Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton
United States of America
Dear Madame Secretary,
We, the representatives of the Pan Macedonian Association USA, one of the largest Greek-American organizations are writing you this letter on the heels of an article published in the US Department of State’s April 2010 issue of State Magazine, whose contents we find highly offensive and provocative. The article in question was written by Stephanie Rowlands, the wife of Ryan Rowlands who is the public affairs officer at the US Embassy in Skopje. It is titled “Skopje, Ancient Macedonia builds modern democracy”, is found on page 20-25 http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/138927.pdf yet it is curiously flagged as the “Post of the Month” and is showcased on the front page of the magazine. We will focus on a few things which we consider unacceptable to be coming from the Department of State’s official publication.
We can laugh off the mention of “Ancient Macedonia” and the first line of the article that states: “Macedonia, the name evokes images of ancient civilizations, with men in togas and sandals bearing spears and shields”, and refer the US Department of State to established World History. We can also refer the Department to the letter written to President Obama from over 360 renowned classicists deploring the ridiculous antiquization campaign of historical revisionism from Skopje’s ultranationalist government. However, we cannot laugh off nor ignore the following line:
“Today major portions of historical Macedonia lie within neighboring countries.”
With this unfortunate line, the US Department of State has legitimized Greece’s concerns in the Balkans after the fall of Yugoslavia, and it is championing the irredentist claims of Skopje. Is the Department of State implying that the FYROM is the heir to historical Macedonia? We would like to know if the United States questions the sovereignty of Greece over its own borders. Historical Macedonia is in Greece and is an inextricable part of Greece – period. A Macedonia without Pella, Vergina, Dion, Philippi, and Thessaloniki is not really Macedonia is it? The line from the Department’s magazine is provocative to say the least.
Additionally, apart from the obvious attempt to thrust Skopje’s image to the world (which is fine to do so), the underlying tone and message of the article remains that “Macedonia” (sic) is a stable Balkan country and it is its neighbors that are trying to destabilize it. There is no mention of any contribution to the instability of the Balkans that Skopje has. Moreover, there is an underlying jab at Greece with every line that is written. In no uncertain terms it is Greece, a “most contentious” neighbor which has “hindered its inclusion” into NATO and the European Union and thus it is capricious Greece which is implicitly seen in a negative light. It is almost as if we do not know with what name Skopje came to the bargaining table at the NATO Summit in Bucharest in March of 2008. Furthermore, comparisons of the multicultural FYROM with the United States and how “appealing” it is to Americans are other attempts to showcase Skopje as a darling in the Balkans. On the title page “The Pearl of the Balkans” is written in bold. Even though we understand locals call Lake Ohrid by this title, it is translated as “Biser Balkanski”, which is also the title of a popular irredentist song in the FYROM: “Ey Macedonia, You are the Pearl of the Balkans, Unite Pirin and Egejska (Aegean) with the clear waters of the Vardar, There is only one truth…only one Macedonia, Share it – divide it, But again our beloved will become ours!” At most this was an unfortunate choice of a title.
If the United States wants to nation-build in the FYROM, they can do so but not on the back of Greek history and sensitivities. The collective memory of the United States Department of State shines with Edward Stettinius Jr.’s words in his 1944 Circular Airgram to US diplomatic circles (see attached): “This government considers talk of Macedonian “nation,” Macedonian “Fatherland,” or Macedonian “national consciousness” to be unjustified demagoguery representing no ethnic nor political reality, and sees in its present revival a possible cloak for aggressive intentions against Greece.”
We are asking for a public explanation for this propaganda piece coming from the US Department of State. We also ask to include the letter http://macedonia-evidence.org/obama-letter.html of the 362 professors and researchers to President Obama in one of the Magazine of the State Department’s monthly publications as soon as possible. Your husband understood Greece’s positions, as President Obama understands the sensitivities of the Greeks regarding their history. We would like to believe that you do as well.
Sincerely and with regret,
Nina Gatzoulis Maria Hatzinakos
Supreme President Supreme Secretary
Cc President of US Barack Obama
Senator Robert Menendez
Senator Olympia Snow
Senator Jeanne Shaheen
Congressman Gus Bilirakis
Congressman John Sarbanes
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney
Congresswoman Nikki Tsongas
Congressman Zach Space