Letter: Macedonia: misunderstandings about anthropology

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The Independent Online
One would expect an experienced journalist such as Leonard Doyle (reports, 10 and 11 May) not to have accepted so unquestioningly the claims of those who propagate the view that a sizeable Slavic- speaking minority (which he calls 'ethnic' and therefore by implication indigenous Macedonians) in the Greek province of Macedonia is being systematically persecuted by the Greek state.

Patently, Mr Doyle's articles are based largely on an interview with Hristos Sideropoulos, whom he himself describes as 'a controversial figure among Macedonian activists' and who cannot therefore be regarded as an objective and reliable source. Mr Sideropoulos has been free to express his views, even as a member of the Greek Civil Service, accusing Greece all over the world of alleged violations of human rights.

It is indeed an irony to find aspersions cast upon Greece's respect for democracy and freedom and justice. In the dark early days of the Second World War, Greece stood alone with the UK among the nations of Europe against the forces of fascism. It then endured long years of occupation until the end of the war. Then, when the rest of Europe was enjoying victory and peace, Greece endured a further four years of civil war, fought on behalf of western democracy and fought largely over the very territory of Macedonia.

How can Mr Doyle fail to observe that when Tito founded the Yugoslav Federal Republic of Macedonia, only 48 years ago, he was making a blatant political statement of the purpose which he failed to achieve through the Greek civil war - of a 'Greater Macedonia' encompassing Greek territory and extending to the warm water port of Salonika. This was enshrined in the constitution of that state.

The present 'human rights' campaign given such unquestioned publicity in Mr Doyle's articles is in fact a cloak for irredentism. This policy of destabilisation continues to be enshrined in the constitution of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, in the choice of national emblem and at the heart of the majority party in the parliament. No wonder the Greeks are puzzled and hurt when they read articles such as Mr Doyle's.

Yours faithfully,

EDDIE O'HARA

MP for Knowsley South (Lab)

House of Commons

London SW1

12 May

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