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The Macedonian question: Prespa in a broader context

Note from LeftEast editors: In June 2018 the Prespa Agreement on the Macedonia name dispute was signed, stipulating among other things the name change of the Republic of Macedonia into Republic of North Macedonia. Several months later, the Macedonian people refused to legitimize the Agreement. In September 2018 they boycotted the referendum on the country’s name change which posed the question: “Are you in favour of European Union and NATO membership by accepting the agreement between the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Greece?”. With voter turnout of only 37%, the establishment failed to achieve the 50% threshold necessary to validate the referendum. In spite of this outcome, the Prespa Agreement was pushed through Parliament following a combination of illegal and illegitimate methods, encouraged and condoned by the Euro-Atlantic geopolitical complex.  This process paved the way for the country’s eventual accession in the NATO alliance, in February 2019. Petros Nomikos, member of Antarsya, attempts to draw a balance sheet of the Prespa Agreement from a working-class perspective. He considers the clear assessment of the Agreement’s political implications to be necessary in order to enable the (Greek) left to deal with the persisting Macedonian Question. 

Macedonia. Now what?

It has been three years since the Prespa Agreement was signed.  Since then, Syriza has been replaced by New Democracy. The Prespa agreement is now supported by the vast majority of the Greek parliament. From their seats, no voice opposes the agreement with the exception of  the “Macedonian warriors”, the picturesque horde of discordance represented by the far right on the one hand, and of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) on the other lancing the imperialist windmills of its imagination. Yet the Parliament will not hear even the slightest question that would touch the core of the northward expansionist policy of the Greek bourgeoisie: all wings of the Greek parliament agree that there are no ethnic Macedonians in Greek Macedonia. And if the rest of the parliamentary political forces simply persist in a 150 year-old political fraud, the KKE is humiliating itself by erasing its large Macedonian membership during the Greek civil war and by cleaning the bloody apron of the Greek bourgeoisie.

Through the Prespa agreement, the Greek bourgeoisie forced the bourgeoisie of the Republic of Macedonia to succumb to very harsh political terms in their rush to join the international capitalist division of labor. In order to benefit from its accession to the imperialist chain, the bourgeoisie of the Republic of Macedonia was forced to change the name of its state, to change its constitution and to accept Greek supervision  of the observance of the agreements, extended even to private entities. The bourgeoisie of the Republic of Macedonia was forced to lay its ethnogenetic narrative to the Procrustean bed of the corresponding Greek narrative. Of course,  it will not find it difficult to live well and even better under these conditions, if it can -and so far it can- handle its internal ethnic tensions brought about by the agreement.

But the working class is now doubly burdened. The Macedonian worker of the Republic of Macedonia is oppressed as a worker by capital and its state and as a Macedonian by Greek imperialism. This is not limited to the fact that -like many other national working classes- the Macedonian worker now has to work for the profits of the Greek, European or American capitalist in addition to working for “their own” capitalists.

The workers of the Republic of Macedonia must comply not only with the requirements of capital in general but also with the requirements of the Greek “high commission” in particular. Hence, there can be no doubt that Greek workers must denounce the agreement from an internationalist point of view. To paraphrase Marx, Greek workers must realize that for them, the national emancipation of the Macedonian workers “is not a matter of abstract justice or humanitarian sentiment, but the first precondition for their own social emancipation.” The imperialist ambitions of Greek capitalism must be thwarted; the working class must clearly state that it will not become an accomplice to the blackmail and humiliation of the neighboring people, that the Greek state has no right to have a say, let alone to dictate, how another nation will call itself and finally that there has never been any ground for an agreement because any agreement would violate a weaker nation’s right to self-determination.

The Prespa Agreement not only reserves the lion’s share for the stronger Greek capitalism to the detriment of the Macedonian newcomer but it also confirms the success of the Greek-bourgeois project to annex most of the geographical area of Macedonia. This is a project dating back to the late 19th century when the Ottoman Empire was slowly retreating from the historical forefront. This initial description is a common ground for the anti-capitalist and far-left. Yet, from this point on, their views diverge significantly.

Nevertheless around the politically thin island of the extra-parliamentary left-wing lies the deep sea of  “serious” bourgeois politics celebrating the deal, and the shallow sea of far-right patriotism, which back in 2016 was cursing the “treacherous agreement” but is now tacitly retreating to the mainstream position.  This far-right patriotism finds its harmonies not only with the patented patriotic left but well beyond it.

A constellation of political parties and organizations dispersed all over the political spectrum denounces the Prespa Agreement for giving “that which is holy to the dogs”; namely to “gyftoskopianoi”[1]. For this , the right-wingers are blaming George Soros; their left-wing counterparts are blaming NATO imperialism. Both the “serious” and the far-right bourgeois nationalism, as well as the reformist social-patriotic diapedesis to the left ( Popular Unity and, represent the current transformation of Greek capitalist expansionism, which has a historical depth of about 150 years.

An impossible ethnogenesis?

A long time ago the “national” agitation for a unique and exclusively Greek Macedonia was the battle cry calling for the expansion of Greek capital into the “virgin” lands abandoned by the collapsing Ottoman Asiatic autocracy, under the pretext of liberating the inhabiting, supposedly majoritarian, Greek population. However, we must not lose sight of the fact that the bourgeoisie itself, or at least its leading circles, did not believe a word of its own nationalist rhetoric: “Macedonia will become Greek or Bulgarian following the victor. If the Bulgarians take it, I do no doubt that they will slavizate the population up to the borders of Thessaly. If we take it, we will make them all Greeks up to Eastern Rumelia”, Trikoupis informs the readers of the Manchester Guardian back in 1889.[2] The Greek expansion northward -and likewise the rival, ultimately failed, Bulgarian capitalism’s attempting expansion southward- could only take place at the expense of the national aspirations of the Macedonians[3] who at the same time were waking up nationally.

