." 26
- "What is the word for this obsessive Greek pseudo-relationship with their country's past (they even have a magazine, Ellenismos, devoted to the subject)? It is not quite pretentiousness. There is too much passion for that. No, the Greeks, the ancient ones, had a word for the modern Greek condition: paranoia. We must accept that Mr. Andreas Papandreou (Greek prime minister at the time) and the current EC presidency are the sole legitimate heirs of Pericles, Demosthenes and Aristide the Just. The world must nod dumbly at the proposition that in the veins of the modern Greek...there courses the blood of Achilles. And their paranoid nationalism is heightened by the tenuousness of that claim." 27
- "In retrospect it is clear to me that my 12 years of Greek schooling, mainly in the 1970's, conspired to instill in me precisely one attitude: an almost unshakable belief in the purity and unity of the Greek people, language and culture...Belief in the continuity of Greece against all odds was enabled also by the method of withholding information and sealing off interpretive paths. We had, as children, neither the capacity nor the inclination to explore disunities and 'impurities'" 28
- "If Metropolitan Greece (Hellada) had lost the glory of the ancient Hellenic culture and become a land which, from the economic and social standpoint, had declined, with only the marble tablets left to remind us of an ancient culture, then how can we talk of a medieval Greek state and claim that the
Byzantine state was the Greek nation?... The name Hellene became a synonym for an evil person, an anti-Christian, and was despised, which is why the name Graeco was accepted, though it also was considered as being something humble... It was only after 1054, when the Schism between Catholic and Orthodox took place in the Church, that the term Graecos acquired a religious meaning and was used to signify something which was not Roman... ("His mother was a Christian, his father was a Hellene" - Cypriot proverb)... Up to the 14th century the terms Hellene and Hellenic were not to be encountered in the state language. These names came into use later on... And since they lived in the same land as the ancient Hellenes, and Hellenic history was full of Hellenic feats, to their eyes the ancient Hellenes seemed to have been a magnificent people possessed of great capabilities, including a great trading ability ... even the Macedonian campaign of Alexander the Great and his great victories were considered as achievements of the Hellenes." 29
- "Viewed in the light of the general situation in Europe, Greece's present foreign policy has shown that the country's modern ideological armour is still very much the product of a nationalist upbringing, the roots of which go back to somewhere around the beginning of the nineteenth century. But the nation will never find its way in the European Union carrying this sort of ideological baggage. One of the cornerstones of this ideology is the unrealistic theory that the modem Greeks, expressing as they do the enduring nature of the Greek language, are the biological descendants of the ancient Greeks. It was concocted in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to serve as an ideological arsenal in the efforts to create a modern Greek nation in view of the impending collapse of the feudal, theocratic Ottoman Empire." 30
- "A large segment of modern Greek society, which has never
really embarked upon the process of ideological modernisation, oscillates desperately between modernism
and Greek Orthodox fundamentalism, displaying an inherent
inability to make any sort of ideological distinction between the
terms 'race', nationality', and 'cultural or ethnic identity'. Apart from the fact that even well-respected journalists are engaged in daily attempts to convince the younger generation that we are directly descended from 'our ancient forebears', views that go against the theory of 'one race, one religion, one nation' are regarded as nationally reprehensible. It is on this theory that most Greeks base their belief that there are no minorities in our country, apart from the 'Greek Moslems' of Western Thrace. Greek citizens who have publicly proclaimed that they do not feel like Greeks but like ethnic Macedonians or ethnic Turks have been pursued and convicted by Greek justice,
which just goes to show that modem Greek society not only
fails to show the necessary respect for what is different, but
cannot even tolerate it. And, being in the grip of a virulent
Hellenocentric egomania, this same society, while denying
Greek citizens the right to any ethnic identity other than Greek,
constantly exhorts Greeks living in other countries to preserve
their Greek ethnic identity.
