The Macedonian Tendency: August 2006

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Lets Play Offence When Macedonians Refused Entry into Greece

When half of Lebanon was bombed back to the stone age, western politicians did not even blink. Macedonians can't expect too much sympathy from politicians on the issue of Greek born Macedonians being refused entry into Greece. We can, however, use they legal system to our advantage.

The United Macedonia Disapora should organise a dozen politically active Macedonians, born in Greece, to go to their local Greek consulate to get their Greek passports for themselves and their children. Before going, they should copy all documentation and meet with US State Department officials for advice and their local Senator/Congressman to inform them about this specific issue of blacklisting ethnic Macedonians. Even though the Greek consulate will delay and even refuse, this puts this specific issue in a legal framework, which can be taken the EU and the US. Files have to be opened and letters have to be answered, positions have to be taken.

This is a first step, depending how it goes, we may able to take Greece to EU court in the Hague or even sue Greece in US courts. I don't know, but we should try.

In addition, having Greek passports is a real advantage because it allows young Macedonians to travel and work freely in the EU.

In the meantime, my suggestion to all Macedonians, born in Greece, is that they put the Greek name of their village on their passports. In this way, the Greek government cannot fall back on the excuse that this village does not exist in Greece and therefore the passport must be fraudulent.

United Macedonian Diaspora - Another Macedonian Refused Entry at the Greek Border

Discrimination against the Children Refugees: Greece Still Uses the Black Book

The Greek customs authorities rejected my entrance into the country because my passport said that I was born in the village of Statica, and not in Melas, which is the current Greek name, stated Done Dimov, an Australian citizen.

Greece continues with its policy of discrimination against the children refugees, not allowing them to visit their hometowns in northern Greece. On August 24th, Done Dimov, an Australian citizen was rejected entry into the country.

“The border official told me that the village of Statica does not exist in Greece and that according to Greek Government regulations he could not grant me entrance and that I had the right to file a complaint wherever I wished. Even if I wanted to change the name of the village in my passport, it would not be possible because I arrived in Australia with documentation, which clearly stated that I was born in Statica, Greece. For me to change the name of my place of origin, the Greek authorities will need to issue me a birth certificate, but they wouldn’t even let me cross the border,” said Dimov.

Dimov said that, as soon as he went back to Australia, he would file a suit with the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg against Greece for its violation of his basic human rights.

“I am an Australian citizen; I will also file a complaint with the Australian authorities, because I believe my entrance was denied due to my activities with the Macedonian Diaspora in fighting for our rights. I am a supporter of Vinozito in Greece and OMO Ilinden in Bulgaria, and thus I have been put on the black list,” says Dimov.

Gjorgji Donevski, secretary general of the Committee of Organizations of Ethnic Macedonians Expelled from Greece, said that the topographic names issue was resolved between Macedonia and Greece by citing Greece on the passport as a place of birth.

“As an organization, we advised the children refugees to seek birth certificates from Greece. So far about 1,000 have done so and some have received positive responses. Under the laws of 1982 and 1985, citizenships can only be granted to ethnic Greeks who escaped during the civil war. We filed a suit in Strasbourg in hopes that Greece will revoke these discriminatory laws, so that people can go back to their old homes and claim their property and other rights,” stated Donevski.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

OSCE: Minorities in Greece

I don't like to pick fights with children and retards, so I would spend much time and effort to discuss the OSCE, except to state that when it gets involved in an issue and ignore other issues, it is a source for destabilisation. This is the only mention that I can find on the issue of minorities in Greece.

OSCE High Commissioner issues statement on national minorities in Greece:

THE HAGUE, 23 August 1999 - The following statement was released today by the OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities, Max van der Stoel.

'In the last few weeks, a number of requests have reached me to give my opinion on the ongoing discussion in Greece regarding the question of national minorities. In that light I should like to make the following comments.

'On 28 June 1990, the then Government of Greece, led by Mr. Constantine Mitsotakis, together with the governments of the other states participating in the OSCE , agreed to the Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the OSCE. The Copenhagen Document commits governments i.a. to provide persons belonging to national minorities the right freely to express, preserve and develop (individually as well as in community with other members of their group) their ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity and to maintain and develop their culture in all its aspects, to profess and practice their religion, and to establish and maintain organizations or associations.

'The discussion in Greece during the last few weeks on the subject of national minorities gives me the impress"

Nikodimus Tsarknias at the OSCE Website

I admit that I did not do extensive search of this OSCE website, but the site seems to ignore the plight of Macedonians in Greece, with the exception of this photo. We will see how long it remains on their website. Coundown begins today. I will post the date when it will be taken down (as I assume it will).

OSCE: Photo archive:
Nikodimus Tsarknias of the Macedonian Human Rights Movement in Greece attending a session on national minorities at the OSCE's Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw, 15 October 2003. (Grzegorz Pilat)

high-resolution photo icon 10439

Nikodimus Tsarknias of the Macedonian Human Rights Movement in Greece attending a session on national minorities at the OSCE's Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw, 15 October 2003. (Grzegorz Pilat)

What is Patrick Moore Talking About? I don't Know.

I have noticed a decidedly anti-EU tone of several posts about the Balkans from Radio Free Europe. This is just another one of those articles that criticise the EU. You will never see an article critical of the US, since it funds Radio Free Europe. RFE's range definition of Europe has expanded to include Iran, Iraq and Tartarstan (!) (Russia). Anyway, this article is a combination of common sense and nonsense that would take too much time to critique. It's the anti-EU tone that has tweaked my interest.

Balkans: Is It Time For An Alternative To The EU?

Patrick Moore

PRAGUE, June 25, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- One truism of postcommunist Europe is that all the countries of Eastern Europe and the Balkans will sooner or later join the EU and NATO. It seems, however, that the countries of the western Balkans might find themselves in a "black hole" outside the EU for the foreseeable future even if they are surrounded by member states. Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia face uncertainty in their hopes to join the EU.

The Brussels-based bloc has a particular attraction for the countries of the region for three reasons.

Looking Toward The EU

First, membership means a seat at the table where decisions affecting all of Europe are made. The small Balkan states might not wield much influence, but it is better to be inside looking out than outside looking in, or so the argument has run.

Second, joining the EU symbolizes the end of the continent's division and the inclusion of former communist countries -- including war-torn states -- in the "rich man's club." For former Yugoslavs, whose passport was once the only one in Europe with which one could travel freely to the East or West without a visa, it means a return to a normal situation. It also means an end to the inconvenience and humiliation of having to go through often-long procedures for something that was once so simple as a visit to relatives working in Germany. The importance of visa-free travel for ordinary people in the western Balkans should not be underestimated.