Karavangelis and the Turkish army following the suppression of the Ilinden uprising Άγνωστος – Албум Алманах Македония, София, 1931. Source: Wikicommons

The alignment of the Greek state and its agents in Macedonia with the Ottoman state against the Ilinden revolutionaries, confirms how vital it was for the interests of Greek capital to assure that Macedonia was to be a ‘virgin’ national territory. The enemy was neither the Ottoman state, which was already withdrawing from the scene of history, nor the nationalism of the inferior, despite its military might, Bulgarian capitalism; the enemy was a robust young Macedonian nationalism that would crystallize into a state occupying the geographical area of Macedonia, thereby making the pursuit of territorial annexations a very hard nut to crack for the teeth of Greek capitalism. Such a multiplicity of nationalisms, beginning with the two largest, the Serb[4] and Bulgarian,[5] [6] has been made possible by the ethnic-linguistic fragmentation of the South Slavs. Writing about Pan-Slavism in the Neue Rheinische Zeitung of January 13, 1849, Friedrich Engels sheds light on the history of an ethnic fragmentation that explains how Macedonians were left out of two almost simultaneous and tangible nationalisms, which were finally shaped in the states of Serbia and Bulgaria:

The direct aim of pan-Slavism is the creation of a Slav state under Russian domination, extending from the Erzgebirge and the Carpathians to the Black, Aegean and Adriatic seas –a state which would include, besides the German, Italian, Magyar, Wallachian, Turkish, Greek and Albanian languages, also approximately a dozen Slav languages and basic dialects. All this would be held together […] by the abstract quality of Slavism and the so-called Slav language, which is at any rate common to the majority of the inhabitants. But where does this Slavism exist except in the minds of a few ideologists, where is the “Slav language” except in the imagination of Herren Palacký, Gaj and Co., and, to some extent, in the old Slav litany of the Russian church, which no Slav any longer understands? […]In reality, the Slav language of these ten or twelve nations consists of an equal number of dialects, mostly incomprehensible to one another, which can be reduced to different main stems (Czech, Illyrian, Serbian, Bulgarian) and which, owing to the total neglect of all literature and the lack of culture of the majority of these peoples, have become a sheer patois, and with few exceptions have always had above them an alien, non-Slav language as the written language.

It seems that in order to be born, Macedonian nationalism needed to see before its own eyes these two neighboring nationalisms boldly claiming and detaching parts of the Ottoman Empire and, a little later, Greek nationalism preparing hastily for a new ‘Macedonian’ mutilation of the Great Patient, (then, a derogatory but also telling name for the Ottoman Empire)[7], in antagonism to other predator nationalisms, mainly the Bulgarian one. All these mobilizations floated on the tide of the European revolutionary turmoil of the 19th century. But this ethnogenesis proceeds in the absence of a corresponding national bourgeoisie.

The bourgeoisie of the European part of the Ottoman Empire had long ago made its choices and had already begun to imitate the lifestyle and had politically identified with the geographically closer bourgeoisie. The industrialists of Veria and Naoussa, for example, considered themselves Greeks and that is why they were doubly hated by the lower classes. Behind these tendencies of the Macedonian bourgeoisie to integrate into one or another bourgeois nation-state, some of the peasants were aligned as “Grecoman” or “Bulgarian-minded”. But there was also a large peasant mass which was too far away from the urban bourgeoisie and the influence of the surely weak local capital, that resisted the direct political influence of the warring Balkan states. Among these last peasants, the “Slavo-Macedonian consciousness is rather developing through reductio ad absurdum” identifying themselves as what they were not![8] National self-determination is always negative; it denies another national definition and in the case of the Slavo-Macedonians, along with the simultaneous negation of multiple neighboring national determinations that are forcibly seeking to assimilate them, we have as  a positive determination for the emerging Macedonian nation the transformation of the geographical birthplace designation as Macedonians, into the constitutive element of their own national determination.[9]

The vacuum of a bourgeois national project and its corresponding ideological shell, as we have known it in the neighboring nationalist processes, is now to be fulfilled by an amalgam of a national and social project as determined by an oriental peasant question[10] as conceived by an intelligentsia ideologically and politically linked to the surrounding fabric of anarchism and socialism and particularly to German social-democracy through figures such as Goce Delchev or the “Macedonian RosaRosa Plaveva. Their ideas resonate in the social character of Macedonian nationalism and its attempt to politically transcend ethnic divisions and include all the ethnicities that were for centuries living side by side in ottoman Macedonia.[11]

Rosa Plavev alongside Dusan Cekic, Georgi Kirkov and Iliya_Plavev / Source: Wikicommons

Of course, this singular process of national awakening -in the absence of bourgeois leadership- could not historically lead to the creation of a bourgeois nation. It culminated in a classic peasant revolution and, as in any peasant uprising, those who could eventually wield any power that could be won would not be the peasants. But the question was not even raised: the uprising was suppressed. In order for this nation to be formed politically, therefore, “the harmful influences assailing it on all sides must first be eliminated, and it must then be assured the normal conditions for spontaneous development.”[12] This will take more than forty years after Ilinden. The Macedonian nation will be formed politically only partly, in the context of the Yugoslav proletarian revolution, the degeneration of which was of course to follow step by step. The new Macedonian urban bourgeoisie was born out of the Stalinist implosion of the 90s with the keys to its national state in hand!

From the Greek side

A military intervention of the collapsing Sublime Porte[13], fully supported by armed Greek nationalism was necessary for Macedonian nationalism to be stopped in its rebellious times. It also needed to be undermined by Bulgarian nationalism and finally the Neo-Turkish revolution. The final defeat of the Ottoman Empire was to be inflicted by the alliances of Greek capitalism in the First and especially with Serbia in the Second Balkan War, stabilizing on the fly the Serbian-Greek border along the line that the fortunes of war set for the two allied armies to meet each other.[14] This rough division of the geographical region of Macedonia allowed Greece and Serbia to turn their bayonets against their common enemy, Bulgaria. World War I finalized the Greek annexation of the Macedonian geographical region in its largest part while the rest of it was divided between Serbia and Bulgaria.

In the ensuing period, the same battle cry of ‘Greek’ Macedonia became the ideological tool for the ethnic cleansing of the annexed territories -either with the (very Greek) patent of population exchange and settlement or, in the case of Macedonians living in Greek territory, with national oppression, according to Trikoupis’ wording, “we will make them all Greeks”. Greek capitalism would now attempt to incorporate other ethnic groups living in Macedonia -the Greeks and the Wallachians of Macedonia, the Asia Minor and Pontic refugees- as overseers of the nationally suspect Macedonians. The refugee population, in particular, would have a dual status: to be at the same time considered  ‘Turkish offsprings’ as to the Old Greeks, and full blood Greeks as to the Macedonians. In fact, parts of these populations were led to adhere in favor of the “Greekness”[15] of Macedonia, not only to rid themselves of the ‘Turkish offspring’ stigma but also to morally legitimize the most fertile lands granted to them at the expense of the ethnic Macedonians.[16]

Thus, according to nationalist mythology, a kind of “nothing but Greek” Macedonia had existed during the centuries since the times of Alexander the Great and his sister the mermaid. In the meantime, it was enslaved by the Turks while miraculously preserving for 500 years a kind of ahistorical Greekness. The Turkish population was living for those 500 years in Macedonia was considered a trespasser who had nothing to do with this territory and was anyway deported, exchanged with Greek refugees from the East. At last, what was left in Macedonia was nothing but a pure Greek population whose “Slavic-speaking” or “bilingual” part, after all these adventures may have suffered some cultural or linguistic compromises, hopefully reversible, even if a thorough beating would be required.[17]

