The answer is simple, EVERYWHERE!
Modern Greece does not have a clear, coherent national goal. The national objectives of the Greek revolutionaries as expressed at the Declaration of Independence, Justice, Personal Freedom, Ownership, and Honor, over the years have become irrelevant as politicians interpret these goals as part of their personal, not national aims. They have the mentality of the kodzabashis, i.e. the appointed heads of village councils, and the Phanariot hospodars, i.e. the masters who ruled the Rum millet as a second governing tier. This mentality has overshadowed the spirit of the 1821 revolution.
Like the Phanariots of the old times, who “sold the offices under their control and exacted extraordinary taxes and contributions to the fullest extent of their power. Corruption, initiated at the top, extended down to the lowest levels of administration” (Jelavich, 1962). Nikolaos Soutzos expressed decadence of the Greek political crème de la crème as follows, “The prevalence over their competitors and their dominance through the use of insidious means, which the Turks highly encouraged, became the constant pursuit of the Phanariots. It was an incessant struggle, especially when the stakes were linked to their fortune, and often their life." (Soutzo, 1899, 4).
εγώ, ρε;» or «μία θεσούλα στο δημόσιο,» «το μέσον» and a few other similar expressions explain why Greece is a mentally Ottoman province. The political elite of Greece and their cohorts govern the country as if they are the hospodars, kodzabashis, and kaymakams of the estate. The sad part is that Greek voters have entrusted them and preserve them with their vote. No matter which party is in government it controls the country through the use of advertising funding in the media. Not only have they managed the country, but they also restrain the diaspora using the same method. No wonder nothing happens in Greece.
The problem is that the above “masters” have downgraded the social education of the Greek nation by indirectly bribing the means of formal, informal, and non-formal education. Such a downgrade benefits the crème de la crème of the Greek ruling society. Under this downgraded learning, patriotism has turned into nationalism and sometimes ultra-nationalism, and hard-core communists give lessons on something they do not understand – democracy.
Only those who understand the full meaning of Socrates’ Crito can fully comprehend the meaning of homeland. Greeks have lost the ideals of their ancestors and the direction that those ideals could lead the country into the 21st century and beyond. Democracy does not work when people think only of themselves and not the general good. Also, people in Greece did not learn and have not learned how to think.
The lack of articulate national goals has resulted in Greece’s lack of coherent national interests. It is why Greece is deprived of proper foreign and domestic policies. Thus Greece has partisan interests which are reflected in foreign and domestic policies. If a country does not arrange a national path for the future it cannot develop a strategy to achieve any goal. Greeks think emotionally based on stories that only those who believe what they read in the “National Enquirer” would believe.
Since 1829, Greece’s foreign and domestic policies revolve around personal interests, direct and indirect reward of the political elite which is reactive, not proactive, to external pressures, movements, events, and circumstances that feed decision-making and behavior of its politicians.
It is said that possession is nine-tenths of the law. This adage means that ownership is easier to maintain if one has possession of something, or difficult to enforce if one does not. In the case of Skopje, Skopje possesses the name “Macedonia” since 1943 as a constituent republic within Marxist Yugoslavia with full government structure whereas Greece had Macedonia as an administrative unit and often the Press of Athens would call it Northern Greece. Even now, the Athenian Press continues to call Macedonia Northern Greece, never mind the cop-out they give when asked. I understand that in using Northern Greece the Athenian government meant Macedonia and Thrace; however, as Northern Greece or later as Macedonia-Thrace, Macedonia did not have the international exposure that Skopje had.
Yugoslavia started having indications and warnings of political upheavals in 1990. The 14th and last Congress of the League of Yugoslav Communists took place on January 20-22, 1990, the Slovenian and the Croatian delegations left during the Congress. That move by the delegations should have been a warning that something serious was going to happen. By May of 1991, despite the draconian efforts of Vasil Tupurkovski to keep the Republic together, the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia was over. Greece as a neighboring country directly affected by any political and military turmoil should have monitored the situation and it should have assessed the fallout of any mishap in a wide range of possibilities that could affect the region, especially Greece.
The following would hit Greek politicians on the head – on January 3, 1992, and during the informal meeting that took place in Athens between Greek and FYROM experts, the talks were deadlocked because of the insistence of Skopje delegates not to discuss the name of their country. That should have been a very serious indicator and warning of things to come. However, as we say in Greek «πέρα βρέχει» and «τα βόδια μου αργά». On January 26, six days after Pres. Bill Clinton took office the Greek Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs sent a letter to the new President stating that Greece was ready to compromise with Skopje on the name issue. Greece surrendered before the first shot of the war was fired. The same man stated later that in 10 years nobody would remember Macedonia.
Most Greeks and especially politicians and their advisors do not know the national strategic culture of Greece’s neighbors. Greece’s present electoral system does not help either. Most politicians and their advisors not only don’t know Greece’s neighbors but worst of all, they don’t know Greece. They do not care what occurs north of Thebes and south of Corinth. If they knew Greece’s neighbors and Greece itself, the issue of Skopje’s name would not exist at all. But nobody cared. What kind of impression should one form when people in Rhodes say that they lived better under the Italians?
I have talked with a few diplomats and politicians of Greece, and was shocked by their naiveté. They could not even distinguish the difference between how many countries have recognized the FYROM, in general, from those countries that have recognized Skopje under its so-called constitutional name. Skopje keeps promoting that about 130 nations have recognized them, which means nothing. About ten years ago, they claimed something similar until it was revealed that out of 110 or so countries, only 78 of them had recognized them as “Republic of Macedonia.”
So they should have three numbers.
1) How many countries have recognized the FYROM?
2) How many countries have recognized the FYROM as “Macedonia”? Was it a bilateral or erga omnes recognition?
3) How many countries have recognized the FYROM under its provisional name?
Clearly, the Greek MFA has no idea because Greece does not have a functional intelligence process within the MFA. The A3 is as busy as the Maytag repairman under the principle «δε βαρυέσαι» and «ωχ αδερφέ.» The less they know, the better it is for the boss! He can always truthfully say, “nobody told me”. They are supposed to be professionals; it is their job to know.
What is happening today, reminds us of what had happened in 1902. The Bulgarians had sent Sarafov, a Supremist, to Western Capitals to push for the Bulgarian cause over Macedonia.
The Greek government was asleep then as it is today, including the Greek people! Pavlos Melas wrote to Bishop Karavangelis, «Διάβασα τήν ἐκθεσί σου στο ὑπουργεῖο. Μά ἐδῶ κοιμοῦνται. Τί νά σοῦ κάνω ἐγώ;» Moreover, the weapons (Gras, Mauser, Mannlicher-Schönauer) were transported to the Bulgarian komitadjis in Macedonia by Greek mule drovers or αγωγιάτες, so that the Bulgars can fight against and kill Greeks in Macedonia.
On at least one occasion, one of the chief komitadjis, Vasil Tsakalarov, went in person to Athens to buy weapons. There’s no difference today. Skopje has its fifth phalanx in the Greek Parliament itself.
I remember one diplomat had mentioned that Skopje would change its name, as did Myanmar which changed its name from Burma. When I told him that Myanmar was Burma’s ancient name and asked him to name the old name of the FYROM region; he could not even come up with Paeonia.
While Skopje governments implemented the strategy of protraction as they negotiated under the Turkish model of negotiation, it simultaneously bolstered excuses for Greek politicians to procrastinate, as they wanted to avoid signing a treaty on the name that would make them and their party appear as betraying Greece.
