Τρίτη, 4 Φεβρουαρίου 2014

A Response to Mr. McCain and his “Greek Friends”

By Marcus A. Templar
Thessaloniki - strategic port city

According to some reports, U.S. Senator McCain (R-AZ) and friends found the Greek arguments on the issue of Greece’s objection of Skopje’s membership to NATO as presented by their “Greek friends”, incomprehensible.

Although I don’t exactly know who are Mr. McCain’s “Greek friends” as I do not know what do they tell him, but I do know this.

The issue is not about usurped Greek history, erecting statues of Greek heroes, naming of Skopje’s airport after Alexander the Great, appropriating bona fide Macedonian heritage and so on. If Mr. McCain’s “Greek friends claim the above as the issue, no wonder McCain does not understand Greece’s vehement objections. I would not understand it myself. After all, I would consider that as my honor. There are a number of high educational institutions in the Slavic world that honor the Macedonian Greek brothers Cyril and Methodius as the illuminators of Europe.

When Sen. McCain talks with his “Greek friends”, he probably gets all kinds of lessons in Greek history, heritage, and architecture as if he cares or understands them. He does not see the connection between ancient Greek history and NATO, or EU for that matter. And to say the truth, there is NO direct connection unless one points it out. Even Greek politicians do not understand why the issue of name is so important to Greece. Had they done so, they would have not rushed to compromise before even the issue existed.

The issue started three quarters of a century ago and because of it, it has lost its real perspective, which is the national security and territorial integrity of Greece. Israel has a similar problem with the Palestinians, but because they have focused their attention to the real problem, everyone with some brain sides with the Jewish state. One may not try to convince others that Greece is right, while one sides with the Palestinians on the same issue. Israel claims its national security is at stake and so does Greece. The route to the end result is irrelevant; what is relevant is the end result.

But really! How many of the Greek American children care about ancient history? History to many people is an academic issue that by its very nature belongs to the past; it is not a political one. Anyone who is married to an American of non-Greek descent would agree that “Americans” don’t understand history, because for them “ancient” history starts around the time that King George III (George William Frederick) of the UK was their king i.e. after 1738.

As one of the 100 U.S. Senators, Mr. McCain understands business, energy, finances, employment, stability or instability and similar issues, as all of the above pertain to the national interests and national security of the United States. Anything beyond these points is as if the “Greek friends” of McCain’s talk to him in a language from another planet. Strategically, there is no reason for anyone to hold any country out of an organization arguing whether Alexander the Great was Greek or not. It makes no difference, unless one connects it to the instability that is going to bring to the region because such a thing will elevate Skopje’s demands over the Greek region of Macedonia as their inherent right over the land. There is a lot of evidence provided for this argument. Skopje is using brightly modified ancient history in order to solidify its future claim. That is Mr. McCain’s concern and if properly presented to him, his attitude on the matter would turn around. Of course a donation to his re-election campaign would facilitate his understanding of the Greek position.

Skopje and its diaspora/lobby are united around ONE issue and thus far they have successfully sold their home country as the bastion of democracy and cradle of stability, even after a short but bitter civil war, because NOBODY deflects Skopje’s arguments with relevant counter-arguments. The head of the UMD is a young lawyer trained lobbyist by the Turkish lobby, guided by Skopje and Ankara and funded by Skopje, Ankara, and their patriotic financiers and business people of Skopjan descent. The UMD claims whatever it wants, unopposed. Because of it, one may not and cannot expect a different answer from the McCains of the world.

Greece has a minimum five national security issues, not one of them declared by the official state as such. Over and above this, Greeks in Greece are divided into nonsensical and trivial political ideological nonsense which has developed to a perpetual re-election campaign in the country since 1975 prohibiting cohesive governance.

When a new country appears in the horizon, the first Office that the United States opens in that country is an Office that represents the Department of Commerce, not a liaison or any other diplomatic delegation. That alone should give a hint to all Greeks what the United States is interested in and cares about; it is not history.

Why is the name dispute an issue of strategic importance to Greece and Skopje?

In the past, the geographic position of Macedonia’s Capital has been demonstrated by 
actions of various powers. During the period of the Congress of Berlin, Vienna indicated that it was serious about the status of Thessaloniki not intending to lose the railroad line to the port of Thessaloniki as a direct way to push products to and from Central Europe to Asia and Eastern Africa through the Suez Canal. In 1940, Nazi Germany offered the city as a present to Yugoslavia in exchange of the latter to ally itself with Axis. Upon capture of the city by German forces, Hitler originally planned to annex Thessaloniki directly to the Third Reich, making it part of German territory, instead of allowing the puppet government in Athens to administer Thessaloniki.

Since its establishment, Thessaloniki holds the scepter of the most strategically located city in the Balkan Peninsula, making it the most important trade and business hub in Southeastern Europe. Its unique position allows the inflow of goods and their onward advancement to Central and Eastern Europe. The city’s natural port is one of the largest in the Aegean which surrounded by a dominating geological morphology facilitates commerce not only throughout the Balkans, but also the Central and Eastern European hinterland.

On the other hand, the city’s natural port makes it the bind of Europe with Asia, and 
Africa, by means of water thoroughfare of the Black Sea, Mediterranean and beyond. The convenient transport passages, including the combination of water, air, and land transport passages, promote the city into a strategic point of vital commercial and military value.

But it is more than that. One must think of the surface and mineral wealth of the Greek region of Macedonia. Macedonia is arguably the best and the richest farmland in Greece. A wide variety of agricultural products and cash crops are grown, including rice, wheat, beans, olives, cotton, tobacco, fruit, grapes, Florina peppers, wine and other alcoholic beverages. Food processing and textile weaving constitute the principal manufacturing industries. The mineral wealth of Macedonia besides gold, and silver consists of crude oil/natural gas (Kavala area), uranium, various types of marble, granite, graphite, zeolite, and other rare earth elements. The geostrategic importance of Macedonia as it gradually increases, develops into the number ONE national security issue for Greece.

This is behind the name dispute between Greece and the FYROM and the real issue that is hidden behind the usurpation of ancient Macedonia’s Greek history and heritage. Skopje is at the threshold to an eventual, and from their actions and rhetoric, certain claim on the land that has been characterized as Greece’s lung.

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