Macedonia: more stupid

I’d like to come up with more thoughtful and respectful titles for these posts. But, well.

Stupid #1: In the wake of the NATO summit, and Greece’s veto of Macedonian membership, there’s now a boycott campaign in Macedonia against Greek goods and Greek-owned businesses. Since Greece is one of Macedonia’s largest investors and trading partners, and since Greek tourism is particularly vital to the economically weak southern part of the country, this is pure stupidity; it will cost Macedonia, one of the poorest countries in Europe, millions of euros while accomplishing exactly nothing but to further damage relations between the two countries.

N.B., this idiocy is an entirely private initiative — Macedonian citizens and NGOs are doing this on their own, without the government’s encouragement. On the other hand, the government isn’t discouraging anyone, either.

About the only good thing to say about this is that it probably won’t last long.

Stupid #2: last week, Greece’s Ministry of Transport prohibited Macedonian Airlines from landing in Greece because… wait for it… its name is “Macedonian Airlines”.

Greece has kept MA out for several years already, but this is the first time they’ve explicitly said it’s because of the name.

I’m pretty sure this is illegal under international aviation agreements, but I welcome comments from those better informed. (Alex?)

On the plus side, Greece’s Foreign Minister has said that Greece could “eventually” abolish visas for Macedonians. So, two steps back, one forward.

24 thoughts on “Macedonia: more stupid

  1. Well dear Douglas, you really are stupid when you write these things.
    How can be the Greek tourism important for the Macedonian economy by Macedonians not spending their Euros in Greece and going to Bulgaria or even better to their own lake resorts?
    This is a unprecedented nonsense # 1.
    Greece was first to start the boycott of Macedonian products right after the NATO veto and has forbidden MAT flights over the Greek territory. Everything else is just consequences.
    I shouldn’t go further because I can see no logic in your biased writing.
    Good luck with your journalist and publicist career.

  2. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Greece, Macedonia: Boycotts and Bans

  3. Hi Doug,

    I cannot follow this argument: “since Greek tourism is particularly vital to the economically weak southern part of the country.”

    Do you mean to say that Greek tourism is vital to southern part of Macedonia? If so, how? I might have misunderstood what you were meant to say. I’m just curious, that’s all.

    And, I agree, boycotts such as these never achieve their intended aims and most often they hurt most vulnerable people at the bottom of the trade chain, ie people who live from salary to salary, be they Greek or Macedonian.


  4. Fidel, a lot of Greeks visit Macedonia — especially the southern part, Lake Ohrid and the mountains around it. The prices are low, the scenery is stunning, and until recently the locals were friendly. Tourism has been a huge boon to this region, which had an especially bad decade after Yugoslavia collapsed.

    The boycott will drive a lot of Greek tourists away. So, it will cost Macedonia millions of euros of foreign exchange, with the damage concentrated in an economically vulnerable region.

    Paul, I’m not a journalist, nor a publicist either.

    Doug M.

  5. Doug, I misunderstood you. In my mind “Greek tourism” means “tourism in Greece”, ie people visiting Greece, and what you actually meant was “Greek tourists” visiting Macedonia.

    Anyhow, many thanks for your explanation.

    The timing is particularly bad because if the tensions rose in autumn then by spring/summer people would get over boycotts, but this has the potential to hurt both sides.

  6. Doug, sorry, I misunderstood you too. I thought the other way around for Macedonian tourists which are going usually to the Aegean Sea for vacation on a regular basis for decades.
    Anyway, both sides are pretty stubborn so it is uncertain how this will end. I am not really an optimist in this case.

  7. Pingback: Global Voices на македонски » Македонија, Грција: Бојкотирања и забрани

  8. I think you’ll find all the EU and associated states have a multilateral airservices agreement, so there’s no need for bilateral permission as there is between EU>Non-EU states. If that covers Macedonia, the Greeks are seriously outside their rights.

    If not, they could refuse bilateral permission, but I suspect this is a first in aviation law, and there will almost certainly be litigation..

  9. I doubt “Greece’s Foreign Minister has said that Greece could “eventually” abolish visas for Macedonians”. Macedonians comprise 1/4 of Greece’s population and need no visa to move in Greece or the EU for that matter.
    Until you find a language that will recognize the right of 1/4 of Greece’s population to call themselves Macedonian, all your posts are just insulting to them. Should not be that hard to get, is it?

