What Now After The Veto?
By Victor Bivell
The veto over Macedonia's entry to NATO by Greece is disappointing,
and the idea of a quick entry to NATO after settling the name issue
is just ongoing blackmail.
But the veto also has some positives we should think about.
The Macedonian Government has been firm in saying that use of the veto
would break the Interim Accord between Greece and Macedonia and the
delegation's walk-out of the Bucharest Summit was a strong initial response.
I think we should encourage the Government to continue to be strong
and to keep the high legal and moral ground. In 1992 The Spectator christened
Greece the "Bully of the Balkans" for its treatment of Macedonia. The
NATO veto is another example. The best response to a bully is a strong
one. Here are my suggestions.
The Government should immediately and decisively end all discussions
over the name. It should tell the world loudly and clearly that as Greece
has broken the interim agreement there is no more negotiation over the
name. Our name is Republic of Macedonia and that is final.
The negotiations were something Macedonia had to go through to be a
good international citizen but Macedonia has now done that. For Macedonia
to continue to negotiate with the bully - with an insecure and paranoid
country - would be foolish.
The negotiations raised the status of the Greek dispute to a level
higher than it deserved. The gross Greek nationalism that accompanies
the negotiations has helped to feed the strong anti Macedonian prejudice
in Greece and the Greek diaspora. Over such a long period of time the
negotiations have helped to teach a new generation of Greeks to hate
Macedonians. Ending the negotiations will remove a lot of the oxygen
that feeds this process and help the whole hate-making process to slow
down, hopefully until the issue becomes irrelevant, although that will
likely take a long time.
There is a good reason why both Greek prime minister Karamanlis and
foreign minister Bakoyannis have asked so soon for the talks to continue.
They know if Macedonia pulls out they are in a weak position and then
have to trade something just to resume the talks. There should be no
talks until they fulfill the interim agreement and let Macedonia into
NATO under the name former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as per the
Contrast their quick requests for talks to continue with Bakoyannis'
response at the same time to US Assistant Secretary of State Daniel
Fried's statement that the Macedonian people and Macedonian ethnicity
exist. "Athens will not be drawn into such debates," said Bakoyannis.
The Greeks always talk about the name but never talk about human rights
and the Macedonians in Greece. Over the years the Greeks have set the
agenda and Macedonia has been sucked into their game - talking about
the name and not human rights. Macedonia should stop talking about the
name and start talking about the Macedonians in Greece. Other countries
will then follow.
Meanwhile Macedonia should tell the world how unreliable the Greeks
are, what their signature on the interim agreement is worth, and why
there will be no more negotiations. It should remind the world that
this is not the first time Greece has failed to honour its international
agreements, in particular it failed and continues to fail to fulfill
the letter and the spirit of the 1920 Treaty Concerning The Protection
Of Minorities In Greece.
What will more negotiations achieve? The Greeks are just waiting for
a weak moment from us. They know how to wait forever. Witness Cyprus.
End the negotiations and the issue will slowly die. Keep talking and
it will go on forever until we lose.
At the same time the Macedonian Government should start legal proceedings
against Greece to help the Aegean Macedonians from the Civil War to
regain their property and rights. This way Greece gets two things to
think about and to help it regret using the veto.
I also suggest a new national project called The Macedonian Genocide
in Northern Greece, under which the Macedonian Government would invite
every ethnic Macedonian family around the world to tell of their suffering
under Greek government policies over the past 100 and more years. This
could be a 10 or 20 year national catharsis for the Macedonian people,
with the results placed regularly on the internet in Macedonian, English
and Greek so the world has a permanent record of how the Greeks came
to control half of historic Macedonia and the cultural genocide suffered
by the Macedonian people.
For those Macedonians who think that an acceptable compromise can be
found with Greece that does not negate the Macedonian identity, I say
look to Greece's 100 year record of genocide against our people and
see that short of a miracle there is no chance they will willingly back
Such people and countries respect only strength, so Macedonia must
Meanwhile there can still be a bright future for Macedonia. Plenty
of European countries are not part of NATO - Switzerland, Austria, Sweden,
Finland, Ireland etc. We are in good company.
Likewise for down the track if needed, plenty of countries are not
part of the EU - Switzerland, Norway, Croatia, Turkey, Iceland, and
One of the best things going for Macedonia is that we have over 120
countries that have recognized Macedonia under its real name. These
are our true friends with whom we should be building our political,
economic and cultural links and our future.
It would be helpful to Macedonia if Macedonians everywhere could ask
themselves the question - "How can I help Macedonia to remain politically
stable and become economically strong?"
Published in Australian Macedonian Weekly, 15 April 2008
© Copyright, April 2008