The Prespa Agreement denies Macedonia’s right to self-determination

On 30th  July 2018, the government of Zoran Zaev announced the holding of a consultative referendum on 30th September at which Macedonian voters were to be asked to vote on the following proposal: “Are you for EU and NATO membership via the acceptance of the Agreement between the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Greece?” By using this manipulative and deceitful question, the regime attempted to deceive voters and conceal the fact that “Agreement” with Greece explicitly requires Macedonia to eradicate itself as a state with the name Republic of Macedonia and Macedonians as a nation, to open accession negotiations for entry into the aforementioned Euro-Atlantic institutions.

From the first line of the harmful and anti-Macedonian Prespa agreement, it is clear what Greece’s intentions are and what goals it is trying to achieve. The Preamble reads as follows: “The First Party, the Hellenic Republic (the “First Party”) and the Second Party, which was admitted to the United Nations in accordance with the United Nations General Assembly resolution  47/225 of 8 April 1993 ( the “Second Party” ), jointly referred to as the “Parties”,”. So our “sincere friends” the Greeks did not even permit the insulting term Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to be mentioned in the Preamble, let alone the word Macedonia, yet nevertheless, some observers say that this document “recognises” Macedonia and Macedonians.

At no point in this anti-Macedonian agreement is it stated that the First Party (Greece) recognises Macedonian ethnicity and Macedonian language. Article 7 is vital in this regard.

Article 7 (2) states that the terms Macedonia and Macedonia “denote not only the area and people of the northern region of the First Party, but also their attributes, as well as the Hellenic civilisation, history, culture, and heritage of that region from antiquity to present day”.

In Article 7 (3) it is stated that “when reference is made to the Second Party, these terms denote its territory, language, people and their attributes, with their own history, culture and heritage, distinctly different from those referred to under Article7 (2).”However, the Macedonian language, people, history and heritage are not explicitly mentioned here, unlike in point 7 (2), which mentions the Hellenic civilisation, history, culture and heritage in the northern part of Greece (Aegean Macedonia). So, the impression is left and the myth cemented that “Hellenes” live in the northern part of Greece, while in the Republic of Macedonia (Northern Macedonia according to the Agreement) live people with their own separate history, culture, and heritage, without however pointing out exactly who they are in an ethnic and national sense- namely, a nameless, amorphous mass.

If this is confirmation of the Macedonian language and identity, as claimed by the apologists of the quisling government, in that it indirectly allows the Macedonians in the “Republic of Northern Macedonia” to say that they speak the Macedonian language and to call themselves Macedonians on the basis of “a different historical context and cultural heritage “(Article 7 (1)), without mentioning in any way the Macedonian language and Macedonian identity, it would be more beneficial if Article 7 (3)did not exist at all. In other words, Greece does not accept any obligation to recognise a Macedonian identity and language and arrogantly send Macedonians a message that you can call yourselves what you want in your little ghetto, but we do not in any way accept your self-identification and self-determination. Moreover, Greece arrogates to itself the right to call Macedonians whatever it likes both within Greece and internationally.

In point 7 (4) it is stated that “the Second Party” (Macedonia) but not the First Party (Greece), “notes that its official language, the Macedonian language, is within the group of South Slavic languages. The Parties note that the official language and other attributes of the Second Party are not related to the ancient Hellenic civilisation, history, culture and heritage of the northern region of the First Party”. In this regard, nowhere is it mentioned here that the First Party recognises the existence of the Macedonian language and a  Macedonian people/ethnic group, but Macedonia assumes an obligation to recognise the “Hellenic culture” etc of the northern part of Greece and that the Macedonian people speak a South Slavic language. We all know that Macedonian is a South Slavic language, but what is the purpose of this further clarification that the Second Party must explicitly accept?

Why does no one ask that there be a further elaboration of the nature of other South Slavic languages or Slavic languages?. Must one explain that the English language belongs to the Germanic languages sub-group or Spanish to the Romance sub-group? The goal is to relativize and deny the status of the Macedonian language as a distinct language and to emphasize its Slavic roots in order to distance it from its Macedonian essence as a language and in that way to support the unscientific, unhistorical and exclusively denationalizing political thesis that there is a “Greek-Macedonian linguistic” history and heritage. There is no such thing: there is a distinct Macedonian language, in its literary form, and the separate dialects that are spoken in the Republic of Macedonia, Aegean and Pirin Macedonia, Mala Prespa, Golo Brdo, Gora in Albania,Kosovo and Serbia, just as there is a distinct Greek language based on Dimotiki and the various Greek dialects. In Aegean Macedonia, the native Macedonian language is spoken, as well as the imposed Greek language, which has a dialectical form.