And third, as poorer members of a wealthy organization, the western Balkan states would be able to look forward to a cornucopia of subsidies, as well as opportunities for fairly unfettered study and work. In short, even if NATO membership will some day provide for these countries' security requirements, joining the EU is still regarded in the region as an essential part of its rite of passage into the modern, prosperous, and democratic world.

Avoiding The Black Hole

For Brussels, integrating the western Balkans has long meant that there will be no "black hole" in the middle of the EU -- especially after Bulgaria and Romania join in 2008 or so -- in which organized crime could flourish. More recently, some Western governments have come to see EU membership for the western Balkans as a way of keeping out of that region unwelcome but well-funded political, criminal, or religious influences from Russia or the Middle East.

By offering the prospect of membership, the EU has, moreover, a powerful lever to influence precisely the kind of changes -- called "reforms" -- that it wants to see implemented. Progress has been slow in some countries, but the view from Brussels for years was that it is better to have slow progress than to isolate a potentially volatile region that is indisputably part of Europe and right on the doorstep of several member states.

Expansion Fatigue Strikes

But then on May 29, 2005, French voters rejected the proposed EU constitution by a clear majority, and Dutch voters did the same by an even larger margin three days later. In both cases, objections to further enlargement of the EU after the admission of 10 new members in 2004 played at least some role in the vote.

One year after those two votes, the EU is none the clearer as to its goals and how to achieve them. In June 2006, a summit took place in Vienna, but there was no agreement on any of the key issues, including the fate of the constitution. The only consensus seemed to appear in putting off any possible movement on thorny questions until the German Presidency in the first half of 2007, or maybe to the French Presidency in the second half of 2008.

It was perhaps telling for the newer members -- and those who would like to join -- that a joint declaration by the Czech Republic, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, and Slovakia was "slapped down," as the "Financial Times" put it on June 17, by Luxembourg, Germany, and other, unnamed EU founder states. The five Central European countries had called into question what they regard as their second-class status within the bloc and demonstrated their willingness to work together. Some observers recalled French President Jacques Chirac's remark about a 2003 declaration by a similar group of countries, which backed the U.S. decision to invade Iraq. The French leader said at that time that they had missed an opportunity to "shut up."

Before and during the summit, several leaders of older member states made it clear that one cannot speak of enlargement, at least beyond Romania and Bulgaria, before the growing EU has decided at least on how it will manage its internal affairs. That would mean 2009 at the very earliest. Consequently, many people in countries hoping to join that body began to fear that their chances of obtaining membership within a reasonable time frame had become much slimmer as a result.

This was true for Croatia, which had long sought to convince itself that its membership on the heels of Romania and Bulgaria was a foregone conclusion. Many people in the western Balkans suspected that the EU was keeping them at arm's length as a pretext for dodging the larger and more controversial question of Turkish membership. After all, the reasoning in the Balkans went, had not the West Europeans told them for years that integrating such small states would not require much money and effort on Brussels' part?

Meanwhile, antireform forces in the Balkans took heart, blocking police and constitutional reform in Bosnia. In Serbia, they continue to thwart the arrest and extradition to the Hague-based war crimes tribunal of former Bosnian Serb General Ratko Mladic, with the result that relations between Belgrade and Brussels are on hold.

Time For A Local Alternative?

The question then arises: if Brussels is unlikely to offer the western Balkans a serious "European perspective" within a clear time frame and if some people in those countries are becoming less enamored of a EU that does not seem to want them, might it not be time for the people in the western Balkans to reexamine old beliefs about the necessary postcommunist rite of passage and look for alternatives? Has not the obsession with EU membership become something of a white elephant, like the EU-sponsored bridge over the Prut River from Romania to Moldova that stood unused for several years for want of a road on the Moldovan side?

How else might the countries of the region modernize their economies and expand their markets than with top-down efforts at nation-building and seemingly endless rules imposed from abroad? Might it not be to their advantage to concentrate first on developing straightforward free-trade and travel arrangements that would not involve compromising what for most of them is newly won sovereignty in favor of a distant and unelected bureaucracy?

Some Euroskeptics have long argued that the EU is cumbersome, inflexible, nontransparent, and dominated by Paris and Berlin. Might some other parts of Europe now find themselves faced with an opportunity to develop alternative ideas to the EU model that are simpler, more democratic, and hence more likely to produce clear results and win popular support? After all, there is no better incentive for learning to think outside the box than being denied permission to enter the box.

Ohrid is 5 years old and 2006 Election

This is a basic reporting of the recently held election.

Patrick Moore

August 29, 2006, Volume 10, Number 8

MACEDONIA'S OHRID AGREEMENT IS FIVE YEARS OLD. Macedonia has just marked the fifth anniversary of the Ohrid agreement, which was brokered in August 2001 by U.S. diplomats with EU support. The pact led to the end of armed hostilities between insurgents from the roughly 23 percent ethnic Albanian minority and government forces led by politicians from the ethnic Macedonian majority.

The main underlying principle of the deal was to institutionalize a role guaranteed by law for the Albanians in the public life of the country (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," August 14, 17, and 24, 2001). This has moved along by fits and starts, but the necessary changes are largely in place as far as the international community is concerned. Only sporadic armed incidents now take place, and these are probably more of a criminal than a political nature (see "RFE/RL Balkan Report," February 25 and June 10, 2005).

A deep cultural and political divide continues to separate the two communities, however. Their shared political life remains stormy or even confrontational, but the same can often be said about the political tensions within each of the respective ethnic communities. This picture reflects political patterns in much of the postcommunist Balkans.

But Macedonia continues to hold largely peaceful elections and change governments on the basis of their results. In practice, two coalitions have emerged, which alternate in power. One consists of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) of outgoing Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski, and the Democratic Union for Integration (BDI) led by Ali Ahmeti, the former leader of the insurgents. The second group is made up of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO-DPMNE) -- long led by former Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski and now headed by Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski -- and its partner, the Democratic Party of the Albanians (PDSH) of political veteran Arben Xhaferi.

EU to DUI: Get Lost!

Under different circumstances, the EU could have really caused problems by backing the DUI in their transparent power grab in aid of patronage jobs doled out by the government of Macedonia. Someone in the EU had their thinking caps on and decided that the best course of action was stability rather than destabilisation ... for now.

