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NATO expansion has stumbled on the national pride of the Macedonians

14 2018 June
Tags:Macedonia, Greece, NATO, Europe, Politics, Analytics, The Balkans, History

The President of Macedonia appealed to the nation and announced the refusal to sign a treaty with Greece to rename his country. It may look ridiculous, but it means a lot. First, the plan for accelerated drawing of Macedonia into NATO is defeated. Secondly, a very painful click on the nose was given to the Americans, whose role in the conflict of the Macedonians and Greeks is simply disgusting.

On Tuesday, the whole world flew very original news: Macedonia changes its name for accession to the EU and NATO. The country's Prime Minister Zoran Zaev informed the citizens that he had reached a principled agreement with his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras on this matter. When the governments of the two countries sign a treaty ratified by the parliaments and Macedonian citizens will approve in a referendum, Macedonia will be renamed the Republic of Northern Macedonia, including "in the general use" and "national documents" (and this, for example, the constitution).

Suddenly the entire schedule flew to hell, before the referendum the matter does not seem to reach, and all plans for accelerated entry of Macedonia into NATO in the Montenegrin scenario turned into a pumpkin.

On Wednesday, the Macedonian prime minister in the company of the head of the Foreign Ministry appeared to the president of the country to officially inform about the agreement with the Greeks. As the Cabinet of the Head of State subsequently reported, the meeting lasted two minutes. Georges Ivanov actually expelled them. And in his address to the nation stated:

"Such a damaging treaty, unique in the history of mankind, is unfit for me and unacceptable. With it, the constitution, laws are violated, state institutions are destroyed. I will not legalize political initiative ".

Under the amateur performance here is understood not the personal choice of Prime Minister Zaev from the three names he proposed ("New Macedonia", "Northern Macedonia" and "Upper Macedonia"), but the renunciation of the Macedonian identity for the sake of joining the EU and NATO.

Now the country is facing a government crisis. In theory, Zaev must resign, after which new parliamentary elections loom, what in present-day Macedonia means the automatic resumption of street confrontation.

The dispute between Athens and Skopje around the name of Macedonia is perhaps the most surreal in Europe. It is worthwhile to ponder over the supporters of economic determinism: in the Greek-Macedonian conflict there is not a single gram of the economy and not a drop of oil. But there are things more expensive than money.

The Empire of a Powder Cellar

Vardar Macedonia, that is, the gorge of the Vardar River with the only relatively large city - Skopje (Turkish Uskup) and several neighboring gorges, fell into Serbia after the Second Balkan War of the early 20th century. Dissatisfied with the results of the First Balkan War, Bulgaria then overestimated its strength and almost single-handedly attacked everyone around it. As a result, she lost more than she wanted to take, and Vardar Macedonia was entrenched in the so-called. The First Yugoslavia - the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. At the same time, the southern part of the historical region of Macedonia with the capital in Thessaloniki remained behind Greece. Turks and Jews (denme) in this city at that time lived significantly more than the Greeks, but the mutual ethnic cleansing of the Greek-Turkish war of the 1920-s corrected the demography of Thessaloniki.

After the Second World War in the Balkans, a complex game with higher stakes began. Josip Broz Tito wanted to create an empire on the entire peninsula and, for this purpose, copied the obsolete moves of the Soviet Union in an unpretentious way. In particular, before the Winter War, the Karelian-Finnish Republic was created within the USSR as the basis for the absorption of all of Finland. When this goal was cleared, the KFSSR was "lowered in rank" to autonomy within the RSFSR, but its permanent leader Otto Kuusinen never dropped out of the highest Soviet nomenclature (just in case). Similarly, Tito created the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija, meaning the absorption of the whole of Albania, and the Republic of Macedonia in the SFRY, bearing in mind the absorption of Bulgaria and even Greece, which at that time was a brutal civil war.

I must say that in 1945-1949 Tito claimed the lands of all surrounding countries without exception. The formal basis for this was that Bulgaria, Italy, Romania and Hungary surrounding Yugoslavia were members of the Hitler coalition. Thus, in Italy Belgrade claimed Trieste and part of the province of Venice-Giulia. The case almost came to open battle with the British, Australian and New Zealand troops, hastily transferred to Venice.

Then came the turn of Hungary and Romania, with the Hungarians less fortunate, as they resisted to the last and missed the moment when the war could come out without serious consequences. If the Romanians habitually quickly surrendered, they began to be considered a victorious country and, in the plan of the territories, even acquired something, the Hungarians, with their gouge of national pride, lost Transylvania forever and were a step away from losing Szeged and Pecs. The Yugoslav delegation stated to the "Litvinov Committee" (an expert think tank at the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which competently and skillfully prepared plans for the further development of Eastern Europe) that it is impossible to live without these cities, since steel mills have been preserved there.

