MAK-NEWS 05/06/95 (Book Release)


  • [01] The Rising Sun in the Balkans: The Republic of Macedonia by

    International Affairs Agency
  • [02] Denying Ethnic Identity: The Macedonians of Greece.

  • [03] Tsarknias Speaks Out

  • [01] The Rising Sun in the Balkans: The Republic of Macedonia by

    International Affairs Agency

    Paperback, 68 pages, A5 size, attractive four colour cover, $12 inc postage

    When the Republic of Macedonia voted for independence in 1991 its international recognition was temporarily delayed by the nationalist objections from Greece regarding the use of the name Macedonia, the use of the Macedonian Sun symbol, and Macedonia's Constitutional concerns for the Macedonian minority in northern Greece. This book presents the arguments of both countries and an objective, third party analysis.

    Among other points, the book examines the Greek claim to exclusive copyright, the historical arguments, the division of Macedonia in 1913 which laid the foundation for the current problems, and the denial of basic human rights to the Macedonian minority in Greece. The positions of the neighbouring countries, Bulgaria, Serbia and Albania, are also outlined.

    In examining the Greek-Serbian alliance on the issue, the book places in context the events leading up to the deployment of United nations and United States peacekeeping troops in Macedonia to prevent the spread of hostilities from former Yugoslavia and possible territorial aggression.

    The book also contains essential facts about Macedonia regarding population, religion, language and the current political and economic situation. The book is written by the International Research Agency, a Turkish based research centre specialising in Balkan affairs.

    [02] Denying Ethnic Identity: The Macedonians of Greece.

    By Human Rights Watch paperback, 92 pages, 230mm x 154mm, published 1994, $15 inc postage.

    Although ethnic Macedonians in northern Greece make up a large minority with their own language and culture, their internationally recognized human rights and even their existence are vigorously denied by the Greek government. Free expression is restricted: several Macedonians have been prosecuted and convicted for the peaceful expression of their views. Moreover, ethnic Macedonians are discriminated against by the government's failure to permit the teaching of the Macedonian language. And ethnic Macedonians, particularly rights activists, are harassed by the government - followed and threatened by security forces - and subjected to economic and social pressures resulting from this harassment. All of these actions have led to a marked climate of fear in which a large number of ethnic Macedonians are reluctant to assert their Macedonian identity or to express their views openly.

    Ethnic Macedonian political refugees who fled northern Greece after the Greek Civil War of 1946-49, as well as their descendants who identify themselves as Macedonians, are denied permission to regain their citizenship, to resettle in, or even to visit, northern Greece. By contrast, all of these are possible for political refugees who define themselves as Greeks. Greek courts have denied permission to establish a "Centre of Macedonian Culture". Ultimately, the government is pursuing every avenue to deny the Macedonians of Greece their ethnic identity.

    [03] Tsarknias Speaks Out

    Reprinted from "The Macedonian Tribune" May 18, 1995

    Archimandrite Nikodimos Tsarknias, a Macedonian citizen of Greece, lives in the town of Aridea (Subotsro). He was defrocked as a priest of the Greek Orthodox Church as punishment for his human rights activity on behalf of Macedonians in Greece.

    Father Tsarknias has publicly demanded freedom for Macedonians to proclaim their ethnic heritage, to be educated and to worship in their own language as well as Greek. For more than 10 years his movements have been monitored by Greek Authorities. He has been criticized and ridiculed in the (Greek) news media. In October 1989 he was offered a bishopric if he would side with the state on the Macedonian issue, and was told that he would pay dearly if he did not.

    Father Tsarknias continued to work for the rights of Macedonians and an all-out discreditation campaign was begun to ruin his reputation. In 1992, Bishop Apostolos dismissed Tsarknias from his parish without cause. He was ordered to appear in court, though his trial was repeatedly postponed, since there was no case against him. In 1993 he was defrocked in absentia by the Holy Synod of the Greek Orthodox Church.

    On May 4, 1994, he attempted to cross the Greek border at Negochani (Nikki), en route to Canada. He was physically assaulted by the border guards and hospitalized. Pressure from abroad brought his release from what turned into hospital detention.