EU urges DUI to act as constructive opposition in Macedonia


SKOPJE, Macedonia -- EU representative to Macedonia Erwan Fouere called on the largest ethnic Albanian party in the country, the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), to accept the role of constructive opposition. Fouere added that even in opposition, DUI could continue its positive activities and encourage dialogue between the government and the opposition. Fouere rejected DUI's claims that the party's exclusion from the new government violates the Ohrid Framework Agreement. He stressed that while agreement stipulates the mechanism for decision-making on both national and local levels, and guarantees the protection of minority rights, it contains no provisions regarding the composition of the government.

Also Thursday, President Branko Crvenkovski marked the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Ohrid Framework Agreement, which ended six months of fighting in 2001. At a reception, Crvenkovski said that since the agreement, Macedonia has become 'a country of strong interethnic trust and tolerance, a candidate for full-fledged membership in the EU and NATO'. (Dnevnik - 18/08/06; MIA, Makfax, A1 TV - 17/08/06"

BBC Travel Show on Macedonia

I have seen this travel show before, it was on Bulgarian habit of going "na gosti". Its a good program and should help boost tourism to Macedonia from Britain.

Culture - Republic of Мacedonia: "
BBC Shoot Documentary on Treskavec Monastery

The Monastery of Treskavec
(MIA, 29.08.2006) - A crew of the BBC World TV Service has stayed at the Monastery of Treskavec near Prilep since two days ago where the BBC service is shooting a documentary about the monastery and The Ascension of the Holiest Mother Church.
The producer of the film is Michael Palin, and the film is a part of a project, Palin’s New Europe. According to the head of the monastery Vladika Kliment, Treskavec has become the focus of BBC interest for a few reasons: most probably because of the fact that the monastery is located in an incredibly vivid scenery at 1400 meters above the sea level and is one of the 100 most threatened monuments of culture in the world, two very good reasons.

Monastery Treskavec at List of 100 World's Most Endangered Monuments-

Prilep – Archaeological Research in Monastery Treskavec -

Macedonia flexes its muscles with the help of EU trainers.

Macedonian politicians have spoken out before about attempting to promote minority rights for Macedonians in Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia. They would not do so unless they had the green light form the politicians in the EU. The EU has a hard time justifying the continued mistreatment of Macedonians in EU member Greece and in EU candidate Bulgaria. It is a small signal to those countries to treat Macedonians better. Can't wait to see the reaction of Greece and Bulgaria.

"Macedonia to take care of its minority in neighboring countries"
Makfax vesnik:

Skopje /29/08/ 13:53

Macedonia is entitled to take care of its minority in the neighboring countries, said the newly appointed Foreign Minister Antonio Miloshoski in an interview with Skopje's daily Dnevnik.

'Macedonia can lobby and even encourage the neighboring countries, without causing conflict or upset, to comply with European criteria regarding ethnic minority rights. This will be a policy of this government,' Miloshoski told Dnevnik daily.

As regards name dispute with Greece, Miloshoski reiterated that the dispute is just a problem between Athens and Skopje, adding that Macedonia could not give up on its constitutional name.

'We don't want to cause waves. That's not our politics... However, I would like to say something: How could a man give up his own shadow. Macedonia could not quit its own name,' he added.

Miloshoski made a suggestion to Athens to be in footsteps of Washington and to see the US motives for recognition of Macedonia's constitutional name.

As regards Kosovo issue, Miloshoski said three things are important as far as Macedonia is concerned: the final status should reflect the will of majority citizens in Kosovo; the final settlement should be agreed by the three parties - Pristina, Belgrade"

Friday, August 25, 2006

American Neocon Dreams and the New Middle East

I would like to make a prediction, that the future Bush policy in the Middle East will be one of destabilisation, not democracy. This is based on my "telepathically communing" with the Neocons in the White House and also based on my knowledge of what has happened in Yugoslavia.

The preview of this new policy was the 2006 war in Lebanon, where the bombing of Beirut was designed to ignite a civil war against the Shia (Hezbollah) by the Sunnis and Christians. Fortunately, the Sunnis and Christians have seen that movie before, knew how it ended and decided not to play the part that was scripted for them by Olmert and Bush.

Even though it didn't really work that well in Lebanon, destabilisation will be retooled for Iraq, Syria and Iran.

For Iraq, the first step will be to promote tripartite "federalism" dividing Iraq into three distinct federal units which has been championed by US Senator Biden (NYT Op-Ed, May 1, 2006, WaPo August 24, 2006 ironically named "A Plan to Hold Iraq Together"). This is basically, partition lite, because Iraqis will have to define new boundaries for each of the three provinces. This process, in itself, will be the catalyst for ethnic cleansing on a massive scale.

Pundits will not have to ask whether Iraq is in a state of civil war. Like the war in Bosnia, it will be easy to determine when Iraq slips into civil war. The Kurdish Members of Parliament will leave for Kirkuk; the Shias MPs will leave for Basra; the Sunni MPs will leave for Fallujah. There will be convoys of people on donkeys leaving mixed neighbourhoods for ethnically pure neighbourhoods. Baghdad will look like Beirut or Sarajevo.

Then American politicians will say "things have changed"! The will ask now ... "who do we support, who do we betray"? (The Kurds had better hold on to their hats because US policy can change on a dime.)

This is the "Lord Owen" solution, which was applied during the Bosnian war when he proposed new internal borders for Bosnia that recognised ethnic cleansing as "the facts on the ground". This, in turn, led to a new round of ethnic cleansing, especially between Croats and Bosniaks.

For Syria, it means the overthrow, with the aid of some bombs, of Assad regime and his minority Alawite religious group and the handing of power the Sunni majority. This should pry Syria away from the hold that Iran has on it and stop the shipments of arms from Iran through Syria to Hezbollah.

Iran is the hardest nut to crack. It would be too costly, in terms of manpower and money, for the US to attempt to get ride of the Iranian mullahs by itself. Instead, using Yugoslavia as a model, the US will bomb Iran, giving cover to local separatist groups such as the Kurds, Azeris, Baluchis and you guessed it the Arabs bordering on southern Shia dominated Iraq (where all the Iranian oil is). When Washington makes it known to all concerned that it will break Iran into pieces, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Iraqi Kurdistan, and you guessed it the Shia in Iraq will join the US and all descend on Iran to get their part of the spoils. Similar to the German invasion of Yugoslavia during WW2.

