The Macedonian Tendency: Some thoughts on George Papandreou, Former President of Greece

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Some thoughts on George Papandreou, Former President of Greece

Below are two articles about the intention of Greek Prime Minister Papandreou to recognize the Macedonian language in the former Yugoslavia and in Greece.

I believe this issue is so important as to put it the scale of Misirkov's "On Macedonian Matters", the ABCEDAR and the founding of the Macedonian literary language in 1944. I have yet to find a good detailed article about this issue. Any good information would be appreciated whether it is a link or some insight. At a minimum, the "Elefteros Tipos" article(s) should be translated.

My theory is that Greece's policy of denying the ethnicity of its Macedonian minority was a model (along with Turkey's treatment of its Kurdish minority, and the invasion of Cyprus) for every fascist, every racist and every ethnic cleanser in the Balkans. It is one of the factors that led to the vicious fighting during the fall of Yugoslavia that seemed to puzzle so many western journalists. Yet few journalists even thought about this issue.

According to "Elefteros Tipos" Papandreou was ready to recognize the Macedonian as a language of Yugoslavia in 1986 and recognize Macedonians as a minority in in Greece 1988. I believe (but am not sure) that Mitsotakis used the "soft on Skopians" argument to defeat him in 1991 with the assistance of the USA and most of the EU who viewed Papandreou as an erratic bogeyman.

Meanwhile Mitsotakis allowed (or continued to allow) Greek students to study in at Kiril and Metodi University in Skopje which indicated a passive recognition of the Macedonian language.

It is my understanding that Papandreou used this issue to outflank Mitsotakis the right by denouncing it as a betrayal of the Greek position on the non-existence of Macedonians. He returned to power in 1994. Like George Wallace in Alabama, he was not going to be "out niggered" on the question of human rights of ethnic Macedonians in Greece and the status of the Republic of Macedonia.

Let us now pause and consider the US position on Greece, which supported the Greek Right and totally ignored human rights abuses against ethnic Macedonians. Papandreou received no "brownie points" from the US/EU for his progressive treatment of Macedonians. Calling US/EU policy hypocritical is like saying the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. It may be human rights abuse in "The West" but in the Balkans its called "life".

It is also worth noting that Robert Kaplan (Balkan Ghosts ) lived in Greece at this time, yet never mentioned this affair in any of his writing.

In Greece, the 1990's were used by the left and the right to see which party could be more hysterical on the "Macedonian Question". US and European reporters (which seemed to suffer from "50 First Dates" syndrome), were perplexed at the Greek position. In all the articles that I have read, no one to my knowledge linked the behavior of the Greek government towards Macedonians as part of the "Balkan problem.

What to do? Why Bother?

There are large forces in operation against Macedonian interests but things change. We have to develop a broader written record of the issue affecting Macedonia to be able to maneuver when change happens. We cannot wait for others to do it for us. Someone with knowledge of Greek should translate these articles.

The Greek paper "Elefteros Tipos" announces that Prime-Minister Papandreu in the talks with Yugoslav presidency member Stane Dolanc has agreed to recognize the Macedonian language as one of the official languages in Yugoslavia. 1988]

Greek Prime-Minister Papandreu and the Foreign Affairs' Karolos Papulias, agree to recognize the Macedonian language in Greece. The banker's affair "Koskotas" brings down the PASOK government, and the documents were never signed

M I L S N E W S Skopje, 20 September, 1994

The opposition right wing Greek paper "Elefteros Tipos" (paper
of Nea Demokratia) published a "confidential document" from the
former Yugoslavia, issued 16 March, 1988, proving the then
PASOK govt, i.e., Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou and Foreign
Minister Karolos Papoulias officially agreed to recognise the
Macedonian language. The paper believes president Gligorov is
using the document, which has a decisive influence on
negotiations on the Macedonian question. The document was
signed following a two-day meeting of the then Yugoslavia's
foreign minister Budimir Lonchar and his counterparts from
Bulgaria, Albania, Greece and Romania. It also states minority
issues and improvement of co-operation from aspects of
language, passport regime and border areas. The paper claims
this concession by PASOK dated from a previous Lonchar-
Papoulias meeting back in 1985, and the 1986 meeting between
Papoulias and Stane Dolanc, member of the then Yugoslav
presidency. "Tipos" claims the PASOK did not only recognise the
Macedonian language, but was also ready to recognise the
Macedonian minority in Greece, as well.

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