The macedonian narrative  of the Greek state aimed on the one hand to consolidate its territorial expansion and on the other hand to keep open the possibility of a new expansion, raising through a paradoxical territorial animism[18] an equally paradoxical kind of territorial irredentism: in the place of the supposedly Greek population liberated from the Ottoman tyrant during the 1912–1922 wars, now, not a Greek population but the “Greek soul” of other territories was waiting to be liberated; a Greek soul that those territories acquired immediately as and just because the Greek bourgeoisie was staring at them! Indeed, after the exchange of populations imposed by Greece on Bulgaria (Neilly 1919), no “Greeks” remained beyond the country’s northern borders to be “liberated”, but there were “Macedonian-therefore-Greek-soils” or, “once Greek forever Greek soils”  “enslaved” by Bulgaria, Serbia-Yugoslavia or Turkey and currently inhabited by barbaric trespassers.

World War II and the ensuing Greek civil war saw the massive accession of the Macedonian minority to the ranks of the Communist-Party-led Democratic Army of Greece (ΔΣΕ) after the Stalinist KKE had opportunistically and for a second time put forward the slogan of “national self-determination” of the Macedonians. The final military crash of ΔΣΕ, the landmark of the historic working-class defeat, simply aggravated their national oppression by the post-war Greek state. At that time, the standard intimidation name “Bulgarians’ ‘, for the minority Macedonians, was extended to “EAMBulgarians” after the initials of EAM (National Liberation Front) the popular front resistance organization led by KKE. Ending WWII, in thebalance sheet of Greek capitalism, the annexation of the Dodecanese was recorded in assets, while the formation of the Macedonians  as a state entity in the federation of Yugoslavia, in liabilities. Of course, as long as the borders with Yugoslavia were also the borders of two different worlds, the matter did not have serious consequences, and in the Greek Official Government Gazette, many references to the “Republic of Macedonia ” can be found.

But the so-called actually existing socialism had reached its historical end, according to the worst-case scenario for the workers’ cause. It is a historical irony that the restoration of capitalism, after the implosion of the Stalinist regimes and the bloody separations of the Yugoslav nationalities, this victory of the capitalist class was, for its Greek section, overshadowed by an independent Republic of Macedonia right next door.

Another collapse after the Ottoman one, this time not slow and torturous, but very fast and uncontrollable. This one, unlike the Ottoman collapse, did not leave behind it a no man’s land, an ethnic vacuum prey to young nationalisms,  but certainly left ample space for the imperialist penetration of Greek capitalism to be glorified, that is, to grab its share from the loot of the Yugoslav dowry.

The Name, oh that name

While from its establishment the name of the Republic of Macedonia caused no real objection from Greece, now it was suddenly elevated to a supposedly existential threat to Greece and was soon to be used as pretext and vehicle for Greek imperialist policy: the national ‘thorn’ became a national opportunity. Greek capitalism surfaced once again with its old chauvinistic, racist national narrative, but now in a different context, which required a slight change  to the meaning of the slogans. The unavoidable “Macedonia is Greek” was now to mean in applied diplomacy: “The name Macedonia and its derivatives are the exclusive property -much like a trademark- of Greek capitalism!”

But how could such a claim be met, even if (quite unexpectedly for those who imagine Greek capitalism as a mere victim of American imperialism), the United States and other leaders of the imperialist chain had recognized it as a legitimate claim up to the point that the United Nations dismissed its official name and decreed that the Republic of Macedonia should be called FYROM until an agreement with Greece would fix the issue? The Republic of Macedonia had to either be dissolved or come under a Greek guardianship. Thus, the bourgeois discourse has been vulgarized. Instead of the erst phraseology about Greek nation’s continuity from ancient Greece to today’s Greek state through the ages, we have now a phraseology claiming not the core of its national identity as a whole, but a singled out peripheral identical element, just a name, as a peculiar kind of national asset or a corporate trade mark. This vulgarization of the bourgeois discourse, from the metaphysical national continuity to a mundane market-like terminology, is indicative of what the Greek capitalists had in mind and how little they valued their own lofty nationalist rhetoric.

To be sure, their share in the collapse of Yugoslavia had to be obtained under the blessings of their NATO partners: either by annexing territories or by conquering a sufficient part of the market of the newly-formed Macedonian capitalism. Greek bourgeois propaganda outlets maneuvering around the former, were to build up the necessary national unity under bourgeois hegemony for the later.

Despite the huge success of the nationalist rallies organized by the state in the 1990s and the  alignment of the entire Greek society behind the bourgeoisie and its political alliances with Milosevic, it was the second alternative -to conquer key positions in the market economy of the Republic of Macedonia-  that from the first day was the only realistic choice for any bourgeois politician who did not want to turn a blind eye to the practice and the fabric of interests of the big players in the Yugoslav crisis. The distances that, as long as necessary to gain positions, had to be taken from the imperialist barbarity of American bombing, paired with the tactics of economic penetration through European political pressure, made it unlikely that any thought about Greek annexation and exclusivity of the Macedonian Republic could ever come to realize. But what was realistic on the international level was not on the national one, where class alliances were based upon a naive ultra-nationalism. The only logical political outlet, this ultra-nationalism could afford, was an annexation immediately followed by the usual ethnic cleansing, but that was  far too weak  a possibility. In fact, the Greek bourgeoisie was just showing its teeth, in order to have in its foreign policy the comfort of retreating generously to the second and more realistic pursuit: that of the political domination and economic penetration in the Macedonian state.

In its internal political dimension, the intransigent battle cry “Macedonia is Greek,” taken at face value, was desperately one-sided, inelastic, and fundamentally incompatible  with any kind of agreement. If the European settlers had considered the American wild west “virgin land”, since “there were no people, only wild animals, and Indians”, the coarse, intransigent, populist narrative of Greek chauvinism was likewise inclined to see the Republic of Macedonia as virgin territory, since there were no people either -only wild animals and “gypsy-Skopjeans” who as “gypsies” would beby definition stateless trespassers. Only these “gypsy-Skopjeans” were a new, already nationally formed capitalism, and the virgin land simply existed only in the nationalist imagination of a “Greece of five seas and two continents.”    

 The Greek bourgeois directorates knew this pretty well. And if a portion of the Greek bourgeoisie had flirted for a while with a possible annexation during Milosevic’s rule, the harsh version of the nationalist narrative with its unconditionality allowed the corralling of the lower classes into the “national body” and the mobilization of the working class in favor of the bourgeois “national goals”. This way or another, that subordination was  the  goal of the ᾿90’s national rallies. And if all this needed the help of the fascists, in exchange for their political legitimization , it was of course regrettable for the bourgeois political staff, but still acceptable as a necessary evil or perhaps necessary but not that evil after all.      