Subsequently, the appetites of Belgrade expanded to all Hungarian Danube lands, which, like in Pec, had no Slavic population. To confirm these claims, Serbia even included the Autonomous Region of Vojvodina with its capital in Novi Sad, which included lands north of Belgrade, inhabited mainly by Hungarians.

The same trick Tito repeated in the south of the country, creating the territory of the Vardar Banovina Republic of Macedonia and proclaiming the presence there of a new Slavic nation - the Macedonians. The Macedonians spoke Slavic language, which many researchers considered a dialect of Bulgarian, and in 1941-1944 years when the Vardar area was occupied by Bulgaria, were subjected to violent Bulgarianization - the new government eliminated dialectal differences and banned the very concept of "Macedonian". In response, partisanship began, and at the end of the war the Bulgarians proclaimed the Independent State of Macedonia for Croatian and Slovak samples, which existed only a couple of months.

The ambitions of Yugoslavia on Italian and Austrian directions threatened to become the reason for a new big war, and in conditions of the monopoly possession of the US by atomic weapons, Tito had to cool down. After much persuasion and shouting, Belgrade withdrew troops, but for the first time hid an offense against the USSR. The Soviets, however, had their own cause for insult: at that time, the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs demanded that Libya, as the former part of Italy, be mandated by Moscow, and Tito, in fact, thwarted these plans with his Venetian trick.

Until a certain moment, Stalin encouraged Tito's ambitions,

but only in the territory where it was possible to dispose of, not touching the position of the British. In August 1947, Tito and Bulgarian Prime Minister Georgy Dimitrov agreed that eventually the whole of Bulgaria, Vardar Macedonia, and in the long run, part of Greek Macedonia, would be part of the so-called Balkan Federation. Then Moscow still hoped to win in the Greek civil war and transfer all the Balkans under Tito's control, creating a gigantic state of pro-Soviet orientation. In turn, Belgrade refused unrealistic claims to Romania, Hungary and Italy.

One of the reasons for the breakdown of Soviet-Yugoslav relations in 1949 was the conflict between Belgrade and Sofia and the subsequent funeral of plans to create the Balkan Federation. But "for the future" in the SFRY remained the Socialist Republic of Macedonia with the Macedonians as an officially registered nationality.

Antiquity of the "remake" type

After the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991, the Bulgarians were the first to recognize the independence of Macedonia, and the Greeks immediately raised the question of the name of the new country. Their reaction was so harsh and violent that even the UN in 1993 adopted Macedonia into its composition under a strange name The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - an unprecedented case. And if the principles of the hostel with Bulgaria were determined by the memorandum of 1999 (Sofia refused to claim Macedonia and confirmed the identity of the Macedonian language), the Greeks became an anti-tank hedgehog on the way to Skopje in the EU and NATO. If FYROM Athens was ready to temporarily reconcile, then with the Macedonian identity outside the Greek context - never.

According to all the laws of the genre in Macedonia, a reaction of reaction began. Since 2010, under Prime Minister Nikolay Gruevsky, the so-called Skopje 2014 project has been adopted, the essence of which was the "anti-quiz" of the country. There is an opinion that Gruevsky thus wanted to increase the tourist attractiveness of the republic (there is simply no other way for economic development of the country), but the "antiquity" was taken literally. According to this theory, modern Macedonians are never Slavs, but the direct descendants of the ancient Macedonians of the times of Philip and Alexander, who adopted Orthodoxy and spoke in simplified Bulgarian. But to the Bulgarians themselves, these "descendants of the Tatar tribe", the Macedonians do not consider themselves demonstratively.

On the Macedonian Square in Skopje a huge monument to Alexander the Great was put and named after him by the airport. Nearby there was a monument to the father of the commander - Emperor Philip II, as well as the Museum of the struggle for Macedonia, the Macedonian Opera, the triumphal arch of Macedonia, the national theater, the bridge across the Vardar and the mass of monuments to various figures of ancient Greece. All this was spent more than 200 million euros. Most of the statues and statues are even perceived by many Macedonians as kitsch. However, the flow of tourists has really increased.

All this time Athens was in hysterics. Each new monument to Alexander the Great on the territory of the neighbors evoked mobilization sentiments in Greece, and at some point it began to seem that soon the Greeks would really introduce troops and destroy all this remake. Any connection between modern Macedonians and ancient culture was categorically denied, and politically it was claimed that the existence of the Republic of Macedonia could lead to claims on the Greek province of Macedonia, but this, of course, echoes of fears 1940-1950-ies: Skopje does not pretend to Thessaloniki and never claimed.

The preservation of its name and the so-called Macedonian identity has become a super-war not to tear off anything from Greece and gain access to the sea. The poor two millionth country was not up to expansion: its Slav population was increasingly drawn into confrontation with the enemy much more dangerous than the noisy Greeks: with the Albanians.

In 2001, after the events around the Tetovo Gorge, a new surge of Macedonian nationalism followed.

The Slavic population rallied around the name of the country and the self-designation of the nation as opposed to Albanian expansion.

