12 Things Every Macedonian Should Know About The Zaev/Tsipras Agreement
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published before the Prespa Agreement was signed on June 17, 2018.
This Sunday, Zoran Zaev, Prime Minister of Macedonia, and Alexis Tsipras, Prime Minister of Greece, are scheduled to meet to sign an agreement between Macedonia and Greece. If implemented, this agreement will not only change the name of the Republic of Macedonia to “Republic of North Macedonia”, but it will also change the very definition of what constitutes Macedonian identity and culture.
Macedonian identity and culture will be revised to include only what derives from within the borders of the Republic of Macedonia and does not conflict with Greek claims.
It will give power to a foreign government, Greece, to stop Macedonians within the Republic of Macedonia from doing anything that the Greek government may deem to be irredentist, revisionist, or propaganda towards Greek history, culture, and territory.
It will allow for a foreign government, Greece, to decide what will be taught to Macedonian schoolchildren in the Republic of Macedonia.
This agreement will break the bond between the Republic of Macedonia and ethnic Macedonian minority groups in neighboring countries by forcing the constitution of the Republic of Macedonia to no longer mention them. It will sever the ties between Macedonia and the Macedonian diaspora.
If this agreement is implemented, it will do so much more than just change the name of Macedonia. It will force the revision of Macedonian history. It will destroy and eradicate the Macedonian identity, culture, traditions, and heritage. It will force a new identity on to Macedonians that is Greek approved.
This agreement is not just a change to the name. This agreement is an act of ethnocide against Macedonians.
Read the full text of the agreement and a breakdown of 12 things we think every Macedonian should know about this disastrous deal.
12 Things Every Macedonian Should Know About the Zaev/Tsipras Agreement
1 – Liar, liar, pants on fire.
This really conflicts with what the current Macedonian government led by Zaev claimed throughout the negotiation process – that only an international name was being negotiated with Greece and claiming the constitutional name, Republic of Macedonia, was secure and not going to be changed.
The new name chosen by Zaev and Tsipras will be “Republic of North Macedonia” or shortened “North Macedonia.” The names Republic of Macedonia and the short version Macedonia will no longer be used internally in Macedonia to refer to the country. They will also no longer be used between Macedonia and the 137 countries that already recognize Macedonia by its constitutional name. Yes, 137 countries have recognized Macedonia by its constitutional name, but apparently Greece is more powerful than all of those countries combined. Further in the agreement it outlines other ways the new name will affect the naming of state institutions and state funded entities within Macedonia.
2 – Calling all members of the grammar police!
Why the “/” right after Macedonian with no spaces? Why wasn’t this part written a little more clear, like –
“The nationality of the Second Party shall be Macedonian. The nationality can also be referred to as citizen of the Republic of North Macedonia.”
Does the slash mean “or”? Does it mean “and”? Does it mean a hybrid type of nationality of “Macedonian/citizen of the Republic of North Macedonia”?
3 – If you are state funded, say goodbye to using the adjective Macedonian.
All government and public agencies, organs, and entities will not be able to use the adjective Macedonian, not even North Macedonian. The same goes for entities that receive funding from the government.
4 – The word Macedonia = $$$$ and the Greeks are going to claim it.
This will get very tricky. Will the use of the standalone words Macedonian or Macedonia be banned from commercial use? Will businesses not be allowed to use the standalone words? Will businesses not be allowed to refer to products as being Macedonian? Will a Macedonian in Skopje whose parents came from Lerin be allowed to open a business under the name Lerin Café to honor her ancestors? How will our Macedonian wine be referred to? Wine of the Republic of North Macedonia? Will businesses be allowed to use the names Aleksandar and Phillip? How far down the rabbit hole do you think Greece will go? Pretty far when you take into consideration the rest of the agreement.
5 – Never one without the other – North Macedonia.
