These are the short and the long versions of my recent interview in SPUTNIK radion on the conflict between Greece and FYROM and the recent nationalist demonstrations in Greece.
The transcript of the interview follows.
Interview in SPUTNIK radio (5/2/2018) on the conflict
between Greece and FYROM
The conflict over the contemporary Macedonian issue is a double-sided one.
Macedonia is a geographical area with a long history of population changes.
Its current shape was formed with the collapse of the Ottoman empire and the partition of the Macedonian area by the vanquishing countries in the Balkan wars. During that period (early 20th century) the Macedonian area was inhabited by many nationalities (Greeks, Slavs, Bulgarians, Albanians etc.), some of them with national identities and others without. The subsequent partition of Macedonia among different national states resulted in population changes and homogenization (willingly and unwillingly) that separated – to a great extent – its inhabiting nationalities.
The contemporary Macedonian issue – that is the conflict between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) – is a product of the post-war era.
In Yugoslavia Tito produced a Macedonian identity for the Slavo-Macedonians in order to confront previous attempts by Bulgaria to incorporate the Slavic populations of the Southern Balkans. After the demise of Yugoslavia the Slavo-Macedonian elite created an artificial Macedonian identity for the new independent state in order to bolster its dominance in it and to stave off the threat of a growing Albanian population. In order to create this artificial Macedonian identity (instead of a Slavo-Macedonian one), FYROM’s elite used names and symbols of the ancient Greek Macedonian kingdom (that covered only a part of the geographical area of contemporary Macedonia) and also exhibited nationalist and expansionary tendencies towards its neighbours (and particularly Greece).
The Greek bourgeoisie, on the other hand, preached that the Macedonia is only Greek (thus implicitly eying the whole Macedonian area). Behind this nationalist talk the Greek capital expanded vigorously in FYROM exploiting the latter’s weaker economy.
However, on top of the petty-nationalist conflicts between the Balkan bourgeoisies lay the big Western imperialist powers with the US and the EU in the forefront. The US have the upper hand in this game. Their policy, beginning with the war and the disintegration of Yugoslavia, is to fragment the Balkans in order to control it and, in passim, to push away any existing of supposed Russian influence.
Thus, the US wants to get FYROM into NATO and possibly into the EU (as it has done with Montenegro). Indicatively, one of the bigger US military bases is on the border between Kosovo and FYROM. FYROM’s integration into NATO and EU is blocked because Greece vetoes.
For this reason, the US has engineered the change of government in FYROM and is currently pressing the Greek SYRIZA government to make a deal on the issue of the name with FYROM. The SYRIZA government is a weak one, discredited both in the Left and in the Right. Particularly since its unconditional capitulation to the EU (on the issue of the Economic Adjustment Programme for Greece which imposes austerity and misery in the country), SYRIZA is a US obedient servant in order to get US support and survive politically.
On the other hand, the Right wing – despite its deep links with the US and the EU – plays the nationalist card in order to weaken SYRIZA and take its place in government. Then it will conclude a deal according to its Western masters’ directives.
A particularly dangerous element in this affair is the influence exerted by neo-Nazi parties and groups that are very active in the recent demonstrations.
The people of the Balkans (Greeks, Slavs, Bulgarians, Albanians etc.) have nothing to gain by nationalist conflicts and by falling into the hands of NATO, the US and the EU. These have brought only pain, tears and blood in the Balkans.
The only solution serving peoples’ interests is on that preserves the peace and the stability of borders in the Balkan area. This requires the repudiation of all nationalist and expansionist aspirations. In the case of the Greece – FYROM conflict this implies a geographically determined name for the latter. But the basic element for such a solution is to take part outside the war-mongering ‘prison’ of NATO and the EU.