However, this political outcome, namely the nationalist containment of the laboring masses in the early 1990s, had ever since been tightly ideologically connected to the narrative of a single and Greek Macedonia. The necessary and successful subordination of the Greek toiling masses to bourgeois adventurism was at the same time inherently incompatible with any agreement. Any suspicion of conceding the word “Macedonia” to the “unnameable” state would have ruined everything, and that is why the Greek bourgeoisie rejected back then as “premature” the compromise proposed by the Republic of Macedonia. It’s ironic that Greek diplomacy had rejected a proposed list of probable composite names including the name “Northern Macedonia” which was later to be adopted by the Prespa agreement.

Finally, the “wisest” voices[19] turned out to prevail rapidly in the official Greek bourgeois camp which implicitly left open a possible orientation to a “mutually acceptable solution” to replace the provisional cacophony of ‘FYROM’. Yet, for the reasons just mentioned, the appropriate time to initiate the relevant diplomatic procedure was to be postponed and exclusively decided by the Greeks. It will take fifteen busy years of successful imperialist penetration[20] into the Republic of Macedonia, before Greek capital can publicly express its disposition for a “composite name”, abandoning the intransigent attitude and leaving enough time for the nationalist fascist chorus to digest the new line.

From the Macedonian side

From the opposite bank, the Macedonian nation, historically created by an unfruitful ethnogenesis and consolidated in a federal state form within Tito’s Yugoslavia, had left out of its state borders a large part of the population identifying itself as “Macedonian”. Thus, the new Macedonian state had a fluid and a disputed narrative of national formation and origin. The Ilinden insurrection, with all its subsequent bloody antagonisms between the Internal and External Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, subsequently complicated by the KKE-DSE policy,  should now be refracted, not only through the lens of the federal Yugoslav narrative but also through the tug-of-war with the Stalinist Bonapartism of Bulgaria. The last one being firm in celebrating and claiming Ilinden as its own, put a wedge in the southern soft underbelly of Tito’s Yugoslavia, a good service to the Stalinist USSR after all!

This fluidity of the national Macedonian narrative emerged, in the ’90s, as a decisive factor in the response that would be given to Greek chauvinism by the oppressed Macedonian nationalism, adopting once again an induced “Macedonian” chauvinism. A chauvinism that would naively play on the ground of the Greek national myth by claiming Alexander the Great for his own sake, and thus strengthening Greek chauvinism. The latter was now tearing its clothes defending the  sanctity of Hellenism.

The claim that the Macedonians could be descendants of Alexander the Great was directed against the special “Macedonian” narrative of the Greek state. But it could also touch upon the Greek state’s constituent mythology, as created by the Greek enlightenment of the 18th century claiming the straight line origin of the modern Greeks and their state from Greek antiquity. Greek bourgeoisie declared that the core of the constituent origin narrative of this very Greek state was now at stake! And it is an irony of history that the incredible story of  the Slavo-Macedonians’ ancestry from the ancient Macedonians of Alexander the Great is a myth forged and printed nowhere else but in the nationalist workshops of Athens in the first decade of the 20th century, and then distributed among the Macedonian populace by Greek “macedonian warriors” and wandering ever since in the background of the national fantasy of the Republic of Macedonia!

One way or another, the surfacing of this myth was a desperate and -as it turned out- ineffective attempt by the Macedonian bourgeoisie to claim a more equal relationship by imitating the Greek bourgeoisie and seeking to unite its own proletariat around an aggressive nationalist narrative, in the context of the integration of both capitalisms into the same imperialist camp. In vain, because the power that a subordinated proletariat gives to its national bourgeoisie, can never exceed the actual military power of this national bourgeoisie. It was a desperately obvious bluff since Macedonian bourgeoisie with its negligible army could not even count on foreign rifles! All this bluff could do was to make it easier for the rival chauvinism to achieve its own “national unity.”

Towards Prespa

Taking advantage of its superior position and using the threatening cry “Macedonia is Greek” as a tool, Greek capitalism set successfully upon extracting from the economic field everything it sought and thus to “negotiate” from an even more advantageous position. With successive blackmails, embargoes, nationalist rallies, etc Greece became the privileged economic agent of an otherwise unnamed state. The  Macedonian bourgeoisie hastened to benefit economically by cooperating with those to whom it was politically opposed. Greek capital now dominated entire sectors of the Macedonian state’s economy: banks, telecommunications, retail… It was all those achievements that the Greek bourgeoisie saw endangered, even perishing with the outbreak of the Great Capitalist Crisis of 2008 and its own subsequent weakening, both economically and politically.

The next decade of economic recession forgot the “Macedonian” question. Greek companies, although losing ground in the Balkans, felt threatened enough by the working class to be temporarily cured of their nationalist hysteria. However, the turning point of 2015 allowed the Greek bourgeoisie to regain political hegemony at home, having already, with the memorandum tool, bent the workers’ resistance. Alliances with Israel, Egypt, and Cyprus have given additional impetus to Greek capitalism, which,  with the working class neutralized for the time being, may now march to the new glory of the undersea energy fields. With the air of a regionally dominant capitalism, it would now suffice to confirm his political primacy in the Balkans, the prerequisite to which would be the dissolution of the “Macedonian” issue. A political primacy that, along with the regulation of the pending issue of the Western EEZ with Albania, could, of course, be both a first-class extra-economic means of Greek imperialist enforcement northward and a foothold for maneuvers at the eastern EEZ theater and -most crucially- for the control of the respective energy highway.

The political situation, both in the Republic of Macedonia and internationally, including the Greek one, seemed to be favorable for an agreement with the unnamed Republic, an agreement that would “settle” this pending issue. Greece itself, part of the imperialist chain, could not keep the Macedonian capitalist formation  in this peculiar suffocating captivity; the Macedonian bourgeoisie could only survive by joining the international division of labor. Much more so, because the Greek bourgeoisie has every interest in showing class solidarity -not without remuneration of course. If the accession of the Republic of Macedonia in the imperialist chain (under Greek supervision) is ultimately advantageous to its bourgeoisie, it was no less advantageous for the bourgeoisie on the other side of the border. Indeed, the integration of Macedonia’s democracy, under the wings of Greek bourgeoisie, to the imperialist chain, in addition to being a prerequisite for Greece’s primacy in the Balkans, could not only be a milestone in this process, formalizing Greece’s imperialist penetration, but also the springboard for a new imperialist expedition to the Balkans. Therefore the political issue with the Republic of Macedonia could not be perpetuated.

