This document is a bit dated: it was written in January, on the occasion of the first right-wing demonstration in Salonica, Greece, in connection to the new flare-up of the Macedonian question. It was published in Greek in Nea Prooptiki (New Perspective), no. No 659, Saturday 27 January 2018.But due to the time span required for translation into English, we are able to publish it only now. We believe this late publication is totally warranted since the document provides ample historical and current information and analysis on the conflict between the bourgeois states of Greece and Macedonia and will be useful in the future as well. After this article was written, another big mass demonstration was held at the beginning of February by the full array of right-wing and fascist forces in Athens this time. An earlier piece on the so-called “name dispute” by EEK was published on RedMed at the beginning of February, in the wake of the Athens demonstration (http://redmed.org/article/name-dispute-between-macedonia-and-greece-and-...). At the beginning of March, EEK, as well as some other Greek socialist organisations, were invited to attend a consultation meetingin Skopje, Macedonia, by Levica, a broad Mecdonian socialist party, which successfully contested the last elections in 2016 in the country.
1) A swarm of fascists, nazis, right-wing and extreme-right wing ex-military servicemen and "holy" priests -who have replaced the preaching of Christian love with the preaching of hate, the ecumenical message of Christianity with the preaching of extreme nationalism- organized a large rally in Salonica, on Sunday 21st January. Along with them in this event, we witnessed the "Spayed men", people seeking salvation in supernatural solutions; a crowd of people that is easily manipulated.
The spectacle of this demonstration could easily pass itself off as the Carnival of Patras, with Macedonians dressed in ancient roman costumes and Cretan people on horseback. These images are both ludicrous and tragic.
The organizers in charge of this mobilization and transportation of people from different corners of Greece were nationalist groups in the USA. These groups are notorious for their standing relationships with imperialism, the Greek military dictatorship many years ago, and the most reactionary circles of the Greek Orthodox Church.
A few hundred meters away from this reactionary rally, hooligan and fascist groups attacked the squatted social centre "Libertatia", setting it on fire, and thus destroying a historical neo-classical building. The squatted social centre "Scholio" (School) was also attacked by the same group. Fascists also found the opportunity to express their anti-semitic feelings by writing on the base of the Holocaust monument "Golden Dawn", the name of the Greek Nazi party.
2) With his nationalistic delusional speech about "gypsy-Skopjans" and his "long-live the army" chants, the retired general Frangoulis Frangos said that the "name is in danger; therefore the country is in danger". This retired general is promoted by sections of the ruling class as a future political leader, as a Bonaparte-savior who will band together this mixture of reactionaries.
The negotiations for the "terminological" name of the Republic of Macedonia between the governments of Tsipras and Zaev is regarded as a betrayal by General Frangos, Exarch Anthimos and their company, despite the fact that the Tsipras government is negotiating for a compound name along the line that the Karamanlis government had drawn in 2007-08. However, the sell-out of everything in Greece ("the land of memoranda") like the selling-out of airports, of the Public Company of Electricity (DEI) and other public utilities, does not seem to offend the "national" pride of those gentlemen.
3) Of course, the invocation of "national dangers", only sows fear and in reality is used to cover up the aggressive nationalism of the "macho Greeks". Who does seriously believe that Greece is in danger from Macedonia? Not that the other side of the border lacks reactionary nationalists like "our own" nationalists. The reason is that a country of 2.1 millions, with a total military personnel of 24,000 people, 8,000 under arms, 31 tanks, with no air force apart from 12 helicopters, even if it wanted, cannot face the powerful Greek army.
Capitalist Greece, in reality, even without the settling of the name issue, dominates financially over Macedonia with its banking capital, chains of super markets, mobile communication firms etc.
4) The Macedonian people have the right to self-determination. No one can become the "godfather" and the name-giver of other peoples.
Despite the fact that the population of the Macedonian Democracy consists of a dominant Slavic Macedonian element, with an important Albanian minority of 30% and smaller national groups, the claim of the Greek ruling class that there is no Macedonian nation is the claim of nationalists who diachronically try to strangle other peoples. In this nationalistic sea, fascists and nazis try to fish; this aggressive nationalism is in essence an important component of fascism and nazism.
5) Historically, the dispute around the Macedonian question starts to arise during the second half of the 19th century, with a wild rivalry among the nationalisms of Bulgaria, Greece and Serbia; the Church and schools become battlefields. At the same time we see the emergence of social movements around the region. In 1903 the revolution of Ilinden takes place (20 July, day of St. Elijah). It is perhaps the first revolution of the 20th century against the Ottoman rule and the landowners’ property. The people fought many battles but the Sultan’s army was more powerful. It is worth mentioning that the Greek state and its nationalists lined up with the "High Gate" (Ottoman Empire) and not with the rebellious people, hoping that they will get more privileges by gaining the Sultan’s gratitude. (That tradition, to always choose the snugness of one of the great foreign powers, has been the diachronic constant of the Greek ruling class since 1830 and the founding of the small Greek state whose borders were not further than Domokos!) Those seeking the national ideal at the level of zoology, the blood or the DNA, never thought about the role that Ilinden revolution played in the process of forming the national consciousness of Macedonian Slavs – a nationality that, according to them, does not exist.
