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Press Release

When Will Macedonia Be Allowed to Compete in the Olympics?

February 12, 2014

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2014 Olympics in Sochi Russia"The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" walked in the Winter Olympic opening ceremonies in Sochi, Russia among the other countries that start with the letter "B" (The word "former" begins with "B" in Russian), and waving little flags that somewhat resemble the real Macedonian flag. It was changed in 1995 to appease Greece, the country that is trying to wipe it off the map. When the Olympics are hosted by English-speaking countries, "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" walks in with the "F"s. Or would it be more appropriate to walk in with the "T"s?

When Macedonian athletes are competing, do their fans chant "Let's go Formeronians!" or use the acronym and hold up signs "Go FYROM! Make our country proud!" I wonder if the Former Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan exhibits such pride in its culture and heritage. Well, we do know that the Former Ottoman Colony of Greece, ironically celebrated as the birthplace of everything, does. They're so "proud" of their heritage, they became the first country since Nazi Germany to elect neo-Nazi members, 21 of them, to parliament.

But I digress. One must wonder why Macedonia just doesn't walk in under the letter "M". Well, thanks to Greece creating the artificial name dispute, the United States and European Union demanding a "solution" to it, and Macedonia succumbing to the pressure and actually agreeing to negotiate its own name, we're left with this mess. The Olympic charter claims that "The practice of sport is a human right." Apparently, using your own country's name is not.

Greece claims that it objects to Macedonia's name because it has a province of the same name and there would be a "risk of confusion". If that were the case, the UN, just as it does with the Macedonian name dispute, would have engaged in nonsensical negotiations between the US State of Georgia and the Republic of Georgia, and Luxembourg and the Belgian province of Luxembourg. The truth is, as former Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis admitted in 1995, is that Greece manufactured the name dispute in order to deny the existence of its large Macedonian minority and Macedonians as a people. After Macedonia was partitioned in 1913 and Greece annexed half of its territory, its policy was that Macedonia didn't exist and it began a violent campaign aimed at eradicating anything Macedonian. However, its propaganda machine changed course in 1988, foreseeing the imminent independence of the Republic of Macedonia, and began claiming that Macedonia's land belongs to them, yet the people still do not exist.

Add to this the fact that the vast majority of the world, including the United States and four of five UN Security Council members, have recognized Macedonia using its proper name, yet the name dispute persists. The Unites States has even threatened that if Macedonia withdraws from the name negotiations, it will pull economic and military support, and it claims that a civil war would erupt with Macedonia's Albanian minority.

So a couple of questions remain. Why is the US pandering to Greece and its irrational claims? Well, the United States, in its infinite wisdom, claims to be a foreign policy expert when it consistently proves the opposite. But, the bigger question is why is the name dispute even an issue? Macedonia has always been known as Macedonia, Greece's propaganda has flip-flopped, yet Macedonia, unwilling to stand up for its most basic of human rights because it fears the Unites States, continues to try to appear diplomatic and continues the irrational name negotiations.

Well, in the Olympic spirit, and for the sake of common sense, let's hope that Macedonia begins to use its real name in Olympic competition, and for everything else. While the rest of the world should stand up for basic human rights, Macedonia cannot wait for this to happen. The only way to end the name dispute, once and for all, is for Macedonia to stop negotiating its own name.

Bill Nicholov, President
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International


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Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) has been active on human and national rights issues for Macedonians and other oppressed peoples since 1986. For more information:
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