While this was taking place, Skopje threw ashes into the eyes of the Greek people, entertaining the thought of being descendants of the ancient Macedonians who miraculously were not Greeks. ALL subsequent governments of the FYROM used denial and deception via non-state and illicit actors working in the background and successfully persuading foreign governments to recognize them as “Republic of Macedonia.” The FYROM diplomacy was and is extraordinarily active on the name issue and recognition of the state as “Macedonia.” They’ll do anything to show their flag!
In contrast, Greece employed extremely dormant and reactive diplomacy lacking a strategy of deterrence with tactics of a courteous, but fatalistic policy. Even the reactive tactics of Greece’s foreign policy proved to have been through an entirely personal lens of her politicians and diplomats who cared more about pleasing their bosses than doing their job by committing to their homeland and protecting the national interests of Greece.
Under such peculiar circumstances, the answer to your question is “Greece went wrong everywhere,” starting in 1951, the year Greece had recognized Marxist Yugoslavia. Would the same politicians direct negotiations of their real estate in a similar manner as they have negotiated the future of one-quarter of Greece’s land and indeed Greece’s future territorial integrity?
The fact is that all governments of Greece, and by their silence the politicians of Greece, have created the problem that Greece has in the form of a self-inflicting wound. Some countries in the world had or still have names such as the Federal Republic of Brazil, Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, Federal Republic of Germany, and United States of America. These countries were or are known under the name portrayed last: Brazil, Yugoslavia, Germany, America. What did, if anything, the Greek MFA think that the popularized name of “The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” would be? Patagonia?
They only looked at the official name of the country, not the popular name that people would be using, especially when we all know people do not care about official names, not even diplomats. Didn’t they know that while Greece would be in its usual lethargic state, Skopje would launch any power in the world to achieve what it wanted and still wants?
Some would argue that during the second century AD, the Romans had called the region of the FYROM, Macedonia Secunda or Salutaris. Doesn’t this justify the present name of the republic?
The argument that the area of the FYROM was called Macedonia Secunda (or Macedonia Salutaris) and this justifies the present name of the Republic is very weak.
To begin with, depending on the time and type of Administration in the Roman Empire, provinces used to change names as well as borders. On one occasion, we see Macedonia starting just north of Stobi excluding Skopje which was in Dardania, and continues south of Lamia, leaving for Epirus a slice of land from Dyrrachium to Messolongi. Romans called south Greece, Achaea, and we had two lands named Epirus: Epirus Vetus and Epirus Nova. Another mess with names comes to us from what are today France, Belgium, and Northern Italy. There we see Gallia Belgica, Gallia Narbonensis, Gallia Lugdunensis, but in other times we know the name Gallia Lugdunensis and Gallia Narbonensis as Celtica while the toponym Gallia is found as Gallia Cisalpina and Gallia Transalpina around Switzerland. At that time one also finds Palaestina Salutaris or Palaestina Tertia and Galatia Salutaris and so on.
The whole naming of a region had to do with whether the administration was in the hands of the Emperor or the Senate. It is also immaterial because not one Macedonian King had named the region of the FYROM as Macedonia. Alexander the Great and his Greeks had reached India, China, and Uzbekistan, but none of these can claim to be ‘Macedonia’.
It is true that King Philip VI of Macedonia had conquered the area up to about the Shar Mountains, but he never changed the name of the region and did not move any Macedonians from Macedonia to Paeonia and Dardania. So, the ethnicity of the local population from Paeonian and Dardanian never changed ethnically to Macedonian Greek.
Romans had occupied some territories of Alexander the Great and his Diadochi and they also occupied almost all of Europe. They did not change the human terrain of the regions they occupied. They had local garrisons and used Latin as their lingua franca of their wide Empire.
Another example is the Ottomans who ruled the area of the Western and South Balkans for about 500 years. They could not alter the local populations even though they settled Turks in the occupied regions and some of the locals changed their religion to Islam. They succeeded in changing the religion of some Slavs like those in Bosnia, who were mostly Serbs, but these people remained Slavs. Muslims of Bosnia are proud of their Slavic heritage and they are first to claim it.
Conquest does not mean occupation with resettlement. On the contrary, when the Byzantine Emperors resettled about half a million Slavs from Macedonia to Bithynia the resettled Slavic population amalgamated with the indigenous population.Over the years and after numerous political and ethnic fusions, the Slavs ended up Turkified (Türkleştirme). That means what actually happened is exactly the opposite of what the FYROM Slavs advocate.
Although the Prespes Agreement is not a done deal yet, what are the national security implications for Greece if the final name of the FYROM includes “Macedonia?” Are its ethnically diverse citizens of the republic going to be recognized as “Macedonians?”
The final name of the FYROM is significant not just to Greece’s national security and territorial integrity but is also essential to the national security of all countries adjacent to FYROM, including the stability of the Peninsula and the Middle East.
The issue of the country’s name is different from the subject of the ethnicity of its citizens. What is important is the name of the ethnic group of the Slav people who have no ethnic surname. According to international norms, nationality follows the name of the country regardless of the actual or perceived ethnicity of the person. Holders of passports of multiethnic nations as the United States, Canada, Australia, etc. see the name of the land next to “Nationality.” Thus, the issue comes down to one segment of the FYROM citizens who until November 29, 1943, were considered as part of the Serbian nation along with Montenegrins. This is evident from the Comintern Resolution of January 11, 1934.
Thus if we assume (without taking into account the Prespes Agreement) that the country’s final name is Povardarie, then the passports of Povardarie will indicate as “Nationality: Povardarie,” even if the bearer is ethnically Albanian, Turk, or Greek. In general, ethnicity of individuals is something personal. On the other hand, the ethnicity, language, and heritage of the Slavic population as far as I am concerned should be ‘Jugosloveni’ or South Slavs. This better reflects their slavic heritage, which constitutes an ethnic and linguistic transition zone between Bulgaria and Serbia.
It is a thorn in the whole agreement. The government of the FYROM cannot say on one hand that they are Slavs, but on the other, they call themselves “ethnic Macedonians.” Even Misirkov did not call them “ethnic” Macedonians; He made sure he mentioned them as Slavs. ‘Macedonians’ for Misirkov was a regional name and applied to all people of Macedonia regardless of ethnicity.By “Macedonian people”, Comintern meant all the people of geographic Macedonia regardless of ethnicity (Hristo Andonov-Poljanski. 1981, v. 2).
I am not even touching the issue that the region of the FYROM became officially “Macedonia” in 1900. I consider myself a Macedonian of Greek heritage since I was born within the geographical area of the ancient kingdom. Who are these people to take away my right to call myself a Macedonian?
I would push for the name “Central Balkan Republic” or “Jugoslavonija”, or better “Povardarie”. It is an existing name within the FYROM and all its people are very familiar with it. It is also a name of the Bishopric of Veles and Povardarie.
Let’s stay on the previous topic and focusing only on the Slavic population of the FYROM, why is the issue of ethnicity, language and heritage so contentious for both sides these days?
The Interim Accord was only about the name of the country. Here’s my argument that Greeks do not know their neighbors.
What about the National Anthem of the FYROM, which is being played outside of the country as well? Nobody thus far has answered this simple question: How can the state change its name “Macedonia” but keep its national anthem intact? Does anyone in Greece know its lyrics? The first verse calls the nation “Macedonia” (Today over Macedonia, the new sun of Freedom is being born).
Has anyone in the Greek MFA thought about it? Or are they going to conveniently claim that the national anthem is a domestic issue as are the ethnicity, language, heritage and all other derivatives of “Macedonia”?
