Moscow Meeting of the
Conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE
S T A T E M E N T BY THE HEAD OF THE GREEK DELEGATION AMBASSADOR S. STATHATOS
Friday, 27 September, 1991
I would like to refer to a statement made by a member of the Yugoslav delegation at the last Plenary meeting. Given the confused situation prevailing today in Yugoslavia, it is difficult to assess the authority of that statement. What is certain, however, is that the phraseology and contents of the text delivered point directly to Skopje, capital of Yugoslav Macedonia.
The distinguished member of the Yugoslav delegation, in his statement of 23 September, referred to the “Memorandum” presented by his delegation at the Copenhagen Conference. What he failed to do, however, was to take into account the long and documented statement presented in reply at that Conference by the Head of the Greek delegation. All Yugoslav allegations and, indeed, all misrepresentations of fact: and substance were refuted and the record was set straight; Yet, the same allegations and the same misrepresentations were repeated in this hall, reproducing almost verbatim the Copenhagen Yugoslav Memorandum.
I have no intention to follow the distinguished member of the Yugoslav delegation by quoting from our Copenhagen statement. Instead, I will circulate that document so that participants of this Conference will have a clear picture of the issues involved.
Let me, however, stress a few points which I hope, will clarify what are the true elements of the absurd Macedonian issue.
The winds of change in Eastern Europe, that sparked old and new nationalist antagonisms, have hit the Balkansand Yugoslavia in particularwith the force of a hurricane. The former Socialist Republic of Macedonia is a region inhabited by approximately 35% ethnic Albanians, a little over 50% ethnic Slavscurrently bearing the name“Macedonians”and 10-15% other ethnic groups. This Republic has declared its willingness to proceed on the road to independence, if no solution is found to the Yugoslav question.
In the past year, certain new political forces have emerged in Skopje which have inscribed in their party platforms a half-forgotten grandiose dream, of an epoch long gone. They advocate the establishment of a large Macedonian state which would comprise Greek-Macedoniaincluding the city-port of ThessalonikiBulgarian Macedoniareferred to as Pirin Macedoniaand districts in Eastern Albania.
The old ghosts are now reappearing. To illustrate my point, it is worth quoting certain statements by Yugoslav Macedonian politicians made in the course of this year.
Thus the leader of VMRO, the majority party in the Parliament of Skopje, Mr. Ljupco Georgievski, stated on November 11, 1990 that he favours the cultural and territorial union of Macedonia, while the founding declaration of his Party proclaimed that it“will fight for a free, autonomous and united Macedonia”.
Similarly, Mr. Basil Topurkovski, member from Skopje to the Yugoslav Presidency, in an interview broadcast by Toronto television, on 20 January 1991, spoke also of the territorial unification of all three parts of Macedonia.
Finally, Mr. Petar Gosev, leader of the former Communist Party said, on 21 April 1991, that“Macedonia geographically and nationally consists of three divided sections and added that Macedonian communists and social-democrats will not rest, until cultural, political and economic union of the three Macedonias is achieved”.
In this respect, I would like to note that the Yugoslav delegate, instead of using the correct term of Greek Macedonia, he has persistently used the term“Aegean Macedonia”. This, Mr. Chairman, is a systematic practice by Yugoslav Macedonians to question Greek sovereignty over that part of Greek territory.
It should be noted that the end of the 20th century bears no resemblance to the ethnography of the wider Macedonian region at the end of the 19th century. Greek Macedonia has been a battleground of three wars and a civil war during this century. It has experienced mass population transfers, exchanges and even evictions. Various minoritiesTurks, Bulgarians, and/or Slav Macedoniansleft the region and their place was taken by Greeks evicted from Turkey, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia. As a result no national minorities of any numerical significance have remained in Greek Macedonia.
During the 1940s, the remnants of a Slav minority left Greece for having collaborated with the fascist occupation authorities and later for supporting Titos hegemonistic designs against Greek Macedonia.
A long time has since passed. In 1989, the Greek political parties voted unanimously a law putting and end to the consequences of the Civil War. May I add that today all those who wish to come to Greece as visitors are welcomed. As a matter of fact certain among those Slav Macedonians, lobbying here in Moscow these days are frequent visitors to Greece. It is well understood -and this is the practice in all our countries- that certain persons, foreign nationals, may not be allowed entry visas for security reasons.
More particularly, the issue raised once again by the Yugoslav delegate concerning the repatriation of certain persons involved in seditious activities against Greece, such as the detachment of Greek territories in favour of a foreign country, has been fully covered in our reply at the Copenhagen Conference. I should add, however, that petitions for repatriation are examined on an individual basis. Actually, a significant number of persons have been repatriated over the past year on the basis of this procedure.
Regarding the misleading reference by the Yugoslav delegate to a 1982 Greek law on education, I would like to point out that in that law there is no mention whatsoever to the“Macedonian language”, nor is that language referred as“not widely recognised internationally”. It is of course, true that Greek educational authorities, exercise their right, as in every country, to consider the academic merits of foreign diplomas before accepting them as equivalent to Greek degrees.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, I would like to refer to the human tragedy of the 28,000 Greek children driven out of Greece, during the Civil War, to Yugoslavia and other communist countries.
The case of these children who were in fact abducted and retained in Yugoslav Macedonia, despite the Greek Governments repeated requests for repatriation, constitutes a cultural genocide. Indeed, the totalitarian regime in Yugoslav Macedonia perpetrated a policy of forced assimilation against Greek innocent children, turning them into militant Slav-Macedonians.
In concluding, Mr. Chairman, I hope that the delegations will bear in mind the explosive situation prevailing today in the Balkan region and the abuse of minority issues for promoting geopolitical ends which have nothing to do with the protection of minorities.