The right of self-expression is included in the First Amendment of the United States so all people, regardless of race, religion, or nationality, can express themselves freely. Many Macedonians refer to themselves as Macedonian based on the historical name of their people. Most refuse to identify by the “North” name, which was dictated by the Greek government.
Concerns with how a staff member expresses himself or herself should be taken to the management. This was not the case with Nancy Papaioannou, the President of the Atlantic Bank. When she visited the Mohegan Sun Resort in Connecticut and saw a waitress wearing a nametag with her country of origin titled as “Macedonia”, rather than taking a private concern to the management, Nancy verbally confronted the waitress claiming the Prespa Agreement ‘forbade’ the waitress from displaying Macedonia as her nationality.
However, the Prespa Agreement only extends to government documents and identification, not simple nametags. It has no power outside of Macedonia, and even within, it does not apply to private individuals. This is a disturbing incident of a Greek violating the right of self-expression. Papaioannou left the waitress in tears where she had to be replaced by another co-worker, who happens to also be Macedonian. Papaioannou, likely feeling entitled from her position over that of a waitress, should have taken her concerns to the Mohegan Sun’s management rather than confronting the waitress with false claims.
The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) applauds the Mohegan Sun for supporting the waitress during this ordeal. This is a classic example of entitled people attempting to use their position to diminish others. The misinformation that surrounds the Prespa Agreement led to this as well. Macedonians are and should always be able to identify as they wish. The right of self-expression is an intrinsic right, and we, at UMD, will not stand by when that right is attempted to be taken away.