The claim that the “Macedonian” language was recognized by the UN in 1977 is absurd. The UN recognized Taiwan, a country with a vital economy, since the 1945 San Francisco Conference. The country was a Charter member of the UN. Despite such a status, Taiwan was expelled by the General Assembly of the UN on October 25, 1971. It was unrecognized for political reasons. The issue of recognition of a language by the UN is not linguistic, but political; it may and can be unrecognized. The question is whether Greece has ever recognized anything “Macedonian”. We are referring to one-quarter of purely Greek land, not the ciftlik of Nasreddin Hodja.
Typically, the issue of ethnicity, heritage, and language are issues of domestic use, but in this case, they are very important. When Greece signed the Interim Accord, the people responsible should have known better. They messed up due to their ignorance and personal convenience, so they can’t expect others to get the snake out of its den. And, what about the last failure? Whose fault is it? This has been going on for 75 years, however, the Greek political elite keep governing like ostriches.
We have seen many Greek organizations demand that Greece withdraws from negotiations altogether. Let’s say the recent Prespes Agreement fails, what would happen if Greece withdraws from future negotiations with the FYROM on the name issue?
My first recommendation is that all Greeks who follow the moves of the FYROM Slav diaspora should stop imitating them. They are nonsensical and their goals are different from the aims of Greek people. This idea of withdrawal from the talks started by the Skopje diaspora about ten years ago and I was hoping that Skopje under Gruevski had listened to them. I was thinking, “get more rope to hang yourselves,” but unfortunately it did not happen.
I have read some Greeks are calling for such a thing. It shows how little these people understand the international political scope of the issue.
In answer to your question, Greece could withdraw from the negotiations if the issue were bilateral. It would be with little or no political cost for the country. Skopje has tried to make it bilateral in the past; and luckily Greece fought against it. This is one of the correct things Greece has done on the issue.
On a bilateral basis, the Interim Accord would be null and void making the erga omnes and inclusion of the name in the FYROM’s Constitution irrelevant and illogical. Every single country would recognize the FYROM as “Macedonia” leaving Greece on its own. The FYROM would get into the EU and NATO and in every organization it wishes, since the name issue would not exist. Greece would have to deal with Skopje being alone and without international support. I do not believe that any Greek wants such a thing.
All those people who want Greece to withdraw from negotiations because it cannot give the name Macedonia to the Slavs, in fact, become agents of Skopje on the issue because they’re thinking with their heart and not their head. I would say the same thing for those who want Greece out of the EU and NATO. They think that Russia will help Greece. That might be true, but knowing the foreign interests of Russia one of those interests is the Ecumenical Patriarchate and its move from Constantinople to Moscow. Such is the goal of Russia. Russia will also help its Pan-Slavic friends, which means that Thessaloniki will go to the FYROM and Kavala will become part of Bulgaria leaving Alexandroupolis to Turkey.
If this is what the Russophile Greeks want, then their wish will materialize. It should be known that since Aleksey Mikhailovich, father of Peter the Great, Russia’s main national interest is to support its goal for World supremacy and consequently Russian domestic and foreign policies reflect just that. This explains why the Russian Patriarch was absent from the Synod in Crete a few years ago although the preparation for the Synod had started about 35 years earlier.
The Vatican Newspaper, Il Osservatore Romano, had indicated that if the Patriarch of Moscow attended the Synod, the Orthodox Church would split because of the demands of the Russian Church. Their argument is that they lead 350 million Orthodox faithful whereas the Ecumenical Patriarch leads only about 1,500 souls. Such a statement indicates that the Patriarch of Moscow does not consider the Patriarch of Constantinople as Ecumenical, but only a local bishop with a limited flock. In reality, an Ecumenical Patriarch includes all Orthodox faithful of the World including the Russians; it is why he is called Ecumenical, not because of the number of his direct followers.
Greeks should be careful what they wish for regarding the Russians because they might get it. Then they will not be able to blame others, but themselves. International law is not case law or statutory law, but a common law. To quote Wikipedia, “The defining characteristic of “common law” is that it arises as precedent. In cases where the parties disagree on what the law is, a common law court looks to past precedential decisions of relevant courts, and synthesizes the principles of those past cases as applicable to the current facts.” In the case of treaties, the precedents seek answers from previous similar treaties. The UN is in possession of such treaties.
Some international norms, precedents, and guarantees regulate international talks and treaties as they are incorporated into the set of rules generally accepted as binding in relations between countries, aka international law.
Greece is not in a position of prestige because the people are disunited and the political parties deal with their micro-political scheming issues, just as the kodzabashis did two hundred years ago. Greece is only a European country geographically speaking. It is progressively becoming worse in a disappointing way.
Some erroneously believe that the name issue is a uniquely Greek issue. But, that is not the case. Explain how other countries deal with similar issues of shared regions.
Let me start by saying that many countries in the world share regions. Luxembourg, for instance, shares the French prefecture with the same name. Vojvodina (Serbia), Romania, and Hungary split the region of Banat. The Flemish, i.e., Dutch-speaking part of Belgium is the continuation of the Netherlands, and the French-speaking is a continuation of France. The name Great Britain goes back to Britany in France; both names go back to the Bretons, a Celtic tribe. There are two European regions with the name Galicia, one in Spain and one in Eastern Europe. Hungary, Croatia, and Serbia share the territory of Baranya or Baranja. Let us not forget Thrace.
The name is not the problem. The United States has a state named New Mexico, and Mexico has a state called Baja or South California. I can go on with similar examples.
Let’s go a little bit further than that. The most striking element of the National Anthem of the Netherlands is at the end of the first stanza. It states, “The prince of Orange I am; afraid of nothing; I have always remained loyal to the king of Spain.” It is a remnant of the Napoleonic Wars, but I have not heard any Spaniard claiming the Netherlands. Therefore, the whole matter goes to the mentality of the people of the south Balkans.
The name of the region of FYROM as Macedonia is the result of political events:
- Some intellectuals participating in a convention in Belgrade in 1865 envisioned the Balkan Federation in a politically socialist basis, not in a religious sense as Rhigas Pheraios had done many years before.
- The Berlin Conference of June 1878 deprived Serbia of expanding west although Serbia received other means of compensation from Austria. Serbia thus extended south, a move that conflicted with the territorial aspiration of Bulgaria even after its territorial folding. Bulgaria had maintained its national ambitions long after its defeat in the Berlin Conference. It moved its Capital to Sofia (1879), annexed Eastern Rumelia (1885), which the Berlin Conference had made an autonomous territory within the Ottoman Empire. To balance the domestic political scene, the current Bulgarian government also made the Eastern Bulgarian dialect its literary language (1899).
- Communism took advantage of the Bulgarian expansionist foreign policy and proceeded with a strategy that even if Bulgaria were not directly involved, she would have a lot to say on the Federation of Macedonia and Thrace.
I have translated the three primary documents that are related to Macedonia; the six-page 1924 “May Manifesto”; the nine-page III Communist International, Fifth Congress - June 17–July 8, 1924 "Resolution on National Question in Central Europe and Balkans,” which includes the Macedonian and Thracian Questions. I have also translated the three-page Comintern Resolution 11 January 1934 “The Macedonian Question and the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization - United (IMRO-U)”.
When the three documents are studied, one understands that the main objective was a federal Macedonia and Thrace under the administration of the communist IMRO. It is obvious that the word “nation” in those documents referred to a multicultural nation-state or a nation as in “United Nations,” not an ethnic one. Such multicultural nations were the answer to the Communist “National Question.”
Based on your experience, what is the driving force behind the FYROM’s irredentist claims on the northern Greek province of Macedonia? Using past examples how could these irredentist claims serve to affect Greece’s national security.