At the same time, the diplomatic impasse completely closed Skopje road to the EU and NATO. Not everyone considered this a problem: last year the pro-Western course was just an "idea that is in the air" and meets serious opposition from part of the population and parties oriented towards Serbia. But with the coming to power of Zoran Zaev's Social Democratic Union, Skopje's orientation has changed dramatically. Zaev never concealed his pro-Western orientation and close ties with the American embassy in Skopje, which is informally called the "real government of Macedonia". With the new premiere, the US influence on the lives of the Macedonians quickly overstepped the bounds of the reasonable.

America first of all

Even during the election campaign, Zaev said that he will seek entry into the EU and NATO by all possible means. To begin with, he renamed the Skopje airport into something neutral, then the name of Alexander the Great was lost by the only strategic highway from Skopje to Thessaloniki. When the Greeks understood Zaev's intentions, closed consultations began at the level of the heads of the ministries of foreign affairs.

Negotiations took place in an atmosphere of secrecy: the Macedonian society does not abandon the strategic course for the EU and NATO, but not at the expense of humiliation and loss of identity. The Albanian National Liberation Army watched this process with unconcealed gloating, and the US embassy tried to introduce in the power structures of the country a nationally proportional principle according to which the Albanians would receive a quota in the parliament and government, including the post of defense minister (Ali Ahmety claims it - former commander of the ANO with the call sign "Abaz Djuka"). In the future, this could mean the disintegration of Macedonia and the creation of another Albanian state.

Greece was on the complete withdrawal of the words "Macedonia" and "Macedonian" from the Slavic language. Representatives of Skopje in response explained that they can not do this, referring to the main factor - the Albanians. Suddenly the Greeks began to nod knowingly, because they also have a troubled province of Epirus with the Albanian population, they were already tired of building new prisons in Ioannina, Larisa and Kastoria for the hard-working Albanian people. As mentioned in Casablanca, such threats can be the beginning of a great friendship, especially since the Southern Epirus is almost officially included in the expanded program for the creation of Great Albania, and at the first stage - several small Albanian states.

The result of the negotiations was 20-page document, which in fact is not satisfied by either side. In Athens, the opposition sharply opposed the treaty with Macedonia, calling it the "agreement of war". ("It is necessary only for the entry of Skopje into NATO." We need an agreement on peace, security, cooperation, "said Panayotis Lafazanis, former energy minister and one of the opposition leaders). In Macedonia itself, changing the constitutional name of the country can cause a completely unpredictable reaction. Judging by the reaction of President Ivanov, it has already caused.

According to Greek sources, Macedonia under the treaty not only changes its name, but also refuses any claims to antiquity and ancient Greek culture, and the terms "Macedonian" and "Macedonian" will be supplemented by certain definitions (most likely, the adjective "Slavic"), .

Zaev stressed that the self-identity of the Macedonian people would not suffer from this, but there is no faith: people over twenty years old were explained that they are descendants of the ancient Greeks, and now all this must be forgotten and abandoned. No country has changed its historical paradigm so radically for the sake of joining the regional blocs, as Ivanov said. The president's reaction clearly showed that this issue is much more emotional than it seems from Washington and Brussels. The same Albanians, for example, are sincerely convinced that they are the descendants of the ancient ores, that is, the only autochthonous population of the Balkans, and therefore can claim the entire peninsula, regardless of what the Americans think about this.

To give up their origin, even if it is based on ephemeral evidence, is like betraying a homeland.

The only gingerbread in such conditions is Greece's support for the decision to open negotiations on the accession of Northern Macedonia to the EU and the sending of an invitation by the NATO summit to join Skopje in the alliance. But even so, rallies of protest swept through Greece, the most noisy of which took place in Pella, the historic birthplace of Alexander the Great.

It is worth emphasizing once again: all this phantasmagoria would have been impossible without unprecedented pressure from the Americans. On the eve of the US ambassador to Athens Jeffrey Piett, well known to all of us in his work in Kiev, in an interview with the Greek television channel Skai TV, said: if no solution is found for Macedonia, it will have "geopolitical consequences". In Piette's mouth this is a clear threat.

And he is to blame for everything, from his point of view, of course, Russia.

"We saw the malevolent influence of Russia in a particularly rude form in October 2016, when there was an attempted coup in Montenegro, where there were all the imprints of the Russian trace. And this is noticeable throughout the region, "the ambassador said. "The Kremlin's desire to create confusion about the [geopolitical] orientation of the countries of the region, as well as the whole process of reforms and the Euro-Atlantic course, which citizens of these countries have chosen, is growing." Approximately the same spirit was expressed by the committee on international affairs of the House of Lords of the British Parliament.

It is this threat that explains the rush with the change of name and the humiliation that Skopje and all Macedonian (now, apparently, "Slavic-Macedonian") people must experience. What gingerbread is promised to the Greeks is not so important.

Eugene Kroutikov
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