See the ethnic map of Iran:

Iran's infrastructure will be destroyed, it oil province gone. Its Persian population representing 60% of current Iran will have lost the will to carry on. (Let that be a lesson to those call Bush the evil Satan.)

So what kind of Middle East will we have? There will be no talk about democracy in Egypt or Saudi Arabia. Lebanon will have a cowed Hezbollah, which will have lost access to Iranian money and weapons. A Sunni lead Syrian government will be crippled after a civil war with the Alawites. In Iraq, after a protracted civil war three separate states will emerge: Kurdistan, Shia Iraq and Sunni Iraq. Finally there will be a rump Iran that has lost almost half of its territory and population. Everyone will be at each other's throats and all will look to the US to find favour so that each country can get whatever scraps the US will throw at it.

Just like in the Balkans. Just like Yugoslavia.

Turkey will be the wild card. Will it try to intervene to stop the emergence of an independent Kurdistan. I don't think so. The US will make it clear that it is in the US national interest that these countries should "liberated". Turkey will be given the option of being with the US or against it. I think that Turkey will go with the US.

Macedonia: One Step Closer on the road to EU

This is not a big deal ,except for the fact that it puts Macedonia one step closer to the EU. Those is Sofia and Athens who think they can veto Macedonian membership are dreaming. I never thought that the EU would actually accept Macedonia and other former communist countries in the Balkans for EU membership. It seems that the conventional wisdom in Europe is that the prospect of EU membership is one of the few things that can keep the peace in the Balkans.

Makfax vesnik

CEFTA rules apply to Macedonia starting today

Skopje /24/08/ 11:46

The Agreement for Accession of the Republic of Macedonia in the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) officially comes into force today, the Macedonian Customs Administration announced.

As of today, our country is joining the incumbent CEFTA members - Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania - which automatically terminates the bilateral agreements with these Balkan's countries.

Pursuant to the Agreement, part of the imported goods originating from these countries will be subject to 0% customs duty, while the duty rates for some goods are subject to gradual decrease until full abolishment of the customs fee.

Benefits of inclusion in CEFTA for Macedonia include boosting of the economic cooperation, market liberalization, joint penetration to foreign markets and exchange of experiences with the other countries standing at the threshold of EU.

The Agreement on Accession of Macedonia to CEFTA is aimed at preparing the country for full market liberalization, as envisaged in EU strategic documents."

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Rachel's European Adventure

Nice travel blog about Rachel visiting friends in Macedonia. Good pictures.

Rachel's European Adventure

Lake Ohrid... the most beautiful place in the world...

So, today, aftera about one hour of sleep, me and Sneska grogily forced ourselves to get out of bed... A friend of her dad's was driving us to Lake Ohrid, but we had to leave at 5:30am. We loaded our stuff in the car, me expecting to fall back asleep on the way. But the whole drive there was absolutely beautiful... Mountains and small villages on the sides of the mountains... old churches and mosques everywhere you look... After about three hours we arrived in Ohrid. It is a beautiful place as well, with cobblestone streets, gorgeous architecture, and a lake surrounded by rolling mountain hills... People rent out rooms in their homes during the tourist season, so we got a really nice room with a family near the lake. My favorite part is that we have a balcony that we can sit on and see for miles... from the lake to the castle on top of the mountain to the tile rooftops of this district to the gorgeous flower garden (roses, fountains, walkways, basically the works) that is in the front yard of this picturesque home.


This is nice review of the Macedonian children's book, in English. I remember my Baba singing it to me. It can be purchased at the Canadian Macedonian Historical Society.


Gigeroff, Alex K.
Illustrated by Alex K. Gigeroff and Hugh Eamon

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8

Reviewed by Catherine McInerney

Volume 22 Number 2
1994 March / April

In this unusual tale, a Macedonian baba knits two wonderful pairs of brightly coloured socks for her grandchildren. The grandchildren are unsure whether they want to wear the socks or to save them for special occasions. They seek the advice of the Old Wise Shepherd in the woods. He shows them scenes from their grandparents' past, and plays traditional music and teaches them a song and dance. The children return to their grandparents' house and demonstrate what they have learned about their culture.

The baba and dedo are realistically and lovingly portrayed, little arguments and all. The text is lightly peppered with Greek words, but not so many that it detracts from the story.

The fantasy encounter with the mythical Old Wise Shepherd is wonderfully imaginative and colourful. The shepherd is drawn in a rough and wild way. The illustrations swirl with the Macedonian folk music and dance. The lively colours of the socks help to make it seem as if t"

Good News Story about Greece... for a Change

This is a year old article about Greece letting Macedonians from the Republic of Macedonia visit their birthplaces in Greece.

Greece Succumbs to Public Pressure: Aegean Macedonians Finally Visit Their Birthplaces: "Greece Succumbs to Public Pressure: Aegean Macedonians Finally Visit Their Birthplaces

By Meri Jordanovska

A group of 43 former residents of Florina (Lerin in Macedonian) region yesterday crossed the Macedonian-Greek border for the first time with a group visa without any problems. Thrilled and overwhelmed with happiness to finally see their birthplaces, Macedonians from the northern part of Greece went to the celebration of the Orthodox Christian holiday of Great Mother of God in the Village of Skopos (Setina in Macedonian).

'You can hear Macedonian music everywhere. Many Macedonians present here visit their birthplaces for the first time[, after they have been banished during the Greek civil war, 1946-1949]. We are thrilled! We had no problem at the border, the crossing took half an hour only. Even the Greek border guards told us they'd come to the celebration of Mother of God. This is a great day for us,' said Todor Jovanov, the leader of the group of Macedonians from the Aegean region.

Those passing on the Medzhitlija border crossing had to undergo the same procedures, but the whole process went much faster [than before – some refugees living in Macedonia were allowed to visit Greece last year, too]. They had to fill in questionnaires in which they had" | Has Athens lost FYROM name fight?

Whatever happened to Mathew Nimetz? I have not heard from him recently. Did he die of shame for trying to get Macedonians to change the name of their country... The Republic of Macedonia, their church ... The Macedonian Orthodox Church, their language ... Macedonian .This is a year old article from a Greek newspaper asking whether Greece has lost the "name game". I think it did. Greece just has to decide when it will stop this nonsense and admitt to the world its crimes against its Macedonian minority. I suggest contacting Desmond Tutu so he can chair a "truth and reconciliation" committee between Greece and its Macedonian minority. | Has Athens lost FYROM name fight?:

The latest proposal by UN special envoy Matthew Nimetz to resolve the longstanding name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or FYROM, dealt a severe blow to Greek expectations. Last spring, officials at Greece’s Foreign Ministry deemed that, after a long period of inaction, they had finally managed to pressure the government in Skopje into abandoning its intransigent stand on the issue. It was strongly believed that Washington saw Greece as its main ally in the Balkan region and for that reason it would push the Slav-Macedonian establishment into a compromise with Athens.

