Κυριακή, 27 Ιουλίου 2008

Americans dont like it when shoe is on other foot

Από το macedoniaontheweb

Greece's concern at the constant provocations and indications from its northern neighbour, FYROM, that it harbours territorial aspirations against Greece are often dismissed in Washington, especially so under the Bush administration.

A recent controversy where an advertisment from the Absolut Vodka company depicting California as part of Mexico has showed that American politicians are not so forgiving when the shoe is on the other foot.


Greece has long insisted that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) using simply the name "Republic of Macedonia" to describe itself is not acceptable as that would constitute a monopolisation of the term and encourage the territorial aspirations for the wider geographical region of Macedonia, aspirations which FYROM has exhibited since it gained independence in 1991.


Greece insists that an alternative compromise, one which qualifies that the former Yugoslav Republic occupies only part of the wider Macedonian region and does not imply terrorial aspirations for the Greece's own province of Macedonia, such as "New Macedonia or "Slavic Macedonia" must be reached. Some corners of the European press has labelled Greece's concerns as "paranoid" and unreasonable and, since 2004 under the Bush administration, similar comments have been made by government officials such as Condaleeza Rice.


Greece's stance has been labelled as unreasonable unfairly. Since 1991 there has been a steady stream of subtle and overt provocations and indications that ultra-nationalism and territorial aspirations against neighbours are still rife on an official, government level in FYROM:



  • The first constitution promulgated by FYROM included a clause which said the "Macedonian" state had the right to intervene on behalf of "Macedonians" in neighbouring countries
  • In 1992 a banknote featuring the White Tower of Thessaloniki, capital of Greek Macedonia, was approved by the government but never circulated due to the outcry in Greece

  • In 2007 Skopje Airport was renamed "Alexander the Great Airport"
  • Various government websites refer to the geographical parts of Macedonia belonging to Bulgaria and Greece as "Occupied Macedonia"
  • A common theme at the rallies of ruling nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party are maps of 'Greater Macedonia'
  • in February 2008 Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski was photographed laying a wreath at the tomb of a 19th century revolutionary and a map of "United Macedonia" (see above picture accompanying this article)
The question is this: are Greece's concerns about the constitutional name and the aggressive, irredentist attitude of FYROM at an official level dismissed by some unreasonable and would this be the case if the shoe was on the other foot i.e. if the countries of those calling Greece paranoid were the object of aggressive behaviour and territorial aspirations from neighbours?

An interesting case in point is the recent controversy in the United States when the Absolut Vodka company which, in keeping with it's advertising theme about ideal situations, ran an advertisment in Mexico featuring a map of 'Greater Mexico' encompassing Texas, California and most the western United States.

The map shows Mexico's borders as they were prior to 1848 and the Mexican-American war of that year.

This is relevant given that while Absolut Vodka's people can claim the map is merely a historical one, current Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and successive governments of FYROM which have promoted 'Greater Macedonia' cannot claim the same given no such state with those borders existed historically. The idea of a 'United Macedonia' has its beginnings in 1944 when the communist dictator of Yugoslavia, Josip Tito, renamed the southernmost Yugoslav constituent republic the "Socialist Republic of Macedonia" and went to great lengths to promote the idea of a "Macedonian" nationality.

Nonetheless the offending ad was withdrawn after a barage of complaints from U.S citizens and condemnations by politicians.

The next question is which case of territorial irredentism is more serious: a risque ad by a vodka company which was a poor attempt at humour; or a series of hostile provocations and indications of territorial aspirations against neighbours Greece and Bulgaria from an official governement level in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia?

Irredentist behaviour towards Greece has been taught in FYROM classrooms and shoved in the face of Greeks for nearly two decades now. Greece has a legitimate argument when it says this sort of behaviour threatens peace and the often tenuous security situation in the Balkans.


Links to news articles about the Absolut Vodka 'Greater Mexico' ad:

California in Mexico? Absolut-ly - Brisbane Times
Absolut apologizes for Mexican vodka ad - LA Times
Youtube video from a Greek user expressing his displeasure of the double standards between the Vodka ad and official irredentism in FYROM