The Greece-Macedonian issue: American-Greek relations at odds

Ann Evans annevans123 at gmail.com
Mon Jun 2 15:32:23 UTC 2008


What is the name(s) that Greece is suggesting for FYROM?  What name(s) is
Fyrom suggesting?

Ann

On Mon, Jun 2, 2008 at 7:41 AM, Harold Schiffman <hfsclpp at gmail.com> wrote:

> American-Greek relations at odds
>
>
>
> Dr. George Voskopoulos in American Chronicle
> June 01, 2008
>
> The US and Greece have been strategic allies ever since the end of the
> Second World War. Greece became a NATO member in 1952 thus cementing
> the alliance´s south-east European flank against the Warsaw Pact. In
> this way the leaders of the country hoped to strengthen democracy and
> assist development in the only country that practiced free market in
> the region. During the Cold War years the Atlantic Alliance provided a
> reliable casus foederis against non-alliance members, a fact that left
> out of this collective security mecha-nism the biggest military threat
> the country faced. Still Greek governments supported alliance policies
> vis-à-vis neighboring countries and refrained from upsetting its
> cohe-sion and its overall effectiveness in dealing with Soviet
> expansion. This explains Greek subtle policy vis-à-vis non-aligned
> Yugoslavia and Tito´s expansionist dreams.However, today the picture
> of bilateral relations looks rather gloomy. One of the causes of the
> rift is the Greece-FYROM dispute over the latter´s constitutional
> name. At the end of the Cold War the issue originally appeared to be a
> technicality, yet it proved to be more than that.
>
> Under the circumstances FYROM is treated as a de facto and de jure
> ally and Greece as alliance outcast. All of a sudden the US appears
> willing to overlay the essentials that brought the two countries
> together. They give Athens wrong signals and adopt an inconceivable
> policy that affects bilateral relations. The prerequisites of turning
> American-Greek relations into a meaningful strategic partnership again
> are simple. Most of them apply to every single partnership built on
> consensus not coercion. Even-tually going back to the basics will
> assist the revitalization of this strategic partnership and trigger
> the so needed by both sides understanding of the issue at hand. The
> first refers to the US being able to acknowledge the vital interest of
> a local part-ner who faces multidimensional hostile activities by a
> neighboring state wishing to join the Atlantic Alliance. Vital
> interests are defined in terms of threats, their percep-tion and
> intensity and the degree they affect the survival of a country.
> Eventually they may turn into non-negotiable national interests and
> lead to a dead end.
>
> In the so called "Macedonian dispute" [1] Greece has made every single
> effort to meet the other side half way. It is obvious that the Greek
> political elite is ready to accept a name with a geographical
> definition that leaves no space for further misunderstanding. Greece
> has taken a step back in its rhetoric and policy with a view to
> enhancing stability in the region.
>
> However the other side refuses to adopt a name that clearly
> distinguishes it form the Greek province Macedonia. Constructivism may
> be a useful, at times, approach to international relations, yet, it
> runs the risk of over-extending into relativism, thus making any
> claim, whether sustainable or not, appear attractive or noble.
> Eventually it dramatically blurs the dividing line between facts and
> beliefs, something American officials should comprehend. The semantics
> of Skopje rejecting the covertly implied by the Greek government
> solution enhances suspiciousness in Athens and eventually reveals the
> real motives behind Macedonianism, a state ideology built on Great
> Idea inspirations. These are externalized in the form of a demand, a
> historical duty on the part of Slav-Macedonians and especially the
> Diaspora to unite geographical Macedonia. A part of this strategy
> includes "liberation" of Greek Macedonia. A less informed or
> misinformed reader would probably think that there used to be a united
> country dismembered by neighboring states. Yet, the truth is
> different. What we know is that "the region of Macedonia, inhabited by
> Slavs from the fifth century, was never able to have its own
> independent state" [2]. Still even if history had proven an
> unfortunate experience for our neighbors they would not be liable to
> advance irredentism as a means of purging it. This would certainly
> give many in the region the right to start claiming possessions of the
> past. It would probably give me and another 1.200.000 Greeks forced
> out of Asia Minor the right to claim our property. This is not the
> case and we should all ac-knowledge certain facts of history, politics
> and reality.
>
> Second, the issue at hand is not related to race purity or historical
> accuracy but security. The concept affects not only inter-state
> relations but national psychology. After all, the feeling of security
> bears a strong psychological aspect. This makes the in-volvement of
> the Atlantic Alliance imperative on the basis of its being a
> collective security mechanism. Once an ally faces hostile propaganda
> and overt irredentist claims NATO should be in a position to intervene