  10. There is nothing about the existence of a state called Macedonia that stops the Macedonians in Greece from calling themselves that (now you appear to have discovered their existence). Namespace collisions are only fatal in programming languages, and not even always then.

  11. Well, Macedonians in Greece have always called themselves that, just like Cretans, Peloponsians, Epirots and so on. I don’t know where you get your info from, but you really should check your sources. Plus, we are not talking about whether people in Skopje or Thessaloniki can call themselves Macedonian, Scots or Martians for that matter, but how the rest of the world, including people who have no clue what this is will call them. When someone tells me he is from Luxemburg, I understand the country, not the Belgian province
    -hence I would be more inclined to believe a story that somehow Belgian Luxemburg is also a part of Luxemburg. And in this case the Fyrom people have been circulating a lot of myths about how all of macedonia has always been theirs, it was taken from them and they are the macedonian nation.

  12. Dear Hans,

    Excellent my friend. Macedonians have always called themselves Macedonians in whole Macedonia, long before part of it was occupied by the state that today call itself Hellenic Republic. This is one of the fears the Hellenic government has with the name of Independent Macedonia that call itself Republic of Macedonia.

  13. “part of it [Macedonia] was occupied by the state that today call itself Hellenic Republic [Greece]”

    Congratulation “Macedonian”,

    You just successfully aligned yourself with the official Greek line that (Slav) Macedonians consider part of the northern Greece to be under occupation, thus demonstrating territorial claims in the territory of the Hellenic Republic, as you call it.

    Well done “Macedonian,” it must have taken a lot of courage and stupidity to achieve this. Just continue in this way and you will in the end manage to make the remaining allies turn their back on you and your country.

    Way to go!

  14. Fidel my friend,

    Thank you for the “compliments” but it appears to me that you might have been little bit confused. Please let me explain:

    1. No entity called Slav Macedonian exist to be able to consider anything.
    2. The fact is that the so-called Hellenic Republic during the Balkan wars successfully occupied the part of Macedonia that nowadays is in their proper as the Macedonian partisans successfully occupied the part of the Macedonian land that is nowadays independent and it calls itself Republic of Macedonia.

    3. The present borders are result of these occupations that were achieved by military means and I am quite sure that all sides involved will use the same means to defend them.

    4. I agree with you it is as stupid to change borders in Europe nowadays as it is stupid to deny the identity of other nations. Yes, what the so-called Hellenic Republic is doing is very very stupid and not civilized at all.

    5. If you care to know we the Macedonians are ready to forgive and accept the Macedonian reality as it is but it will be very stupid to expect that we will forget who we are.

    6. The history of the people who call themselves Macedonian is similar to the history of many other European nations. The people who call themselves Greeks are not free of similar historical frustrations. Many of them descend from Orthodox Christians that were expelled from the shores of the Aegean see that are now proper of Republic of Turkey.

    7. The people who find the answer for their historical frustrations in Item 5 are my friends and shear my Macedonian values. Having respect for somebody else’s identity is a very important part of this solution that worked very well in other parts of Europe. If we cannot be friends, let be little bit more civilized and respectful and less stupid.

  15. Hello Macedonian,

    You yourself admit that it is silly, and extremely dangerous, to suggest changing borders of an EU/NATO country that is far more powerful militarily and economically than the Republic of Macedonia (there you go, I am calling your country by its name — I have no problem with that, make no mistake about it).

    If the issue at hand is about the identity of a nation — as you say that it is — then stick to that and argue your point within this topic. Moving into the issue of territorial claims only gives your enemy more ammunition. In fact by doing so you give credibility to their claims.

    The fact of the matter is that there are two main groups of Macedonians: (i) Macedonians of Slavic heritage, ie mostly people from the Republic of Macedonia; and (ii) Macedonians of Greek heritage, ie mostly people from northern Greece. Now, this is the issue. The solution will have to be found that somehow pleases both sides. Until then I will continue to refer to the former group as (Slav) Macedonians and the latter group as (Greek) Macedonians.

    There are no such things as natural borders — particularly in Europe –, unless your talking about islands — and even then you run into big troubles. If Macedonians lost territory to Greeks then maybe Albanians lost territory to Macedonians (Yugoslavs) and so on. I don’t know what the best solution to these issues is, but I know for a fact that changing borders in Europe is not it. The best shot we have is a united Europe, ie European Union, where people should be free and identify as they wish, speak the language they want and express themselves culturally and religiously in the way that they want.

    I honestly hope that this issue will be solved recently. I believe a possible solution would be to rename both territories along the lines of eastern/western or northern/southern or even upper/lower Macedonia. In this way both sides would have a taste of their own medicine and know what is it to be in the receiving end.

    Good luck and I hope both sides show enough maturity and don’t follow the typical Balkan mentality: “I’m happy to heart myself a lot as long as a hurt my enemy a little.”

  16. Dear Fidel,

    1. Changing any borders is a risky and stupid business for anyone. It will not be an easy task to change the borders of Republic of Macedonia as well.

    2. The very fact that I was put in a position to argue my identity is stupid and uncivilized hostile act from Greece. The fact that Greece is a NATO/EU country does not give much credit to the military organization nor the union. Actually it goes against their principals. The support Macedonia has is based solely on this premise. It is hardly to believe that anyone has an important strategic interest in the country.

    3. The actual situation is far more complicated than that. Nationhood is a state of mind that is different from any regional allegiance. To demand change of identity of the nation on basis of conflict with regional allegiance is stupid.

    3. The fact is that there is one national identity which is referred to as Macedonian represented by Republic of Macedonia. There is a codified Macedonian language that serves as official language of the country since 1944. If there was separate Macedonian nation anywhere else, yes let us discuss how to clarify the situation. If there is another Macedonian language different than my language spoken anywhere else than lets talk about clarifying that as well.

    4. Absolutely so. Macedonia is not unique case in any case. Only, the hostile approach of Hellenic Republic is unique in its stupidity. The stupidity will cost them dearly.

    The issue will be resolved when the Hellenic Republic will become a modern tolerant democracy. EU/NATO can help them achieve the goal for everyone’s benefit. They have a way to go though. God bless them and help them overcome their stupidity and I wish t

  17. Well, “Macedonian”

    -I happen to think that a solution will be found when you stop insulting your talking party “so-called” and discuss a solution that will
    allow them also to keep their national and regional identity. There are Macedonians in Greece
    who have always been calling them so, who feel greek. They have been there longer than you have
    and in their eyes Bulgarians have been just another invader who was forced out, just like the Turks. But the point is not history.
    The point is that to distinguish and be clear what one is talking about, Fidel and many others use the terms Slav and Greek Macedonian. Is there any reason on earth why your country cannot accept a name like “Slav Macedonia”, which would be accurate
    ,acceptable to Greece and finish once and forall with this stupid name issue? Why do you keep pretending you represent the whole Macedonia? Unless you believe your country also represents greek Macedonians(who do NOT want to be represented by your country) or that the greeks in greek Macedonia are not Macedonian(then who is denying whose identity?),
    I cannot understand why Slav Macedonia is a change of national identity.

  18. “Macedonian”,

    If the people in Greek Macedonia feel that they are not treated well THEY should complain. That is not of the business of the people in FYROM.

  19. I am sorry but you appear to be quite confused. Please refer to the following:

    1. The name issue is not only a political “insult” to my country but it is a personal “insult” to me and to other among us who declare themselves Macedonian not only as regional identity but also as NATIONALITY. None among them had any intention to argue anybody else’s national identity, name or what so ever. Therefore, I don’t see how the Greek national identity has been disputed although the Modern Greek national mythology as any other on this planet has many weak spots to argue about.

    2. Nobody in Macedonia has ever disputed the right to people who are of other NATIONALITY to use Macedonian as regional identity. Therefore, we are happy to share the regional identity with them the same way the citizens of United States of America share their regional American identity with the rest of the inhabitants of the Americas. Republic of Macedonia as a state has no intention of representing anybody else than its citizens same as the USA are not represent of everyone living in the Americas.

    3. Who has been there longer is an issue to discuss that to understand, will require deeper knowledge of recent history (1900 to 1947). I descend from a family that has resided in Macedonia as long as we can remember if that has any relevance on this issue. The claim that the Greeks are the ones who always have been there is based on two dubious premises of the Greek national mythology: (1) the that ancient Macedonia was part of the ANCIENT Greek civilization, (2) that the ones that call themselves Greeks are direct descendants of the Ancient Greeks and therefore can claim all the territories inhabited by the Ancient Greeks and anything else that the modern world relates to this great ANCIENT civilization. These two issues are absolutely irrelevant in modern political terms. The Greek argument of the “Macedonian MAPS” for example is so ridiculous having in mind that every history book in Greece has map of Greece where a substantial part of Turkish territory is included. Shall we assume that the Greek “fears” of Macedonian irredentism are based on similar hidden Greek national agenda of “liberating” Constantionopolis (Istanbul) from the Turkish occupiers?!?!

    4. For your information, not everybody of Macedonian National Identity is of Slavic origin although the Macedonian language is in the Slavic group of languages. The adjective “Slav” will be offensive to many. We share more with the Greeks, Turks, Albanians that with our “brothers” in Vladivostok.. I cannot understand the Greek insistence to the “Slav” adjective. It will put Macedonia in alliance with a powerful group of Slavic nations among which one is a reborn-world superpower. Very stupid indeed.

    Hans my dear friend, the name issue is a problem that is rooted deeply in the Modern Greek society. It is difficult to remember what was happening 2000 years ago which makes it easy to build a glorious national mythology of we are somebody really special. But the memories of the recent history (60 years ago) are fresh and when exposed they can be very painful. When Republic of Macedonia was in a federation they were sort of hidden. We use to live in a divided Europe in which Greece had strategic position and was very happy to have the Socialist Republic of Macedonia as their friendliest neighbor. Nowadays, the best to avoid facing the issues of the Civil War will be if Macedonia did not exist. They are hoping to achieve this strategic goal by continuing to play this stupid name game. It will hardly work. We leave in different world now. The walls are down, the attitudes are changing and Europe is adopting new civilization values. The old enemies are allies now. The only option the Greeks have is to join the new world reality and realize that there are unpleasant instances in their glorious national mythology that they will have to face and learn to live with. They are no different than anybody else. No nation was created by saints.

  20. Macedonian:
    1)You are automatically disputing the identity of the greek Macedonians when you speak of Macedonian nation. They may(and do) ask: What about me? Am I not a macedonian too?
    2)Just because Canadians were happy to identify themselves as such and the rest of the world did not have much contact with South America does not mean the American analogy works in your case. Plus, the name is United State of America, not Republic of America.
    3) I’m not sure history is relevant here, though there are also greeks in greek Macedonia with
    roots in the region “as long as one can remember” or possibly more.
    And I really do not see anything dubious about the premises> It is undisputable that ancient Macedonia was part of ancient greece(though backwards, like say Montana does not share the fame of New York in todays US) and it will be very hard to explain that modern day greeks still speak an evolved ancient greek language
    if they were a completely different population, although obviously some degree of mixing has occured everywhere.
    As for the maps example, even in the days of the military government( 1967) there were no maps showing other countries as greek territory. Where do you get this information from?
    Greeks have given up any territorial claims and fully endorsed the 1974 Helsinki agreement. Which is the main reason for not recognising Kossovo for example.
    4) If Slav is offensive, you can find another name that is not. Slavo-Albanian for example.
    You may share more with greeks and albanians that with Russians? Probably yes, but clarity makes for good friends. Greece has not suggested and names, in fact it has avoided like the plague to suggest names. Finding a name that will make it clear that you are friends, but not the same is a very small necessary step to end this silly dispute. Whether “slav” puts you in alliance with Russia is something for the greeks to worry about, assuming they are worried.
    5)The memories of the last 60 years(come to think of it why only the last 60 years, there are also many painful memories before that too)
    are painful. But wounds from the civil war have largely healed in Greece. I fail to see how the greek civil war is related to your country. The civil war saw great attrocities between greeks,
    it was not a war between Greece and Yugoslavia.
    In fact the worst greeks have behaved is to each other and greeks are aware of that.
    Sure, greeks have a lot to feel proud of and ashamed of. But their behavior towards their neihbours has generally been much better than vice versa.

  21. Great Britain is officially calleg United Kingdom and not great BRITAIN because the French didnt accept to have a neighbouring country contain the name of one of its provinces…
    Just to add an annoying little detail to this funky discussion

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