UMD President Metodija A. Koloski was recently interviewed by Greek journalist Thanasis Tsitsas for ANT1 TV from Greece on UMD’s position for #Macedonia’s government to end the UN-led name negotiations.
The video has not been published yet, however, the written article can be found by clicking HERE.
Below is the English word-for-word translation done by Eugenia Natsoulidou.
Everywhere it said “Skopian,” we replaced with “MACEDONIAN,” and everywhere it said “FYROM,” we replaced with “MACEDONIA.”
Leader of the MACEDONIAN Diaspora in the USA: Immediate withdrawal from negotiations
Washington, by Thanassis K. Tsitsas
Withdrawing from the negotiations asks the leader of the MACEDONIAN diaspora in the United States, who names Nimetz proposals as “ridiculous”.
The American, of MACEDONIAN origin, Meto Koloski, head of the United “Macedonian” Diaspora that represents MACEDONIANs in the USA, Canada and Australia, launched the campaign “We are Macedonia”, a global initiative that was spread out by various Skopje organizations scattered in countries such as the US, Canada, Australia, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
The campaign has a central slogan to reject the talks and send a message that they will not allow a name change.
The campaign “We are Macedonia” has gathered 23,000 signatures and has organized 12 rallies throughout the world.
United” “Macedonian” “Diaspora belongs to the propaganda machine of Skopje in the United States.
With Ankara’s political and economic aid, just in the period between 2015 and 2017, it is estimated that it spent more than 1 million dollars in lobbying in the United States.
Note that the headquarters of “United Mecedonian Dispora” in Washington is co-housed with the relevant Turkish lobby.
Analytically the interview he gave to Real.gr
– How do you comment on the latest developments in the negotiations?
“First of all, we have taken a stand against the name negotiations. Our country should not have been accepted by the UN with a name with which the Organization does not agree. My parents left Yugoslavia because of communism and because of what happened in Yugoslavia and I think most of us do not want to be described as anything “Former Yugoslav”.
It is a discrimination against our country to be called in a way that it did not choose, regardless of how its inhabitants are recognized and known internationally. It is also an identity issue. The fact that negotiations are being held for the name also entails a change of identity. I do not think that the citizens of the country will allow this. No one denies the fact that there are “Macedonians” in the country and around the world and nobody has a problem if someone in Greece wants to call himself “Makedon”. I think there should be mutual understanding in this respect.
Following the evolution of the negotiations, we see one sentence coming after each other and negotiations are becoming more and more grueling over time. The mere fact that Mr. Nimetz’s proposals to the UN are: “Republic of Macedonia (Skopje)” or “Democracy of Upper Macedonia” or “New Macedonia”. In English, names such as “Republika Makedonija (Skopje)” are difficult to pronounce. I can tell you that they were “killing” my name, each time, in the Primary. I have the name “Metodija” and nobody could pronounce it, they said it wrongly. I know how it is to discriminated against because of your name and I think it is wrong to ask Macedonia to change its name.
In addition, Matthew Nimetz is in the midst of conflicting interests. In the period of the Holidays he hired a new secretary / assistant of Greek descent, and while he was General Manager his company invested in a Danish company with a Greek subsidiary and we also discovered that he has donated a total of $ 25,000 to MP Maloney, a personal friend of his and co-Chair of the Congressional Committee on Greek Issues. An intermediary with such interests and so biased, cannot provide a good dialogue that will resolve the issue.”
– Apart from the name, the Greek side is strongly concerned with the continued irredentism that your compatriots show through the Constitution, school books and maps of “Greater Macedonia”.
There is a map of the country that many people use because many of them come from Greece. My mother’s side originates from that region of Greece. So they are “native Macedonians” and that is the one answer. The other is that it is a democratic right of everyone to bring what he wants with him.
In Greece, a few weeks ago when they had the rally in Thessaloniki, they put on fire flags of MACEDONIA and I have seen this happen over and over again. There were also maps of Greater Greece dated from the time of Alexander the Great. There is no point in accusing one side the other for obstinacy.
I think we should leave these aside. I do not think that MACEDONIA is pushing citizens to fight for the lands of Greece. We will fight for anything else is needed, except our fundamental human rights which are guaranteed by International Law and the Treaties that have been signed since 1948″
– Greece, however, insists on amending articles of the Constitution /
“In order for Greece to lift the financial embargo it imposed on Macedonia in the 1990s, MACEDONIA had to make two amendments to its Constitution. By the way, the Constitution has always said that MACEDONIA has no territorial aspirations.
The first amendment says that MACEDONIA has no territorial aspirations at all to the neighboring countries. The second is that MACEDONIA will not fight for the human rights of any of its nationals living in a neighboring country. This is illegal under international law since each country has the right to defend the human rights of any people, be it its own people or another.