However, any agreement between two capitalisms can not but imply the mutual recognition of the counterparts with a name in which each of them recognizes itself, that is, a name that is not incompatible with the narrative of  its ethnogenesis. The fact that this narrative, in the case of the Republic of Macedonia, is more fluid than the Greek one, would simply make the range of possible names a little larger, but by no means could be described with a name that would not include the word Macedonia. This obvious fact was already explicitly recognized a decade ago by the Greek bourgeoisie, even by (Kostas) Karamanlis B’.

If Greek capitalism was in a hurry to close the pending issues n to the north and west, in order to recover from its degradation in the imperialist chain through a new economic sortie in the Balkans and devote itself to grabbing the entire eastern Mediterranean leaving Turkish capitalism outside the banquet, then an agreement with the Republic of Macedonia was necessary. It was in Prespa where that work was accomplished and consequently, the recognition of the Macedonian nation and Macedonian language is not a “positive point of the agreement” in contrast to other “negative points”. Greek capitalism did not recognize the Macedonian nation by its generosity or by Syriza’s nonexistent internationalism.

Greek capitalism struck an agreement with the Republic of (North) Macedonia to gain even stronger positions in the Macedonian economy and from there  to the rest of the Balkans, to consolidate the imperialist guardianship on the small “neighboring country”[21] and thereby confirm its position as a local metropolitan center, surrogate of EU and NATO over the Balkans, to pursue the new Great Ideal named EEZ and, last but not least, to cut off any, even the weakest, support from its compatriots to the Macedonian minority within Greek borders. A Macedonian minority in Greece which the (north) Macedonians are forced to no longer recognize! The recognition of the Macedonian nation and the Macedonian language is therefore a necessary consequence, not of this agreement in particular, but of any possible agreement between the two capitalist states.

The agreement itself was set to settle an issue unilaterally created by the Greek state, while seeking its expansion to the detriment of the Republic of Macedonia, to the detriment of the Greek and Balkan working classes So any agreement could be nothing more than the imposition of the aspirations of Greek imperialism. From a class point of view, therefore, an issue of supporting the agreement could never be raised. Furthermore, if we agree on the obvious, that the working class in Greece and Macedonia is in no position, here and now, to directly challenge this or that agreement, then we must see how things are at the level of consciousness.

After Prespa

Of course, the nationalist rallies against the Prespa agreement would not have prevented the alignment of New Democracy (the right-wing party) with the “national” line of big capital in defending the agreement. Nevertheless, because of the coming elections which had to win, ND sided with the nationalist protesters and denounced Tsipras as a traitor. Taking office after its electoral success, ND unsurprisingly called for the strict implementation of the Prespa Agreement! For the Greek bourgeoisie, things could not have been better concluded. The political node they were facing was that to achieve the desired agreement they had to ‘concede’ the name ‘Macedonia” to the ‘enemy’ and hence to sacrifice their main political party and, what is  worse, perilously break the nationalist containment of the toiling masses under the banner of “Macedonia is only Greek”. National unity is not an issue to play with!

The supposedly left-wing government was a Deus ex machina. The left as represented by Syriza once again was to be the scapegoat to take the sin of national ‘treason’. And once again for the wrong reason, while, in reality, Syriza was just doing the dirty work  of the bourgeoisie betraying nothing but its leftist past. New Democracy could now retain its bonds with nationalism, preserve national unity, and implement the Prespa agreement. To be sure, the national unity pretext was easy to find: The signature of a Greek Prime Minister -left-wing or right-wing- is the signature of Greece and should be credible. Convincing or not, this argument was heavily diffused by the corporate media to a divided public opinion. Indeed, if the anti-Prespa nationalist rallies showed anything, it is the existence of a silent mass that was either indifferent and still is, or accepted the agreement, next to another comparable mass  that mobilized and, dressed in ancient Greek battle armor, headed to the anti-Prespa national pride parade under the Greek flag and the fascist agenda. But perhaps more interesting would be what the Macedonians  think.

To begin with, the election results in the northern provinces of the Greek state do not show a difference in constituencies with a strong minority presence, such as the regions of Western and Central Macedonia. In the parliamentary elections of 2019, the percentages of ND in total in North Thessaloniki were 43% while in the predominantlyminority constituencies of Migdonia and Axios, it was 42.93% for Migdonia and 36% for Axios (the difference reaped by SYRIZA). In the Prefecture of Florina, ND got 39% and even more in its constituency of Prespa 48%! The minority Rainbow Party in the 2019 European elections garnered just 2,500 votes across western Macedonia as a whole. The general picture shows that the Macedonian minority votes like everybody else: a conservative vote with little support for the only party that speaks on their behalf, which shows the strong differences between the Macedonian population and how they experience their national identity and subjectivity.

Marika Robou-Levithi (2016,) approaching the formation of subjectivity through music and dance in minority Macedonian communities, finds a confusing ambivalence in the performance of their traditional songs and dances. In a specific case, the group she interviewed insisted  on singing in Greek translation but then they cannot follow the broken rhythm! Rhythm, like “poetry, is what gets lost in translation”.[22] The same fact has also been recorded by journalists investigating minority issues as a denial or even negative reaction when attempted to ask questions.

Minority Macedonians recognize in the Republic of North Macedonia their cultural alter ego, their language, their songs. They even invite musicians who cross the border to perform at weddings and celebrations. But when it comes to the “Macedonian question”, then with Orwellian doublethink they rush to join the Greek nationalist chorus. Faced with the Prespa agreement and the nationalist frenzy that followed, the minority Macedonians, even those among them who reject the agreement along with the nationalists, remained silent out of fear or embarrassment because they rightfully felt that they were themselves the target of the nationalist frenzy. But by any of these stances, as a collective death drive emanating from the historic defeat of the Macedonian nationalism, they were compelled to renounce their self-determination.

The names with which the minority Macedonians call themselves, chosen to appear as neutral as possible towards the Greek nationalist narrative, speak nevertheless of this ambivalent attitude. One is “Locals”, specifically meaning those-who-were-there, before the settlement of nomadic Wallachians trapped inside the new Greek borders and of refugees from Pontus, Asia Minor, Eastern Rumelia, following the exchanges of populations between Greece and Turkey or Bulgaria. But reality has the habit  of imposing  its presence on  speech. The name “Locals”, by ostentatiously ignoring the local Turks who were expelled/exchanged, the “local” Jews to be later exterminated  by the Nazis, the “local” Greeks, the “local” Romas and other local ethnicities, nationalities, communities who were to be assimilated or who managed to survive in the civil underground, highlights a basic dichotomy. There are two mutually incompatible ways of being “Macedonian” . A first is connected to the ethnogenesis of Macedonians which, unfruitful as it might be,  made of it a material force. A second one, the modern Greek “macedonianness” imported from and connected to the expansionist pursuits of an already stable Greek capitalist state, exists only against the other Macedonianness and strives to reduce it to a hometown geographical description as a local condensation of Greekness. It is not  about any nation’s self-determination but rather the logical negation of the national self-determination of the Macedonians. Nevertheless, to become a material force and effectively deny  Macedonian self-determination, it needs  state violence That is why, while local, one may consider neither oneself  nor anybody else to be ‘Local’.

