For every conscious Greek in Greece (or Hellene in the Diaspora and Philhellene all over the world), who is familiar with the glorious history of Ancient Hellas, the behavior of FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) is certainly absurd and outrageous.
THE FYROM AFFAIR
By Dr. Christos C. Evangeliou
Professor of Philosophy
Towson University, USA
FYROM was a tiny province of the now dissolved Yugoslavia, up in the mountainous sources of the Vardar. Demographically, it is made up of a strange mix of Albanians, Southern Slavs, Bulgarians, Turks and Gypsies in conflict with each other, especially the first two groups. Yet it dares to claim as its "own" not only the name but also the glories of Ancient Hellenic Macedonia, its great Kings, Philip and Alexander, and their symbols. Even the famous Star of Vergina, has been appropriated by the FYROM for its new flag. As I said, this is simply absurd and outrageous to the Greeks and their friends!
To make the situation even more confusing and unbearable to the Greeks and their friends, one country after the other started recognizing this tiny Balkan creation as the "Republic of Macedonia," since it declared its independence in 1991. It chose for itself that name, in spite of Greece's vehement objection to such abuse of the name, by which most of Northern Greece is known. Finally, the sudden and unexpected recognition of the "Republic of Macedonia" by the re-elected Bush Administration with this "illicit name," took the Greek Government and the Greeks everywhere and their few friends by surprise.
The Greek Government and its diplomats maintain that the new Balkan creation should be named as FYROM, until a shorter and agreed upon name is found for it, through the on-going negotiations sponsored by the UN for the last fifteen years, without any results.
The situation, therefore, is bound to be confusing to any ordinary persons all over the world, who may have an interest in peace in the Balkans, but are puzzled by its many complexities, its ethnic conflicts, and its poverty. For they see that in the acronym of FYROM, which the Greek Government accepts, the last three letters stand exactly for "Republic of Macedonia", which Greeks reject as an official name of this Balkan State!
Given the instability in the Middle East; the aggressive behavior of Turkey in the Aegean; its potentially unstable internal situation; its uncertainty regarding its EU aspirations; and the unresolved Cyprus problem, Greece must keep its attention to these issues. It cannot afford to open "another front" in the North, from where it may expect to gain nothing. It can only hope that, with the resumption of the talks for a "proper name" for FYROM, its diplomacy will be "diplomatic" this time, persuading FYROM to accept a compound name, which may have the word "Macedonija," (spelled in the Slavic way).
However, the unexpected eruption of the FYROM fiasco at the end of 2004 has shown not only the lethargy of "Greek diplomacy," but also the lack of political organization of the Greek-American community and the ineptness of its self-eulogizing "leadership." It is time that the Greek-Americans wake up to the challenge of the times and act accordingly.
First of all, His Eminence (the Archbishop of Americas) should be left alone to perform his spiritual duties undisturbed. He should not be dragged to lead pathetic delegations to Washington, any time there is a "Greek Crisis," there to chat with Colin Powell or his successor about anything else but matters of serious policy, which may affect Hellenism. Such spectacle is reminiscent of Turcocracy. It is not befitting to free Hellenes, who live and prosper in the land of the free and the brave, the great Democracy of the USA. The Greek-American Community has much to learn in this regard from other ethnic groups.
Secondly, a Central Political Action Committee, with two distinct branches (Democratic and Republican), should be formed. It should consist of actively engaged and phil-hellenic politicians, distinguished and concerned academicians, and major fund-raisers and contributors. Both these "branches" should be united on certain long-term goals in the service of Hellenism. Each of them would be "respectively" energized according to the electoral results of every Presidential Election, but both must be active all the time, especially before each election. The American Hellenic Institute and Hellenic American National Council can perhaps be incorporated in this structure if they can be constructive.
Certainly their Leaders Mr. Gene Rosides and Mr. Ted Spyropoulos can be utilized in this new scheme. But so can Senators Paul Sarbanes and Olympia Snow, ex-statesmen John Brademas and Michael Doukakis, and George Stephanopoulos and George Tenet, to mention only a few prominent Hellenes, who can help in this regard with their wisdom.
Thirdly, through good scholarships, the affluent Greek-American Community should train many journalists and other public relations specialists and mass media managers. They should be placed and maintained in key positions in the American public media, or in key political positions close to policy making appointees of each New American Administration. These persons should be well-educated and accomplished individuals, and relatively young persons full of energy and enthusiasm to serve the set goals of Hellenism, as an ecumenical force in terms of democratic freedoms and paideia for peace. These dedicated individuals should be supported by the full (moral, economic and voting) power of the Greek-American Community. The results could be amazing indeed.
Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, the Greek-American Community through its new CPAC should try to identify and support (morally and economically) all professional Greeks or persons of Hellenic descent and Philhellenes, who hold academic positions in American Colleges and Universities. Through the communal wholehearted support each of these valuable persons can become "an Ambassador" of Hellenic Paideia in America.
As a first principle, no Greek-American Community should build a "second" Church in the same city, before they have endowed a Chair or funded a Center for Hellenic Studies in any regional Colleges or Universities. When other countries and ethnic groups fund Endowed Chairs and establish Cultural Centers for Ethnic Studies on campuses, it is absurd and unpardonable that (not to mention the Greek Government) the prosperous Greek-American Community has done so little in an area so essential for its survival. After the spectacular success of the Olympic Games, in Athens 2004, the World at large expects much from the Hellenes and the Phil-hellenes in the sphere of spirit and paideia.
The above steps, if taken seriously and methodically, may prove helpful to Greeks and Greek-Americans in the long run. At least, they may spare us and our friends from future experiences and surprises similar to that of recognition of the FYROM as ROM by US.