AHMP Letter to the Associated Press, September 16, 1995


Tom Kent, Managing Editor
International Desk
Associated Press
50 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10020

RE: Serious factual error in AP news item.

Dear Mr. Kent:

Your organization's September 13th news story regarding the historic agreement signed between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) contains a serious factual error.

You incorrectly stated that "Greece contends the name [Macedonia] belongs to a northern Greek province, and that its use by the former Yugoslav republic could stir up nationalism among ethnic Macedonians in Greece." As your organization has reported numerous times in the past, Greece's security concerns regarding FYROM's use of the name "Macedonia" involve Greece's fear of expansionist claims by FYROM itself over the Greek province of Macedonia. Greece's protests have never involved concerns over an actual "Macedonian" minority in Greece, secessionist or otherwise.

Greece has never formally or informally voiced any concerns regarding "stir[ing] up nationalism among ethnic Macedonians in Greece" for a very simple reason: there are no "ethnic Macedonians" in Greece. Greece's position that the concept of a Macedonian ethnicity was an artificial construct of nationhood imposed by the communist regime in 1944 upon the Bulgarophonic population of Vardaska Banovina for the dual purpose of (i) legitimizing a claim to Greece's northernmost province and (ii) erasing the population's Bulgarian ethnicity to protect Yugoslavia from an irredentist Bulgaria is well supported by the historical record. [1] Even if one considers the non-Albanian Slavic population of FYROM a distinct nation, the irrefutable fact is that there are no such "Slavo-Macedonians" in Greece.

During the Venizelos-Attaturk population exchanges, practically all Slavs in Hellas were sent to Bulgaria, just as ethnic Greeks in Bulgaria were evacuated to Greece, leaving 98% of Greece's population ethnically Greek. Furthermore, any post WWII linguistic evolution the FYROMians experienced due to Tito's imposition of Serbo-Croatian, for the purpose of erasing the area's Bulgarian identity, was obviously not shared by the few Slavophones that remained in Greece.

At the very least (and irrespective of FYROM's choice of nomenclature) Skopje's claims to nationhood cannot be founded upon a distinct ethnic identity, but at best may be founded upon an identity recently forged by a common geography, a shared hundred-year-long history during which a national consciousness may have developed, and a common dialect. Thus it is clear that the Slavs in Greece do not share any of the characteristics that could arguably qualify the FYROMians for nationhood: Greek Slavophones still speak a western Bulgarian dialect, have not shared the same geographical space as the Skopjeans, and do not share the same vision of their recent history. This is all due to the simple fact that they had not been exposed to the propaganda and forced socialization processes imposed by Tito's communist regime, a process which single-handedly manufactured a Macedonian ethnicity. Possibly the most conclusive evidence in support of this fact is that only roughly 200 Greek Slavophones showed themselves to be ethnic "Macedonians" during a recent vote held in Greece.

FYROM's claim of a Macedonian ethnicity in Greece is part and parcel of its strenuously advocated historical farce (replete with misappropriations of Hellenistic symbols and the Orwellian rewriting of ancient and Byzantine Greek history). Such a claim worries Greece not because she believes there may be a minority in Greece which considers itself Slavo-Macedonian and which desires unification with FYROM, but because this false construct has been an integral part of FYROM's expansionist strategy vis-a-vis Greece's northern territory of Macedonia from the time Tito invented Vardaska Banovina's Macedonian ethnicity. [2]

Very truly yours,

Phillip Spyropoulos, Esq.

[1] Although the international community's and the media's perplexing amnesia is at the root of much of the Greek Government's frustration, U.S. policymakers were well aware of the falsity of and expansionist purposes behind the post-war communist regime's Macedonian strategy at the time of its inception. For example, Edward R. Stettinius, U.S. Secretary of State and a founding father of the U.N. Charter, pronounced "Yugoslav Partisan and other sources[']" dissemination of "increasing propaganda rumors and semi-official statements in favor of an autonomous Macedonia . . . with the implication that Greek territory would be included in the projected state . . . to be unjustified demagoguery representing no ethnic nor political reality, and sees in its present revival a possible cloak for aggressive intentions against Greece" (U.S. State Dept. Circular Airgram 868.014/26 Dec. 1944).

[2]Henry Kissinger understood the critical relevance of this history in evaluating Greece's fears regarding international recognition of FYROM as "Macedonia", recently stating: "look, I believe Greece is right to object and I agree with Athens. The reason is that I know history, which is not the case with most of the others including most of the Government and Administration in Washington. The strength of the Greek case is that of the history, which I must say that Athens have [sic] not used so far with success."

Thus an important term Greece required of FYROM in their agreement was FYROM's dropping of a clause in its constitution vowing to protect "Macedonians" outside of FYROM, which Greece fears may be used as a pretext for future aggression against Greece (see also Art. 74 of FYROM's Constitution providing for changes in FYROM's borders by a two-thirds vote of the Assembly and a majority referendum).

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