The Macedonian Tendency: One step forward for Macedonians, two steps backwards for "slav Macedonians"

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment