The latest news from Macedonia: a local art gallery did a billboard showing the Greek flag with a swastika in place of the cross.
The Greeks have, of course, gone completely apeshit. Front page news, demonstrations, formal diplomatic protest.
This is one of those perfect Balkan storms where you have obnoxious and stupid behavior that leads to even more obnoxious and stupid behavior. The billboards are both obnoxious and stupid; they’re nothing but a finger in the eye to Athens, and deliberately done a few days before the NATO summit where Macedonia’s membership is on the table. The owner of the art gallery apparently is from Greek Macedonia, where the Greeks have been treating the Macedonians like dirt since they took over in 1913, but that’s neither here nor there; it’s just a really fucking stupid thing to do.
That said, the Greek response is even dumber: demands that Macedonia take the billboards down and apologize. (The billboards are paid for by a private organization, so the government can’t do much about them and isn’t responsible for them.) This accompanied by a descent into narcissistic, self-righteous outrage that’s… well, I wanted to say very Balkan, but in this case there’s something particularly Greek about it.
Anyway. This pretty much eliminates Macedonia’s chance of joining NATO this year. Which by itself is no big deal — the Greeks were probably going to veto them anyhow — but Athens has been given a wonderful gift. Now instead of being disgusted by Greek stupidity and stubbornness, the rest of NATO will be disgusted by both parties. So, a net loss for Macedonia.
There are already plenty of the usual Balkan conspiracy theories floating around, but you know? Sometimes stupidity is all.
I should probably add here that I lived in the Balkans for five years and hope to go back and live there some more. But: Jesus Christ, people. Is it something in the water?