“National Issues” in Greece and the Macedonian problem

Νοέ 30th, 2008 | | Κατηγορία: Τάκης Μίχας | Email This Post Email This Post | Print This Post Print This Post |

With regard to the ramifications of the Macedonian problem that divides Athnes and Skopje there are two distinct issues involved here:

a)Whether the way the public debate on the issue of Macedonia-and generally the “national issues” – is shaped in Greece conforms to the standards of a western pluralistic society

b)The substance of the Macedonian issue.

As far as b is concerned I have of course like every citizen my opinions on the matter.But this not what I am primarily concerned with here . My main concern as a journalist is the first issue. And here , having worked for over 25 years in the Greek media I can say with certainty that what goes on does not fulfill even the elementary prerequisites of a free pluralistic society. Let me give some examples:

a)Whereas in the Greek media you will find innumerable reference to an non existing “country of Skopje” or to a non existing “Skopjens” you will not find even a single reference to the neighboring country by its constitutional name-as indeed is the practice in nearly all foreign media. Now if we accept that FYROM is the name denoting the neighboring country , then why is the term “:Skopje” promoted in the Greek media and official discourse while the term “Rep.of Macedonia” is totally repressed? If we accept for the sake of the argument that both terms refer to non-existing entities why is the first encouraged while the second totally banned ? The situation has reached such an absurdity that Greek journalists are forced when interviewing a foreigner who uses the “M” word to either render it as “Skopjans” or put it in quotation marks-thereby totally distorting what the interview has said.

This practice brings us back to the Soviet era and the language used at the time by Pravda and similar publications. Its aim is not to inform by to scare into submission any dissenting voices

b) All reporting concerning the neighboring country is heavily editorialized thereby violating some of the most basic rules of objective reporting. Thus for example it is very common that Greek media report statements by the government of the neighboring coutry as “nees proklitikes diloseis..”(“new inflammatory statements…” “ or “stin aniparkti meionotiha anaferthike .”.”(“Mr.so-and-so referred to the non-exiting minority…” etc etc. This practice brings us back to the Soviet era and the language used at the time by Pravda and similar publications. Its aim is not to inform by to scare into submission any dissenting voices.

c)In all TV talks shows the aim is never to explore the contrasting positions of the issue but to cement a preexisting nationalist consensus. Thus on discussing for example the name issue you would have say 5 people defending the “nationally correct view” and one (the “token Negro”) expressing dissent. Obviously this set up does not promote an edifying discussion.

d)On the “national issues” the general trend of the media is to reproduce the government view.. No Greek medium encourages its journalists to try to do investigative work contradicting the official view on the issue of say the minority(or indeed any other “national issue”).There are certainly some very brave and knowledgable colleagues of mine who dare question the official view but they do it on their own accord and without any help or encouragement from the news organization for which they work for-far from it!

On the other hand the press advisor of the Minister of Defense is publishing books where he calls for the arrest and imprisonment of “cosmopolitans” and “traitors” and actually encourages indirectly physical attacks against non nationalists journalists and intellectuals

e)Concerning the dismissal of PASOK’s communication consultant Mr.Valianatos it is indeed the case that if an advisor of a political party expressed views dissenting for the official views of the party, he would perhaps face some problem. But in Greece there are two sets of criteria applied to this issue depending on whether the views expressed are “nationally coreect “ or not. Mr.Valliantos was fired for not having dissented in a “nationalist acceptable way”. On the other hand the press advisor of the Minister of Defense is publishing books where he calls for the arrest and imprisonment of “cosmopolitans” and “traitors” and actually encourages indirectly physical attacks against non nationalists journalists and intellectuals .Yet no one seems to be bothered by this.

To conclude this rejoinder with a conspiratorial note. All the instances of suppressing pluralism are not the spontaneous results of the “temperamental “ or “immature” nature of the Greeks. They are the result of careful manipulations by the state. All public discourse in Greece on the “national issues” is carefully monitored and controlled by the Greek Foreign Ministry and the Greek Intelligence Service(actually the two are indistinguishable)..They control what can be said and what level of “dissent” is tolerable and what is not.

Takis Michas

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  1. κουραζεις αγαπητε Τακη, δεν σε ακουνε πολλοι

  2. «All public discourse in Greece on the “national issues” is carefully monitored and controlled by the Greek Foreign Ministry and the Greek Intelligence Service(actually the two are indistinguishable).»

    Just to set it clear.
    You believe «Greek Foreign Ministry» and «Greek Intelligence Service» are able to monitor and manipulate public discussions regarding SKOPIA or VARDARSKA ?
    Especially in favorite of Greeec national interests?

    You must be the only one that ascribe such abilities to them. I though they were instruments of American policy waiting for the chance to commit treason.

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