Moreover, the descriptor for nationality (citizenship in this case, and not ethnicity, despite the efforts of the regime’s propagandists to convince us that this is the case) “Macedonian/citizen of Northern Macedonia” relativizes the word Macedonia and introduces another politically-inspired way of denoting citizenship whose aim is to persuade the world that it refers to a new, newly baked nation that is different from the one which existed before the signing of this asymmetric, one-sided agreement which has been forced on the Macedonian people. The efforts of the Zaev regime to deceive the Macedonian people that “Macedonian identity is guaranteed” by this document is refuted by the content of the agreement itself.

This agreement creates a new state entity “North Macedonia” and consequently a new official “North-Macedonian” state identity, which is located strictly within the borders of “North Macedonia”. The constitutional amendments provided for in Article 1 (3) and (12) of the treaty that relate to the Preamble, and Articles 3 and 49 of the Constitution, separate Macedonian identity in “North Macedonia” from the centuries-old Macedonian identity of the Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia – as is also the case with the agreement concluded with Bulgaria in August 2017 regarding the Macedonians in Pirin Macedonia. At the same time, the agreement allows Greece to officially appropriate and monopolize the words Macedonia and the adjective Macedonian, as “North Macedonia” agrees to officially use for all purposes the new name “North Macedonia” and the adjective ( a Greek coined term which is not an adjective) “of the Republic of North Macedonia or North Macedonia “(Article 1 (3) (f)). It is clear that Macedonia has assumed such an obligation in Articles 1 (7) (8) and (9), which read as follows:

“(7) Upon entry into force of this Agreement, and subject to provisions under Articles 1 (9) and (10), the terms” Macedonia “,” Republic of Macedonia “,”FYR of Macedonia”” FYR Macedonia” in a translated and untranslated form, as well as the provisional name “former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and the acronym “FYROM” shall cease to be used to refer to the Second Party in any official context.,

(8) Upon entry into force of this Agreement and taking into account its Articles 1 (9) and (10), the Parties shall use the name and terminologies of Article 1 (3) for all usages and all the purposes erga omnes, that is domestically, in all their bilateral relations, and in all regional and international organizations and institutions.

(9) Upon the entry into force of this Agreement, the Second Party shall promptly in accordance with sound administrative practice, take all necessary measures so as the country’s competent Authorities henceforth use internally the name and terminologies of Article 1 (3) of this Agreement in all new official documentation, correspondence and relevant materials “

There is no need to talk here about those articles of the agreement that limit the right to free speech in Macedonia, allow Greece to directly participate in the rewriting of Macedonian history in accordance with Greek views and to demand that the manifestations of “irredentism and hostile activities” be punished (i.e. protection of the rights of Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia and even the mere mention that ethnic Macedonians exist in Aegean Macedonia). The analyst Andrej Koribko has already graphically analysed these consequences of the Agreement (see here).

Defenders of the Agreement pompously maintain that the name of a state has nothing to do with matters of identity if the right to self-identification is retained. If France tomorrow were to change its name to Mediterranean France – even voluntarily and without external pressure-would, the wider world not perceive French identity and ethnicity in a different way and ask why it has changed its name?. A state’s name largely determines and reflects the status of the majority ethnicity in a given country. This is even truer in the case of the Macedonians because as a people we have always been denied and assimilated. Nowhere in the imposed agreement is it stated that the First Party recognises the self-identification of the Second Party, but the Second Party agrees that the northern region of Greece (Aegean Macedonia) has a “Greek character”.

It is not so much a matter of which nation is entitled to the legacy of Ancient Macedonia, although we consider that the modern Greeks have less right to it than the Macedonians, however the official recognition by Macedonia that the “northern region” is “Greek from Antiquity to the present” eradicates and leaves the ethnic Macedonians of Aegean Macedonia to the mercy and whims of the Greek state. It is for this reason that the Greeks demanded that the name of the Republic of Macedonia be changed, and this imposed agreement fully meets their demands. The Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia are wholly erased through the forced name change of the Republic of Macedonia.

This black, capitulatory document commits ethnocide against the Macedonians in the Republic of Macedonia, completely sells out the Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia, promotes the notion that Macedonians are “Slavs”, breaks any connection between the ancient and modern Macedonians and permits the word Macedonia and the adjective Macedonian to become the exclusive property of the Greek state. It is precisely for these reasons that the consultative referendum was massively boycotted. Zaev, who formerly had said that the result of the referendum, although advisory, would be binding on everyone, that there would not be an erga omnes name solution, nor a change of the constitution in order to deceive and mislead public opinion, said before the referendum- as he understood that it would be defeated- that he and the regime would not respect the result if it were negative and that Parliament would decide the fate of the Agreement and the necessary constitutional amendments. So much for his respect for the will of the people!.