Briefly put, the driving force is the territorial expansion over Macedonia by military occupation; it cannot be done otherwise. Their strategy hides this fact behind the imaginary issue of the so-called human rights of “Macedonians.” They do it because they think in a Court of Law such nonsense prevails; it does not. They see other cases of legitimate minority complaints around the world, the intervention of great powers in setting new borders and they hope they can identify themselves with such matters. But to do it, they employ deceiving and criminal means. Photoshop is one of the methods they employ. The bottom line is that they cannot Photoshop facts.
For the second part of the question the answer is that they work with two domestic Greek groups – the communists of Greece who still support Comintern’s resolutions under the doctrine “Comintern might not have been right, but it was not wrong”, and the ultra-right wing who believe that they are the only ones who care about Greece. Most members of these two groups do not even know the modern history of Greece and how Greece’s political instability has affected the country so far. Both groups live in a parallel universe.
The brief history of Modern Greece is as follows:
Greece declared independence in 1821 (officially on January 26, 1822, in Epidavros). However by 1827, while fighting the Turks, Greeks engaged in two civil wars while the Turko-Egyptian Ibrahim was threatening to suppress the revolution. After its independence in 1829, the first political parties that sprang up were the "Russian," "English" and "French," while the newly established country was already bankrupt. Nicholas Karlovich Giers of the Asian Section of the Russian Foreign Ministry stated the following regarding the assassination of Capodistrias: “the assassin, Mavromichalis, belonged to one of the most distinguished families of the region, who looked with envy upon [Capodistrias] rise. The only thing that has changed since then are the names of the political parties, not the mentality of the Greeks. Personal ego, especially among those disqualified to speak, feeds Greece’s political instability.
The “Μαύρο '97” or “Ατυχής πόλεμος του 1897” (Eng: “Black ’97” or the “Unfortunate War of 1897”) took place because of people’s wishful thinking instead of weighing up reality and waiting. The result of that war was an Ottoman military victory after which Greece ceded small parts of Thessaly to the Ottoman Empire. It would be nice if people read the background of the war and the full outcome to understand that ultra-nationalistic overtones brought Greece to humiliation and bankruptcy. The embarrassment came when the commander of the Ottoman Army stated ostentatiously that he was ready to march to Athens and drink coffee on the Acropolis. Thankfully the Great Powers of Europe intervened stopping the Turks from advancing south of Olympus.
That was not enough. Following this, we had the National Schism between 1914 and 1917. The National Schism set the foundations for the foolish overconfidence of an unprepared, almost defunct Army to at least control Ionia and a government to lay claim on Constantinople. Instead of being satisfied with whatever the ally victors had given to Greece, they wanted more. They proceeded to capture and destroy Ankara. The Battles of Sakarya and Dumlupınar (26–30 August 1922) brought Greece to reality. Ionia was damaged, and Constantinople was lost. Turks still remember the date of their victory. August 30 every year is the date of military promotions and new positions.
Due to National Schism, the loss of prestige and non-existent political will, Greece could not even enforce the Autonomy of Northern Epirus.
In the case of the Greek-Italian War (1940-1941), Greece was a clear victor delivering to the Allied Powers not only a physical victory but also a tremendous moral victory; it was the first Allied victory they so badly needed. One must consider the defeat of the UK at the beaches of Dunkirk, Belgium, and the annihilation of France by Germany that rendered the Maginot lines a simple hurdle. For that decisive victory, Greece was awarded the Dodecanese.
Despite the prestige that Greece had enjoyed, due to securing the first allied victory in defeating an Axis power, the domestic instability, and fanfare during the WWII Peace talks in Paris (1946-1947) was responsible for Greece losing Cyprus. The United States wanted to pass Cyprus to Greece. However, the domestic turmoil in Greece and the usual fanfare and bogus claims of some Greeks from Florida brought the intention of the United States in the open and found stiff resistance by the Soviet Union and the UK.
Between 1966 and 1967, Greece was in political turmoil changing governments as often as people change their shirts. I witnessed it firsthand. I still remember the blockade of Thessaloniki by land about a month before the coup of April 21, 1967. Communist-led farmers had closed the co-capital of Greece from all nine land connections. I was in Thessaloniki, and I know what happened. Such domestic instability led to the revolt of April 21, 1967. Following seven years of uncertainty, another coup, dual at this time, took place. The first one resulted in the displacement of the Papadopoulos regime. The new military government, feeling that it was their “patriotic” duty to unite Cyprus with Greece launched a coup in Cyprus under the EOKA fighter Sampson giving the excuse to Turkey to intervene to “protect” its minority. The Greek Generals and the “inactive” politicians behind them should have known better. Turkey wanted to do the same in 1962, but its invasion was averted by the United States. The situation worsened because in 1964 the United States wanted to see Cyprus united with Greece under certain conditions (Acheson Plan). Both Archbishop Makarios and the Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou rejected it because the plan included “a sovereign Turkish base on the island that would limit enosis and give Ankara too much say in Cyprus’ affairs”.
Between 1829 and the present, Greece has gone bankrupt five times each time bringing the nation into further instability; as if the political instability was not enough. Uncertainty in Greece means calamity for the country. It will be beneficial for Greece if her people start thinking in these logical terms.
Now to the hot topic on everyone's mind lately: the "North Macedonia Agreement” at Prespes. What are your views on this Agreement?
This Agreement goes far beyond the scope of the Interim Accord of 1995, which only applied to the name of the country. It seems that the FYROM’s negotiators seized this opportunity during negotiations. The Greek side should have refused to negotiate anything more than the name of the country. It seems however, the Skopje’s negotiators got the hint that Greeks were easy prey from the manner Mrs. Dora Bakoyanni had negotiated and accepted the adjective “Macedonian” as ethnicity, language, and heritage. Actually, at that time, she had accepted and pushed the name to the Greek American diaspora not as erga omnes, but “for international use” claiming that it was the same thing. Actually, Mr. Panagopoulos or Panagiotopoulos, I do not exactly recall, of the Greek Embassy in Washington was the bearer of the news. The Greek side should stick to its guns and refuse to talk about issues that were not included in the Interim Agreement. Bulgaria was not stupid to have done so.
Having said that, I was hoping that it would not be an Agreement, but a Treaty. I am against this Agreement for a number of reasons especially the fact that it does not clearly address the false informal and non-formal education that the FYROM diaspora disseminates to themselves and their posterity, including the influence of their Church. In addition, I have a problem with the FYROM diaspora that injects hatred in their offspring against the Greek nation. It offers lip service to such a vital issue.
To me, the most important issue is that it is NOT a Treaty, but an Agreement. Although in international law, there is no real difference in validity, they do differ in the manner that the two are handled and the level of their standing. The difference is often the number of votes needed in a country’s Parliament to ratify an Agreement or a Treaty. As Greeks know, although the Interim Accord was ratified by the Parliament in Skopje, the Simitis government never brought it to the Greek Parliament for ratification because it was an Accord or Agreement. The problem I always had is, although the governing party was silent on the issue, the official opposition was silent as well. Agreements do not have to be brought for ratification. It is true that it was a command of the UNSC, the law enforcement body of the United Nations, but it should have still been offered to Parliament for discussion and ratification. Mr. Papoulias would have had a lot of explaining to do.
Coming to the present issue, Nikos Voutsis, the present Speaker of the Parliament, declared that the matter will be offered to the Parliament for discussion and ratification. What is unclear is that he mentioned ratification of this agreement will require a very large majority in the Greek Parliament. “There is no constitutional provision for 180 votes, but for such a serious matter, the larger the majority will be, the better for all”. Really?
