German Journalist: West-led Armed Opposition in Syria will Fail

German Journalist: West-led Armed Opposition in Syria will Fail

TEHRAN (FNA)- German journalist and magazine editor Manuel Ochsenreiter believes that the Western powers along with the regional countries are backing and financing terrorists and insurgents in Syria, because each of them have certain interests linked to the disintegration of the Syrian government and the removal from power of President Bashar Assad. 

He also says that these countries are supporting such dangerous groups as Al-Qaeda to destabilize Syria and fight the Syrian army at the expense of the lives of innocent Syrian citizens whose only crime is supporting their government.

“These groups like Al-Qaeda, but also other armed militias that have infiltrated Syria during the course of the past year now fight the proxy war of the big powers. For Ankara, Riyadh, Washington or Doha it is much more convenient and also cheaper to use (or abuse) those insurgents instead of having a conventional war against Damascus. You have always a supply of men and arms. You just have to pay and to give support by means of intelligence, logistics and training,” said Ochsenreiter in an interview with Fars News Agency.

Manuel Ochsenreiter is the chief editor of the German monthly magazine ZUERST and contributes to other journals and magazines in Germany, as well. He spent a few weeks in Syria last year and dispatched special reports of the Battle of Damascus and other developments in the war-hit country.

What follows is the text of Fars News Agency’s interview with Ochsenreiter with whom we have talked about the situation in Syria, the connection between the Free Syrian Army and the foreign powers and the prospects of unrests in the country.

Q: You have just been to Syria and witnessed the situation on the ground in the crisis-hit country. Why do you think such countries as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are supporting, funding and equipping the insurgents who are intent on disintegrating the Syrian government and removing from power President Bashar al-Assad?

A: I was in Damascus in July 2012 when the so called “Battle of Damascus” raged. Western mass media claimed that the Syrian capital was besieged by tens of thousands of “FSA” fighters and that the city would fall soon. Nothing was true about those reports. There were terrorist activities in some suburbs, but not something like a “siege” or a real “battle”. Terrorist fighters were infiltrating the suburbs and some parts of the city and shooting civilians and Syrian security forces. I was with the Syrian army in the neighborhood of Al-Midan where still some “FSA” men were fighting against the army, and I saw fallen “FSA” fighters of non-Syrian origin on the streets.

It is not a secret that the Syrian Arab Republic plays today a sort of “disturbing role” (for certain Arab regimes) in the region. Damascus is an important ally for the much bigger disturbing state in the region, the Islamic Republic of Iran. For Saudi Arabia and other Sunni monarchies, the so called “Arab Spring” was the big chance to gain a lot of influence by supporting the radical Sunni groups in all the states where these protests against the governments took place (Tunisia, Libya and Egypt). They tried the same plot in Syria but it did not work with peaceful means, so they financed and armed militia and paid mercenaries.

Turkey has its own geopolitical agenda in the region. The “neo-Ottoman dream” is about to become a sort of state reason. It is all about influence in the region and becoming a leading power. Turkey as well as Saudi Arabia and the other Persian Gulf states are partners of the West (Turkey is NATO-member as we all know) and the West is also strongly against Tehran. So you see, in Syria, the common interests of the West and the Sunni monarchies come together. Syria, the secular state ruled by an Alawite president and a close ally of Russia does not fit in this type of “New Middle East” plan.

Q: There are rumors that Al-Qaeda has been involved in the conflict in Syria and that some of the high-ranking members of the cult have been directing attacks on civilian areas as well as the army bases. It was even reported that the brother of Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda commander in Syria was just arrested in Daraa city. What’s your viewpoint about the collaboration of Al-Qaeda with the terrorists and insurgents? In what ways does Al-Qaeda benefit from unrest and instability in Syria?

A: These are not just rumors. Groups related to Al-Qaeda have admitted to fighting together with the FSA a “Jihad” against the Syrian government; what means in reality to kidnap and kill civilians, security forces and religious authorities and to place bombs in civilian areas.

These groups like Al-Qaeda, but also other armed militias that have infiltrated Syria during the course of the past year now fight the proxy war of the big powers. For Ankara, Riyadh, Washington or Doha it is much more convenient and also cheaper to use (or abuse) those insurgents instead of having a conventional war against Damascus. You have always a supply of men and arms. You just have to pay and to give support by means of intelligence, logistics and training. These groups like al-Qaeda themselves follow completely different ideological agendas. Maybe they even oppose their financers. For example, for the authorities of al-Qaeda, the West is the “useful idiot” by making them strong; while the Western officials similarly think that the al-Qaeda fighters are the “useful idiots.” What comes out at the end is what we have witnessed in countries like Afghanistan, where the West supported radical Sunni militias against the Soviet occupation.

At least we should not forget to mention another important point: insurgents generally do not respect any law in war. They are criminals by definition. They kill, torture, and terrorize the population. Even the worst organized regular army has some instruments and mechanisms to persuade war criminals in their own rows. There are fixed standards on how to treat prisoners of war, how to save the lives and goods of the civilians and how to keep the war outside civilian areas. But none of these mechanisms exist in the groups like the al-Qaeda-linked militias. They are the “bulldozers” of war, and the countries that support those militia gangs keep their “innocence”.