The Greek State -as well as the other states of the Balkan Peninsula- was formed by blood and iron during the Balkan Wars of 1912-13. The region called Macedonia -for centuries, part of the Ottoman Empire- was divided into three parts: Macedonia of the Aegean Sea (which was incorporated into Greece), Vardar Macedonia (which was incorporated into Yugoslavia and after WWII, became a federalized part of the Socialist Federal Democracy of Yugoslavia as "Socialist Democracy of Macedonia") and Pirin Macedonia (which belongs to Bulgaria).
It is also a historical fact that the hellenization of the indigenous Macedonians (Macedonian Slavs) who lived on the Greek side of Macedonia, was achieved through ruthless repression, prohibition of speaking their own mother tongue or singing and dancing their own songs and dances.
Another historical fact is that the "non-existent" Macedonian minority fought in the guerrilla movement along the Greek and the Yugoslavian people in the fight against the fascist conquerors, during WWII. However, the so-called "national conciliation" allowed for the return of the political refugees from Eastern European countries, but not the return of the Slavic Macedonian guerrillas! That shameful division was accepted by the Greek stalinist left leaders Florakis and Kirkos – irrecusable evidence of the predominance of nationalism in the ideology of the bourgeois-conformed labour parties.
6) However, the question that is raised today is not just a question of settling down historiographical problems. Although the dispute exists due to unsolved historical problems that have plagued the Balkan Peninsula, it is at the same time a rather contemporary question:
The dispute that has been stagnating for years is currently set off because NATO and the U.S. imperialism want to integrate FYROM as a member of the Organisation, in its coming summit, July 2018. It is known that in Kosovo and the Republic of Macedonia the American imperialists have their largest military base outside U.S. soil, the infamous "Camp Bondsteel"!
The settling of disputes still in abeyance in the Balkan Peninsula is a demand of the U.S. imperialism since great geopolitical turbulence is already in progress, particularly after the assumption of the U.S. presidency by the reactionary Trump. Next to the diachronic military aims of the U.S.-NATO imperialism, new necessities now come into the picture, caused by the eruption of the world crisis and the break out of wars of various degrees. Those issues create a huge palette from Ukraine and Afghanistan to Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Northern and Central Africa.
On the grounds of the world capitalist crisis, a certain rearrangement of imperialist alliances is taking place. The one favoured by the U.S. imperialism is the compacting of the Greece-Cyprus-Israel-Egypt axis. The reshaping of axes/alliances in the Middle East is clear through the war confrontation in Syria. Former enemies, Erdogan’s Turkey and Putin’s Russia, seem to find a modus vivendi. Former enemy Assad shows great tolerance towards Erdogan in the current military operation named…. "Olive Branch", aiming at the elimination of the Kurdish military movement, which unfortunately acts as land troops under the leadership of the USA!
Despite the fact that the Russia-U.S.A. relations fluctuate from time to time, it is clear that their rivalry is now being exacerbated. The aggressive change in the U.S strategy, not only satisfies the fixed demands of the extreme right-wing zionists of Israel against Iran, but is primarily aimed against Russia, the only remaining nuclear military power competitive to the U.S. imperialism.
The geopolitical rivalries have to take into consideration the Balkan Peninsula, the first region in Europe that became a theatre of war after the collapse of the USSR. That war was triggered by the imperialist intervention and the colonisation of the degenerated workers’ states. The approximation between Russia and Serbia is a rather disturbing development for the imperialist domination in the area. Furthermore, the U.S.A worries about the destabilisation of other regions in the Western Balkan Peninsula, at a time when the natural gas pipeline is under construction.
First of all, war rivalries of big and small imperialisms carry with them new fiscal burdens for the peoples of the Balkan Peninsula and of the whole world, due to expenditures for armaments and war preparedness. They will add up fiscally to the volume of European Union obligations and the state debts will spiral. At the same time, state repression will climax within those countries, and new "close call" incidents might break out.
7) What is needed is an internationalist workers’ response. During the 20th century we have witnessed numerous local conflicts and two bloody World Wars reaching the extremes of barbarism.
In the age of the decayed imperialistic capitalism, the age of state rivalries and nationalistic gibbering, there is only one prospect: the repetition - to an unimaginable extent – of bloody wars and cemeteries full of young people, of famine, of humiliation, of dehumanisation.
In the Balkan Peninsula, where there were no borders for thousands of years (from the age of Phillip and Alexander the Great to the Roman Empire, the Byzantium and then the Ottoman Empire) millions of people live. The solution based on nationalism and "racial purity", according to Nazi standards, is the solution of an endless human slaughterhouse.
Peoples who oppress other peoples can never be free! The revolutionary working class movement must declare war against nationalism -including the left nationalism of the LAE (Popular Unity) variety, whose leader Panagiotis Lafazanis knows to hurl fire against the nationalists of the neighbouring country, but doesn’t have to say anything about the nationalists of our own country who were raging in Salonica.
As we wrote in another article of our newspaper "New Perspective":
It is time to bring to the fore the old historic slogans of Rigas Feraios and of all the progressive democrats, socialist and communist fighters of the Balkan Peninsula. The Balkans belongs to the Balkan peoples, against imperialist oppressors and local reactionary bourgeoisie. The only solution is a Balkan Socialist Federation within the framework of a United Soviet/Council Democracy in Europe, which can bring respect for the peoples of the Balkan Peninsula, peace and welfare to the people and the working class worldwide.
NEA PROOPTIKI (NEW PERSPECTIVE). No 659, Saturday 27 January 2018
NEA PROOPTIKI is the newspaper of EEK - Workers Revolutionary Party