Nina Gatzoulis Coordinator of the World
BBC Digital, Current Affairs
March 3, 2019
Dear Mr. Mulvey,
Paul Joseph Goebbels’s conviction that “A lie told often enough becomes truth” is the adage, residual of a catastrophic and devastating WWII that all of us wish humanity never experiences again. This maxim however, was unfortunately supported by BBC’s correspondent in Greece Maria Margaronis who had the impudence to write an appalling, biased, and misinforming narrative entitled “Greece’s invisible minority: the Macedonian Slavs” https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-47258809 thatfocused on the so-called “Macedonian” language spoken by the so-called “denied (read “oppressed”)Macedonian Slavs” in Greece, and highlighting the author’s views on the Prespes Agreement.
We will not attempt to give you a long lesson on the idiom spoken in some villages in Greece’s northern territory of Macedonia close to the border with its northern neighbour, but rather we would like to emphasize a few facts. The language spoken by the ancient Macedonians was Greek with Doric elements and various inscriptions on ancient finds found in Macedonia, Greece, have proven this time and time again. During the period of the Ottoman Empire, there were Slav-speaking people in the area of historic Macedonia and the surrounding areas, most of them with Greek national consciousness (the remainder had a Bulgarian national consciousness). In order to distinguish the Greek that was spoken in the region from the Slavic idioms, the latter were called “entopia” (local idiom(s)). These idiomscontained a patchwork of words coming from the various peoples who lived in historic Macedonia and the surrounding areas. Traveling from west to east toward Bulgaria, the idioms become more Bulgarianin nature. Of course, the existence of these Slavic idioms does not imply the existence of a Macedonian language. The creation of a Slavic language in the 1940s bearing the Macedonian name was a political act by the Communist regime of Yugoslav dictator Tito as a means to justify the Communist International’s (ComIntern’s) idea of a creation of a “Macedonian nation” within Yugoslavia during that time. This involved a codification of the Serbo-Bulgarian pidgin spoken in southern Yugoslavia, conscious de-Bulgarisation of it in many instances, creation of an alphabet, and even invention of new words. It is well known that Tito and ComIntern coveted northern Greek lands and especially historic Macedonia. This was forewarned by the United States (the “leader of the Free World”) in 1944 and described as a hostile act against Greece. The Yugoslavs supported (monetarily and militarily) and influenced autonomist Bulgarophile Nazi collaborationists-turned Communists in northern Greece. This helped lead to the Greek Civil War that ultimately led to the Communist utter defeat by the Greek Royal Forces with the aid of the American and the British Royal forces. As a result, many Greek communists (calling themselves “Macedonians”) fled into the Iron Curtain in order to avoid prosecution and reprisal for their crimes against the Greek nation. Greece therefore (as does any nation), has every right to refuse subsequent entry to those previous citizens who collaborated with enemies of the state. No one is denying the existence of those who fled, and the very few who stayed behind. A national minority though – especially a “Macedonian” one among 2.5 million Macedonian Greeks – they are not.
As mentioned above, Ms. Margaronis’s article was not only misinformative, but it was also predisposed and biased. Her narrative was based only on one interview from a certain Mr. Fokas – a self-described “Macedonian” whose family he described as being one of those who collaborated against the Greek state after World War II. This man, who is from one of Greece’s northern border villages is the main voice of her tale and describes a litany of complaints against the Greek state, yet the BBC does nothing to present the other side – presenting only the side of the belligerent during the civil war. What about the voice of those that suffered under the yoke of the Bulgarophiles during the Balkan Wars, the Axis occupation, and then the Communist-initiated civil war? But of course, it is more interesting to the BBC to give the voice to the side it perceives to be the underdog, isn’t it? This is totally unacceptable as BBC’s correspondent also interviewed Mrs. Nina Gatzoulis, Coordinator of the World Pan-Macedonian Associations and Mr. George Tatsios, president of the Panhellenic Federation of Cultural Associations of Macedonians on September 8, 2018 in Thessaloniki, Greece. Their positions however were never revealed as the author decided to silence the voice of one side. Moreover, Ms. Margaronis stated that in 1913, Greece “annexed” Macedonia instead of liberating landwith a majority Greek population from the Ottoman Turks. Annexation is the narrative of those who historically have questioned the sovereignty of Greece over her northern regions, including those who share Mr. Fokas’s ideas. Annexation implies appropriation of territory that did not belong to Greece before and allowing such rhetoric to widely come forth from the BBC is shameful. What is also surprising and alarming in this situation is the fact that even though these interviews occurred some time ago, she buried them for about six months. Now that the Prespes Agreement has become the apple of discord between the Greek people and certain power centers that support it, her tale surfaces in a carefully crafted presentation. One final point, the picture purportedly showing “Macedonian [Slav]villagers in 1947” is actually an image of Sarakatsáni – a pastoral nomadic Greek subgroup of peoplebased on their dress.
News agencies like the esteemed BBC have the obligation to report the unbiased and complete truth of an issue based on verified facts. Ms. Margaronis presented an article whose content is nothing more than her opinion with the intention to gain something that people such as Mr. Fokas are not entitled to have. Whose interests is she supporting? Does the BBC share her views? Reporting lies opens up news agencies to potential law suits from those who honour truth and seek to defend it. With this story, Ms. Margaronis failed as a reporter but rather triumphed as an activist. This reflects poorly on the BBC and not only in the eyes of the whole Greek nation – a free nation the United Kingdom once helped to defend against the actions of people like Mr. Fokas.
WORLD PAN-MACEDONIAN ASSOCIATIONS
Pan-Macedonian Association of USA
President: Dimitris Filippidis
Pan-Macedonian Federation of Australia
Coordinator: Peter Jasonides
Pan-Macedonian Association of Canada
President: Dr. Christos Karatzios
Pan-Macedonian Association of South Africa
President: Amyntas Papathanasiou
Pan-Macedonian Federation of Canada
President: George Papadakis
Pan Hellenic Federation of Cultural Associations of Macedonians(Greece)
President: George Tatsios
PS: this communication will be cc’ed to the Members of the European Union, as well as the Representatives of the United Nations.