Greek parties stir up chauvinism

Issue 

By Mike Karadjis

Four women have been arrested in Athens for handing out leaflets supporting self-determination for the Macedonian people and opposing the chauvinist hysteria which has gripped Greece in recent months.

The four were handing out a leaflet which stated, "We are not endangered by 'Skopia' [the Greek government's term for the Macedonian republic], but by the hypernationalism which is likely to drag the country to war".

It concluded: "The neighbouring peoples are not our enemies. Down with nationalism and war." It claimed that the government and political parties are using the cover of the name "Macedonia" to intensify aggressive and racist policies against the neighbouring people.

The authorities were further annoyed that in the leaflet the name yugoslav (without a capital) Macedonia was used instead of the compulsory Greek newspeak, "Skopia".

Earlier this year, four people were sentenced to six months in prison for putting up posters calling for the recognition of "Slavic Macedonia".

Likewise, when Communist Party leader Aleka Papariga mentioned a "Slavophone" minority in parliament, without even using the word Macedonian, she created a virtual uprising from chauvinist MPs across the political spectrum and a vicious media assault.

For months now, editorials and articles in daily newspapers from the right, "left" and centre have openly advocated the dismemberment of Macedonia.

For example, a recent article in the left-liberal paper Avghi claimed that Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria should divide Macedonia and then Greece should give its share to Albania in exchange for southern Albania, where there is a big Greek minority.

The extent to which this chauvinism cements "consensus" was recently shown when a leader of the Left Coalition was interviewed on the Macedonian issue in the openly fascist newspaper Eleftheri Ora.

This has been reflected in the Greek-Australian press. An editorial in the April 6 issue of the right-wing Greek Herald asks whether, in the event of EEC recognition of Macedonia with any name that includes the word "Macedonia", Greeks "will take up arms and march on Skopia".

There is strong pressure from the EEC for Macedonia to be recognised as "Slavic Macedonia", which pleases neither Greece nor Macedonia. In the event of Macedonian compromise on this, the Greek government of the right-wing New Democracy appears deeply divided.

Prime Minister Mitsotakis appears likely to accept a compromise to prevent Greek isolation from western allies. But the ambitious foreign is Samaras, is opposed to any compromise which includes the name Macedonia. The main opposition Social Democratic Pasok party is also playing the chauvinist card against Mitsotakis.