Personally, I couldn't care less what race the citizens of
modern Greece belong to; the only purpose of this book is to
show, and substantiate with written documentation, how rotten
and historically untenable obsessive nationalism is, in the
hope of infusing as many young people as possible with
respect for the right to self-determination of every Greek
citizen and every ethnic group that calls itself a minority, as
long as the country's laws and territorial integrity are
"...only 21% of Greeks considered tolerance as one of the qualities parents should try to encourage in their children (vs. 42-62% in the other countries and even 29% in former East Germany). Greeks also had the highest percentage of intolerance towards people with different nationality, race or religion (an average 28% vs. 6%-27% for the other peoples). More specifically:"
"(Survey by Opinion (1,200 interviews, 20/1-20/2/93), for the Lambrakis Research Foundation: prepared by a team of academics under C. Tsoukalas and El. Nikolakopoulos and financed by the European Union; the survey was 'buried' by its sponsors and revealed in the Greek press by GHM on International Human Rights day, 10/12/95)." 32
- 90% of Greeks believe that "foreigners in our country take our jobs away" and 84% believe that "many of the foreigners who live in our country constitute a public hazard"
- 89% of Greeks have an aversion to Turks
- 76% of Greeks have an aversion to Albanians
- 62% of Greeks have an aversion to Western Thrace Turks and
- 52% want them "all to go back to Turkey"
- 57% of Greeks have an aversion to Jews
- 55% of Greeks have an aversion to Gypsies and 48% believe that "even if their living conditions improve, the Gypsies will go on being dirty"
- 38% of Greeks have an aversion to Slavs
Another example of Greek propaganda
Two things to remember:
1. It is ironic that Greeks now "love Macedonia" when they tried to eradicate its very existence.
2. If Macedonia has always been Greek, why did the Greek government deny its existence
until the 1980's?
For more information, please go to:
- Panorama - Vol.2 No.1, Macedonian Cultural Society "ISKRA", Adelaide, 1996; p.19 (quotation by Dr. Andrew Rossos)
- Ibid; p.101 (quotation by Dr. John Shea)
- Ibid; p.101
- Canberra Times, Thursday March 12 1992, p.9; Peter Hill
- Macedonia and Greece - The Struggle to Define a New Balkan Nation, John Shea, McFarland and Company Inc., North Carolina, 1997; p.104
- Ibid; p.282
- Reed, Fred A., Salonica Terminus, Burnaby,
Talonbooks, 1996; p.186
- Greek Monitor of Human and Minority Rights, Minority Rights Group and Greek Helsinki Monitor, Volume 1, No. 3, 1995; p.23
- Report on the Free Macedonia Movement in Area Florina - 1944, by British Captain P.H. Evans, Force 133, stationed in Aegean Macedonia during WWII; (quoted from The Macedonians of Aegean Macedonia: A British Officer's Report, 1944, Andrew Rossos, The Slavonic and East European Review, Volume 69 Number 2, April 1991; p.293
- Macedonia and Greece - The Struggle to Define a New Balkan Nation, John Shea, McFarland and Company Inc., North Carolina, 1997; p.105
- Ibid; p.108
- Ibid; p.120
- OSCE Review Conference - Human Dimension Issues, Report by the International Helsinki Federation, Vienna, 1999
- Report about Compliance with the Principles of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, Greek Helsinki Monitor & Minority Rights Group-Greece, Kifisia, 1999; p.3
- Annual Report 1997- International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, IHF, Vienna, 1997; p.126
- Ibid; p.128
- The Balkans - Minorities and States in Conflict, Hugh Poulton, Minority Rights Group, Minority Rights Publications, London, 1991; p.179
- Annual Report 1998- International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, IHF, Vienna, 1998;
- The Macedonian Conflict, Loring M. Danforth, Princeton University Press, New Jersey, 1995; p.34
- Hate Speech in the Balkans, International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Athens, 1998; p.55-56
- Macedonia and Greece - The Struggle to Define a New Balkan Nation, John Shea, McFarland and Company Inc., North Carolina, 1997; p.91
- Greek Monitor of Human and Minority Rights, Minority Rights Group and Greek Helsinki Monitor, Volume 1, No. 3, 1995; p.49
- The World Almanac and Book of Facts 1994, Funk
and Wagnalls Corporation, New Jersey, 1994; p.767
- Simon McIlwaine, The Strange Case of the Invisible Minorities - Institutional Racism in the Greek State, International Society for Human Rights, British Section, Dec. 1993
- Balkan Neighbours, Access Association, Sofia, 1997; p.41
- The Sunday Telegraph, London, March 27, 1994
- Dr. Alexander Zaharopoulos, "Greece - A Land of Heroes and Distortions", Sydney Morning Herald, March 23, 1994; p.15
- A History of Later Greece - Turkish Rule [Istoria tis Neoteras Eladas - Turkokratia, I, 20 - os Eonas], Ioannis Kordatos, Athens, 1957
- The Close Racial Kinship Between the Greeks, Bulgarians, and Turks, Dr. George Nakratzas, Preface to the Third Edition, 1999
- Greek Monitor of Human and Minority Rights, Minority Rights Group and Greek Helsinki Monitor, Volume 1, No. 3, 1995; p.55
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