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Statement of the American Hellenic Institute
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: GEORGIA ECONOMOU
November 4, 2004—No.65 (202) 785-8430

STATEMENT OF THE AMERICAN HELLENIC INSTITUTE

THE STATE DEPARTMENT’S RECOGNITION OF FYROM AS MACEDONIA IS A DISGRACEFUL ACT TOWARDS OUR STRONG ALLY GREECE AND IS HARMFUL TO U.S. INTERERSTS IN THE BALKANS

The decision today by the State Department to officially recognize the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as the "Republic of Macedonia" is an act of disgraceful proportions as it relates to our staunch ally and supporter in the Balkans, Greece.

We call on President Bush to immediately reconsider this misinformed and ill-advised policy and to tell the State Department to withdraw recognition of FYROM as Macedonia as in the best interests of the United States.

Contrary to the reason provided to AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis by the State Department in a telephone conversation today that this decision was made with the purpose of providing "stability" in "Macedonia," recognition does not help to facilitate stability.

Consideration needed to be given to the sensitivities by this decision and how it would potentially impact all of FYROM’s neighbor’s, especially Greece.

Yet, State Department Spokesman, Richard Boucher, during his press briefing today stated that he wasn’t aware of any consultations by the U.S. with FYROM’s neighbors prior to recognition.

These kinds of comments are alarming and undermine the stability and credibility of all democratic nations in the region.

If the United States is interested in promoting peace, democracy, stability and economic progress in the Balkans, our main ally in the region in promoting these goals is Greece. However, today’s action will have a harmful impact on Greece and on our relations with Greece, our long-time loyal and NATO ally.

In announcing the recognition of FYROM as Macedonia today, the State Department is thumbing its nose at Greece and the Greek American community. By it’s actions, the Administration is in effect disregarding the approximately 1,500,000 Americans of Hellenic descent as a non-entity in the formulation of U.S. policy since we are not consulted on decisions that impact Greece. This action sends the wrong message to Greece that could be construed as dismissive of her sensitivities and concerns in the region. It also serves to create a climate whereby those small and extreme elements of Greek society can use this to fan the flames of "anti-Americanism."

Further, regarding Mr. Boucher’s comments, he attempts to justify that since the name "Macedonia" is the name "that the government and the people of Macedonia have chosen for their country, and that’s the name we will recognize them under."

This premise is false. There is no unqualified universally accepted rule of international law that authorizes a state to name itself anything it wants. The Macedonia issue stems from the 1991 secessionist Skopje regime’s naming itself in the most provocative way possible as the so called "Republic of Macedonia" and requesting world-wide recognition.

It is not proper for a country, which is part of a region to define itself in an official manner as representing the whole region. Macedonia, like the Americas, Europe, Scandinavia, and the Balkans, is a region. Just as no country in North and South America would call itself the "American Republic," and no European country would call itself the "Republic of Europe," FYROM in naming itself cannot assume the mantle of Macedonia.

For our Government to be a party to this only serves to create instability in a volatile area of the Balkans and thus threatens our interests there.

Greece and FYROM have escalated their dialogue recently on strengthening bilateral relations, including the name, and this unexpected and sharp shift in U.S. policy is counter-productive.

"We find incomprehensible the advice from the State Department to President Bush, which, in effect, equates the FYROM, a nation of only 13 years, of little, if any, strategic, economic or political value to the United States, with Greece, a long-time important strategic, political and economic ally of the United States, who fought as allies with the U.S. in 4 wars in the 20th century, whose defeat of Mussolini’s forces in 1940 was a turning point in World War II, who gave the communists their first defeat by arms (1946-49), who is an important partner in the war of terrorism, and who is the strategic key for the United States in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean." said American Hellenic Institute President, Gene Rossides.

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For additional information, please contact Georgia Economou at (202) 785-8430 or at [email protected]. For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our Web site at http://www.ahiworld.org.