Horrors! The world will be free to call the Macedonians, well, Macedonians! Childish Greeks….

“Of the Republic of North Macedonia” is not an adjective and other horrors

First off, bravo, again, to Macedonian President Ivanov for stating that he will not sign the agreement reached between Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras. He has already received threats from the international community and will continue to receive them. But he’s defending Macedonia.

I need to start this column with a little humor. Question: “How do you know Zoran Zaev is lying?” Answer: “His lips are moving.” Zaev said he wanted to be “creative” in coming up with a deal. This isn’t even creative however. It’s hideous. And those who agree to it are moral lepers.

You can read it here, in English, but I’m just going to point out a few of the very problematic parts before moving on to some other issues. Much of it has to do with an attempt to limit the free speech of individuals, private entities and any state/public body in an insidious manner. First, there is Article 7 which attempts to tell individuals what they can, and cannot call themselves, their children, their ancestors, and generations yet to be born. Article 7(2) states, regarding the terms, “Macedonia” and “Macedonian” and as related to Greece, “these terms denote not only the area and people of the northern region of the First Party [Greece], but also their attributes, as well as the Hellenic civilization, history, culture, and heritage of that region from antiquity to present day.” With regard to Macedonia, Article 7(3) states “When reference is made to the Second Party, these terms denote its territory, language, people and their attributes, with their own history, culture, and heritage, distinctly different from those referred to under Article 7(2).”

Two points: our Greek friends are insecure in their own identity and paranoid. Second, no agreement, law, government, or force on the planet can demand that the Macedonians believe a certain way. That’s up to individuals, families, communities, etc. That the Greeks are attempting this is childish. But, current events prove their childishness. A writer from Greek newspaper Kathimerini criticizes the agreement because “the rest of the world will be free to refer to the people of FYROM as ‘Macedonians,’ even if we in Greece call them ‘citizens of North Macedonia.’” Imagine that! The rest of the world will be free to call Macedonians, well, Macedonians.

Next, Article 1(3), paragraph f states that “The adjectival reference to the State, its official organs, and other public entities shall be in line with the official name of the Second Party or its short name, that is, ‘of the Republic of North Macedonia,’ or ‘of North Macedonia.’” In other words, the state and its official organs cannot use the adjective “Macedonian” but the “adjective” is “of the Republic of North Macedonia” or “of North Macedonia” which is not an adjective in any language, but a phrase consisting of nouns, prepositions, and articles. Here’s the dictionary definition of an adjective, which is “a word.”

Article 1(3), paragraph h attacks commercial and private usage of “Macedonia” and “Macedonian” in “commercial names, trademarks and brand names.” The Parties “agree to support and their business communities to a sincere, structured and in good faith dialogue, in the context of which will seek and reach deriving from the commercial names, the trademarks, and the brand names and ” [italics mine]. The paragraph goes on to state that the two countries will set up “an international group of experts” that will have three years, beginning in 2019, to come up with recommendations for “implementation of the abovementioned provisions.” (And if Zaev sincerely believes in this agreement, then he should, even now, change the name of his party to the Social Democratic Union of North Macedonia)

Next, Article 6 basically binds each party (Greece, the first party, and Macedonia, the second party) to work at discouraging acts of or which could lead to or incite (very important) “hatred,” “hostility,” “chauvinism,” “irredentism,” or “revisionism,” and “acts of propaganda” against either party, and “will promptly take all necessary measures provided by law,” against such acts. One thing I left out: these would be acts by “private entities.” That means you and me. How do you define these things? How do you enforce these things? Is a Facebook post by a Macedonian in Macedonia that says that the Greeks today are in no way related to the ancient Greeks — is that “hatred” or “hostility?” It will be defined by the Greeks as such. What about the same Facebook post by a Macedonian in Canada? Or an American in Arizona? You see where this is going. Article 3(4) basically says the same thing stating “The Parties commit not to undertake, instigate, support and/or tolerate any actions or activities of a non-friendly character directed against the other Party,” and that neither party will allow any organization, group or individual on its territory to carry out “actions or activities which threaten in any manner, the peace, stability or security” of the other party. How in the hell do you define any of that? And, per Article 1(3), paragraph h, is a private firm that continues to use “Product of Macedonia” engaging in acts of “hatred” or “hostility?” Is what I am writing now and tweeting often, “acts of propaganda?” You can be sure the Greeks will say yes to both.

There so much more here: Macedonia must change its constitution and adopt everything in the agreement before the Greeks will ratify it (Article 1(4), paragraph f) (and recall they never did ratify the 1995 Interim Accord even though they were obliged to) and Macedonia must make all of these constitutional changes in 2018. Macedonia will have five years to change things like banknotes and coins, stamps, passports, ID cards, army uniforms, diplomas, etc. and commissions will be set up to look at and then likely revise school textbooks, etc. (Article 1(10), paragraphs a and b and also Article 8(5)). State objects in Macedonia that contain the Star of Vergina must be removed or revised (Article 8 in its entirely covers this and more). Article 19(3) says that any disputes between the parties will be resolved at…wait for it….the International Court of Justice. Right.

And finally: Greece is demanding, per Article 1(12) that the Macedonian constitution be amended with one amendment (“at the same time”). Just as a point of reference, the word “Macedonia” or “Macedonian” is found 99 times in the constitution; if you take into account the amendments that number increases to 211.

Read the whole thing and preferably with a large bottle of your favorite adult beverage nearby. You’ll need it.

Moving on, this agreement does nothing to unite Macedonians — it further drives them apart and the last thing NATO or the EU want are countries whose citizens are bitterly divided. Luke Coffey at the Heritage Foundation makes this point stating “It is in our interest that there be political stability in Macedonia. Any name Macedonia negotiates with Greece must have a popular mandate of support or it risks instability in the country. Macedonians must feel like any agreement preserves their unique identity. Otherwise, failure to get domestic consensus on the agreement could lead to bigger problems and instability in the future.”

Next, even if Macedonia changes its constitution (one way or another), there is the issue of Bulgaria and Albania (and possibly other countries) who are now emboldened to ask Macedonia for further concessions before ratifying the treaty. The Bulgarians are already saying this.

Then there are the cheerleading squads of the international media and certain EU officials already using “North Macedonia” in their reporting and in their statements (the writes “The name deal is expected to accelerate North Macedonia’s entry to the Nato alliance….” And the EU’s Federica Mogherini tweets her congratulations using the #NorthMacedonia hashtag meaning you’ll need to follow #Macedonia and #NorthMacedonia to figure out who is saying what). The reason they are doing this — deliberately it should be pointed out — is to encourage the use of the “new name” and get people, institutions, and countries used to the idea. The fact that the Republic of Macedonia is still the Republic of Macedonia is not important to them.

Final thoughts as I’m running longish here: One, the Greeks will continue to work to deny the Macedonian identity, over time. The agreement proves that point in spades. Two, it is up to the Macedonian people (despite the inevitable threats that will come, externally and internally) to decide on this. Three, it will be good to see what the Macedonian Orthodox Church has to say about this, as well as the business community and groups such as Macedonia2025. Four, even if, in a worst case scenario, all of this comes to be, 20 or 30 years from now Macedonia can rip this up and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. But that would take leadership.



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Jason Miko

Jason Miko

Proud American & Arizonan w/Hungarian ethnicity & passion for Macedonia, Hungary & Estonia. Traveler, PR man, history buff & wine, craft beer & cigar enthusiast