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‘Macedonian issue’: What is really at stake?

After two decades, the issue of the name of Macedonia is back at the center of public attention. This topic is now being discussed between the governments of Greece and Macedonia or F.Y.R.O.M. (‘Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’ which is the temporary internationally agreed name) at Davos under the supervision of the United Nations and the great powers. After the breakup of Yugoslavia, the newly constituted country of FYROM adopted the name ‘Macedonia’ while the same name is used for the northern part of Greece. This issue, for 23 consecutive years, triggers the growing of nationalistic fervor in both countries and once again occupies the foreground of political debate because of the geopolitical interests in the region concerning FYROM’s NATO and EU membership.  This is the reason why now the Greek government and the government of FYROM by complying with the demands of NATO and the EU are trying to solve a problem that should have never been there in the first place.

Due to this issue there is currently a new outburst of nationalist rhetoric in public discourse in Greece.  The common strategy of ‘Divide & Conquer’ is being employed in Balkans turning in this way the peoples of two countries against each other. In this act of ‘Macedonian’ drama, the showcase of national interest is misleading people in Greece in demonstrating against a created external common enemy, using as frontispiece the name of Macedonia. And because of this situation, people who are now resisting or just speaking publicly against this nationalistic rhetoric are being considered non-patriots or even traitors.

On the 21st of January, various nationalist groups in Greece managed to gather approximately 90.000 people (who came with buses from every part of the country) in Thessaloniki demanding the term ‘Macedonia’ not be included in the new name of the neighboring country. Under the exacerbated nationalism that has prevailed in the country, numerous far-right and fascist groups have taken advantage of this situation by attacking political squats and collectives that fight against state nationalism.  During that demonstration, these parastatal groups attacked the libertarian social collective of ‘EKX Sxoleio’ and afterwards they set fire to the anti-authoritarian squat of ‘Libertatia’. It is worth noting that these attacks were tolerated by the nearby police forces, a fact that shows once again the collaboration of fascists with the police and unmasks a government that claims to be ‘left’ and ‘in favor of people’.

The whole issue of the name of Macedonia works also as a disorienting pseudo-dilemma hiding the continuing harsh neoliberal attack against the rights of the people of both countries. At the same time that ‘national rallies for the name of Macedonia’ are organized in Greece, omnibus bills that extend the austerity policies are being voted in the parliament, auctions of primary residences (even of poor people) have started and the workers’ right to strike has been severely restricted.

It is also worth remembering that the political forces that present themselves as ‘patriotic’ by supporting the nationalist rallies and claiming that they ‘care’ about Greece:

  • are the very ones that when they were in power promoted policies that were destructive for the natural environment of the country
  • have sold natural resources and public companies to domestic or foreign private companies
  • have violated every possible regulation to facilitate the disastrous (from an environmental and financial perspective) investment of the Canadian company El Dorado Gold in Skouries-Chalkidiki
  • have taken decisive steps to commercialize and privatize drinking water in Thessaloniki.

We promote internationalism and class solidarity with Balkan people against the rise of nationalism and continuing neoliberal policies in both countries. Our belief is that people of both countries should fight against the degradation and exploitation of our lives by the neoliberal capitalist assault instead of demonstrating against each other. In fact, this is the only way to ensure a long-lasting peace in the region.



30 January 2018


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