In the last few months, the Macedonian public is preoccupied with the actual topic about the name issue that Republic of Macedonia has with our southern neighbor Greece. The topic in the media has been intensified especially after the failure Macedonia had with the unsuccessful NATO membership invitation on the summit held in Bucharest this year, failure as a result of the veto set up by Greece. The Greek veto was a deep violation of the international law, violation of the international principles and rules as well as stepping out of the basic principles of democracy on which are based the modern civilized countries, creating this issue from bilateral dispute to international problem.
To find out the essence of this problem, we have to put the following question on the agenda:
What is the reason that Greece constantly insists Republic of Macedonia to change its constitutional name which is reflection of our national identity created and built through centuries? Why Greece publicly manifests its frustration and fear regarding the little state who has pretensions like every other democratic state to join the European family of states?
To answer this question, I will return back in the history to describe the period of the end of the Civil war in Greece (1946-1949) and the persecution of Macedonians from the Aegean part of Macedonia that Greece has illegally annexed according to the Bucharest peace agreement from 28th of July 1913. Namely, the end of the Civil war in which the monarch fascist Greek regime came to power supported by USA and Great Britain was very disastrous for the Macedonian population that lived in Aegean Macedonia. The cruel Athens regime applied various kinds of repressive measures in order to achieve the permanent exile of Macedonians from this area. As one of the methods, implemented by the Greek authorities was the compelled emigration in which the Macedonian population has been isolated into the city centers, forced to remove and their assets (agricultural land, fizzle and other equipment) was confiscated, robbed and given for deployment of the Greeks-colonists. The Greek regime, in order to achieve its policy of ethnic cleansing, assimilation and denationalization of the Macedonian nation from Aegean Macedonia, took several drastic legal and political measures among which the most important was the Law P3 2536/53. According to this law, on 60 km from the border in interstate, “the disloyal element” should be permanently removed and settled by element with clear confirmed Greek national conscious brought from the Caucus and from the rest of the parts in Greece. Brutality of this legal project was expressed in Article 6 of the Law where is precisely determined that the asset of every one who “left” the country abroad “without passport” is considered abandoned, even in case when third person, relative or representative cultivates the asset and it becomes state property by process of confiscation. In case of return of the owner of the asset after three years, he losses the right of property over the asset and has no right of legal protection. This procedure was the same for the inheritors of the real estate. These measures were strictly directed for Macedonians from Aegean part of Macedonia who’ve been forced to leave their homeland during the Civil war and never come back.
In implementation of its discriminating and cruel policy, the authorities in Greece have forced the rest of the Macedonian population to make a group statement in front of the state and church functionaries in which it claims from giving up of speaking of its native Macedonian language and excepts to speak only on the official Greek language with the following oath: I promise before God, the nation and the official authorities of our country that from now on I will stop speaking on the Slav idiom that makes cause for manipulation by the enemies of our country, the Bulgarians and that always and everywhere I will speak on the official language of our fatherland, the Greek language, language on which is written the Holy Gospel of our Jesus Christ”.
The fall of the military junta in 1974 meant process of democratization in Greece in frame of policy of the Greek government for national conciliation in the country. On 10th of April 1980 by Government‘s proposal was adopted a law in which the war in Greece that was known in the Greek public as a bandit war, was declared as a Civil war. A very important step was taken in recognition of the status of political refugees during the war, Communist party of Greece (CPG) has got a legitimate power (17th of August 1982) after its abolition by the Athens regime in 1948, then adoption of law for proclamation of the Greek People’s Liberation Army (ELAS) for patriotic movement followed by adoption of several social regulations and benefits for the fighters of ELAS and Democratic Army of Greece (DAG).The recognition of the status of political refugees was not referred to the Macedonians who participated and fought in the Civil war on the side of DAG, led by CPG and who were, later expelled from their homeland. Namely, in 1979, a Greek government delegation led by the minister in the Government at that time, Rallis made an official visit to the city of Bucharest, Romania where they held a meeting with the delegation of the political refugees from Greece in Bucharest. The agenda of the meeting was free repatriation of all political refugees in Greece, but the stance of the Greek delegation led by Rallis was clear that the Greek state will never allow return of the Macedonian element in Greece explaining that it is a very sensitive issue which seriously threatens the Greek national interests.
As confirmation of all this, was adoption of the Law 106841 from 29.12.1982 that verified the discrimination policy of the Greek authorities to the expelled Macedonians from Aegean Macedonia preventing their return in their homeland. The law has foreseen that in Greece may return only the Greeks by nationality who left the country after the Civil war and which citizenship was taken away. This formulation is opposite and contradictory with all the international conventions and documents for human rights adopted by the international organizations.
Regarding the regulation of the confiscated assets of the political refugees, Greek Government took more cruel measures and proposed the Law 1540 from 10th of April 1985, adopted by the Greek Parliament. The law in the Parliament was presented by the former prime minister Kostas Semites in which is formulated that “political refugees in accordance of this law are considered Greeks by nationality who left the country, escaped in abroad after the 1st of January 1945 or who were imprisoned and internees”.
Implementation of the silent policy of ethnic cleansing applied over the Macedonian population that lived with centuries in the Aegean part of Macedonia, expressed through the above mentioned legal regulations by country, member of EU and NATO, publicly manifests the intention for denial and non recognition of the Macedonian population in this area which in accordance of all international standards has the status of national minority with all the national rights provided by the domestic state.
Therefore, the main conclusion is that the enforced decade dispute for the name issue which Republic of Greece has with Republic of Macedonia is just an expression of its hidden fear regarding the Aegean issue that left deep vulnerable consequences for the expelled Macedonians of the Aegean part of Macedonia, but also a fear of publishing the sufferings of Macedonian people through whole Europe that would present Greece as a xenophobic state in which apathy rules against all which is not Greek by nationality.
Nevertheless, in the end, I can only express my deep hope that for Macedonia will soon appear the bright moment on its path to ЕU integration, successfully passing the obstacles that country constantly faces, making its way to brightеr and more prosperous future.
Photo was taken byRui Ornelas and was released on Creative Commons license