Why no solution to the “Macedonian” issue.Σεπ 27th, 2010 | Τάκης Μίχας| Κατηγορία: Τάκης Μίχας | Email This Post | Print This Post |
During his recent visit to the UN General Assempbly the Greek prime minister George Papandreou lamented the fact that his Macedonian counterpart Nikola Gruefski was not in New York to hold talks on the long standing dispute about the so-called “name issue”. Greece objects to the use of the term “Macedonia “ by the neighboring country arguing that such an act threatens the territorial integrity of Greece which has a province with the same name.
There is no doubt that Mr.Papandreou’s feelings are sincere. He is one of the very few leading Greek politicians (the only one?) who not only believes in Greece’s peaceful coexistence with its neighbors but is also willing to admit that Greece’s recent history doesn’t always conform to the image of the “suffering victim” promoted by the nationalist narrative.
Yet on the other hand one can hardly blame Mr Gruefski for not rushing to meet with the Greek prime minister believing perhaps that such meetings are waste of time .The problem is that despite his best intentions, Mr.Papandreou is also a prisoner of the local political market and has to take its dictates into account .
As things stand today the Greek prime minister has very few incentives to agree to a solution to the so called “name issue” and every reason to postpone the day of reckoning
Any sort of mutual compromise is bound to rekindle the fury of the powerful nationalist constituency whose members are to be found in all Greek political parties. Any name that would include the term “Macedonia” would be seen by the nationalists as treason since, according to their view, Greece has the exclusive right to the name “Macedonia”.
At present Mr.Papandreou is involved in the “titanic” as he correctly described it ,effort to turn around the Greek economy and save it from becoming (totally ) bankrupt . This involves a tremendous struggle against powerful interest groups that are fighting to maintain their privileges. It also involves harsh austerity measures and rising unemployment which are hurting especially the middle classes. In this kind of situation the last thing Mr.Papandreou and his government want is to waken up the beast of nationalism and to have to fend off accusations of “selling Macedonia to the Slavs”.
Since assuming the leadership of the party Mr.Papandreou has been able to strike a deal with the nationalist element of his party. They have supported the economic measures and in exchange he has not challenged any of their dearly held nationalist myths. Moreover he seems to have instructed his foreign minister Dimtris Droutsas to issue statements that would make even some of his most hard line predecessors flinch. For example Mr. Droutsas recent statement that the “Cyprus problem is a problem of Turkish occupation”-the standard view of the Greek Cypriot nationalists-surely does very little justice to the complex history of the island.
At present, in the midst of the economic turmoil , the Greek government has very few rational incentives to promote a compromise agreement with the government in Skopje. This is in the last analysis a peripheral issue for Athens. It would defy any kind of rational analysis if the Greek government attempted to provide a solution whose only result would be even more protesters taking to the the streets in Athens and Thessaloniki.