In the absence of President Ivanov’s signature, any referendum on the Agreement with Greece was from the outset illegal. Also, given that the President had not signed the decree for the promulgation of the Law on the Ratification of the Agreement between Dimitrov and Kotsias, no formal Agreement legally existed at the time of the referendum and does not exist now. The Agreement is also unconstitutional as it was not concluded on behalf of the Republic of Macedonia and was not entered into by the President of the Republic of Macedonia given that it is an international agreement (Article 119 of the Constitution), but by Nikola Dimitrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Even if the Law on the Ratification of the Dimitrov-Kotsias Agreement were to enter into force, the decision to call a referendum on an issue involving accession to the EU and NATO had to meet the requirements of Article 120 of the Constitution, and adopted in Parliament by a two-thirds majority (81) of the total number of Representatives (120). Also, this law enters into force only if a majority (at least 900,001 and not 450,001) of the total number of registered voters (at least 1,800,000) vote in the referendum. Moreover, such a referendum must under the law have been binding on all and the referendum question should have related to one matter, not three, and should not have been ambiguous and manipulative.

Therefore, by calling such a consultative referendum, Zaev and the regime not only violated the laws and Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, but also made it clear that the expressed will of the Macedonian people would not be respected if it decided to defend the name and the right to self-determination and self-identification by means of a boycott. This despite the fact that the right to boycott is explicitly guaranteed by Article 7 (3) of the Referendum Law, which reads: “(3) No one can be called to account for voting or not voting at a referendum

Nevertheless, on 30 September 2018, the Macedonian people overwhelmingly rejected the referendum question using a successful, mass boycott. Millions were poured into the regime’s campaign, and it received substantial propagandistic support from the West, USA, EU and NATO. However, it did not succeed in defeating the grassroots #Bojkotiram campaign which was starved of funds and airtime and subjected to harassment by the Zaev government.

Despite feverish and panicked ballot-stuffing in the last hours of the vote, especially in ethnic Albanian-inhabited areas, the regime and its international backers could only manage a low turnout of around 36.9%, which ensured that the result of this illegal, anti-Macedonian and unconstitutional referendum on Macedonia’s centuries-old name ,under both the constitution (articles 73 and 120 which mandate a 50+1 % turnout of all voters for any result to be legally valid) and the Law on Referendums ( article 7 (3) , which protects the right to boycott) was invalid. Zaev’s regime engaged in farcical attempts to present this invalid result as a great victory by pointing to the fact that of those who voted, 94.18% voted in favour of the referendum question and only 5.82 per cent against and again invoked the non-existent spectre of “Russian interference“ as a reason for the successful boycott campaign.

Despite the Macedonian people’s resounding rejection of the referendum and the Prespa Agreement, the illegal Zaev regime, at the urging of its Western backers who wish to see Macedonian in NATO at all costs, arrogantly announced on the night of the 30th of September that they would not respect the Macedonian people’s clearly expressed democratic will and that Parliament would decide the fate of the Prespa Agreement.

On 19 October 2018 the Zaev regime, employing reportedly a combination of threats, financial inducements and release from detention of opposition MPs held on trumped-up charges of terrorism in exchange for their vote, defied the will of the people expressed on 30 September and pushed through a vote which it claims gives it the right to proceed to amend the Constitution to incorporate the Prespa capitulation.

However, even this “vote” is illegal as it did not achieve the support of 81 MPs (not 80) as required by the Constitution. Macedonians are currently planning protests and civil disobedience to prevent the Zaev regime from illegally changing the name of the country via implementation of the Prespa Agreement.

The basis of the Prespa Agreement is Greece’s attempt to erase Macedonia’s name is based on its desire to cover up the egregious human rights abuses it has committed against its indigenous ethnic Macedonian population since it annexed that part of Macedonia in 1913; abuses which have included ethnic cleansing, murders, mass expulsions, confiscation of properties and rescinding of citizenship, total denial of the existence of Macedonians in Greece and a refusal to grant Macedonians their most basic of human rights.

Such violations have been well documented by the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Human Rights Watch and the Council of Europe among others.

Such an attempt at cultural genocide in the 21st century cannot be allowed to stand. This is not a “diplomatic dispute” as the Western press quaintly puts it, but a concerted attempt to erase an old and proud people by denying them their most fundamental human rights; those which the countries of the EU and NATO which are attempting to impose this agreement on Macedonia would not dream of denying to their own citizens.  Democratic and progressive forces throughout the world cannot sit by idly and allow this to happen.

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