Greek NATO Veto of Macedonia
a Civil Rights Problem for the EU
April 11, 2008
In 1918, the U.S. National Board for Historical Service published its "Handbook for the Diplomatic History: Europe, Asia, and Africa, 1879-1914" under the auspice of the Government Printing Office in Washington, D.C.
The U.S. Handbook of 1918 notes that a sizable portion of the territory known as "Macedonia" was seized by Greece in 1913 under the Treaty of Bucharest. Specifically, this important territorial concession of 1913 split Macedonia and "increased the area of Greece from 25,014 to 41,933 square miles and her population from 2,660,000 to 4,363,000."
Presently, this annexed territory and population of Greek citizens who are of ethnic Macedonian descent are revealing their "diachronic" reason behind a Greek veto against the Republic of Macedonia at the last NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania.
U.S. President George W. Bush made it clear that Washington wants Macedonia, along with Croatia and Albania, to join NATO, but American foreign policy interest in the Balkan region was not fully realized in large part due to the Greek veto denying Macedonia NATO accession.
Instead, Greek Foreign Minister, Ms. Dora Bakoyanni, noted that E.U. member Greece shall preclude Macedonia from joining NATO because the name "Republic of Macedonia" implies territorial ambitions towards Greece's own northern province, also named Macedonia and annexed under the 1913 treaty.
Conversely, the real problem with recognizing Macedonia in NATO, or any other international arena, is the systematic state sponsored civil rights discrimination by the Greek government, according to the "Political Party of the Ethnic Macedonians in Greece," known as "Rainbow European Free Alliance." The Rainbow E.F.A. party in Greece says there is specific "unwillingness of the [Greek] government to allow any private groups or associations to use associational names that include the appellation ...Macedonian, based upon the state party's assertion that there are no ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities in Greece..." who are in fact of Macedonian national origin or ethnicity.
The following excerpts and attestations are directly from an April 26, 2005 letter drafted by Greek citizens currently discriminated against because of their Macedonian ethnicity, national origin, or their Macedonian religion. The letter was delivered to the President of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, to the Commissioner on EU Enlargement, and to 25 Ministers of EU countries, as well.
"As Greek and European citizens we are obliged to point out that today the key to this so-called Macedonian issue lies elsewhere, and not in the conceptual and linguistic objections of the Greek government. The problem that the Greek government diligently conceals is its refusal to recognize the existence and to respect the rights of the Macedonian nation... [and] the existence and the rights of the Macedonian minority in Greece. The problem as the Greek government presents it has nothing to do with the so called 'cultural heritage of ancient Macedonia,' or that a portion of the Greek territory bears the administrative name of the District of Macedonia and the neighbor state calls itself also Macedonia or the Republic of Macedonia.
What the Greek government stubbornly refuses to admit is that it does not agree with the ethnic use of the terms 'Macedonia,' or 'Macedonian' because of the existence of the Macedonian minority in Greece. Greek politicians maintain that the Macedonian minority in Greece is likely in the future to rise up with separatist demands. This - and not the name of the Republic of Macedonia - is the real and diachronic problem for every Greek government. However, if the Greek government admits this, then it must also proceed with corresponding measures to recognize and respect the rights of the minority - which, unfortunately, it does not currently do..."
In light of the Greek NATO veto, the Macedonian Foreign Minister, Antonio Milososki, described the Greek state discrimination against people of Macedonian national origin as follows: "It is very regretful for the principles of democracy that Macedonia's bid for NATO membership was punished, not because of what we have done but because of who we are. We are Macedonians and our country is the Republic of Macedonia. And it will remain so forever."
California minority rights attorneys, Lenny Bush and Michael Rollins, agree that the Macedonia and Greece name dispute "…is nothing more than garden variety government sponsored discrimination based on race or ethnicity." Both conclude "the E.U. and NATO can learn from U.S. federal law when it comes to resolving race-based or ethnic discrimination among member states."
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