The Greek hopes were dashed. It now seems that the US recognition of Greece’s northern neighbor as “Macedonia” last November was underestimated here. Skopje did not yield an inch. It wants the name “Republic of Macedonia” to be used internationally, except in relations with Athens, where it accepts the name “Republic of Macedonia-Skopje.” Their intransigence paid off, as Nimetz proposed their demand as a compromise settlement.

Skopje officials will continue to reject any compromise as long as they are given the room to do so. They will only enter serious negotiations if they are forced to — and the best way to do so is to attach a political" » Blog Archives » Faced with Losing Kosovo, Serbian Church Moves to Assert Itself Elsewhere

This is a year old article, but it is an excellent analysis of Serbia still trying to exert its control over the area of former Yugoslavia. I really can't believe that Montenegrins were so pissed of at Serbia, that they voted to seperate. However, besides totally blaming the Serbs, it shows that the Orthodox Southern Slavs (Montenegrins vs Serbs vs Macedonians vs Bulgarians vs Serbs) can't get along.

Faced with Losing Kosovo, Serbian Church Moves to Assert Itself Elsewhere:

8/8/2005 (

The three-year saga of Jovan the Schismatic � the defrocked Macedonian puppet-monk who has been installed from afar as Archbishop of Ohrid by the Serbian Orthodox Church � seems to be winding down, which is somewhat unfortunate since it has been so entertainingly ridiculous.

-’You can’t use ‘entertaining’ as an adverb!’ �’Yeah, well you can’t go installing leaders in someone else’s country!’That is basically what the case boils down to, though incredibly enough the outside world has shown overt sympathies for the Serbian side. Absurd attempts to classify the detention of a man who claimed to be king for three years as some kind of a human rights transgression have been made by the West.

Now everyone might have been able to sit back and have a laugh - “oh, those wacky Orthodox priests, look at them go!” - had not the Serbian government unfortunately decided to get involved.

Do they have nothing better to do, one wonders? Of course, everyone gets a little crazy during the sweltering Balkan summers. But did Kostunica really have to make grave intonations about th"

Cultural Change in Traditional Dances

Joan Friedberg, has from some reason, become an expert in Macedonian dances in the Florina (aka Lerin) region of Greek Macedonia. She has also written a travel book on Greece which can be purchased at her website. One of the few outsiders who have spent time with Macedonians in Greece. Good work Joan!

Cultural Change in Traditional Dances:


Both Slavic-Macedonian and Albanian influences are evident in the musical repertoire in the Florina region of Greece and have contributed to the development of the region’s dances. In particular, the unique 12/8 musical meter, which has possible Albanian roots, has diffused into the musical repertoire and is the meter of the region’s most popular dance, the Pušteno (pronounced 'pooshteno'). A preliminary survey of participatory dances in five Florina villages is used to define the current repertoire and provides evidence of cultural change resulting in the Hellenization of the repertoire.


Florina is a border town in the northwest corner of Greece and is also the name for the prefecture. Just 17 kilometers to the north is the border with the Republic of Macedonia. The border with Albania lies about an hour's drive to the west, just beyond Lake Prespa.

Enclaves of Slavic-speaking citizens whose ancestors first settled in this region some 1,400 years ago still inhabit outlying villages. Elements of folklore in the Florina region are the legacy of these Slavs as well as other ethnic groups who have inhabited the region.

At various times during its turbulent history, these native-born citizens have emigrated to Yugoslavia, Canada, Australia and the United States. Many have later returned and brought with them diverse cultural "

Unusual Apology from Greek Newspsper

This is an admonition form a leading Greek newspaper to Greek border guards to stop acting like pigs because it looks bad in front of the "human rights groups" and gives Greece a bad reputation. Good advice! | Borderline practices

By Stavros Tzimas

As every year at this time, traffic peaks at Greece’s northern border crossings, as Albanians, Bulgarians, Slav-Macedonians, Serbs, Russians and Czechs flock to the country’s northern coastal resorts and islands. At the same time, thousands of economic migrants, mostly from Albania, return to their homelands for summer holidays. Greek border officials have a duty to facilitate these people’s legal transit by inspecting their travel documents. Without a doubt, checks must be strict and thorough as Greece must safeguard its territory against the illegal movement of people and goods as well as respect its commitments via the Schengen treaty.

Meeting our obligations is one thing but denigrating human dignity is quite another. At some border crossings, the latter has become near-standard practice. Albanian nationals are kept waiting for days just because some police officer at passport control “did not like their face.” Slav-Macedonians are often regarded as “persona non grata” because, although they have a legal visa, they refuse to declare that “Macedonia is Greek.” Even the ambassadors of the larger European states are put through humiliating rituals. Greek embassies in neighboring countries have received numerous complaints from foreigners who were mistreated at "

Two Volume - 800 Page - Military History of Macedonia

This seems to be a must have for your Macedonian library. It is is English with loads of maps.

Military History of Macedonia: "
8/3/2005 (

Military History of Macedonia

By Dr. Vance Stojcev

Skopje Military Academy (2004), 2 volume box set; 775 pages, 115 full-color maps and 13 appendices, ISBN: 9989-134-05-7

In this interview/review, emeritus member of the Macedonian Military Academy Dr. Vance Stojcev discusses his career as a military historian in the former Yugoslavia and in modern-day Macedonia, as well as his detailed and controversial tome, Military History of Macedonia, and what went into the research for it. There are many unusual details that emerge for the first time in this eye-opening article.

Contents and Format

Military History of Macedonia is a two-volume hardcover box set, containing almost 800 pages of text and 15 full-color maps.According to the author, this format made the book very expensive to produce, and to ship. However, we believe that it is worth it, because the book contains detailed discussions of very obscure and patchily-known events of Balkan history, which can only be found in dusty and distant archives or, in hundreds of cases, from sources that had never been published previously. Needless to say, none of these are in English.

The book is divided into twelve chapters, which "

United Nations Human Rights Website - Treaty Bodies Database - Document - Concluding Observations/Comments - Greece

UN (2005) report on the side of Macedonians in Greece. So what!

