by Akis Gavriilidis
Having lived in Thessaloniki around 1990, I personally witnessed the «our-name-is-our-soul» frenzy that emerged out of the blue in that city and its surroundings and became the starting point for the series of tragicomic events we all know. As most people, I was surprised by this eruption of heated interest for history, geopolitics, ethnology, and a number of other disciplines, for which I was totally unprepared. Listening to all these people who, with the air and the conviction of a specialist, repeated incessantly a set of newly discovered «scientific truths,» I felt uneasy, but also puzzled, because these «truths» concerned a period and a topic I had no deep knowledge about. Instinctively, I felt there was something wrong with these discourses, but was not quite sure what a valid counter-argument would be.
At that time of confusion, when Greek newspapers were sweepingly stormed by a repetitive wave of “experts” providing “evidence” that “the name Macedonia was never used to describe a language and a people before 1944, this use is arbitrary and artificial,” one day, in a small leftist newspaper, Epokhì, an article appeared which contained some Read More
Akis Gavriilidis (interviewed by Boris Georgievski for the DW)
1.The Greek migration minister Yannis Mouzalas was asked to resign after calling the neighboring country «Macedonia». Why is it forbidden or unacceptable to use this name in Greece?
This is a very simple and justified question, but to answer it in a satisfactory way is an extremely complicated affair, believe me –if it is possible at all.
As is known, in the beginning the official line of explanation was that the use of this name is a “theft” of “Greek cultural heritage” and that it is a tool for “irredentist claims”. But, after so many years, I hope nobody seriously believes any more that some army is likely to invade Northern Greece and annex it to the Rep. of Macedonia.
My impression is that, whatever the initial causes have been, from a certain point on, Read More
by Akis Gavriilidis
We’re a mixture here: Syrians, migrated Greeks, Armenians, Medes
C.P. Cavafy, In a Town of Osroini
For the past 20 years, the Republic of Macedonia was mentioned in the news, if at all, only due to nationalist or ethnic conflicts. These reports were dominated by the stupid, but no less obstinate, objections by Greece as to what the “right” name for the Republic should be, and the concomitant petty quarrels between the two countries for the title of the genuine descendant of Alexander the “Great” (murderer) and of the legitimate owner of some graves and their content. These had led to mutual suspicion and hatred, in the context of which the borders between the two countries had been under strict surveillance, and movement across them –both physical and mental- severely limited and often plainly prohibited.
This invisible human-tight wall separating the two territories was brought down and swept away the last few days, due to the unpredictable Read More
What follows is an excerpt from a letter sent by N. Foundoùlis, Greek consul at Sérres, to K. Paparrigòpulos, in the 19th of July 1884. The letter is published in: Spyros Karàvas, «Μakàrioi oi katékhondes tin gìn». Gaioktitikoì skhediasmoì pros apallotrìosin syneidìseon sti Makedonìa, 1880-1909 [«Blessed are those who possess the earth [or: «the land»]. Real estate planning in view of alienating consciousness in Macedonia, 1880-1909], Athens, Vivliorama, 2010, p. 124-5. English translation: Akis Gavriilidis.
It produces to me a horrendous impression and sadness, when on the one hand these people, being boorish peasants until yesterday and before that, and seen as pariahs by our people, now call themselves “Bulgarians” and boldly point with their finger to the Bulgarian hegemony, and, on the other hand, the majority of the inhabitants of our own Greek villages do show to a certain extent love for the Greek letters, but unfortunately are far from calling themselves Greeks in full awareness, as the Bulgarians do, and when one asks them who they are, or of which nationality or origin, in this question they answer “we are Christians”. The name “Greek”, or even “Romios”, Read More
by Akis Gavriilidis
In an interview to the Macedonian Television in February 2011, the British diplomat Robin O’Neil declared:
“The Greece-Macedonia name row is the most bizarre diplomatic dispute in Europe today. No one outside of Greece can perceive why should Macedonia change its name. What is Greece’s national interest in doing this? Greece has not suffered in any way as a result of Macedonia’s existence under the current name in the past 20 years, and Greece never opposed Macedonia’s existence as part of SFR Yugoslavia».
He also said that “the consistent Greek opposition to Macedonia’s NATO and EU accession is especially difficult to understand” (ibid.).
O’Neil here states the obvious as regards diplomatic practice and international relations, but what he says is also valid epistemologically. I think that his statement is a very useful way to start a treatment of the issue from a political theory point of view as well: in fact, if diplomats had a hard time to figure out what Greece is trying to achieve or to avoid by its reaction, social theorists did not do much better up to Read More