The other name for minority Macedonians is “Ne-znam-es”, those who often say “I don’t know”, a name denoting the naive rural society in which even the present day’s grandparents were born, as it was organized around the  patriarchal  extended family of ‘zatruga’ which, being the social cocoon and the territory of women strongly resisted  external coercion and had been stubbornly reproducing their language, their culture, their identity, and their ethnic consciousness. And although the leaders of the modern Greek state early on recognized and targeted this enemy, the zatruga would fade many decades later, in the post-war period, when throughout the Greek territory the real subordination of the family to a flourishing Greek capitalism was about to transform it dramatically.

Minority Macedonians are now allowed to be “macedonians” only in the context of this new mix of the population currently inhabiting Greek Macedonia and only in the modern Greek sense of “macedonianness”. The old national Macedonianness of the minority breaks the spell of the modern Greek macedonianness of the nationalist fantasy and, as such, is unacceptable to the state. In a homogenized society, without the buttress of zatruga, national Macedonianness is experienced by the minority Macedonians themselves as a stigma that must be hidden or degrade to folklore.

The brutal national repression, the beatings, the imprisonments, the expulsions, the looting of their property have long since ceased. Although they know that, it is better to perform in public only the music of their songs. Racism against them, although observing certain pretexts, is now taking on more covert forms. And here lies the root of this doublethink of the minority Macedonians: in their submission to Greek nationalism for fear of returning to the bleak past. When beyond the border Macedonians of the Republic of Macedonia were claiming Macedonianness for their own sake and were talking about a Macedonian minority in Greece, then they were, all at once, claiming Macedonianness for the minority’s sake as well. This claim denies the reassuring resignation from this unmediated Macedonianness adopted by the minority as a survival tactic.

This accession of the minority Macedonians to Greek nationalism is not simply external compliance; it was the price they accepted to pay to escape the status of the total pariah, while at the same time exorcising the fear of returning to it. The Prespa agreement, explicitly and at least officially, ended this claim from beyond the borders, but their language, or rather the consciousness of their different language, insists on undermining the resignation from Macedonianness. Even more so because many among minority Macedonians do not mean to give up their language! Of course, the desire to preserve your language but not your ethnic identity is contradictory; but this contradiction is what drives the reactions and attitudes of minority Macedonians towards both reality and themselves.

The linguistic peculiarity of the Macedonians in Greek Macedonia, the “Local” language (“entopika” in Greek) was the policeman’s first target; its dialects, spoken illegally and in separated communities, had frozen in time. Considering the fact we are talking about an unwritten language existing only through its local dialects and spoken by rural populations, we easily understand that much of its vocabulary, referring to rural life and agricultural works, has now been forgotten along with them. It is also clear that since no form of this language is used in production anymore and has never been used in art or science, there is no channel providing fresh material to replace what is lost; it is a language that vegetates. On the contrary, the language of the Macedonians who were constituted politically as a federal state of Yugoslavia went through the usual transformation by “state” linguists,[23] became a state language, entering the school system, the University, the literature; it is a “Macedonian common language” and its differences from the dialects of the “Local” are no longer simple dialectal differences.

Strange as it may seem, the Prespa agreement opened up a debate within  the minority on their language. The young people’s interest in the language, which their parents had been hiding from them in many cases, was renewed. Community and cultural associations organize feasts and banquets and unite into federations. The Greek state, on the other hand, having cut off the Macedonians beyond its northern borders from those within, and with the feeling of security in the absence of any separatist movement, is redesigning the standard ethnic cleansing policy without the barbaric means of ethnic reformation it had used in the past. The ethnic identity of the Macedonians of Greece is now supported exclusively by their linguistic idiom and a musical tradition that can easily default to folklore, or even better be integrated without residue if it loses its Slavic voice. The obvious plan is to unquestionably consolidate the Greekness of all and everyone while maintaining the linguistic idiom of the Macedonians of Greece in quarantine so that time may pursue its corrosive effect uninhibited. A language cut off from real life is doomed to wither away along with the ethnic identity it supports.

The role of the self-appointed gendarme has been taken over by the Panhellenic Federation of Macedonian Cultural Associations, PFMCA. Strabon’s phrase in ancient Greek “ἔστιν οὐν Ἑλλὰς καὶ ἡ Μακεδονία” (Macedonia is Greece as well) decorating its official seal does not leave much room for doubt. It is PFMCA which organized the nationalist rallies-carnivals against the Prespa agreement, which “has worries and concerns” about “the uncontrolled entry” of “refugees and immigrants” and “the funding of [their] accommodation through the state budget”, which appealed to the courts against the establishment of civil associations such as the “Brotherhood of Locals in Serres, ‘Cyril and Methodius’”, for having committed the crime of naming the “Local” language Macedonian  and of referring to Delchev and Ilinden. PFMCA is openly hostile to the linguistic idiom of the Macedonians of Greece and extremely aggressive in cases where this is linked to their ethnic identity. Along with this organization, its local associations spread folk music and dances from all different cultural and ethnic traditions, including Macedonian, welded together in a cultural melting pot, to artificially produce a homogenized tradition squeezed of any genuine ethnic content and impose it as Greek tradition.

The vast majority of Macedonians are reacting as they are accustomed to: with passive neutrality in the political field, they content themselves in the folklorization of their ethnic culture. Yet, a more sensitive, small but growing portion among them is looking for a way to remain true to their ethnic/cultural self-determination. As long as these searches remain contained on the purely national issue without being linked to the class struggle and without recognizing themselves in a wider social emancipation movement, they will remain easy prey for Greek nationalism.