What exactly does the Article 28.2 of the Greek Constitution stand for? It states,
“Authorities provided by the Constitution may by treaty or agreement be vested in agencies of international organizations when this serves an important national interest and promotes cooperation with other States. A majority of three-fifths of the total number of Members of Parliament shall be necessary to vote the law ratifying the treaty or agreement (website: Parliament of Greece).
Mr. Voutsis is the Speaker of the Parliament, but he has no reading comprehension. The whole article 28 deals with international law, but he cannot find the reason for legal approval of a treaty or agreement?
As for the Agreement itself, between 1950 to 2015, Greece, directly and indirectly, gave up about 80% of what the FYROM wanted. The name “Macedonia” was given indirectly in 1950 when Greece established a Consulate General in the Capital of the People’s Republic of Macedonia. The mere establishment of an official Greek diplomatic office within the former Yugoslavia implied an indirect recognition.
So in essence, the negotiations between the FYROM and Greece did not start subject to a clean slate. International law is common law based on precedent unlike Greece's domestic law, which is based on statutes. Thus as time passed since the 1951 normalization of relations between Greece and the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, SFRJ, Greece kept giving away or recognizing institutions and agreements. Also, by ignoring developments on the Macedonian issue, even as a side effect, such acts kept accumulating. Thus by 1995, Greece had already given about 50-60% of what they wanted as fait accompli. Most of the time under the upsetting procrastination and indifference expressed by «ωχ, αδελφέ» «δε βαριέσαι», «ε και τι έγινε», «και ποιος θα το μάθει;». According to the former MFA of Greece, Dora Bakoyanni, by 2010 Greece had already awarded Skopje 80% of what it sought by constantly giving in. Thus, Skopje had no incentive to allow Greece to receive the remaining 20%. Holding to the already possessed 80%, it negotiated the remaining 20% adhering to the dictum “what is mine is mine, what is yours is negotiable.” It has been Skopje’s traditional approach to the name issue since 1991(Templar, August 28, 2014).
Upon reading the entire agreement, the deficiencies were evident as if it were put together by a group of 15-year-old high school students who wrote their individual pieces and compiled the agreement without even reading it.
The agreement covers legal issues at the government level. It offers lip service to how legal definitions and provisions would be used by the people of Greece and its Macedonian Greek diaspora. It provides ethnic cover for the Macedonian Slavs, but it does nothing to protect the regional identity of Macedonian Greeks like me. As the diaspora of the FYROM has embraced the Macedonian national identity, they will have a very solid stance to declare that they are rightfully Macedonians. Nobody among the common international community would care about the Agreement, nor that their history has nothing to do with THE ancient Macedonians. The so-called experts in the Greek MFA have started an inferno that will die when the Macedonian region of Greece gets incorporated into ‘North Macedonia’. The geniuses of humanity from the ‘Republic of Athens’ have NO idea whom they are dealing with. They should come to Australia next year to learn a thing or two and leave their conceit back in Greece.
Some parts of the Agreement make sense, but others do not; their vagueness will hurt Greek national interests but mostly the relations of our diaspora. Making the FYROM Slavs “Macedonians” even under the definition that Misirkov offered in his book On Macedonian Matters deprives the Macedonian Greeks of their true Macedonian Heritage. Other provisions nullify or even contradict stipulations of the same article or muddy other articles of the agreement.
In general, Article 3, for instance, reinforces the Peace, Friendship and Mutual Protection between Serbia and Greece signed in Thessaloniki on June 1, 1913, by the Greek ambassador to Belgrade, Ioannis Alexandropoulos, and the Serbian ambassador to Athens, Mateja Bošković; it is known as the Koromilas - Bošković Protocol. Under article 3, Skopje accepts the borders of 1913.
Then we jump to the issue of citizenship or legal nationality. Article 1.b in the Agreement is unacceptable.
The Agreement offers two meanings in the term "nationality". In international law, the term nationality is a loose term of citizenship. American passports for instance bear as nationality “United States of America”; it does not state “American”. In the case of this agreement, the two parties should have done the same; on the issue of nationality, the name of the country should be written, not the adjective Macedonian as it refers to ethnicity in article 7. That would have prevented part of the future headaches.
The agreement sees all citizens of the FYROM as “Macedonians” from the scope of a community of descent. So according to this agreement, the FYROM is 100% Slavic, but also North Macedonian. Thus the people of FYROM are given a choice, the Slavs are Macedonians in nationality, but the rest of them are North Macedonians. The problem from the point of international law is simple. There are two countries, one is Macedonia with its own nationals and the other one is North Macedonia with its own nationals. But how can citizens belong to a country under the name Macedonia that does not exist?
Coming to the issue of history, it correctly deprives the Slavs of any part of Greek history. However, the real issue was not, is not, and will never be ancient history as most Greeks believe. There is nothing in the history of the Slavs that connects them to ancient Greek history. Misirkov born in Pella knew extremely well who and what the ancient Macedonians were. He had never mentioned ancient history at all.
The history myth started in 1936 in Melbourne from the followers of the Bulgarian General Mihajilov and it continued later by their posterity under the thought, "if we are Macedonians, we must be descendants of the ancient Macedonians; otherwise what kind of Macedonians are we?" It was based on faulty logic and stories that their grandparents told them.
Some historians doubt that the ancient Macedonians were Greeks on various pretexts, but not a single historian connects the Slavs a historical continuity to the ancient Macedonians, not one. Nobody considers the sermon of Pribojevic and the Book of Orbini as historical theses.
But the issue is very different from what the agreement addresses. Even if the FYROM had signed treaties that excluded the name Macedonia in their name, language, ethnicity and heritage the morons of VMRO-DPMNE, their Golden Dawn type (and there are plenty of those), will still claim ancient Macedonian ancestry. I had a numerous conversations with Hungarians and Croats of the Golden Dawn type and I could not believe the absurdities they said.
But what concerns me is not only the combination of the entire Article 1, Article 7 (paragraphs 2, 3, 4) and Article 8 (paragraphs 1, 2, 5), but in particular, Article 8.5.
As previously stated, I wonder if anyone in the A3 has ever read and understood the national anthem of the FYROM. The agreement does not indicate anything of the kind. Despite the explanations in article 7, the agreement considers the country to be “Macedonia” and treats it as such, since it does not touch its national anthem. If everything is erga omnes, the FYROM under the name “North Macedonia” cannot have a national anthem that pertains to Macedonia, which is a region of Greece.
In addition, what exactly does paragraph 7.5 mean in relation to Article 7 as a whole?
The main concern is, who will be scientists and experts from the Greek side that will negotiate the history of Greece, including ancient history, and the history of the Macedonian struggle? If the Minority Research Center (KEMO) and the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP) get involved in “negotiating” the agreement, then:
- a) All the Vlach-speaking Greeks of Krushevo, that is the victims of Ilinden, will be renamed "ethnic Macedonians"
- b) the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (EMEA) will be proclaimed an "ethnic Macedonian Liberation Movement" with philanthropic and benevolent intentions, forgetting their terrorist acts of the “Boatmen” and the “Miss Stone Affair”
- c) Pavlos Melas, the Metropolitan Germanos Karavangelis and so many other Greeks who gave their blood for Macedonia will be called "terrorists"
- d) The approximately 30,000 kidnapped children from all over Greece will end up being boy scouts going camping with the blessings of their parents
One must always bear in mind that even though the Agreement states the preservation of Greek history within Greek contexts, it does NOT explicitly and unambiguously state that ancient Macedonian history is an integral part of Greek history.
Do not assume that this is implied by the wording of the Agreement. Such an issue can be resolved by the exchange of letters between the Foreign Ministers of Greece and Skopje. Exchange of letters is a regular institution in diplomatic services.
