Macedonia, the fallen of the myths... Orient Express Reporter's debate in Athens

Article published on Jan. 15, 2011
community published
Article published on Jan. 15, 2011
by Michaelides Yeorgios-Demetrios F.Y.R.O.M’s name became the reason to exchange arguments in the discussion that took place in the cafe of the bookshop PUBLIC in downtown Athens. The audience participated in a discussion that examined this issue from a non-nationalistic neither ‘betrayal’ scope.
The event was organized by the Greek team of CAFEBABEL, which is the first pan-European web magazine. The debate was part of the Orient Express Reporter on Balkans and Turkey.

The discussion opened the well-known Greek historian, Mr. Thanos Veremis, Emeritus Professor of Political History in the University of Athens who gave us a small part of his knowledge examining the history of Macedonian region over the last two centuries. Through that the audience became familiar with the socio-political factors that played important role in the formulation of an ethnic identity which was completely independent from the Greeks and Bulgarians. This identity is the Slavo-Macedonian identity.

Continuing Mr. Thanasis Papandropoulos,  Emeritus Intl. President of the Association of European Journalists, analyzed the issue from a journalistic point of view. He referred to his experiences from his visits to the region of what now is F.Y.R.O.M, at the Yugoslav era and examined the inhabitants’ testimonies on their ethnic identity during the last four decades. He concluded his speech expressing his own opinion, and proposing as the best solution for the name dispute the term ‘Northern Macedonia’.

Next speaker, Mr. Georgios Kokkolis, PhD candidate in Modern Greek Studies at King's College London wanted to challenge the myths that prevail across the two countries. The creation of the problem by Tito of Yugoslavia, the theory of our neighbors in F.Y.R.O.M for being an independent non-Greek Macedonian nation directly related to the ancient tribe of the Macedonians, and the solution for Greece’s national interests to name FYROM as Vardaska are some of the myths and "arguments" that evaporated once passed into the realm of reality.

Last but not least, Mr. Petros Tatsopoulos, a reputed writer wanted to avoid to repeat views expressed by previous speakers. Thus, he examined the issue from the not being familiar with the dispute nation’s point of view. He storied the political mistakes of past Greek governments, but also the result of Greece's inability to persuade foreigners for something so obvious (for the Greeks) which was finally converted to obscure. According to his opinion he proposed as a fair solution, the name ‘Northern Macedonia’

The event finished with questions from the audience and a discussion with the speakers. The audience expressed its concern referring to the term ‘Northern Macedonia’ being somehow dangerous for Greece’s Macedonia heritage, taking in consideration the deslavofication process that takes place the present decade in F.Y.R.O.M. Some of the audience proposed as best solution the term SlavoMacedonia. It is important that many ethnic Slav-Macedonians shared their views and opinions, something which helped the ''other side'' to be heard.

The event proved that when in a discussion exist arguments based on facts and truths and not on myths or sentimentalisms, the outcome can be only positive for both sides. That creates a solid ground on building nations’ friendship and cooperations.

This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.’

Sponsors of the Orient Express Reporter: