For three days, we were “Slav-Macedonians” in Brussels!

Source: Utrinski Vesnik 

Greece is introducing the issue of the Macedonian language into EU through the front door
“Slav-Macedonians” Appears in Meijer’s Report!

Long-ranging strategy of Athens to fight everything with the adjective “Macedonian”

By Slobodanka Jovanovska

Translated by UMD Staff

Brussels – While Macedonia is dealing with elections, Greece does everything possible to undermine our position in the EU. So, these days, they even managed to change Eric Meijer’s report on our country, which, already agreed in detail and signed, was posted on the European Parliament’s (EP) website with changed denomination for our country’s language!

The term “Slav-Macedonian language” was removed and replaced by the agreed term “Macedonian language” only after the Foreign Ministry’s and our embassy’s intervention after this scandalous Greek provocation was featured on the EP website for three days.

The EP has no clear explanation on how it was possible to have an agreed document be published with changed content, which in itself is already a scandal in this institution. Furthermore, considering the fact that due to the instructions and pressures (performed behind the scenes) by the creator of the report Eric Meijer, this document had to be created following strict regulations including the terminology of the language, which, by the way, is outside of EU’s jurisdiction.

As far as I know, this is the Greek diplomacy’s second attempt to intervene on the name of the Macedonian language after exerting pressure on the EESC (The European Economic and Social Committee) to eradicate each and every adjective “Macedonian” and to call the language “Slav-Macedonian,” against which the Foreign Ministry and our embassy protested. The committee has been searching for weeks to find a term that would satisfy Greece, while not violating the European regulations, which are on our side by clearly stating that the language of Macedonia is “Macedonian language,” the adjective to be used is “Macedonian,” and the country code is “MK,” although the last one is marked as temporary, the final one pending an agreement within the UN.

Obviously,  EU’s attempts to stay out of the Greek-Macedonian dispute are failing, especially after the scandal of banning MAT flights and the issue of the term “Macedonian.” Brussels is well on its way to finally realize that the problem is not just the country’s name, but many things that are related to Macedonia. Even if it manages not to get involved in the dispute on the name of the country , it will not be able to avoid the language name dispute.

Besides the standardized terminology for the languages within the UN, which has to be used in the EU as well, Greece takes advantage of the loose regulations within the EU. There is a guarantee for accepting the languages of the member states, but no article for accepting the names of their languages, because in practice nobody has ever complained about it.

Namely, the EU commits to respecting the “cultural, religious, and linguistic diversity of the candidate countries” and to accept the languages chosen by their governments and citizens, not stating anything about the possibility of one country not challenging the language, but the name of the language of another country, although Macedonia is facing all possible aspects.

Athens, obviously, is getting ready to introduce the issue on the Macedonian language through the front door, although it publicly declares it wants a fair and quick solution to the dispute. Another indicator of the fact that these are not just current moves but a long-term strategy is the way Athens deals with the new European Common Aviation Area (ECAA) Agreement, signed by the EU and the Western Balkans states. Greece would not ratify it, so they will be able to avoid the decision of the court in Luxembourg and therefore Brussels will have to ask them to comply with the agreement rather than being able to force them to do so.

To make a long story short, Macedonia is well on the way to be the first country to have a dispute on the name of its language in the EU, although the EU is fostering over 60 languages, some of which are hardly spoken.

Yet, there is the precondition for the languages to be able to “cover” the terminology of the European regulations, so that the people would be able to have a clear insight into the decisions in Brussels. The languages that don’t pass this “test” and those not spoken by anyone are excluded by a special decree from the obligation of translating. However, the experience with the incorporation of the ten Eastern European countries has shown that the EU by no means wants to get involved into such cross-national disputes. So, before the incorporation each country had to sign bilateral agreements to guarantee a solution for their respective language and minority issues.

The question of how to deal with minority issues and the use of their languages was a top issue at the enlargement of the EU. As a result of this, agreements could be reached by Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland, the Czech Republic and Germany with their respective neighbours. However, the Macedonian case is unique due to the fact that the language of the country itself is a main issue together with that of the minorities. A further problem is that Bulgaria, when it became a  EU member state, avoided to resolve the issue with the Macedonian minority in a proper way and therefore the question with the Macedonian language remained open. This fact could cause a “solution” to our disadvantage in the future.

In fact, the languages are an area where the EU still is “skating on thin ice”. Hitherto it dealt with it only once when elaborating a study on the use of minority languages in the member states. In this study there is also a section for the Macedonian language in Greece, clearly emphasizing the tendency among the population to name the language as such, despite the so-called “scientific” attempts by Athens to denominate it as uncivilized, as different from that in Macedonia, as a sort of dialect of the ancient Greek language and similar propositions.

In the study, which was introduced some ten years ago, after the Interim Agreement had been signed, a clear picture is drawn by creating a map showing citizens of Macedonian descent in Greece, over 360 families all in all, 70 of which live around Lerin. Furthermore, such details are mentioned as the fact that 285 families descending from Lerin live in Toronto at present, over 700 live in Macedonia, as well as the fact that every Cyrillic inscription on frescos in that part of Greece had been eradicated systematically, so they can no longer be found. The study clearly illustrates the development of the awareness of a distinct Macedonian language during the last two centuries, and pointing out the factors responsible for its naming as “Slavic”/”Slav-Macedonian”, even Bulgarian in some period of history.

“Our collocutors named the language Macedonian” is a statement in the study which was done by leading scientists. Even the fact that some citizens simply called their language “ours” to differentiate it from the others was mentioned as a curiosity.

The study has been ordered by the EU, but it is not its official platform.  The EU has neither the control, nor the expertise to deal with issues as is this ongoing issue between Greece and Macedonia. The return of such a denomination appearing in Eric Meijer’s report is the first real defeat for Brussels, which allows it to be taken in by the Greek daily politics on an issue that leaves no room for EU decisions.

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