What makes it particularly intriguing is Article 8.
Article 8.1 cannot be clearly understood. What I have not yet understood is the issue of Article 8.1. This article is an exact copy of Article 7.3 of the Interim Agreement. It is the same article that helped Gruevski and others steal Greek history and transplant it to their Slavic country. Why did they put it back, particularly when Article 8.5 exists? Have there been no lessons learned by the MFA?
8.2 Gives the government in Skopje six months to consider whether the statues are historical or not. What have they done so far?
8.3 In this article, the last paragraph allows any Slav to make copies of whatever Greek they want (e.g., Sun of Vergina) and sell them anywhere. These copies can be in clothes, flags, etc. Its prohibition under Article 8.3 applies only to the government and any organizations affiliated with the Skopje government, either directly or indirectly. Unless I have missed something, it does not apply to the private sector. This means that the spread of Skopje can follow their own drummer.
8.4 This is standard practice in the official gazetteer. It is no longer Solun or Monastiri in official documents. But this is normal for all official documents. Names used in the interior of a country are preferred by names used abroad. These names will be used in the list of UN names, i.e., gazetteer.
As for Article 13, it deals with the former Serbian> former Yugoslavian> current Serbian Free Zone at the harbor of Thessaloniki. Greece has already passed part of the same Zone to Skopje.
Never mind the explanation of Article 7. Greek-Australians should prepare for the fight of their lives. Greece has ensured that they and their offspring will be fighting against the FYROM Slav diaspora for as long as they live.
The negative side of this agreement is that the Greek diplomatic corps, following the official line of the Agreement, will assist the FYROM Slav diaspora, declaring that the Slavs are actually Macedonians and the Macedonian-Greeks are just Greeks who live in Macedonia. The Slavic diaspora is not interested in the agreement or the emphasis on different historical context and cultural heritage. This Agreement actually strengthens their effort to “explain” why they are Macedonians.
Until now, the FYROM Slav diaspora only had academics side against them. Even Badian and Borza were clearly stating that the modern “Macedonians” could not claim a historical continuity with the ancient Macedonians. Now they have the official political side stating that they can be called Macedonians, because they moved to Macedonia during the 6th-7th centuries, and their name comes from their habitation. It gives them a regional, not a sanguine disposition but it still gives them the historical name. It clearly states their Slavic origin and it does the same with their language and heritage.
I’m assuming that according to Article 15, visitors from the FYROM to archaeological sites will follow the rules of the Ministry of Culture that only certified guides will explain any and all historical facts related to the site. This must apply especially to the students, who until now they had their own “learned” teachers to explain.
From the composition of the Agreement, it looks like after the negotiating teams finished their job, someone took a superficial glance over the Agreement and approved it, without considering possible redundancies or conflicting statements in different sections. To put it bluntly, the Agreement was rushed kicking the tin away for others to get the snake out of its den. Eventually, and I suspect sooner than later, the snake will prove to be a gargantuan komodo dragon with lethal saliva.
As it is, the Agreement needs many explanatory notes and exchange of official letters like the ones that accompanied the Interim Agreement, but very few people know about those letters.
When one regresses to 1822, the connection to issues associated with the problems that Greece has becomes apparent. Political expediency, along with ignorance of the real world outside of Athens, is the source of all evils created by Athens. Because the creators of the problems are either incapable or politically unwilling to solve them, they turn around and ask for foreign help, whilst simultaneously releasing their partisan henchmen to tacitly “inform” the public that the Germans or the Americans are behind all of Greece’s calamities. Of course, they are behind them – their own boss had asked them to help.
For the sake of Greece’s survival, the Greek MFA needs to understand that Greece is far beyond the real estate between Thebes, Sounion, and Corinth – Athens is not Greece; it is simply part of Greece. Greece includes all of us who expect guidance and enlightenment from our home country, but all we get is a luminous darkness of corruption, conceit, and indifference that amounts to political immaturity.
The way politicians govern Greece is reminiscent of the Phanariots of Wallachia and the kodzabashis of the Sultan. The Sultan is dead, but their spirit lives on in the Parliament of Greece.
They better go back and re-write this Agreement before it is too late to save Macedonia.
If you were tasked with changing something in the Constitution of the Hellenic Republic, what would it be?
Oh, that’s easy. We have to try to at least keep the politicians honest:
All elected officials shall physically reside within the district they are elected and represent for at least 10 years before they register their candidacy. Such a clause shall apply to all elected officials including the leaders of all political parties in the Parliament without exception. They shall be Greek citizens by birth or naturalization. No elected official shall be allowed to hold any other nationality but Greek. It also applies to residents of the diaspora unless the law changes to allow representatives of the diaspora in the Greek Parliament.
* Explanation: As it is today if a person from the diaspora wants to run for office in Greece this person will have to follow the same rules that apply to all residents of Greece who want to be elected in the Parliament.
Civil servants no matter how high or how low in rank or position shall have only Greek nationality. Such a requirement shall apply to all and any military personnel with any kind of Security Clearance. If such personnel have dual or multiple nationalities, the same personnel shall renounce all foreign nationalities before they enter the service or force. As the New Testament states, "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”
a. The Parliament will decide on issuing a notice of a referendum concerning specific matters within its sphere of competence by a simple majority vote of the total number of Representatives. The decision of the majority of voters in a referendum shall be adopted on condition that more than half of the total number of registered voters had voted.
b. The Parliament will be obliged to issue a notice of a referendum if one is proposed by at least, say, 5% of the registered voters. The decision made in such a referendum will be binding.
4. The President of the Republic will be elected directly by the people
The President of the Republic will be elected in general and direct elections, by secret ballot, for a single six-year term. The President of the Republic shall physically reside for a minimum of ten years within Greece at the day s/he is elected to office. The President of the Republic shall be a national of the Hellenic Republic by birth and only of the Hellenic Republic even if she/he resides abroad. A person may be elected President of the Republic if over the age of at least 40 on the day of the election. A person may not be elected President of the Republic if, on the day of the election, he/she has not been a physical resident of the Hellenic Republic at least ten years in a row. Owning property in Greece while physically living abroad does not qualify one as being a physical resident.
Greeks in Greece and in the diaspora held rallies on the “Macedonia” name issue sporadically. Some of these rallies were quite large, but the question remains: was there a message attached to those rallies or did the outside world penalize the message and Greece along with it?
Many messages used in those rallies make sense only to Greeks; however, they give the wrong message to foreigners with no understanding of the issue. Either the organizers do not seem to care, or they feel like isolating people who genuinely care about Greece. People have to understand that what makes sense to us is not necessarily a useful tool to spread our message. ‘One message fits all’ is the wrong concept. We can satisfy our pride and our ego, but simultaneously sacrifice our message or play it smart and spread the right message without over-dramatization, sensationalism, and ultra-nationalism.
To foreigners, slogans such as “Macedonia is Greek” sounds like it hides an ultra-nationalistic message with an expansionist connotation against the FYROM. Strabo said, “Indeed, Macedonia is part of Greece”; however, one must consider that at his time Greece was only a geographical term under the Romans; it was not a country. The Hellenic Peninsula was divided into two administrative segments, one of which included Macedonia.
In my view, people who prepare advertising should take Strabo’s statement and present in a way that the word “Macedonia” does not refer to the FYROM in any way and form, but to Greece. Something like “Macedonia is already a part of Greece”; “No state with the name Macedonia”; “Macedonia IS in Greece”; something like that would be more effective and to the point. People should stop thinking emotionally and start thinking strategically. People in the advertising industry are genuinely creative.
