Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Greek-Macedonian dispute – time to return to the drawing board? | Transform, Transcend, Translate | TransConflict Serbia

Premised on the view that facilitating a compromise between the respective parties to the name issue requires a better understanding of the multi-layered character of the dispute, the historically conditioned perspectives of the parties, and the main actors and their perceived interests, my article in Transconflict attempts to suggest a way forward.


After almost two decades since Macedonia declared its independence, one of the major obstacles to Macedonian aspirations of integration into Europe remains the notorious ‘name dispute’ between Macedonia and Greece. The most frequently rehearsed rendition of this stresses that Greece is concerned about the use of the name ‘Macedonia’ constituting an act of usurpation of its history and a misnomer for irredentist plans to bring about a Greater Macedonia at its expense. On the other hand, Macedonians argue that this is the name in which the majority of the young republic recognize themselves, their language, their land and their ancestors (although how deep they probe in the past remains an issue of contestation). Macedonian governments have repeatedly assured Greece that they have no irredentist designs, and have moved promptly to change the first contested flag of the republic and amend articles of the first constitution that referred to a duty of care for the Macedonian minorities in the region and the Diaspora (though not its preamble that links the current polity to the ideals of the short-lived Krushevo Republic).
The international community has tried to facilitate a compromise between the parties, but the efforts have largely been detached from the pragmatics underlying the dispute and quite often ignored the complex social dynamics at play. While the Ohrid Agreement required considerable energy and international brinkmanship in order to address the grievances of the Albanian minority, the name dispute with Greece was treated as a purely bilateral issue to be resolved within the framework of ongoing UN negotiations. The name issue has been addressed in an unimaginative and highly legalistic way; stripped of its dynamic and continuously evolving nature thus revealing the dearth of conceptual, methodological and practical rigour of our conflict transformation approaches in the region. The fact remains that through our current approaches to the name dispute we are still unable to see the forest for the trees and are thus unable to start thinking about long-term solutions to some of the problems facing the region. A better understanding of the multi-layered character of the dispute, the historically conditioned perspectives of the parties, and the main actors and their perceived interests/objectives is needed in order to build a strong relationship that can withstand future challenges.
Naming it like it is – the history dimension
Of paramount importance in the arguments and actions of the two parties is the past – both Greek and Macedonian national identities have been looking to the past for justifications to their existence and the inviolable character of their rights to a chunk of territory in the Southern Balkans. The two countries have historically attempted to bolster their sense of historical ‘embeddedness’ and legitimacy in the region by cultivating and showcasing work in the areas of archaeology, history and folklore that concurs with the dominant narratives in each nation-state. Greek claims, reinforced by a still dominant classicist tradition in Western thought, have little difficulty in ‘incorporating’ the kingdom of ancient Macedonia into the classical and Hellenistic Greek world from which modern Greeks claim to originate; what is more, the established ideology of the Hellenic-Christian synthesis formulated in the 19th century by circles of historians and folklorists, by ethnicizing the multicultural character of Byzantium, has provided a comforting narrative about the uninterrupted continuity of Hellenism in the region.

 You can read the full article in html format at

http://www.transconflict.com/News/2010/March/The_Greek_Macedonian_dispute_time_to_return_to_the_drawing_board.php


You can read the full article in PDF format at

1 comment:

  1. "into the classical and Hellenistic Greek world from which modern Greeks claim to originate; what is more, the established ideology of the Hellenic-Christian synthesis formulated in the 19th century by circles of historians and folklorists, by ethnicizing the multicultural character of Byzantium, has provided a comforting narrative about the uninterrupted continuity of Hellenism in the region."

    Blah blah... insert some gibberish... spit out more polysyllabic words that are politics masquerading as reason..... more gibberish far leftist gibberish.


    Uhmmm... in case you didn't notice we speak Greek Spiro. This is not a "myth". Nor is the modern DNA evidence that shows we are connected to ancient Greek populations. Nor is our location Taiwan at last check. Nor is our culture more similar to ancient Chinese culture rather than ancient Greek. So other than some genetics, location, culture, and language we have absolute nothing to do with Greeks.

    Do you imagine the typically German, Israeli, Chinese, or Brit is any more ethnically "pure" to ancient counterparts than than the typical Greek?

    The stupidity of some leftists radicals never ceases to amaze me. You would have made a fine communist in the 40s Spiro. Keep up the great work trying to ethnically cleanse your own people because of your own insecurities.

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