United Nations Human Rights Website - Treaty Bodies Database - Docum Publish Post ent - Concluding Observations/Comments - Greece:

"20. The Committee notes the State party's commitment to the equal enjoyment of their rights by all citizens of Greece, regardless of religion or ethnic origin. However, the Committee notes with concern the apparent unwillingness of the Government to allow any private groups or associations to use associational names that include the appellation 'Turk' or 'Macedonian', based upon the State party's assertion that there are no ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities in Greece other than the Muslims in Thrace. The Committee notes that individuals belonging to such minorities have a right under the Covenant to the enjoyment of their own culture, the profession and practise of their own religion, and the use of their own language in community with other members of their group (art. 27)."

Council Of Europe "3rd Report on Greece"

This is a 2003 report. Nothing new, just another report with no pressure on Greece to follow though. As I have said before, Greek values regarding minority rights, are EU value since Greece is a member in good standing of the EU. By way of whowin how useless the "Council of Europe" is, the Republic of Macedonia is classifies as "FYROM" ... NICE!

Macedonians and other minority groups

80. In its second report, ECRI encouraged the authorities to ensure that all groups in Greece, Macedonians and Turks included, could exercise their rights to freedom of association and freedom of expression in accordance with international legal standards.

81. ECRI notes that the Greek authorities are more ready to recognise the existence of minority groups in Greece, such as the Pomaks or the Roma, including the fact that certain members of these groups have a native language other than Greek. However, other groups still encounter difficulties, the Macedonians and Turks for example. Even today, persons wishing to express their Macedonian, Turkish or other identity incur the hostility of the population. They are targets of prejudices and stereotypes, and sometimes face discrimination, especially in the labour market. In the Sidiropoulos and others v. Greece judgment of 10 July 1998, the European Court of Human Rights found that the refusal to register the association 'Home of Macedonian Civilisation' constituted an interference with the freedom of association as guaranteed by Article 11 of the European Convention on Human Rights. ECRI deplores the fact that, five years after the decision of the European Court of Human Rights, this association has still not been registered despite the repeated applications"

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Heritage Foundation on Macedonia

This is a really good article. There is a tsunami of bullshit being written about Macedonia that most of us have given up correcting all the mistakes. Our friend Sam seems have done a good job in correcting this report. I dout they will issue a correction.

The Economic Freedom of Indices

Sam Vaknin, Ph.D. - 8/20/2006

The quality of Wall Street research has suffered grievous blows these last six years. Yet, publishers of political and economic indices largely escaped unscathed. Though their indicators often influence the pecuniary fate of developing countries, they are open to little scrutiny and criticism.

The Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal are the joint publishers of the 2002 edition of the much-vaunted "Index of Economic Freedom". The annual publication purports to measure and compare the level of economic freedoms in 155 countries.

According to its Web site, the Index takes into account these factors:


I don't think that the US is in the mood to go out of its way to help a loser Albanian political party keep hogging the political patronage jobs that comes with government power.

Macedonia: Ethnic Albanians Enlist US Help to Form Government

Skopje, 18 August (AKI) - A group of ethnic Albanian "independent intellectuals" in Macedonia has asked United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to intervene in the formation of a new government that will protect the rights of ethnic Albanians. Skopje Albanian language daily Lajm on Friday published a letter sent to Rice and signed by 34 "independent intellectuals" demanding that incoming prime minister, Nikola Gruevski, includes in his cabinet members of the largest ethnic Albanian party, the Democratic Union for Integration (DUI).

Gruevski’s VMRO-DPMNE won the 5 July parliamentary election and decided to form a coalition government with DUI’s rival, the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA) and several minor Macedonian parties. The DUI won 17 seats in the 120-seat parliament, more than the DPA, which won 11 seats taking the second biggest share of the ethnic Albanian vote.

In bypassing the DUI in favor of the DPA, Gruevski has "ignored the Albanian majority in forming the government," the intellectuals said in a letter to Rice.

"We, politically independent ethnic Albanian intellectuals in Macedonia, are concerned about political developments in our country, particularly in the part inhabited by ethnic Albanians," the letter said. Gruevski’s boycott of the biggest ethnic Albanian party made ethnic Albanian participation in the elections pointless, the intellectuals said in the letter.

"We hope and expect that your Excellency will use your influence in the defense of basic democratic rights of ethnic Albanians in Macedonia to elect their own representatives in the government,” the intellectuals said.

Macedonia violence unlikely despite protests

I agree with this analysis. Albanians will only try to destabilize Macedonia if they can get the aid of the US and the EU. Right now, the US/EU are occupied with Iraq, Lebanon and Syria and Iran ... you get the idea. I disagree with Deliso's depiction of the election as one between pro-Western and Ant-Western forces. Both coalitions want join the EU and Nato.

Macedonia violence unlikely despite protests

Following elections that brought a pro-Western, pro-market government to power, Macedonia’s future seems promising. But an ethnic Albanian party that feels itself unfairly excluded could cause headaches.

By Christopher Deliso in Skopje for ISN Security Watch (18/08/06)

Since the incumbent coalition was ousted in Macedonia’s 5 July parliamentary elections, the major security concern has been the potential for future violence from the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), excluded from the new government.

Holding road blockades and increasing inflammatory rhetoric in public speeches, the party has warned that future interethnic stability is at risk. However, Western officials directly involved with overseeing Macedonia’s development agree that the new government should be given a chance to show what it can achieve - and that armed violence will not be tolerated.

Led by former rebel leader Ali Ahmeti, the DUI claims that it automatically deserves to be part of the new government because it won a majority of the minority Albanian vote. However, Macedonia is not an ethnic federation, and as in similar European democracies, the party that wins the most seats in parliament has the unconditional mandate to form the government. In this case, is it the center-right VMRO-DPMNE party of former finance minister Nikola Gruevski that has that mandate. At least 61 MPs from Macedonia's 120-seat parliament are needed for a new government.

In the election, Gruevski’s coalition topped all by taking 45 seats, uniting with other parties afterward to achieve a total of 65 seats. These included VMRO-DPMNE’s traditional Albanian coalition partner, the Democratic Party of Albanians (DPA), which won 11 seats and the New Social Democratic Party (NSDP) of veteran politician Tito Petkovski, which won six.

In comparison, the incumbent Social Democrats (SDSM) won 32 seats and the Albanian coalition of the DUI and the Party for Democratic Prosperity (PDP) managed 17 together, with 14 for the DUI - only slightly more than the DPA’s 11.

