According to video that has surfaced online on social media, whilst attending the Orthodox Christmas celebrations at the Queanbeyan Macedonian [sic] Community Centre on January 13, 2018, Acting NSW Premier John Barilaro called on the Australian Government to recognise the FYROM as the "Republic of Macedonia" stating:
"I will always acknowledge as the Republic of Macedonia. It's 2018, and I do hope...I do hope that in 2018 - and I do know that the Ambassador is strong on this - and I do hope that 2018 is the year that the world comes to its senses; Australia as a nation, the federal government, comes to its senses and acknowledges as the only rightful name Republic of Macedonia."
As an Australian MP, and more importantly as the Deputy Premier of NSW, we find it insensitive and irresponsible that Mr. Barilaro made such a comment in a public forum.
As a representative of the State of NSW (and the people therein), making such a one-sided comment ignores the Greek community, many of who originate (or trace their roots) from the true historic region of Macedonia in northern Greece. It also flies in the face of Australian federal foreign policy, which recognises the country as the 'Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia' (FYROM), in line with the September 1995 United Nation Interim Accord (no. 32193) signed by both Greece and the FYROM, in good faith.
Athens and Skopje have currently re-opened negotiations on the name issue of the FYROM, an issue which has serious national security implications for Greece and the entire Balkan region. As noted by the Macedonian League's National Security Advisor Marcus A. Templar:
"No country has the right to take as its Constitutional name an appellation of a neighboring land aiming at the eventual claim and appropriation of the said land under the excuse of inherent right.
The right of self-determination applies only to the political status of a region (General Assembly resolution 1514 (XV) of 14 December 1960). It is the same right that Skopje’s Slavic minority-majority keeps refusing to give its own minorities, especially its largest minority of the country, the Albanians."
The naming dispute is a sensitive issue in Australia and making such comments can impact the delicate work that needs to be done in the Balkans between these two sovereign nations.
The star of Vergina (also referred to as the Vergina Sun) is a WIPO protected national symbol of Greece, misappropriated by the FYROM’s ultra-nationalists and its diaspora without any regard for its legal status as a Greek national emblem.
Furthermore, Mr. Barilaro irresponsibly entered a building displaying an official logo consisting of a map of a "Greater Macedonia" outside their premises.
This highly offensive map is akin to the German concept of Lebensraum. We remind Mr. Barilaro that Lebensraum became an ideological principle of Nazism and provided justification for the German territorial expansion into East-Central Europe.
It should be noted that EU member Bulgaria has officially renounced their territorial pursuits in the Balkans via their "Greater Macedonia" concept. However, just like the Nazis before them, the FYROM's previous governing party, the ultra-nationalist VMRO-DPMNE, considers "Greater Macedonia" as an ideological core principle.
It is no secret that the extremist VMRO-DPMNE elements of the FYROM use the diaspora in both Australia, USA and Canada to further the undemocratic agenda pursued by the previous Gruevski regime. Clearly, this is not a force for political stability in the Balkans. If Mr. Barilaro was unaware of this concept, now he knows.
By contrast, the people of the FYROM have recently voted for a government that is trying to move away from a policy of manufactured history and indoctrination to an inclusive government that considers its significant Albanian, Serbian, Turkish, Greek, Vlach and Roma minorities. More importantly, they have also engaged their Balkan neighbours seeking peace and friendship.
We are therefore unable to understand how a democratically elected member of Australia can assist in promoting the previous ultra-nationalist regime's agenda. It is neither in Mr. Barilaro's nor the Australian government’s interest to erode the positive steps taken by the elected FYROM government, by fuelling the hatred that has been manufactured by the previous regime.
The Australian and global Greek community therefore awaits a response by Acting NSW Premier John Barilaro that will include a retraction of his position on the Macedonia Naming Dispute.
About the Macedonian League
We are an international professional Hellenic advocacy group. Our primary purpose is to advance our interests to informed and responsive governments on issues concerning Greece's national security and territorial integrity.
The Macedonian League's main focus is on the “Macedonian name dispute”, as this dispute is a serious national security issue that threatens the territorial integrity of Greece.
The Macedonian League also focuses on exposing and combating anti-Hellenism and analyzing political developments in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
For more information, follow us on: Website, Facebook, Twitter
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