The MACEDONIA government has often offered guarantees to the Greek Parliament, such as the ratification of an interim agreement in the MACEDONIA Parliament in 1995, while the Greek Parliament never ratified this agreement. MACEDONIA changed its flag when the Greeks claimed it bears a Greek symbol. Therefore, MACEDONIA has adapted its Constitution and has made additions to it.
I think she has done much more than she should have done as a country to appease Greece and show her that she has no territorial aspirations toward her.”
-Much of the proposals that Mr Nimetz has recently tabled is more acceptable to you?
“No one is acceptable. The reason is that MACEDONIA should not be forced to change its name in order to become a member of the European family or of the NATO family.
I wish MACEDONIA, when it declared her independence, for Greece being its first friend. If you look better, we have a lot in common as folks. Many inhabitants of MACEDONIA travel to Greece, go on holiday, spend their money on Greek economy. There is also very large trade along the border.
MACEDONIA residents go to Greece and, vice versa, to visit casinos, dentists and other, as services in MACEDONIA are much cheaper because it is not a member of NATO and the EU. It may well have favored Greeks if MACEDONIA would not get into NATO. I think all the proposals are ridiculous.
I do not think they are acceptable. Because, as I said, firstly we have the right to have our name, secondly, it forces a country to change its name on internationally basis using a latent name.”
-Do you see a new impasse?
I certainly do not see the issue solved soon. I believe that the way to resolve this issue is MACEDONIA to withdraw from the name talks and to seek ways to be recognized as “Republic of Macedonia” by the UN.
The majority of UN members recognize MACEDONIA as “the Republic of Macedonia” and at some point Greece must accept it. The sooner it accepts this, the faster the relationship between the two countries will be improved. One cannot negotiate with someone who states that there are no “Macedonians” or that there has never been a “Macedonian Nation”.
– Do you disagree with Prime Minister Zaev’s policy?
“Yes, we disagree as an organization. We believe that Zaev should withdraw from the name negotiations. We have asked for this by all previous prime ministers. The same we did with Mr. Gruevski earlier.
This has always been the policy of our organization: “withdraw from the negotiations”. I, and you, to be friends, should have mutual respect for each other. You must accept that my name is “Macedonia” and I say that your name is “Hellenic Republic”. There should be no disagreement about this.
The sooner we accept the fact that there is no disagreement about it, the sooner we will be able to deal with other issues. Sincerely, I believe that the most important issue we should be dealing with is how each country will improve its economy and how to secure jobs in MACEDONIA, Greece and the whole region.
The sooner we end the political quarrels and recognize each other’s existence as a people, the sooner we can put aside our differences and deal with the most important issues.”
– For those who think you believe in “Greater Macedonia”?
“Of course, I do not. I believe that MACEDONIA will soon become a member of NATO and EU and this will help improve the whole region. I do not believe in any “Greater Macedonia”.
We also have a similar fear that the Albanian MACEDONIA community may be pursuing a third Albanian state in Europe, and that should not be tolerated.
No pursuit of any “Greater Country” should be tolerated. We should all be members of NATO and the EU and work together to improve Europe, NATO, North Atlantic security of the whole world and most important of our region. The sooner we are financially stable, the better for everyone”.
– In Greece, large demonstrations have taken place recently and, according to a recent poll, 60% of citizens are opposed to the use of a compound name with the term Macedonia.
“Polls are done on a regular basis. Depending on what each politician says, polls show increases or decreases in percentages. We cannot assess public opinion based on sporadic opinion polls.
I believe that if you ask someone from the tourism industry, he will probably tell you that he is not interested in the issue because what he wants is for Macedonians to visit Greece, to go to his hotel, on his beach. It does not concern him to the least how they will be called”.
I believe that we need to improve our relations in every case, whether we have a joint decision or not. The average citizen wants to see us collaborate.”
– In 1992, the former President of the country, Kiro Gligorov, had stated that the inhabitants of Skopje came to the region after the 6th century, that they were Slavs and that they had nothing to do with the ancient Macedonians. It is officially recorded. How do you comment on this?
“I’m not a historian, I do not want to get involved in matters of history. Let’s leave history to the historians, let them have the right to discuss the matter. They have evidence to show, let them be accountable. What I would say is that the use of historic personalities from hundreds of years ago will not help any solution.
I and you can say that we look like, your own eyes are brown, mine are blue, we could say we are of one specific tribe and we bear blood that dates back 2,100 years ago. I do not want to engage in such a debate, my own subject of discussion is my fundamental human rights. I am “Macedonian”, my name is Metodija Koloski and no one can change it”.
– Did you watch the rallies in Athens and Thessaloniki?
“Estimates from 1991-1992 showed that 2 million people came to the streets at the time. Today’s numbers are not as big compared to that of the 1990s. I think the Greeks have realized that they do not need them and that it costs such a costly attempt to prove that there is no “Macedonian identity”.