I love Greece, I truly do, but loving something or someone does not mean I have to be blind; it means I should face reality and distinguish between what is right and wrong. I cannot restrict my mind of the truth whilst ignoring facts. It is said that love is blind; however, it does not have to be senseless.
People have the right to hold rallies and they should. In a democracy, it is the right and obligation of the citizens to petition their government. However, the same demonstrators and especially their leadership must debilitate all elements who misdirect the tide of the demonstration whether they come from the extreme right or extreme left. Leaders are responsible for anything that takes place in protests. About ten years ago, I suggested that we demonstrate before Greek diplomatic missions, not in front of foreign government buildings but I was turned down flat. Ten years later, they decided to do it, but it's too late. Even when I had suggested it, it was late; now it is much worse.
Australia, USA, and Canada are home to an extensive Greek diaspora. However, we are a diaspora divided especially on advocacy. Why is this?
We are divided because those in leadership not only undermine each other but also don’t know what they are doing. Others accept bribes from subsequent Greek governments about 25 to 35 thousand U.S. dollars monthly under the guise of promoting Greek causes or advertisement. This is true for some well-known Greek NGOs and mass media of the Greek Diaspora. Since it is an issue pertaining to all Greeks, where is the voice from key Greek American NGOs? They are silent on the matter of Macedonia because they are probably on the take.
In some cases, those who think of themselves as superior homeland patriots are in fact so irrational that they end up collaborating with the FYROM Slavs without even realising it. Some go as far as getting their supporters to troll both Greeks and Slavs online and to exchange absurd nonsense as if they were Karagiozis (Karagöz) and Hatzivatis (Hacivat). The fact is the Sultan hung them both. More recently these ‘patriots’ have even put people’s lives in danger by “outing” some of our FYROM Slav supporters in the diaspora who work for the Greek cause. These trolls consider these public outings as an “achievement.” However, it never occurred to them that the people they have outed may be providing very useful information to Greece. A nation cannot survive with such people and is doomed to fail.
How can the Greek diaspora create advocacy groups when they have such members? One does not find this kind of behavior in the FYROM Slav camp.
Ultimately, intelligent Greeks of the diaspora become non-inclined towards involvement in such destructive organizations.
How would you describe the FYROM Slav diaspora organizations and the methods they employ to get their message heard not only within their community but also in the public sphere?
From the efficiency of their work, they are very well-organized with discipline and attention directed toward their goal not at each other. Their lobby works under a strategy that employs professional experts in disciplines where the lobby needs to spread the word. Their experts are not FYROM Slavs and they often resort to proxy struggle just like the VMRO in the early 1900s.
Also, FYROM Slavs have money, and the methods they employ are put together professionally. The coordination of tactics as part of a strategic purpose is apparent. Their community takes “guidelines” from both Skopje and Ankara - Turkey is helping them a lot and supports them unquestionably. Not one of the members of the various groups would dare disobey it. When it comes to “Macedonia” they face it with religious reverence. It is exactly why the FYROM is where it is. Additionally, they don’t troll each other, nor divulge or out their sources, or attack each other, because they take the issue seriously.
Going back to the Greek diaspora, you are an advocate for the creation of a Greek lobby. Many in the diaspora already believe that there are Greek lobby groups at work to protect the interests of both the diaspora and to lobby their respective governments. What are the facts on this issue?
The myth about the Greek lobby started after the invasion of Cyprus by Turkey. As I understand it, a couple of Greek restaurant owners went to the U.S. Congress to talk to their Congressman about the invasion. As they were leaving the office, someone asked who these men were; one of the present office workers said “the Greek lobby.” More or less, it is how the myth started.
Well, if so many lobby groups existed, Greece would not have been continuously on the receiving end. Since Greece never had a lobby, most Greeks do not know what a lobby is, what it needs to operate, nor the amount of money involved. Greeks are also tribal. They do not have the national unity necessary to address domestic and national security issues. I have been attacked as a pro-Skopje Slav only because my last name is not Greek. If they take the telephone book of, say, Athens, they will be surprised how many so-called Greek names are Arabian, Persian, Turkish, Slavic, Albanian, etc. A name ending such as “-is” does not make a name Greek, by the way. A name ending in “-oğlu” which is a possessive genitive of oğul (son) cannot be purely Greek. Papazoğlu, for instance, is purely a Turkish name. The Greek word for a priest is “ἱερεύς,” not papas. Papas is remnant of Greece’s Ottoman past. In Turkish “papaz” means “Christian priest.”
Skopje has only ONE national issue, their survival as a state. They have Turkish-trained personnel on issues of lobbying and their experts listen to professional advice. In the United States, lobbyists for other powers are required to register as Foreign Agents (FARA). The President of the UMD is a designated Foreign Agent. Additionally, the Ministry of Culture of the government of the FYROM, has for 10 years now employed people full-time to work solely on articles published in Wikipedia promoting the “Macedonian Heritage” of the Slavs turned “ethnic Macedonians”.
Greece on the other hand has five national security issues; (Macedonia, Northern Epirus, Thrace, EEZ, and Aegean Air Space) and two national topics (Cyprus, and the Greek Genocide). Each one of them needs a separate lobby.
The reason why we don’t have a lobby is because the political establishment of Greece does not allow it and does everything possible to subvert, sabotage, and weaken any attempt for a valid and honest lobby. Secondly, those who want to lead a lobby do not have any idea what a real lobby entails – dreams don’t count. Lobby means M-O-N-E-Y and expertise (love for the homeland or I want to help are fine, but they do not count as expertise). Just to open its doors for example, an active lobby requires a minimum of three million U.S. dollars. The operating costs reduce as the organization depreciates its assets but salaries and other operational expenses need to be factored in. If this sum seems exorbitant, one must start working in a Cost Accounting manner and without discounting any costs.
A lobby is a fully organized operation consisting of adequately staffed and equipped teams with a single scope tasking that does not lose its peripheral vision. A team is a group whose identity reflects the consensus of its members without suppressing their individuality.
A lobby needs teams of experts, groups of professionals with expertise in the specific cause they advocate without interference or meddling in the business of other teams. The experts are dedicated to their field and they do not need to be of Greek descent. Each of the lobby teams consist of experts on specific subject matters, as geologists, national security experts with a specialty in geostrategy, experts in avionics, attorneys specializing in international law, diagnosticians, analysts, strategists, tacticians, operationalists, a lot of full-time staffers; but most of all, a lobby needs famous spokespersons in the community they operate and FUNDING.
Lobbies are connected to foundations or nonprofit public policy organizations using all forms of mass and social media and mass communication to influence a government or individual politicians. They demonstrate that the public demands a particular action. Such is the advocacy side of the lobbies that works overtly through lectures and presentations.
A real Greek lobby requires serious funding because our multiple causes have been neglected or marginalized for a long time. The number of personnel required for a lobby can be anywhere between twenty to thousands; it always depends on what the aim and objective is. A few years back, I met someone who worked for a lobby as a Human Resource Manager, but the lobby in my opinion was insignificant. Yet she still had close to 100 personnel on her payroll. Not only do we have no lobby in Washington, but we don’t have appropriate people to lead such a lobby. All those who lead numerous Greek organizations have no understanding what a true lobby is, no appropriate training, no suitable contacts, and lack leadership ability.
Lobbyists are naturally accountable to their supporters who usually remain anonymous; it is why professional lobbies work quietly and behind the scenes using covert techniques.
On the public relations side, a simple garden party with a politician today will cost a lobby about US$400-500,000 in the United States. The only Greek-American firm registered in the United States as a public relations firm is Manatos and Manatos. This firm was charging US$300,000 for garden parties about ten years ago.