> and protect existing non prospec-tive members. It is a matter of
> priorities stemming from alliance commitments not vague ideological
> stances. Providing stability is what gives NATO its raison d´ être and
> makes it a meaningful (or meaningless?) alliance.
>
> Washington´s support to a revisionist state constitutes today´s
> paradox with American policy in the issue. The US joins lines with
> extremists in FYROM and supports the weakest but aggressive party, a
> non-NATO member not a strategic ally that has defended the territorial
> status quo and served the alliance´s interests ever since 1952. Greece
> is the only NATO member and EU country that still faces military and
> non-military threats. It is the only NATO member whose security has
> been solely con-structed on the realist concept of self-help.A
> substantial number of US senators have acknowledged that Greek worries
> are not imaginary and do not constitute a side-effect of national
> psychosis. Actually this could not have been the case since there are
> tangible facts that turn FYROM into the odd man in the Balkans. It
> also exposes the inability of the political establishment in Skopje to
> define real enemies as illustrated by the 2001 crisis.
>
> What is disappointing with US policy is its easiness to dismiss Greek
> security considerations, at least on the practical level, since in
> terms of rhetoric the State Department is more careful. What we have
> seen so far is a policy of punishing a NATO ally for defending
> territorial status and regional stability, a policy that means to
> consistently provoke Athens through the use of the term Macedonia, a
> policy of supporting all those inside and outside the country that
> wish to destabilize the political system. It is fully understood that
> America´s strategic priorities vary from balancing short-term needs
> and long-term interests in a region prone to Russian influence. Yet,
> long- term allies and their interests cannot vanish into thin air.
> They have been there to sup-port what used to be the West and they
> will be there in times of need. Supporting a country that has just
> discovered the merits of Atlanticism (this is what I call
> opportun-istic Atlanticism) gives merit to those – like me - who
> suggest that NATO has lost its collective security meaning, a debate
> inaugurated in the early 1990s after the demise of the Soviet Union.
>
> US policy during the last years has been a challenge to foes and
> allies since it has lost its "persuasive credibility", arbitrariness
> and ability to see the obvious. It has led allies to question NATO´s
> scope, its utility and above all its ability to impose norms of
> in-ternational behaviour based on rigid, uncompromised principles and
> values. Above all it lacks the ability to devise policies formulated
> outside the current militarily and power-imposed ethos.
>
> In 2005 T.K. Vogel and Eric A. Witte, senior fellows of the
> Democratization Policy Council, commented on the gap between American
> policies and rhetoric suggesting that "grand rhetoric about democracy
> and freedom only resonates when it is supported by actual policy". [3]
> In the same way American policies cannot bear multidimensional
> semantics that can be interpreted in many contending ways. It has to
> be clear at least vis-à-vis allies such as Greece. One of the greatest
> challenges leaders and simple individuals have always faced is to cope
> with power and how to put it in good use. Whether a university
> professor or the leader of a superpower one needs internal balancing
> mechanisms to reconciliate needs, values, prerogatives and
> commitments. In the case of an alliance priorities should be formed on
> the basis of the needs of those inside and the advertised ethical
> basis of American active involvement in world politics. It takes at
> least two to have peace..at least two to go to war and at least two to
> form an alliance.
>
> notes
>
> [1] The term "Macedonian issue" is rather inaccurate, since "the
> Macedonians of to-day are not, as many in the West think, descendants
> of the long vanished Macedoni-ans of Alexander the Great. They are
> Slavs, who speak a language related to the Serbo-Croatian and the
> Bulgarian. Together with other Slavs, they came from the
> Russo-Polish-Ukrainian plains at the end of the Great Migrations, in
> the sixth and seventh centuries A.D. and settled in the mountainous
> Balkan land then ruled by the Byzantine emperor. All the Slav tribes
> that almost fourteen hundred years ago had established in the
> Byzantine provinces known of old as Macedonia in the second half of
> the nineteenth century began to use the name of that province as their
> own national appellation". See Stoyan Pribichevich, Macedonia, its
> people and history, The Pennsylvania State University Press,
> University Park, 1982, p. 2
> [2] Stephane Lefebvre, "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
> (FYROM): Where to?", European Security, vol. 3, n. 4, winter 1994, p.
> 711.
> [3] "America should ditch its tyrant friends", International Herald
> Tribune, August 15, 2005.
>
>
> http://modern-macedonian-history.blogspot.com/2008/06/american-greek-relations-at-odds.html
>
> --
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