Should Macedonians Trust Greeks

Should Macedonians Trust the Cunning Greeks!

Should Macedonians Trust the Cunning Greeks?

By Dusan Sinadinoski

As Bishop Titus was preparing for missionary work in Crete, St. Paul warned him to be weary of the Greeks because of their reputation as being “always liars, evil beasts and slow bellies (Epistles 1:12-13)”. What St Paul intended by these remarks is anybody’s guess, but most likely he was referring to Epimenides, an ancient Greek prophet from Crete who became famous for saying that all Greeks were liars. Of course, St. Paul was certainly not implying that there were no Greeks worthy of respect at all because he surely knew that not all Greeks came from Crete and at least one of the Greeks, namely Epimenides, told the truth. In all likelihood, however, St. Paul was reminding Bishop Titus to be extremely cautious when dealing with the Greeks because of their reputation as being cunning and unreliable people.

Regardless of St. Paul’s intentions, however, it seems only appropriate that the Macedonians, too, should take a clue from his warning and make good use of it in their negotiations with the Greeks on the name dispute. Throughout the two decades of this ongoing and senseless name dispute, the deceptive Greeks were able to manipulate the world’s major powers into believing that they are negotiating in good faith while at the same time portraying Macedonia as an unreliable and unconstructive partner. The reality is, however, just the opposite of their accusations. As the history of the events associated with the name dispute clearly shows, the Greeks’ real aim is to force Macedonia to cave in and accept Greek demands. In fact, the leading Greek politicians have openly acknowledged that they have staunchly followed a well-defined strategy of coercive diplomacy as the means for forcing Macedonia to relinquish its constitutional name of the Republic of Macedonia.

In April of 1993 the Republic of Macedonia was admitted to the United Nations under the interim name of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia because Greece objected to the use of the name “Macedonia” on the grounds of the irrational and outrageous claim that Macedonia historically and culturally is Greek. Moreover, the Macedonian membership to UN was decreed conditional “pending settlement of the difference that has arisen over the name of the State”. Aside from the legality of the United Nations Resolution 225 which admitted Macedonia under its interim name, the Greek blocking of Macedonia’s accession to the United Nation under its constitutional name of Republic of Macedonia was a disgraceful and cowardly act intended to expropriate the name “Macedonia” to the benefit of Greece only. Now the Greeks are trying to deceive the international community by advocating a desire to negotiate a mutually acceptable solution on the name dispute by means of coercive diplomacy.

In reality, however, the Greeks have from the very beginning played a very deceptive and intimidating political game with the Republic of Macedonia that completely undermined the idea of interdependence and mutual trust. In February of 1994, Greece imposed a 19-month trade embargo on Macedonia in order to force that country to accept the Greek chauvinistic demand of forfeiting the right to self-determination in exchange for the UN membership. Unfortunately for Macedonia, the Greek trade embargo succeeded because it initiated a severe economic crisis in an already weak Macedonian economy. Furthermore, not only did those sanctions badly damage Macedonia’s landlocked economy, but they seriously destabilized the Macedonian government.

Thus economically weekend and politically crippled, Macedonia felt that it had no other choice but to accept the Greek demands. Namely, Macedonia was required to amend its constitution to remove any references of political support to ethnic Macedonian nationals living outside Macedonia ’s borders. In addition, Macedonia had to scrap the 16-pointed Star of Vergina from the Macedonian national flag. It was also agreed that Macedonia and Greece should hold talks on the name issue under a sponsorship of the United Nations in order to reach a mutually agreeable name solution.

But the trade embargo, which in itself obviously demonstrated that the Greek government had no intentions to negotiate on the principles of mutual trust and interdependence, was not an isolated incident. To the contrary, the Greek trade embargo was the beginning of a rigidly structured and carefully executed diplomatic strategy which targeted to weaken Macedonia’s negotiation position. In the past two decades Greece has fervently used its diplomatic muscles to prevent the use of Macedonia ’s constitutional name in any political, cultural and sporting event in which both Greece and Macedonia participated. The Greeks were able to accomplish this by invoking the UN Security Council Resolution 5 which requires the host countries to refer to Macedonia under the interim name of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia . The recent Olympic Games in China provide a compelling evidence of their belligerent policy of intimidation. The host country China originally intended to use the name Republic of Macedonia instead of Macedonia’s interim name, but then reconsidered its decision upon direct intervention by the Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis.