Most organizations of the Greek diaspora that I’m aware of are organized under the scope of cultural, societal, or educational societies with appropriate by-laws. Their part-time leadership, boards, and sometimes paid employees, lack what it takes to undertake the duties of a lobbyist. Unfortunately, they seek ‘lobbyists’ among themselves, restricting any possible expertise in the realm of the Greek diaspora. Such mentality hinders the achievement of goals. The people who believe they currently lead a lobby are unaware that they do not have the suitable skills and information to deliver what is required. Titles, academic standing, or military and social eminence do not provide what it takes to operate and lead a political or national security lobby group, nor do they provide appropriate methods and strategies to achieve set goals.
Those involved, do not understand what a lobby is nor its definition. The most critical part of lobbying is an affinity for the cause, not lust for it. Affinity lends itself to using logic, but passion raises emotional ties which are counterproductive. What one loves to do does not mean that it is the right thing to do.
However, the problem within the Greek diaspora is more profound. When irresponsible people spread the news that they are lobbyists while they do nothing near lobbying, they raise expectations by throwing ashes into the eyes of those who hope that someone is doing something. If they were honest about it, people would not have such expectations, and they would take the issue seriously trying to do something to fill the gap instead of being complacent.
Others believe that educated people know what they are doing. To begin with, it is a faulty assumption. Let us take a teacher. There is a difference between teaching a five-year-old from teaching a 60-year-old. It is worse when a teacher of English is trying to teach English as a Second Language to foreigners. In my Turkish language class, for example, there were three engineers from Turkey teaching us Turkish as a Second Language. It was a farce.
Another way of looking at the knowledge and expertise required for an effective lobby is like this. The human body and a house use plumbing. The gastroenterologist and the plumber do similar jobs. They both take care of the plumbing, the first one of the human body and the second one of the house. The question is simple; would you visit a plumber to perform a colonoscopy?
I remember a Greek Cypriot professor of Political Science who teaches in the UK claiming that he knew a lot about Turkey. When he read my paper on the Strategic Culture of Turkey, he said: “I did not know all these details.” I am sure others would have presented a different set of details on the same subject. A lobby needs eloquent people to control the ground, spin the media, have credibility, sponsor a think-tank, neutralize the opposition without criminal means, control the web, and have access to government offices.
Most of the issues Greeks have arisen from targeting the wrong audience. They keep preaching to the choir. The message to the Greeks and non-Greeks can never be the same. They make videos in Greek explaining to the Greek audience that the ancient Macedonians were Greeks. Why? If the Greek audience does not know that, why are we attacking the FYROM Slavs for their historical ignorance? Why don’t the same people make a video in the language that the FYROM Slavs understand? What about in Serbian or even Russian? I am sure there are a few of Slavic descent who are willing to do it for a fee. They can even dub the voice. They can just narrate without showing their faces. It is exactly why a true lobby needs money. But who has the intelligence to think about it? According to Mr. Philip Christopher, President of the International Coordinating Committee – “Justice for Cyprus” (PSEKA), Turkey has spent US$102 million to professional lobbying firms such as Gephard, Livingston, Dole, Wexler, etc. Turks seek experts regardless of their ethnic background. Greeks look for people of Greek background. That alone limits the choices that Greeks have.
In saying this, I want to clarify that I am not a lobbyist and will never be one. I do not have what it takes to be a lobbyist. I can organize a lobby without any outside interference and I can task the necessary research with a team of true researchers; that is what I can do.
We cannot end this interview without discussing our organization. Why has the Macedonian League resonated with so many people young and old? We see it from the constant communication and the enthusiasm of our followers. We see it with foreign government officials who follow us seeking answers to the name issue. What does the Macedonian League offer that other Greek organizations don't?
We are a small group of professionals specializing in various disciplines. Since its inception, our website and social media has remained and will remain clear of sensationalist articles with unproven “facts.” We welcome articles from professionals that have something to do with Greece’s domestic and national security issues. All of them pass through the editorial board. We have several professional editors who check the accuracy and the tone of articles.
What people like is the thoughtfulness behind the maintenance of our website and our social media sites. It is why foreign governments and intelligence agencies are our followers. It is only for a mature following and for people who want to learn something. It is precisely why the Australian Institute of Macedonian Studies (AIMS) has honored us with the Research Fellowship. People have noticed that anything we do is based on facts and not rumors or hallucinations.
It also depends on your readership. We do not care about spreading nonsense to gain readership. From the beginning we decided to keep our website content of high quality caliber and we stayed focused on the national security of Greece. Quality is always better than quantity. From a personal perspective, I’ve had many opportunities in life to follow popular movements and webinars. I did not do it because of the people I had to deal with and the direction the webinars would take. My father fought against fascists, Nazis and Communists and I would not forgo his example. I would never allow myself to be used by people who seek my knowledge on the matter to promote their pre-existing beliefs or political ideology.
Marcus Templar, your closing thoughts. Seeing that the global Greek community is extremely unhappy with this ‘Agreement’, going forward, what is the best way to protect Greece’s national security interests, and undo some of the damage done so far?
Well in closing, I wish that the governments and the people of Greece had woken up in 1990 regarding the name issue. Some Greek politicians have a problem with Skopje taking the name “Macedonia” as part of its final name, but I wonder where they had been since then? The demagogues who now take advantage of the issue could easily create social and political upheavals in the country by using toxic populism.
Having said that, the following course of action will help undo damage done so far:
- Firstly, people whose education, employment and expertise have nothing to do with issues of political science (foreign affairs, national security, etc.) should stay out of these issues because they are unskilled in the craft. Imagine how senseless it would be if I got involved in their profession whether they were engineers, physicians, teachers of literature, etc? Serious issues are not for kafeneion discussion and Politicial Science is not kafeneion politics.
- Secondly, establish Professional Lobby groups; one to lobby Greek politicians and others to lobby governments of the countries they live in.
- Thirdly, hire a legal team of experts in international law to look into protesting and consequently annulling the present Agreement between Athens and Skopje under any or all of the following:
– Ultra vires;
– Misunderstanding, fraud, corruption, coercion in accordance with Articles 46–53 of the Vienna
Convention on the Law of Treaties;
– Contrary to peremptory norms.
Then re-negotiate an Agreement based on the findings of the Legal Group and this time assign diplomatically relevant and politically competent negotiators instead of international nation-nihilistic organizations. The name of the multi-ethnic country must be Modern Yugoslavia or Yugoslavonia. The Nationality (which is a loose term of citizenship) must follow solely the name of the country and its Slav nationals should be designated as South Slavs speaking a South Slavic, with South Slavic Heritage.
- Fourthly, employ full-time multilingual personnel, dedicated to maintaining Greek-related content on Wikipedia in more languages than Greek. Never underestimate the influence of Wikipedia on people especially on children.
- Finally, implement all the changes to the Greek constitution that were proposed in the report above.
Marcus Templar, The Macedonian League wishes to thank you for your genuine and in-depth analysis in presenting the causes and consequences of this serious national security issue.
Your academic and strategic insights are vital to the future direction and success of the Greek position on the Macedonian issue.
About Marcus A. Templar
Professor Marcus A. Templar is a former U.S. Army Cryptologic Linguist (Language Analyst), Certified U.S. Army Instructor of Intelligence Courses, Certified Foreign Disclosures Officer, Certified Translator Interpreter of Serbo-Croatian, SIGINT / All-Source Intelligence Analyst. He is the Macedonian League's National Security Advisor.
To read all his papers, please click here.
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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