German FAZ: Forced Exile and Hellenization of the Aegean Macedonians is the “Sin of Greece”

According to Michael Martens in the German daily Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on August 2, 2012: “Currently, Greece’s foreign policy mainly consists of attempts to supplement the battered reputation of the state.  Besides this, Athens‘ diplomacy is focused on their foreign policy’s principal enemy, the neighboring country named Macedonia, a country whose EU and NATO membership has being combated in Athens by every means possible.”

This excerpt is from an article named “Griechenlands Sündenfall Die Geschichte einer (fast) vergessenen” or ‘The Sin of Greece – History of a (Almost) Forgotten Expulsion”, which was republished by various news agencies, including Deutsche Welle Macedonian.  UMD Vienna Representative Zlatko Nikolovski translated the article into English; UMD is waiting on FAZ’s permission to republish on our website.

The article continued: “One main reason Athenian diplomats get so irritated when the Macedonian minority is mentioned should be sought in the past.  In Greece, in 1949, an ethnic cleansing took place, which is not really something that’s been discussed or reviewed until present day… a dark chapter in recent Greek history.”

Martens added: “Almost one century ago, in the First Balkan War, Greece had annexed a large part of Macedonia from the Ottoman Empire.  The other part . . . was annexed by Yugoslavia, and only a small piece . . . went to Bulgaria. The Greeks were a minority in most parts of their newly occupied territory . . .(and, the Macedonians) remember their oppression and abuse in Greece during the Greek civil war . . .Tens of thousands were evicted from their homes, forced to run, and were not allowed to ever return…After the war, the Greek state continued its aggressive campaign of forced Hellenization against the (Macedonians) still living in Greece, … to eradicate ‘bilingualism.’ Stalinist-style public confessions took place, like the following statement by a woman from Greek-occupied Macedonia, who was officially converted to Hellenism: ‘It is well known to all upright Greeks now that the (Macedonians), these murderers of the human dignity and the human race, are the most ruthless enemies of our Greece. (They) are abnormalities of the human race, and intent to destroy everything that is Greek… Therefore, I … distance myself from my husband … who, despite my repeated requests, … remains faithful to these monsters…’”

Martens concluded: “(After 1974’s) general amnesty by the Papandreou government, which allowed all left-oriented Civil War refugees to return, the (Macedonians) were left specifically excluded, and the relevant law is still in force today… Former Prime Minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis (remarked in 1995 that) the “name issue” has never interested him.  His aim had always been to ‘avoid a new minority problem in West Macedonia,’ and the main goal of the name dispute was to “make this republic (Macedonia) publicly confirm that there is no (Macedonian) minority in Greece.”

United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD)’s Regional Representative for Greece, Eugenia Natsoulidou, commented: “With the massive economic disaster that is taking place in this country right now, the new Greek government of Samaras is in no mood to correct the shameful and fraudulent Greek foreign policy towards the Republic of Macedonia, or the ongoing human rights abuses against the present-day Macedonian minority in Greece.”

Natsoulidou continued: “Despite what the politicians in Athens say, the ‘name dispute’ has precious little to do with ancient history.  It has everything to do with 20th Century history, and also the 21st century reality, of the Macedonian minority in northern Greece, including the issue of financial reparations for all of the property that was illegally confiscated from those Macedonian families by the Greek State after 1949.  First, the Greek government exiled these people, then it denationalized them, and finally, it cancelled their land registrations en masse; a massive theft of epic proportions.  That is why Samaras keeps using “name dispute” agitprop after all of these years: to distract from the real issues, and, more recently, to distract from the economic crisis, as well.” 

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