More recently, on April 7, 2008 in Bucharest, Greece blocked the Republic of Macedonia from joining the NATO Alliance even though Macedonia met all the necessary admission requirements. By blocking Macedonia’s accession to NATO, the cunning Greeks once again seized the opportunity to coerce Macedonia into a name compromise. The NATO summit in Bucharest was chosen by Greece only as a useful tool to accomplish their desired goal. The Greek government was gambling that Macedonia would cave in under the pressure and would give up on its constitutional name in exchange for a NATO membership. This tactical maneuvering by the Greek Government was outlined by the Greek Prime Minister, Kostas Karamanlis, in his speech of March 27, 2008 given to the governing party’s Parliamentary Group shortly before the Bucharest NATO Summit. As reported by the Greek media, he had said that the Greeks “have taken timely, courageous” decisions in order to negotiate a mutually acceptable solution. The outcome in Bucharest, however, was disappointing for the Greek government because Macedonia, even under strong pressure from President Bush, flatly rejected the name compromise in exchange for a NATO membership.

Even though two decades of policy shaped by intimidation and blackmail has failed to force Macedonia to give up the right of self-determination, Greece hasn’t been deterred from continuing with the same unsuccessful policy of coercive diplomacy. The Greek government has already begun to threaten Macedonia with obstructing its accession to the European Union. The Greek plan of deception and coercion was made even more transparent by Prime Minister Karamanlis in his speech to the Parliament of February 17, 2007 where he said that for Macedonia “there is no other road that leads to its ( Macedonia ) accession to Euro-Atlantic organizations.” Also in the same speech, he further stated that Macedonia can “unlock and ensure objective prospects for alliance relations, partnership relations, relations of solidarity with the neighboring country” only if the country agrees to a “definitive and mutually acceptable solution.” It appears that Mr. Karamanlis either does not see that his speech contains an ultimatum to Macedonia which renders any mutually acceptable solution impossible, or he does not fully understand that a definitive and mutually acceptable solution requires a joint effort by both countries. But when Mr. Karamanlis spoke on the Kosovo issue in the same speech he made sure to define a “mutually acceptable solution” as an agreement which would “define and promote its (Kosovo’s) multi-ethnic character.” One is left wondering here, however, why Mr. Karamanlis is not speaking of defining and promoting the multi-dimensional character of Greek- Macedonian relations! Perhaps Mr. Karamanlis finally spoke the truth by letting the world know that Greece holds one standard when it comes to Greek-Macedonian relations but another standard for the rest of the world. There is no doubt, therefore, that Mr. Karamanlis’ words here are clear, cut and succinct: Greece has no desires to negotiate a mutually acceptable solution based on joint efforts by both countries, but rather Greece desires to coerce Macedonia to accept a Greek compromise.

A definite proof of the Greek deliberate deception also came from Mr. Karamanlis himself in his April 3, 2008 communiqué:“I had said to everyone – in every possible tone and in every direction – that ‘a failure to solve the name issue will impede their invitation’ to join the Alliance. And that is what I did. Skopje will be able to become a member of NATO only after the name issue has been resolved. This is an important development in this long-standing issue; a development in favour of our national interests; a development that shows that resolve and solid reasoning have results when they are used correctly.” Perhaps Mr. Karamanlis spoke the truth again: the Greek government has deliberately deceived the world by camouflaging their lies in the form of a mutually acceptable name solution.

The Greeks ought to be reminded that if they are truly interested in a mutually acceptable solution to the name dispute, then they should be willing to recognize, at the minimum, that a mutually satisfactory solution requires both countries to freely consent to it. Greece alone couldn’t impose a mutually acceptable solution to a joint problem, even though the name dispute is essentially a Greek problem. Be it as it is, a joint solution can only be achieved on the basis of fair and constructive negotiations through joint efforts and to the satisfaction of both Greece and Macedonia. No solution to the name issue, therefore, will be deemed mutually acceptable if Macedonia is forced to negotiate under duress, intimidation and coercion. In addition, Greece must also understand that if Macedonia doesn’t believe that Greece is truly committed to a mutually acceptable solution, then Macedonia must demand from the United Nations that Greece abandon their coercive negotiation strategy and be required to stay committed to the principle of interdependence and mutual trust.

These reasons conclusively point out that Greek actions were not a whim but a premeditated plan to force Macedonia to agree to the Greek demands. The Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis summed it up the best when she said that “for 17 years, Greece held that the name of our neighboring country could not include the term “ Macedonia ”.The transparency of Bakoyannis’ statement here begs this question: if it is true, as Dora Bakoyannis so pointedly admits, that Greece all alone was engaged in a deceptive and coercive negotiation strategy, then what reasons do Macedonians have to trust the cunning Greeks? It surely seems like St. Paul knew something about Greeks that Macedonians don’t.

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