More on the Name Dispute

More on the Name Dispute

By Risto Stefov

Some of you have written to me and are upset because I have not taken a stronger stand against the so-called "name negotiations" between Macedonia and Greece. At the same time some of you have written to let me know that I should trust the Macedonian government because it has an agenda, knows what it´s doing and is only pressured by outside powers to continue to negotiate.

Well, you are all right! But then since you asked, here is what I think.

This is a multi-level problem that involves many things. First it involves me and my own desires and beliefs. It involves every Macedonian on the planet and their desires and beliefs. It involves the Macedonian government´s policies, agendas and outside pressure to continue the talks. It involves hidden agendas of individuals and groups. It involves loyalties, blind trust and some general confusion on the part of many people.

But what I believe "should happen", and that applies to most patriotic Macedonians, has nothing to do with what the government or anybody else believes should happen. Let´s make that very clear!

Irrespective of the current situation of the so-called "name negotiations", I ask myself "do I feel comfortable that the name of my country should be negotiated under any circumstances?" This is a personal question that everyone should be asking themselves. Irrespective of what the Macedonian government is doing or not doing and how well it is handling the situation, "do I want anyone to negotiate changing the name of my country?" My personal answer to this question is a big stern "NO!". No one has the right to change my country´s name no matter what their reasons! This is my personal opinion which reflects what I believe and how I feel and has nothing to do with "trusting" the Macedonian government or any other body in "doing the right thing".

Now as a single person I can neither influence nor stop the Macedonian government from negotiating our country´s name. But as a single person I am responsible to voice my real feeling about the process. It is my duty to let the Macedonian government know exactly how I feel! This is the only way that the government will know and understand what I think and how I feel. If I place my trust in the government and think the government "knows what I think" and "knows what it is doing" and say nothing about how I feel then I am afraid I will have to live with the consequences of "having done nothing", especially if the government decides to change the name. And why would the government change the name? Because like me everyone else trusted the government and allowed it to do the "right thing" and the right thing for the government of course was to take the path of least resistance. Not having told the government how we feel, the government would naturally assume that we all agree that our name can be negotiated and if it can be negotiated then it can be changed. How many times in history have Macedonians made this mistake; allowing governments to think for them?

Do you want to help the Macedonian government do its job? Then do the right thing and feel good about it by telling those in parliament exactly what you think and feel. Those people in parliament are the servants you elected to represent you and your interests. How will they know what you want and what your interests are if you don´t loudly and clearly tell them? Do yourself a favour and do not confuse what the "government might do" with what "you want the government to do". You want Gruevski "to get the monkey off his back" then tell him exactly how you feel! After all he is there to represent you and your interests! You are the boss!

I listened to one of Gruevski´s speeches very carefully and he did hint that there is tremendous pressure for his government to continue the name negotiations. That is why I feel compelled to tell him what I think. The only way we can help the Macedonian government to fight off this "outside pressure" is by letting it know what we think and how we feel. Gruevski, we know you are doing an excellent job and we commend you for it. We also know you are under tremendous pressure to continue the negotiations. That is why it is our duty to remind you to tell those who pressure you that "we will never accept a name change". We know you are conducting the negotiation, probably against your will, but also know this that "negotiating our name" is an embarrassment to us, to our nation, to our identity and to our ancestors who spilled blood to bring us this far. You have to do what you have to do but please let everyone know how we feel!

Now there are also those who support the name negotiations thinking they are in support of the government. My opinion on this is twofold. One, these individuals are either confused or misinformed or two, they have a hidden anti-Macedonian agenda.

For those who truly "don´t know" and think "it is okay to give a little on the name" think of it this way. If some individual, who is probably your worst enemy and would rather see you dead than alive, comes to you and says "I demand that you change you last name because some person in my extended family has the same name". Would you do it? Would you disassociate yourself from your own family and from your own past just to please this person who truly hates you? And what do you think you will accomplish if you do? Do you think that doing "harm" to yourself "voluntarily" will make this person like you and respect you? What will your family and friends think of you? Will you feel any better by doing it and will you gain the respect and understanding you seek from your peers?

No you will not! You will however become "the laughing stock of the neighbourhood", a fool and a pushover who can easily be manipulated.

If you support a name change, please think about it very carefully and support it because you understand it and its implications.

There are also those who do have hidden agendas and are truly working diligently and patiently against the Macedonian cause who will tell you that it´s okay to "give a little" because of the "potential benefits" you will receive. These people are amongst us and very active in our communities these days; I will go as far as to say that some are highly visible, focused, vocal and appear to be very patriotic when they speak. They need to be in order to establish themselves as "the good guys" and gain the trust of the Macedonian people. I can´t tell you who they are but I can tell you that I have repeatedly seen them in the last century of our recent history. You will have to truly question the motives of today´s most patriotic Macedonians who only yesterday were the staunchest Grkomani, Serbomani and Bulgaromani! I will leave it at that!

For those who are loyal to Macedonia and want to help the Macedonian cause there should be no confusion as to what is right and what is wrong. Greece has stolen more than half of Macedonia from the Macedonian people. But above and beyond all that, Greece has done a lot of harm against the Macedonian people starting with several genocides, land confiscations, exiling of people, burning of villages and homes, jailing, name changes, forced assimilation, prohibiting the speaking of the Macedonian language, destruction of Macedonian cultural and other monuments, burning of books, etc. No other conqueror, except for Greece, has ever imposed itself so harshly on Macedonia and the Macedonian people to a point of not only wanting to conquer all of Macedonia but to forever extinguish everything that is Macedonian from language, culture, to the Macedonian ethnic identity.

Now that we are very clear and understand, as Macedonians, exactly where we stand with Greece why should we do anything to please Greece. Why should we place ourselves in an even more "compromising positions" than we currently are in just to please Greece?

I would also like to leave you with this warning! Greece will not relent no matter what we do and how much we compromise on the name or anything else for that matter. Greece´s aim is to conquer all of Macedonia and forever eliminate and extinguish everything that is Macedonian. If today´s powers want Macedonia to continue to negotiate with Greece, there must be a reason for it which we don´t yet understand. But at the same time those powers WILL force Macedonia to "compromise" if we all don´t stand up and speak our minds with a single voice and say "NO!" to any compromises. If we don´t tell them, how will they know?

Again for the record I need to remind you that Greece has concocted this "name issue" to confuse the world and the Macedonian people about what is really going on and to put the Macedonian government on the defensive. Any Macedonian who was born and lived in Greece can tell you "how much" Greeks love the name "Macedonia". They love it so much they were willing to murder people for just saying they were Macedonians. They "loved it so much" that the "M" word had become a dirty word NEVER to be spoken in public or in private.

Please do not allow others to speak for you, especially if you don´t know what they will say and for God´s sake don´t confuse what you want with what the government and other powers want.

Again, irrespective of your trust in the government "to do the right thing" you must let it know what "the right thing is" for you! I can´t emphasize that enough!

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