And while the DUI claimed that it represented “the will of the Albanian people,” under 50 percent of the Albanian electorate actually voted. International and local monitors claimed that violence and fraud were widespread in key regions.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Christopher Hitchens - An Itch I Cannot Scratch

I am a pack rat so I have a hard time throwing things away. Below is a 1993 letter to the editor of the now defunct "The European Newspaper" in which Christopher Hitchens discussed the Macedonian "name" issue . This is the first time that I had heard of him. My assumption was that he was a snotty upper class right wing twit journalist who had never been to the Balkans. (I don't have a copy of the original article, but if anyone can find it, please send it to me.)

Quelle surprise ... it seems our comrade Hitchens was had a reputation as a leftist ... even a Trotskyite. It also seems that he married a Greek Cypriot. It also seems that he left his wife and small child for another woman. Ms Greek Cypriot raised their child in England while comrade Chris stayed in New York. Nice! He wrote an ant-Turkish book on Cyprus, I suppose as a way of atoning for his cadish behavior.

Over the years, has contributed snotty anti-Macedonian articles in the Nation and other publications but has never commented on the plight of the Macedonians in Greece. This is odd because, I believe, that one of his friends is Hugh Poulton, of the Minority Rights Group ("Who are the Macedonians?") so he can't be totally ignorant of our issues.

I can't find the link at this time, but Sidney Blumenthal of Salon (a former friend) said that no one could really trust the facts in an article by Christopher Hitchens. His brother is a right wing commentator in England. My point is that anyone reading his work on Macedonia would never guess that he had been a leftist at one time.

April 7, 1993

To: The European "Letters to the Editor"
Re: "Not Just Paranoid about Macedonia" by Christopher Hitchens, April 1-7,

Mr. Hitchens is incorrect when he stated the title of "King of the Hellenes" was forced upon the newly crowned Greek King George "in deference to Ottoman objections to the original formulation 'King of the Greeks'". In the same way that Germans call their country Deutchland in their language, Greeks call themselves Hellenes and their country Hellas in their language. The word "Greece" like the word "Germany" is based on ancient Roman usage.

The rest of the article is similarly flawed. It reminds me of a lecture on sexual technique that is given by a virgin. Although some of the facts may be right, the insight that one might gain from a more intimate knowledge and direct experience is missing.

Please no more "if this is Tuesday, this must be Macedonia (or is it Moldova?)" type of articles.

Technorati and Me

Technorati Profile

Some Details on Macedonian Rights Struggle in Bulgaria

Dear Nicoleta,

You have written a good article, which I think accurately represents the struggle in Bulgaria between Macedonians and and the Bulgarian govenrment for humand rights, and within the Macedonian community in Bulgaria, as to just what it means to be a Macedonian.

However, I think that this is just one half of the article. Where is the other half?. You know, the one where the Eruopean Union allowed Bulgaria to apply, even though it does not legally recognize the Macedonian language or ethnicity. The one where the diplomats of the EU said to the Bulgarians not to bring up the question of the rights of Macedonians and Bulgarians in Greece (if they know what's good for them!). I'm sure you must remmber it. It also includes an interview with the powers that be at Radio Free Europe, as to why Greece's human rights record is off limits.That's the one. when you find it, please send a copy to me. Thanks.

Elective History

by Nikoleta Popkostadinova
Transitions On Line
Radio Free Europe

15 August 2006

New tensions arise between Sofia and Skopje over identity and history.

SOFIA, Bulgaria | Nikola has little patience for what appears to be a diplomatic conflict between Bulgaria and Macedonia. "One history, one land, but too many dullards on both sides of the stupid border," he says as he contemplates the latest escalation in tension.

The 72-year-old man is quiet for a while as he stares at the green crowns of the trees below his balcony in downtown Sofia.

The pensioner was born in a village in Pirin, Macedonia, in the province of Blagoevgrad in Bulgaria, where he has lived most of his life. But Nikola says he is a Bitolan since his ancestors came from the town that today lies in the independent state of Macedonia. He admits that he has never visited Bitola, which lies about 200 kilometers from the border between the two countries. But he claims to be a Macedonian, as well as a patriotic Bulgarian citizen.

To Nikola, Macedonia is simply an unfortunate land split among four countries.

"No one will ever let her go, right?" Nikola asks, not really seeking an answer. "The great powers, the Balkan countries, the EU, and who knows what other acronyms will always mess with her, I know."

Memo to Jon Stewart, the Daily Show, regarding "Victory for Hezbollah"

Jon, I can't seem to find your email on your website, so here is a free idea for a segment for your Daily Show.

Get a clip of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" ... the one where two knights are fighting at a bridge and one knight has his arm cut off:

Knight 1: I just cut off your arm!

Knight 2: No you didn't.

Knight 1: I just cut off your other arm!

Knight 2: No you didn't

While you are at the Monty Python section at the video store, get a copy of "The Life of Brian".

Anti-Roman Conspirator 1: Are you with the "Revolutionarry Vanguard of the Palestinian Resistance"

Anti-Roman Conspirator 2: We don't associate with those bastards. We are with the "Palestinian Vanguard of the Revolutionary Resistance"

Friday, August 18, 2006

Independence for Kosovo?

I read political opinion columnists, from George Will and Charles Krauthammer on the right, to Michael Kinsley in the center, to Eric Alterman on the left. I rarely read newspaper editorials because they are unsigned. It is like talking to someone who wears sun glasses indoors ... it is just plain rude. To some, unsigned editorials give off wiff of mysterious authority, like the ten commandments being brought down from the mountain from an unseen god. While to others, it gives of a stench of conspiracy with greedy forces in smoke filled rooms promoting civil war around the world for fun and profit.

I will not go into detail as to why this editorial, if adopted, as it seems it will by the UN, will promote civil war in the Balkans and around the world for the foreseeable future. I just think that it is incumbent on the geniuses at the New York Times editorial board to explain why Kosovo deserves independence, while Republica Serpska in Bosnia does not. Why does Iraqi Kurdistan deserve autonomy within a federal Iraq while in Turkish Kurdistan people are thrown in jail for writing histories in the Kurdish language. Why do Albanians in Macedonia get to eat "human rights cake" while the Macedonains in Greece have to eat "human rights crap".

And finally, maybe the geniuses at the New York Times can explain why it only rains on the weekend.