The minority Rainbow Party, long years before the Prespa agreement becomes even visible, clearly saw that the Greek state’s chauvinist attitude toward the Republic of Macedonia, and the catastrophic claim of Alexander the Great’s imaginary legacy from both sides of the border, was ruling out any hope of minority aspirations’ support from the Republic of Macedonia. The Prespa agreement solemnly confirmed this assessment by imposing on  the Republic of Northern Macedonia the official renunciation of the minority. Nevertheless, despite its correct understanding, the minority Rainbow Party not only was lacking any class orientation, but the left, which was supposed to provide it, was also hopelessly siding itself with Greek nationalism. It was then only natural for the Rainbow party to seek help from international organizations. The pro-European turn of the Rainbow was an attempt to promote minority rights through reigning in the EU(neo-) liberal ideal. This proved to be a dead-end because, even if we neglect the legendary neoliberal flexibility in favor of state interests, it is beyond any doubt that what is imposed upon the Macedonian minority, is also a material class victory of the Greek bourgeoisie and as such, it can not be undone by means of any abstract egalitarian ideology.


What, however, remained is the practice of appealing to foreign (imperialist) centers, which would supposedly accept, within the framework of their own plans, to support the ethnic or cultural aspirations of the minority Macedonians in Greece. In some similar trajectories, small-scale groups such as the Macedonian Language Promotion Movement ‘Krste Misirkov’ (MLPM-KM). This movement understands, quite rightly so, that if minority Macedonians wish to exist as a whole, they must go beyond linguistic localizations towards a linguistic homogenization. However, MLPM-KM takes a further step suggesting that the only way to acquire a single language is to turn to the living version of Macedonian, as codified in Northern Macedonia by the state for its own needs both at the level of “state” language and at those of education and culture. While the language of North Macedonia is a major part of the Macedonian language mosaic, this rather naive straight forward approach is hardly acceptable by the minority and surely not realistic.

Nikos Kotzias, former Greek Foreign Minister (far left), Aleksandr Dugin (centre) and PhD student Antonis Skotiniotis (far right), 12 April 2013, Piraeus

MLPM-KM adheres to the UN and the EU programs for ethnic and linguistic minorities, but its pro-European stance is significantly reduced, compared to that of the Rainbow party. This moderation is combined with, and explained by an orientation towards the sphere of influence of Russian imperialism. Thus, MLPM-KM will attend the 2017 Pan-Slavic Congress in Moscow. At that conference, Eugenia Natsoulidou head of the MLPM-KM could meet, as hosts or lecturers, several important personalities and proponents of Alexander Prokhanov’s Izborsk Club, a think-tank consisting of ultra-conservative Russian intellectuals, supporters of Eurasianism, the fascist eclecticist theory of “geopolitics”, adorned with verbal anti-imperialist hues –exclusively against Western imperialism– mixed up with nostalgia equally for feudal and Stalinist Russia and, on occasion, using the International as a music background. Eurasianism’s father is the notorious Alexander Dugin, a prominent theorist of Russian far-right, founder and organizer of the Ethno-Bolshevik Party and author of The Fourth Political Theory, the “theory of Eurasia”. Dugin is an interlocutor of Golden Dawn, but also the former Syriza’s Minister of foreign affairs Nikos Kotzias and, of course, he is Putin’s mentor and a theorist of Great-Russian imperialism.

And the Greek anti-capitalist left?

The Macedonian question, despite the pious desires of the Greek bourgeoisie, was not closed. Some forces are already acting on the just national and ethnic rights of minority Macedonians. The more undisputed they remain, the more difficult it will be to endorse a class orientation toward the Macedonian national question. The rejection of any agreement is realistic only insofar as it mobilizes the repressed Macedonians on both sides of the border for their own rights -first and foremost the right to self-determination- and seeks to bridge these national rights with the class struggle of the proletariat. Supporting the nationalism of the oppressed is opposing Greek imperialist expansion and the danger of war entailed by imperialist adventurism. Opposing the fascist threat can be done not by supporting a non-fascist bourgeois policy, but by promoting workers’ struggles for the national and class rights of the oppressed. The anti-capitalist left must intervene with a policy true to internationalist working-class traditions.

Marx in 1870 could defend Irish nationalism which opened a possibility of destroying English capitalism, and so did Lenin in 1916 as for the possibility of a break in the imperialist chain in England. Again Lenin in the 1920s supported the Neo-Turk movement which did destroy the Ottoman Empire and so did Trotsky in 1935 supporting Abyssinia and Haile Selassie, for the defeat of Italian imperialism-fascism. If the internationalist overturning of the Prespa agreement seems today impossible, let us emphasize the common feature of the political projects we have just referred to: the revolutionaries calculate, not probabilities, but possibilities, always trying to solve the political equation on the condition of class struggle escalation through the positions they take and the agitation of the vanguard working-class political organizations. The second common feature of these four historical snapshots is that Trotsky’s, Lenin’s, and Marx’s stances defended the repressed nationalism for a possible historical defeat of the oppressor, whether it was imperialism or one of the last bastions of the historically outdated absolutism.

It is in these two criteria that any present-day working-class policy on any unsolved national question must respond. The recognition of Macedonian as well as any oppressed national minority in Greece, and all of its national rights including secession if they so wish, is the political bridge joining the anti-war internationalist task of preventing imperialist coercion and war, with the emancipation of the working classes in Greece, Northern Macedonia, and the Balkans.

The anti-capitalist left needs to make clear that any meaningful revolutionary strategy must unconditionally support the national demands of minority Macedonians. Especially what is in the order of the day: their right to be recognized as each of them self-identifies; their right to speak and learn their language in public schools; their right to sing their songs, to cultivate their culture. Agitating in the Macedonian minority, on the basis of their linguistic and cultural rights, seems to be favored today. The fear and mutual suspicion cultivated by the state, which keeps all the ethnic groups and divisions of Greek Macedonia captive in the chariot of Greek nationalism, must be broken.

The anti-capitalist left must support every initiative that leads to the Macedonian minority unification, expressing their will. A common language and organization would take things many steps further.

The anti-capitalist left must denounce Greek nationalism uncompromisingly, cultivate internationalist bonds of solidarity with the left of the Republic of North Macedonia, and along with it denounce imperialist neo-pan-Slavism. The Macedonian question must be directly linked to social emancipation by the intervention of conscious workers and their organizations on both sides of the border.


  1. Καράβας Σπύρος (Karavas Spyros), Μυστικά και Παραμύθια από την Ιστορία της Μακεδονίας (Secrets and Tales from the History of Macedonia), Bibliorama Publications, Athens 2014
  2. Κολιόπουλος Ιωάννης (Koliopoulos Ioannis), Λεηλασία Φρονημάτων (Plunder of Consciences), Vanias Publications, Thessaloniki 2015
  3. Ρόμπου-Λεβίδη Μαρίκα (Robou-Levithi Marika), Επιτηρούμενες Ζωές (Supervised Lives), Alexandria Publications, Athens 2016

[1]“Gypsy- Skopjeans”  a racist intimidation for the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia

[2] Trikoupis admits here not only that on these lands there was not a Greek majority, but also that national identities, if any, were anything but stable

[3]    We write “Macedonian” and “Macedonianness”  with a capital M, referring to the southern Slavs of the Macedonian geographical region. We write “macedonian” and “macedonianness” with a small m referring to their meaning in the Greek bourgeois discourse.

