Australian Macedonian Advisory Council

September 30, 2008

With the beginning of the dissolution of Yugoslavia in 1991, south-eastern Europe has re-emerged as the “powder-keg” of Europe. Despite large-scale dislocation and death, the region continues to be threatened by extremist politics, ethnocentric movements that demand the re-drawing of borders of “lost” territories. The coalition government in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) led by the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE, financed and actively supported by a small vocal number of individuals and organisations in Australia, the US and Canada is one of these groups.

In essence, the issue revolves around control of the strategic region of Macedonia. For Greeks, Macedonia has formed their northern frontier province for the last 4,000 years. Today it is the largest and most populous region of Greece, and incorporates the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon, including Pella (the birthplace of Alexander the

Great) and Vergina (a world heritage site as the burial place of the Macedonian kings). Academics agree that the Ancient Macedonians were (as they are today), a Greek people. This view is supported by the archaeological and literary evidence found in the region.

The government in FYROM is worked-up for its state to be recognised by the international community as the “Republic of Macedonia”. While on the surface appearing to be a dispute over a historic name, FYROM’s claims mask aspirations to territory and resources in Greece and other neighbouring states. When the Communist Government of Yugoslavia decided to change the name of its southern province in 1944 from “Vardar Banovina” to the “Socialist Republic of Macedonia”, it did so for two reasons: to justify its claims to northern Greece, and to dispel the long held claims by Bulgaria over “the region” and its people as ethnic Bulgarians. This communist policy continues to set the framework for the ambitions of the FYROM government today, a policy that continues to destabilise the Balkans more than sixty years later.

Setting history aside, it is very important that the international community, understand what they are supporting when they recognise a new state. Supporting self-determination must never be at the expense of the rights of another state. As with the recent “declaration of independence” by Kosovo, subverting the rights of one group to support another only causes greater instability. Providing diplomatic recognition to the southernmost former Yugoslav Republic under the name demanded by FYROM would, constitute just such a case; undermining the rights of the Greek Macedonians to their language, history, culture and heritage.

Australian Macedonian Advisory Council

AMAC’s (Australian Macedonian Advisory Council) role is to promote the truth concerning the Macedonian issue in Australian and international fora.

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