Greece fails to reconcile with its past

Greece fails to reconcile with its past Stefan Troebst

The professor of history at the University of Leipzig, Stefan Troebst, in an interview for BBC claims that Macedonia has already made its compromise in the name dispute with Greece, by changing its flag and Constitution.

"These further requests from Greece for changing the name are completely without a ground. But, there is a Greek dimension which is related to serious problems with the identity of the Greeks and the question 'who is Greek' is more complicated than the question 'who is Macedonian'. The trauma of the 20th century, the World War II and the Civil War from the 1940-ties, was never treated in the Greek society, and the civil war, besides the ideological component had another, ethnic - political dimension. Slavs and Macedonians on one side, and the Hellenism on the other, make the roots of many fears related to Macedonia not from today's Republic of Macedonia, or from the former Yugoslavia - they come from within Greece. It is not something that can be resolved from the outside, but something that the Greek society can treat inside Greece".

BBC: How do you look at the change of the politics of Bulgaria towards Macedonia, considering the latest accusations from Sofia about anti-Bulgarian propaganda in the Macedonian press?

"It is disappointing that in the 90-ties the Bulgarian president was running a constructive and pragmatic politics towards Macedonia, although with some reserve - they recognized the country, but not the nation. But unfortunately, this is changing now. It is concerning that Bulgaria became a member of the European Union and now together with Greece, two EU member states are using their membership to enforce their national and regional interests, instead of thinking what would be the best for EU as a whole. This joining forces of Bulgaria and Greece against Macedonia is a dangerous tendency and Bruxelles, in its double capacity, as both EU and NATO headquarters, should not tolerate it - individual member countries to put joint pressure on neighboring countries which are not members".

BBC: Why is the Bulgarian government recognizing the Macedonian state, but not the Macedonian nation?

"First, we should bear in mind that it is not a Government's job to recognize other nations, only countries, regardless whether they like the identity of the citizens who live in those countries, or not. Even in Germany we have cases of refugees, Bulgarian citizens with Macedonian ethnic background, who persuade German courts that they have bad living conditions in Sandanski and Petrich, and they gave them a status of permanent refugees, which is not common. This means that the level of repression is very high in Bulgaria. This rhetoric in Bulgaria, 'the country exists, the nation does not', is a very unprofessional and very hostile act towards Macedonia. It shows that the Bulgarian, as well as the Greek society, failed to reconcile with their past" - says the professor of history at the University of Leipzig, Stefan Troebst.

Link Unsettled with the past (BBC Macedonian, in Macedonian language).

Original source Say Macedonia

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