[4]    The Serb state was the outcome of a revolution in 1804 – 1817, but its independence was not internationally confirmed until 1878, by the Congress of Berlin

[5]    Bulgarian capitalist formation constituted itself during a relatively long period amidst diplomatic and military confrontations between the czar and the sultan. Beginning in 1878 with the Congress of Berlin as a semi-autonomous region inside the ottoman empire and finally in 1908, always in the tail of the Russian foreign policy, as an independent state. Meanwhile, Bulgarians were able to win a war against the Kingdom of Serbia.

[6]    Along with these two nationalisms, one can, but on a lesser scale, add Romanian nationalism which ended up to the grotesque  “Princedom of Pindos” and the “Wallachian Legion” in 1942 – 1943.

[7] The ottoman empire in the diplomatic Jargon.” En 1878, les termes ” Balkans “, ” balkanisation ” n’étaient pas à la mode ; on préférait parler de la ” Question d’Orient “. Pour l’équilibre entre les puissances européennes, pour que la Russie ne réalise pas son rêve séculaire de sortie en ” mer chaude ” (Méditerranée), pour que la route des Indes reste libre sous le pavillon britannique, il fallait que l’empire ottoman, le grand malade, fût maintenu en vie.”Le Monde

[8]    As bourgeois writer Stratis Myrivilis wrote in his Life in Grave (1924), “they do not want to be neither ‘Bulgar’ nor ‘Srrp’, nor ‘Grrts’. Only ‘Makedon ortodox’”.

[9] Macedonian means “who was born in Macedonia”. But an ottoman subject was characterized by his/her religion and not by the birthplace. They were not Macedonians; they were orthodox Christians speaking some slavic-Macedonian idiom. That is, in the Ottoman context, Macedonian is not per se a national but a geographical term for one’s birthplace. Yet, in the need of a positive determination for the emerging Macedonian nation, and the given ethnic diversity of the population, the geographical term Macedonian was turned into a national one. This is not something automatic. In the case of the Greeks, while they were also Orthodox Christians, Greek nationalism opted for the name Hellenes . For Macedonians there was not such an option.

[10]   The fact that the peasant question was the core social question is underpinned by the subsequent Neo-turkish revolution. The vague promises that the peasant question would be solved were enough for a social peace to reign.

[11]   “What is worth remembering is the fact that committeemen [Macedonian revolutionaries] headed to the 1903 insurrection promising the transcendence of traditional nationalisms in the interestsof  common emancipation” Tassos KostopoulosThe well known unknown Iliden Εφημερίδα των Συντακτών.

[12]   K. Marx ‘The reply to Zasulich’  In her initial letter Vera Zasulich raised the question whether “the rural commune, freed of exorbitant tax demands, payment to the nobility and arbitrary administration, is capable of developing in a socialist direction, that is, gradually organizing its production and distribution on a collectivist basis…” or “…the commune is destined to perish” and therefore any socialist propaganda among peasants would be hopelessly irrelevant.

[13] a once-common metonym for the Ottoman Empire

[14] The Greek army was advancing northward while the Serbian army was advancing southward. They met each other along a line, determined by chance(=the fortunes of war). They hastily agreed that this line would be their mutual border in order to confront Bulgaria, their common main enemy. The current border line between Greece and N.Macedonia has not been decided by states and diplomats but by what was going on in the battlefields. While not unusual, it did bisect the Macedonian population

[15] “To stick fast and stay attached to Greekness”. They accepted their role as lieutenants of the Greek state and oppressors of other nationalities, to gain their national assimilation.

[16]   Here is how Marx describes this kind of situation in his letter to Meyer and Vogt: “The ordinary English worker hates the Irish worker[…] he regards himself as a member of the ruling nation and consequently he becomes a tool of the English aristocrats and capitalists against Ireland, thus strengthening their domination over himself. He cherishes religious, social, and national prejudices against the Irish worker. His attitude towards him is much the same as that of the “poor whites” to the Negroes in the former slave states of the U.S.A. The Irishman pays him back with interest in his own money. He sees in the English worker both the accomplice and the stupid tool of the English rulers in Ireland.

[17]   Commentary by MP Niki Tzavela (New Democracy)  on twitter March 31, 2018: “Those who spoke Slavic were taken over by the gendarmerie and after a beating, they did not speak Slavic again. So we became a nation, a language, a religion, and we avoided the adventures of the mosaic of the rest of the Balkans. For better or worse, that’s what happened…”

[18] They call Greek Lands or lost homelands territories once inhabited by Greek speaking population, even not literary modern Greek language, but an historically remote form of it. This is what I call territorial animism.

[19]   Constantine Mitsotakis’ rhetoric question “who will remember the Macedonian question in ten years?” is today a kind of proverb

[20]   From 1995 to 2001 “the average increasing pace [of  Greek investment] was 223,55%”, while until March 2001, “Greek exports to Skopje represented 25% of total Greek exports to the Balcans and Greek investments in the neighboring country had created 5000 jobs” Τζιαμπίρης Αριστοτέλης, Ευρωπαϊκή Ένωση και Μακεδονικό Ζήτημα, (European Union and thew Macedonian question) Ίδρυμα Μουσείου Μακεδονικού Αγώνα. (Museum of the Macedonian Struggle Foundation) 

[21]   Speaking to mass media, Mitsotakis and his government are referring to North Macedonia as “neighboring country” in order to avoid the M word. A TV talk show video went viral on social media on May 14 2021, making a foul of ND deputy B. Spanakis who remained silent when asked to name that ghostly “neighboring country”.

[22] The American poet Robert Frost is often quoted as saying “Poetry is what gets lost in translation,”

[23]   It is noteworthy that since the establishment of the Greek state two hundred years ago, the succession of the state linguists’ dynasty of the university of Athens has not been interrupted.

Petros Nomikos / Πέτρος Νομικός has been politically active in the Greek left since 1976, currently in ANTARSYA and OKDE Spartakos. Born in Piraeus in 1960, he found himself in the wave of youth radicalization in Greece,
which followed the milestone of the 1973 Polytechnic School uprising. Petros teaches mathematics in public schools, and is a syndicalist in secondary education teacher’s Union. He translated Paul le Blanc’s Lenin and the Revolutionary Party published in 2018, as
well as his Trotsky and the Organizational Principles of the Revolutionary Party, hopefully soon to be published. email: blogs: and