Brussels flooded with letters defending Macedonian identity

03/11/2011

A spontaneous protest has gained momentum against the perceived EU negation of Macedonia's ethnic and national identity on behalf of Greece.

By Misko Taleski for Southeast European Times in Skopje -- 03/11/11

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Protests are scheduled to take place in front of the EU Delegation building in Skopje on November 8th. [Misko Taleski/SETimes]

The omission of the adjective "Macedonian" in the EC's October progress report, and the subsequent referral of the Macedonian delegation in the EC as "Skopjans" who speak a "majority language", has created a furor in Macedonia.

An outraged public is sending hundreds of letters to EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule in protest of what they say is a systematic policy to negate the Macedonian people under the guise of Union integration.

"This is a spontaneous revolt in which serious institutions as well as the learned, popular personalities, sports figures and renowned foreigner experts are speaking up. They are telling a truth that nobody can ignore anymore. It is obvious the campaign is putting EU officials [dealing with accession] in an unenviable position," political analyst Dimitar Mirchev told SETimes.

The letters say the EU is violating the fundamental right to self-identification which it itself has championed as inviolable.

"We are deeply offended by the latest EC actions which deny our Macedonian identity. That is a shameful putdown of us," the country's national basketball team said in its letter to Fule.

The Macedonian Academy of Arts and Sciences (MANU) said in its letter it expects the EU at all levels to respect rather than politicise scientific facts.

"The Macedonian language is a common denominator of cultural, ethnic and national identity. With it, Macedonia's constitutional and state identity is determined, including the identification of the state in international communication," MANU said.

Foreign Minister Nikola Popovski initiated a meeting with Fule in Strasbourg last week, and told him the EC's omission is contrary to European values.

"The existence of Macedonian identity and language can not be ignored, and that European reality can not be changed by erasing the adjective in the progress report," Popovski said.

Two weeks into the letter campaign, Fule's office said they will reply to the letters in an appropriate manner.

It rejected any accusation it is using a different methodology about the use of Macedonia's name or attributes since the 2009 progress recommendation.

"The EC fully respects the UN resolution for solving the rights to the name and that is why we will continue to use the temporary reference 'FYROM' or 'the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia' until a mutually acceptable solution is found," EC spokesperson Peter Stano said.

President Gjorge Ivanov's Foreign Affairs Adviser Darko Kostadinovski told SETimes it is essential that Macedonia and the EC have friendly relations based on open and honest exchange of opinions.

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"The EC must understand that abandoning the practice of using the adjective 'Macedonian' influences the negotiation process in New York in a manner that is not helpful for a successful outcome, because it refers to Macedonians' identity issues which can not be part of any talks," Kostadinovski said.

Ilija Andonov, son of the first Macedonian president Metodija Andonov-Chento, said his father advocated Macedonia to be an equal partner in Yugoslavia, not a subordinate.

"Today we too should fight to achieve to be equal partners in the EU, not subordinates," Andonov told SETimes.

A peaceful protest is scheduled for November 8th in front of the EU delegation's offices in Skopje.

This content was commissioned for SETimes.com.
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