New York Times
Navigating Kosovo’s Future

Published: August 18, 2006

The 1999 war over Kosovo left the former Serbian province in political limbo, postponing the question of possible independence for another day. That day is now at hand, and the main question facing the international community is not whether Kosovo will become independent, but when and how. Status talks are expected to conclude in the next few months, with the United Nations Security Council to rule on the issue by the end of the year.

The original plan was for Kosovo’s political leaders to demonstrate their ability to govern responsibly before formal discussions of sovereignty could begin. They haven’t really done so, although they have made some grudging moves under international pressure.

Yet as a practical matter, Kosovo’s international wardship cannot be extended indefinitely. The most promising way to encourage further progress is by moving ahead to a carefully conditioned form of limited autonomy.

The most critical issue, now as ever, is guaranteeing the rights of the ethnic Serb minority. Any independence arrangement will have to assure minorities a substantial role in government, particularly in sensitive areas like the Justice Ministry.

For the first few years at least, the powers of Kosovo’s new government must be strictly limited. An international authority will have to monitor the government’s fulfillment of internationally agreed conditions, paying special attention to issues like the rule of law and minority rights. A few thousand NATO-led troops should remain in Kosovo with the power to intervene when necessary to compel compliance.

Most of the countries with troops in Kosovo would prefer to bring them home now. But Kosovo’s march toward independence is going to remain difficult and dangerous for years. The need for a continuing armed international presence should be non-negotiable.

New Macedonian Blog

This is a new idea in blogging where a group of Macedonian bloogers have come together to build something bigger than each can do by themselves. Macedonia needs all the help it can get.

Welcome to the first Macedonian bridge blog

The purpose of this blog to provide the global audence with a chance to learn more about Macedonia, and to provide the Macedonian bloggers with a chance to share some of their information outside their community.

All are invited, so I didn't have to crash the party ;-)

Readers and contributors,
Welcome and enjoy!

Can't we Orthodox Slavs "just get along"

It seems that Serbia is not keen on allowing the Montenegrin Orthodox Church to build churches in Serbia while at the same time complaining about the fact that the pro-Serbian Macedonian defrocked Bishop and convicted criminal Jovan Vraniskovski is not allowed operate freely in Macedonia. Now as I understand it, there is a small community of Macedonians in Belgrade who were refugees from Greece. Why can't the Macedonian Orthodox Church buy a lot and announce that they are buiilding a Macedonian Orthodox Church. Same thing goes for Pirin Macedonia . Lets play some offence! I think that we already have one in Greece, but it is in limbo ... not recognized but not bothered either. Here are three links about this issue that previously appeared in "The Macedonian Tendency"

RFE on Bishop Jovan

The Clash of Orthodoxies

More Bad Press on Jovan

Radio Free Europe,
Friday, August 18, 2006 Volume 10 Number 152

Cetinje Archbishop and Montenegrin Metropolitan Mihailo contended on August 17 that the Montenegrin Orthodox Church has the right to build churches in Serbia, B92 reported the same day. Mihailo, the head of the Montenegrin Orthodox Church, was responding to comments the day before in which Serbian Religion Minister Milan Radulovic said the Montenegrin Church is banned from building in Serbia. "There is only one Orthodox Church in Serbia, and that is the Serbian Orthodox Church. No group of citizens can under any circumstances establish any orthodox church, or establish what is already in existence and has a tradition and a historical continuity," Beta and B92 quoted Radulovic as saying on August 16. "It is astonishing that a minister can make statements of this kind, but I believe these are his personal opinions," B92 quoted Mihailo as saying in response. Mihailo added that he will personally lay the foundation stone for a planned Montenegrin Orthodox Church in Lovcenac. BW

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

One step forward for Macedonians, two steps backwards for "slav Macedonians"

This is one of the few occasions that a leading newspaper has gots its hands dirty and discussed the the "slav" issue that is a poker up the butt of most ethnic Macedonians because Serbs, Croats and Bulgarians are never described as "slavs" just plain old Serbs,Croats and Bulgarians. Anyway, all I can say is that I hope that Anthony Browne of the Times takes a few hours to investigate why the "Greek position" on minority rights regarding ethnic Macedonians in Greece, is in reality the EU position on minority right, since Greece is a member of good standing of the EU. Any country that "adopts the Greek position" on minority rights should be admitted into the EU, no questions asked. For more information about the correct way to address this issue see:

How one small adjective spelt trouble abroad - Comment - Times Online: "

The Times July 15, 2006

How one small adjective spelt trouble abroad
Sally Baker

Macedonians take offence; plus Eire, Polygons, and a teenage paragon

LAST week I wrote about the near-impossibility of failing to offend someone, somewhere, in the pages of a daily newspaper. Foreign stories extend the possibilities dramatically.

On July 6 our European correspondent, Anthony Browne, opened a report under the headline “Former boxer becomes Macedonian Prime Minister” with the words: “A Slav nationalist former boxer and amateur actor has been elected Prime Minister of the troubled state of Macedonia after a campaign marred by violence in a region still volatile with ethnic tensions.”

That little word “Slav” opened the floodgates. Typical of the complaints was this from John Skenderis in Canada: “Please refrain from using the term ‘Slav’ to describe Macedonians in future articles. As a Canadian of Macedonian descent I find this term insulting, and I would ask that you refer to the people of Macedonia as Macedonians.” When I consulted Anthony, he reported that much to his amazement angry e-mails had flooded in to him from around the world and he was being denounced on Macedonian websites. On the other hand, he had also received lettersfrom Greeks congratulating him on referring to the Macedonian majority as Slavs — Greece still objects to Macedonia’s use of what it considers a Hellenic name. “It’s the first time I’ve been so unwittingly controversial,” he said.

Actually Anthony did not refer to all Macedonians as Slavs, which would indeed have been incorrect. The term Slav is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as “a member of a group of peoples in Central and Eastern Europe speaking Slavic languages”. It defines Macedonian as a Slavic language. Hence all Macedonian-speaking citizens (the majority) are Slavs (Albanian-speaking citizens of Macedonia are not, Albanian being an Indo-European language), and our Europe correspondent was correct to thus describe the new Prime Minister. He meant no offence by it, being unaware of all the complexities of Macedonian nationhood.

In matters of ethnicity and nationality in volatile regions, it seems there are no longer any innocent adjectives, for those with a particular political or racial agenda to push. In this instance we have quite inadvertently pleased Greece, insulted Macedonia, and raised international tensions a fraction.