    On May 11, 1994, Father Tsarknias wished to attempt to leave again. The Nomarch and Chief of Police of Lerin (Florina) would not guarantee his safe passage, and border guards threatened to give him a repeat of their earlier treatment.

    On June 18, 1994, Tsarknias went to court in Voden (Edessa) to answer charges of misrepresenting religious authority. The trial was again postponed. On leaving the courthouse, Tsarknias was again physically assaulted by Greek authorities, this time for wearing the robes of an Orthodox priest. When his sister, Stoyanka, intervened, she too was attacked. They were both arrested for "obstructing justice" and interrogated at the Voden police station. They both had to be treated in a hospital for the results of their detention.

    At Voden General Hospital, the staff refused to treat them and shouted obscenities at them. A male nurse, named Haralambros, tried to choke Father Tsarknias while another attendant, Stylianos Selidis threatened to "eliminate" him. Dr. Maria Varela, a staff pathologist, shouted to the police that the two Macedonians "should be thrown into the street."

    Despite all this, and continued moves against him and his family by the authorities, Father Tsarknias continues to work for basic human rights for Macedonians in Greece. He now serves as a priest of the Macedonian Orthodox Church.

    On March 20, 1995, Father Tsarknias visited Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he spoke with representatives of the Macedonian Tribune and other local Macedonians. Some of his remarks follow: * Our purpose is not political activity, but we act politically for our people. We are working for human rights for our people. We are not against the Greek people; we are against the laws that don't allow us our rights. More than ONE MILLION of our people live together with Greeks, we are mixed, Macedonian and Greek. * I had some meetings in Washington and spent about two hours at the UN in New York City, where I also spoke of the human rights we are asking our government to give us. I met people who want to help us, who have a great desire to help us. * I still have problems crossing the Greek border. The police harass me. But Greece must change its policy, because we are all Balkan people. The Human Rights Conference in Copenhagen spoke of Balkan human rights. Greece must change its policy. They must stop what they are doing. The world needs to know that there are Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia. * There are many problems. It is difficult for people who are openly Macedonian to find a job, to work. Those who acknowledge that they are Macedonian are not allowed to advance professionally. * It's not like the old times. People can speak Macedonian amongst themselves. They know about the European Organization for Human Rights. Greece must give these rights to Macedonians. Strong, brave individuals speak Macedonian in public. * The children know the language. They speak it at home. They learn. They are not kept out of school. They begin preschool at age three, in Greek. In pure Macedonian villages there are no problems with speaking our language. In mixed villages, people are afraid to speak. In the cities, in Voden and in Lerin, they speak freely in the cafes. Last year, in the European Parliament, it was proposed that Macedonians have schools in their own language in Greece. * There are some cultural monuments to our presence left. In some of the old churches it is still possible to read inscriptions in Cyrillic, also in cemeteries. I am more interested in the problems of our people today. I'm not interested in the past. If people exist, they must have human rights. This is why international organizations work for human rights. Greeks cannot tell me I am Greek. I am not a Greek. I am a Macedonian. Even at church, they try to tell me I am Greek. * If two to three million people live here, half of them are Macedonians, A MILLION OR MORE. People who feel they are Macedonian have to have the right to say so. If they were not afraid of losing their jobs, if they were not afraid of being attacked, arrested and beaten by police, they would call themselves Macedonian. Now is the time. The problems of Macedonia must be solved. Greece still says we don't exist, BUT WE DO. * You who live here need to know the truth about Macedonia. For the first time, people who are in danger are speaking up for their rights. There are many Macedonians in Greece. Ninety percent of the population in Lerin is pure Macedonian, the rest are from Asia Minor or elsewhere. There are villages where people speak Macedonian. We say that we are Greeks to save ourselves and our children. * We say we are Bulgaro-Macedonians, Serbo-Macedonians, Greko- Macedonians. Can a Macedonian mother give birth to other nationalities? This is our tragedy. We are only Macedonian, but we are listening to these three groups. Bulgarians say we are Bulgarian, Serbs say we are Serb, Greeks say we are Greek. We are Macedonian. How can someone claim to be Greek when his grandparents spoke no Greek If you aren't strong and do not demand your rights, you get nothing. Some have sold out for money, for position, for other reasons. They are Macedonians. My father couldn't even speak Greek, but he became a Greek. That's a tragedy.

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