IN MY OPINION
By: Stella L. Jatras
11 November 2004
The unwise decision by the State Department to recognize the name change of the Former Republic Yugoslavia Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to "The Republic of Macedonia" can only bring further disruption and discord between Greece and the United States. The new name does not differentiate between the Slavic entity of the former Yugoslav republic and the historic, ancient Greek (Hellenic) "Macedonia," the northern region of Greece. Usurping the name of Macedonia without qualifying its ethnic root is not only an insult to the Greek people but, according to the Greek government, is an indication of future territorial claims to portions of Greek Macedonia, claims advanced during the Tito era. We also find out from a White House briefing by Richard Boucher held on 4 November that the hand of Richard Holbrooke and other Clinton holdovers in the State Department is evident in this decision when the following question was asked:
QUESTION: According to a map in my possession, appearing in the U.S. Marine Corps Country Handbook November 2003, under the title "Macedonian Occupation," includes unfortunately the entire Greek Macedonia with a very, very provocative and undiplomatic front-page text against the territorial integrity of Greece. I was told yesterday by a DOD source that this map was drafted during the era of Richard Holbrook when he was Under Secretary for European Affairs in 1999 and it's still valid even today. And it was also verified by Ambassador Nicholas Burns to a group of Greek Americans who [inaudible] to the departure from Athens to Brussels and it was also confirmed to the same group by DOS official -- I have his name -- saying to them specifically, "Nothing has been changed." Any explanation since the text of this language is a diplomatic one and you told us the other day that you, as the Department of State, has had the last word in many diplomatic exchanges?"
As the old _expression goes, "There's something rotten in the state of Denmark," so, there is something very wrong here also. Why, at this time of crisis, would the first act of the State Department after President Bush's re-election be to give this recognition when there are other far more important matters that face this nation? Why would the State Department risk the wrath of Greece and Americans of Greek descent? Frankly, I am at a loss for an answer but I certainly cannot accept, "because it is the right thing" to do, as mouthed by State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher. However, I can accept it was to reward FYR Macedonia for their participation in the Iraqi war, but somehow, that, too, does not seem plausible compared to risking the wrath of an ally.
I certainly cannot defend President Bush for taking this action, but it also appears that the action to recognize FYROM under the name "Maceodnia," was initiated by none other than Richard Holbrooke when he was Under Secretary for European Affairs in 1999. In addition to Richard Holbrooke, there is Richard Boucher, former spokesman for President Clinton, former U.S. Ambassador to Greece, pro-Bosnian Nicholas Burns, and the present U.S. Ambassador to Greece, Thomas Miller, all Clintonites.
Prior to the nomination of Thomas Miller as ambassador to Greece, I wrote an Alert-Warning to the Greek-American Community in this country and to the Greek Government:
"This is a man who has openly shown hostility to Bosnian Serbs in no uncertain terms. It is obvious that he is already predisposed against Orthodox Christians in favor of Muslims. The Greek government should insist that U.S. Ambassador Thomas Miller's nomination as ambassaodor to Greece be rejected.
"I'd like to hear from my Greek contacts on this. Do you think Ambassador Miller will be any more of a friend than Nicholas Burns? If not, let your 'powerful' Greek-American lobby hear from you. Remember that it was Burns who was Clinton's press secretary during the bombing of our Orthdox brothers and sisters and lied about events in the Balkans with the best of them, i.e., NATO's pimp Jamie Shea. Burns has criticized Greece on more than one occasion.
"As an ally of the United States in two major world wars, Greece deserves better. She should be given a U.S. ambassador that will be a benefit to both our nations."
