What if the Ukrainian government announced that Ukrainians and Ukrainian history are really Russian, agreed to change its name, made Russian an equal and bilingual partner in Ukraine at the expense of its Ukrainian character and territorial integrity, called for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church to be subservient to the Russian Orthodox Church and joined its oppressors to imprison its own people just for standing up for their ethnic and national rights? The Western world’s response, as we have seen before, would be one of outrage and it would be swift in defence of Ukraine, despite what its corrupt and gutless government has agreed to.
But why the opposite in Macedonia? Because, since independence in 1991, Macedonia has agreed to negotiate the non-negotiable – the truth about our name and existence. Now we are in a position where everything Macedonian is being sold to our oppressors. MHRMI has repeatedly demanded an end to the anti-Macedonian name negotiations. We warned of the consequences, and they have arrived.
But, there is a simple solution to the anti-Macedonia name dispute and the recent selling-out of our human rights, name and identity. End the name negotiations and vehemently defend our most basic of human rights – our right to exist – and the world will defend us instead of aiding our oppressors.
Some Macedonians inexplicably claim that Macedonia will not survive without EU membership. Why Macedonia would want membership in an economic union that other countries are either leaving or suffocating under is mind-blowing. NATO membership, for better or worse, was guaranteed in 2008, except for the ludicrous one-country veto rule. MHRMI President Bill Nicholov said,
“I’ve met with US Foreign Policy advisors who claim that Macedonia ‘must’ change its name and identity because of NATO and EU technicalities. In other words, it’s easier to force a country and its people to change their name/identity than to change a NATO/EU rule that aids our oppressors.”
If Macedonia wants to achieve NATO/EU membership, the solution is to demand support for our basic human rights and either call for a change to the ridiculous one-country veto rule (as Canadian Foreign Ministers and former US President George W. Bush have suggested) or demand that current member-states pressure Greece to refrain from using it. The anti-Macedonian 1995 Interim Accord stipulates that Greece is not permitted to deny Macedonia entry into any international organization, so when Greece vetoed Macedonia’s NATO membership in 2008 it rendered the Interim Accord null and void. The International Court of Justice subsequently sided with Macedonia and ruled that Greece, indeed, violated the Interim Accord. Yet, there were no repercussions against Greece, and Macedonia still acts as if it is still “obliged” to negotiate away its name and identity.
Imagine that Montenegro, as an EU and NATO member, vetoed another country’s membership that all other member-states supported. This would not be permitted and Montenegro wouldn’t dare defy its more powerful co-members. Macedonia should be vehemently defending its right to exist while insisting that the EU and NATO uphold their own self-proclaimed basic principles of human rights.
The solution is simple – defend Macedonia. As MHRMI’s ‘Our Name Is Macedonia’ campaign states, END the name negotiations NOW. This will end the overarching issue that is wreaking havoc in all aspects of life in Macedonia. Consider this message:
“To Macedonians living in the Republic of Macedonia – My family was forced to learn Greek. Now YOU are being forced to learn Albanian while declaring that you’re “really Bulgarian ”. They fought oppression to preserve our MACEDONIAN identity. WILL YOU?” Bill Nicholov, President, MHRMI
Our Name Is Macedonia. Defend and demand respect for it.
— Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) has been active on human and national rights issues for Macedonians and other oppressed peoples since 1986. For more information: 1-416-850-7125, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.mhrmi.org, twitter.com/mhrmi, facebook.com/mhrmi, instagram.com/MacedonianHumanRights, mhrmi.org/OurNameIsMacedonia