March 7, 2011 – Toronto, Canada – The United Macedonian Diaspora (“UMD”) promotes mutual respect and harmony among the many ethnic communities in the great nation of Canada and expects those communities to share such values as well. Consequently, the UMD is dismayed by the insulting “Insights To Hellenism” lecture – sponsored by the Greek government — on March 5th at Hart House, the University of Toronto. The lecture spread hatred, intolerance and prejudice.
Christos Karatzios conducted a presentation entitled “Macedonism: Veracity or Fiction,” in which he raised several baseless conspiracy theories against Greece’s northern neighbor, the Republic of Macedonia, and its sizable Macedonian minority in Aegean Macedonia, an area in northern Greece. The United Nations, the United States Department of State, Human Rights Watch and many other organizations have reported on the continuing human rights violations perpetrated against Macedonian identifying Greek citizens in this area.
Some of the offending and false theories discussed by Karatzios were:
• That the origins of the “Macedonian Question” began with Count Nikolay Pavlovich Ignatieff – the great-grandfather of current Canadian Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff – and his pan-Slavic desire to gain access to strategic Greek ports for the Tsar of Russia;
• That Ignatieff’s plot somehow morphed into a Communist conspiracy many decades later, to “create a false nation” of Macedonians, only for the purpose of territorial aggression against Greece, on behalf of Bulgarians, Yugoslavs, and Soviets;
• That the Children Refugees (Detsa Begalci) from the Greek Civil war in 1948 – a generation of tens of thousands of Macedonian children ethnically cleansed from Aegean Macedonia by the Greek government, and evacuated by the International Red Cross during the war – were actually “Greek children,” stolen from their homes in the night by Communists “at knife point;”
• The fiction that Macedonians are a nation with no historical or cultural connection to Aegean Macedonia, only to “Skopia.”
Kartatzios also boasted of his personal family connections with the Patriarchist war criminal Germanos Karavangelis (an extremely hateful and disdained political figure to the Macedonian minority in Aegean Macedonia). “Greek figures such as Germanos Karavangelis and Pavlos Melas were war criminals by anybody’s standard,” said UMD Director of Canadian Operations Jim Daikos, “and it is shocking to see Greek nationalists continue to lionize them as heroes.”
Perennial Liberal MP backbencher and anti-Macedonian activist Jim Karygiannis also attended the event and praised the lecture. In the question and answer period, he once again publically referred to ethnic Macedonians as “skopians”, which he has done previously to a Globe and Mail journalist in September 2007. “Skopian” is a racially-loaded slur, similar in its intended derision to reprehensible terms that racists have used against Black people. It is used pejoratively in the Greek language to denigrate those of ethnic Macedonian descent, to pretend that only Greeks have historical or cultural connections to Aegean Macedonia, and to deny the existence of northern Greece’s ethnic Macedonian minority.
“Macedonians, especially those from Aegean Macedonia, have experienced this kind of xenophobic abuse from the radical elements in the Greek community for a long time,” said Goran Saveski, UMD Canada Liason Officer. “In the 21st Century, it is unacceptable and sad that the most basic human right to self-determination — as a Macedonian — is continually denied in northern Greece, and now, the same hateful attitude is being imported into Canada by agents of the Greek state.”
For a UMD video of the event, please visit:
For the PowerPoint of the event, please click: http://umdiaspora.org/images/PanMacedonianAssociationSAE2010.ppt
United Nations Report on Greece’s Human Right Violations http://umdiaspora.org/images/UNReportOnMinoritiesGreece2008.pdf
For more information, please contact: [email protected]