The standalone term “Makedonija” and its translated forms (Macedonia) will no longer be allowed to be used to refer to Macedonia in any official context by Macedonia. How far will the censorship go? Will fans be allowed to chant MA-KE-DO-NI-JA at international sporting events?
6 – A message for Vujche from Australia and Baba from Buf– New number, who dis?
This means significant changes to the official connections that are set in the constitution between the Republic of Macedonia and its Macedonian diaspora and the Macedonian minorities in Greece, Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia, and other countries. It will eliminate the part of the constitution that calls for caring for the status and rights of Macedonians living in neighboring states, as well as remove the mention of promoting cultural development and links with the Macedonian diaspora. What will this mean for Macedonian state agencies focused on diaspora affairs, including the Agency of Emigration and Ministry of Diaspora Affairs? Will they be dissolved? Will they stop meeting with Macedonians that live abroad that come from Macedonia. Will they stop meeting with Macedonian minority group organizations from Greece, Bulgaria, Albania, and Serbia? Will they even care anymore how these groups are treated and whether or not their basic human rights are being met? Will human rights violations, like the ones documented by the Human Rights Watch/Helsinki, against ethnic Macedonians in Greece increase as a result of this agreement? How will this affect the work of Macedonian diaspora organizations and all Macedonians living outside of Macedonia? A Macedonian diaspora that for over 100 years has shared their wealth with their Macedonian brothers and sisters living in the Republic of Macedonia and promoted Macedonia within their respective countries?
7 – A foreign government, Greece, will be given the power to censor Macedonians in the Republic of Macedonia.
This is perhaps the most alarming part of the document. Article 6 in the Zaev/Tsipras agreement gives the Greek government, through the Macedonian government, the power to stop anything that they deem to be hostile, irredentist, revisionist, or propaganda by private entities in Macedonia. Greece, a country which vehemently denies the very existence of a Macedonian ethnicity distinct from Greek. Greece, a country that does not acknowledge the ethnic cleansing, forced assimilation, genocide, and forced exile of the ethnic Macedonian population of Aegean Macedonia. Greece, a country that has been the perpetrator of countless human rights violations against the ethnic Macedonian population in Aegean Macedonia.
Do you think the Greek government will allow the song Biser Balkanski to be sung? Or will the lyrics need to be changed to remove the word Egej? Will Macedonians be allowed to sing Edna Misla Imame or will they be jailed for inciting what the Greeks claim to be irredentism? Will Macedonians be allowed to sing Kade Ste Makedoncinja or will be they jailed for singing the words “И ние право имаме, слободно да живееме, во земја наша таткова, мила Македонија” – since the part of Macedonia that is being referred to in the song is in northern Greece? Will being a member of a Macedonian folklore group that performs dances from Aegean Macedonia be considered an act of irredentism and revisionism against Greece? Will the Deca Begalci organizations in the Republic of Macedonia or any organizations that acknowledge the existence of Macedonians, present day and historically, outside the borders of the Republic of Macedonia be allowed to exist anymore within the Republic of Macedonia?
Sounds extreme? Yes, because Article 6 is extreme and the country, Greece, that will have the power to censor Macedonians, has engaged in extreme activities in their attempts to ethnically cleanse Macedonians for over 100 years.
8 – Oh Greeks, you got us! Did we really think you guys were going to let us interpret what it means to be Macedonian?!
This part of the agreement will have dire consequences for Macedonian identity because it claims that our Macedonian identity is limited to the boundaries of the Republic of Macedonia. This simply does not make any sense because the Republic of Macedonia is home to Macedonians with roots from all parts of the region of Macedonia, including Aegean Macedonia. Macedonian history, culture, music, traditions, heritage, and identity encompass more than just what is within the borders of the Republic of Macedonia. Our Macedonian historical figures come from all parts of the region of Macedonia, not just the Republic of Macedonia. Macedonian history cannot be limited to within just the borders of the Republic of Macedonia because Macedonian history is the history of the entire region of Macedonia and the ethnic Macedonian people from that region. What about the cultural implications? Tanec, the national folklore group of the Republic of Macedonia, has Macedonian dances from all regions of Macedonia in their repertoire. Will they no longer be allowed to research, teach, and perform songs and dances from the Aegean part of Macedonia, like Zensko Beranche or Mori Chupi Kosturchanki, because they come from the northern part of Greece (Aegean Macedonia)?
9 – A Macedonian from Bukovo, which is 2 km from the Ancient Macedonian city Heraklea, cannot claim any Ancient Macedonian heritage, but a Greek from the island of Mykonos 800 km away can?
We all know that references to Alexander the Great, Phillip II of Macedon, and Ancient Macedonia will definitely no longer be allowed, even though the Republic of Macedonia also has Ancient Macedonian ruins within its borders. The ruins of the ancient city of Heraklea Lynkestis are located right outside of Bitola in the Republic of Macedonia. Heraklea was founded by Phillip II of Macedon, and is within the Republic of Macedonia, but Macedonians will not be allowed to refer to him or those ruins as part of Macedonian heritage and history. What about the many Macedonians in the Republic of Macedonia who come from Aegean Macedonia and are from villages that also fall on Ancient Macedonian land? They also will not be allowed to claim that as part of their Macedonian heritage.
Will there be an official document that supplements this agreement that outlines what exactly constitutes “ancient Hellenic history and civilization constituting an integral component of the historic or cultural patrimony of” Greece?
What about monuments and references to Deca Begalci? Or any monuments and references to events in Macedonian history that occurred outside the borders of the Republic of Macedonia and conflicts with the Greek interpretation of the events?
What will be said about the 500 years of Ottoman rule of Macedonia when the entire region of Macedonia was under the Ottoman Empire, including the Republic of Macedonia and Aegean Macedonia? What will this mean for our monuments to the Ilinden Uprising that occurred during that time? Is that part of Macedonian history going to be rewritten? Will that part of Macedonian history be owned by Greece because they have 51% of Macedonian territory?
10 – The Greek government’s censorship of Macedonians within the Republic of Macedonia continues…
The official national flag of Macedonia from 1992-1995 will be banned from being displayed and used publicly within Macedonia. Also, any versions and artistic interpretations of the symbol will also be banned from public sites and use. Does it make any sense that this flag won’t be allowed to be displayed and used publicly in Macedonia, but the Albanian flag will be allowed?
11 – Greece is forcing Macedonia to continue the ethnocide of the Macedonians of Aegean Macedonia. So disgusted.
Say goodbye to using the Macedonian names of the villages in Aegean Macedonia. No more Lerin. No more Solun. No more Kostur. No more Voden. No more Kukush. No more Gabresh. No more Ovcharani. No more Buf. No more Dambeni.
When Goce Delchev is mentioned by a government official will they say he was born in Kukush or the Greek version of the name, Kilkis?
12 – I never understood why some victims of sexual assault end up in relationships with their perpetrators. This is exactly what is happening here.
Yes, you read this correctly. The Greek government will be given a direct role in revising and reviewing textbooks, materials, and curriculum used in Macedonian schools. The Greek government will have a say in how Macedonian history is taught to Macedonian children. What will they do with all the Macedonian historical figures born in the Aegean part of Macedonia? Will they even be mentioned, since they weren’t born within the Republic of Macedonia’s borders? How will they approach the genocide of the ethnic Macedonian population by the Greek government that occurred throughout the 20th century and the Greek sponsored propaganda that divided families and shattered the Macedonian soul for generations?
If this agreement is implemented, it will do so much more than just change the name of Macedonia. It will force the revision of Macedonian history. It will destroy and eradicate the Macedonian identity, culture, traditions, and heritage. It will a force a new identity on to Macedonians that is Greek approved.
This agreement is not just a change to the name. This agreement is an act of ethnocide against Macedonians.