What could the motive be for a decision that can only cause more resentment between Greece and the United States? The Greek people were the only true ally that the Serbs had during NATO's bombing of innocent Serbian civilians by Clinton, in violation of International law, in violation of the NATO charter, in violation of the U.N. charter and without the approval of Congress. The Greek people demonstrated by the tens of thousands in Athens. Could this be a way for Clinton holdovers in the State Department to punish the Greek people and at the same time drive a wedge between two Orthodox peoples although there are many Albanians in FYR Maceodnia who are bent on achieving more autonomy - just as they successfully did in Kosovo which undoubtedly will conclude in the Kosovo Liberation Army's cutthroat independence for Kosovo and to also drive a wedge between President Bush and his Greek-American supporters? Is it payback time for Clinton's embarrassment in having to cancel his visit to Athens because of demonstrations? Is it payback time for Colin Powell's cancelling his visit to the closing ceremony of the Olympics because of demonstrations? Have these resentments by the Clintonites been seething until now and waiting for the right opportunity to punish the Greek people? May I remind everyone that this action was taken by the State Department that is known for its mischievousness and vindictiveness?
Again, here are the essential points:
1. Both Greeks and FYR Macedonians opposed the Kosovo war overwhelmingly, but their governments sucked up to US/NATO and supported it. (Greece at least could have pulled the plug on the war at any time but was afraid to do it for fear of isolation and sanctions; FYROM, which is not even a NATO member but was already under virtual NATO occupation had no choice but to cooperate).
2. When, after the NATO "victory" in Kosovo, the KLA ("National Liberation Army") started a war against FYROM, after initially denouncing the NLA as terrorists (which they are) NATO and EU demanded a "political settlement" with the NLA and their front parties. NATO and the EU also had threatened Skopje officials with war crimes prosecutions if their military response agains the NLA were too heavy-handed (no such threat was made agains the NLA); also, Ukraine, which had provided weapons to FYROM, was threatened with sanctions if they did not cut them off.) The resulting Ochrid agreement mandated (1) a phony demilitarization of the NLA (which was done, which means like the KLA, the NLA still is armed and dangerous), and (2) enhanced Albanian representation in FYROM institutions, including "decentralization," a codeword for handing the Albanians 1/3 of FYROM.
3. Now, again at NATO and EU urging, FYROM's parliament had passed the decentralization law demanded of them. This provoked a reaction among more nationalistic Slavs ("nationalistic" being any one who does not acquiesce to the dissolution of FYROM) for a referendum to negate the law. If FYR Macedonians had approved the referendum the result would be de facto sanctions. Also, the US threw them a sop by giving them an essentially meaningless concession on the name FYROM Macedonia. This also had the important benefit of alienating from the FYROM Slavs any potential support from their Orthodox brethren in Greece, who are also threatened by militant Albanians separatism. It was a well-calculated move.
The question of punishing Greece was also addressed during the 4 November White House briefing:
QUESTION: There is a feeling in Greece that you want to punish them.
MR. BOUCHER: I think I've said, and I'll make absolutely clear once again, as the Secretary did in his phone call with the Greek Foreign Minister this morning, that this step is being done because we think it's the right thing to support a path of stability and openness and democracy in Macedonia. It's not a decision that's made in any way with reference to neighbors or other countries, but we do think it's a decision that can help support a path that has brought more stability to Macedonia and to the region.
In my opinion, Richard Boucher evaded the question.
To prevent the discord between the two nations, surely a more diplomatic solution could have been found, but then the State Department is composed of the same bunch of no-goodniks who were under Clinton.
I recently asked my Serbian friends what their opinion was of this recognition by the State Department. "Disgraceful!" "Outrageous!" "Shameful!" There was also talk of pressure being put on the other states for this recognition. "Accept or be punished yourself!"
You can read the entire 4 November 2004 White House briefing by Richard Boucher at: http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2004/37819.htm
You can also read my commentary "Whose Macedonia is it anyway?" at http://www.10452lccc.com/documents/whose_macedonia_is_it.htm for those who have not read it.
Every time the State Department has stuck its nose where it doesn't belong, nothing good ever comes of it.
Again, this is just my opinion.
And finally: Cheers to the tiny nation of Greece for their magnificent Olympic games. Jeers to those who said, "it couldn't be done."