Q: It was on the news that Saudi Arabia has dispatched to Syria a large number of dangerous criminals, including murderers and prisoners sentenced to death to take part in terrorist activities against the supporters of President Assad and even ordinary citizens. We have seen on the TV channels footages of Sudanese, Yemeni and Saudi criminals beheading the Syrian people and committing other atrocities. What’s your take on that?

A: In the military hospital of Damascus where I visited and interviewed horribly injured Syrian soldiers, a young officer told me, “We fight against the whole world.” And these soldiers told me about insurgents who even do not speak the Arabic language. Terrorists from the Caucasus are right now in Syria as well as Sudanese, North Africans, Pakistanis and Afghans.

The strategy of using criminals as insurgents is not very new. In almost all the wars in the past, convicted criminals played a role. For Saudi Arabia, this has a practical benefit. They get rid of their hardcore criminals somewhere far away, the “enemy” civil population in Syria is horrified by the news that brutal murderers and rapists are on the way to their homes, and this might be also a reason that criminals are fighters without any lobby. Nobody in Saudi Arabia cares when they are killed or captured by the Syrian army. No diplomat will try to set them free. So we cannot really wonder when we see now the results of the Syrian civilians and soldiers being brutally massacred, beheaded and tortured.

Q: What do you think about President Assad’s speech on Sunday? The opposition figures swiftly reacted to it and said that it included nothing new. British Foreign Secretary also accused President Assad of killing his own people and called his speech hypocritical. This is while President Assad promised reforms in the political structure of the country and called for a public referendum and the formation of parliament in his speech. What’s your viewpoint on that?

A: In my opinion, President Assad said what had to be said in this situation. I would not count so much on the reaction of the so-called “opposition” and western politicians. Most probably their declarations were already typed before Assad began his speech. When it comes to hypocrisy, the Western politicians are the real experts. They claim that they want a regime change in Syria for civil and human rights, yet at the same time they support the absolute backward monarchy of Saudi Arabia. So why should we listen to their words?

The Syrian President will be measured by the promises he made in his speech on Sunday. I personally know a lot of Syrians who were very critical of their government before the crisis. I would have considered them as “opposition”. They criticized especially the corruption in Syria. Since the war broke out they began to support their government and their army in the fight against the foreign terrorists. Those supporters expect that when the crisis is over, the Syrian government will keep its promises.

Q: The United States has spared no effort to bring together and unite the different opposition fractions and opponents of President Assad, especially in the Doha conference and the Friends of Syria conference in Paris, but it failed to link the Salafist and Jihadi groups to the coalition forces and there seems to be a growing rift among the different opposition groups. What do you think in this regard? Has the United States succeeded in realizing this goal?

A: “Friends of Syria”, with whose existence Syria does not need enemies anymore seem to be very chaotic in their policies. Within this construct of “FSA”, so many different groups and fractions are fighting and it’s extremely hard to bring them together because they will start fighting against each other as soon as the common enemy is out of their sight. Of course it is almost impossible to bring Salafi groups together with civil rights activists because they have a completely different understanding of how a society should be built.

The western powers try to put all these groups together in one frontline; they try to force them to some western democratic games with each other. But at the end, and this seems clear, the brutal guys with the biggest guns will become the leading people and not the well-spoken, sophisticated writers and philosophers who Washington, Paris and London recommend for the leading position. So the US has already failed and any western project to “organize” the “armed opposition” in Syria has to fail. Why? Because those “opposition” fighters have nothing to do with people inside Syria who may have some criticism toward their government and now support their army against the insurgents and terrorists.

Q: What’s your viewpoint regarding Israel’s role in the fomentation of unrest in Syria? It’s said that Israeli arms and ammunitions have been seen in the hands of the terrorists and insurgents. What efforts has Israel made in order to break up Syria as an integral part of the resistance front?

A: Syria is really an old player in the resistance front against Israel, and a well-known supporter of the Lebanese Hezbollah, and the former “homeland” of high-ranking Hamas officials in Damascus like Khalid Mashaal as well as other Palestinian resistance groups and as already mentioned a close ally of Iran. Syria might have been seen by Israel as the key country of the resistance. The strategy might have been that, when Syria falls, the resistance might also fall.

Meanwhile, the strategic situation has changed. Syria refuses to fall and defends itself while radical foreign mercenaries infiltrate Israel’s neighborhood from almost all borders. Maybe Tel Aviv tries to support some of the groups with arms and intelligence, and as you said, it’s already reported that Israeli weapons were captured in Syria by the security forces.

From the Israeli point of view, the Syrian Arab Republic is an enemy; an enemy with a regular army and with a clear structure and hierarchy. You can make a ceasefire agreement and rely on the other side. But what happens when Syria becomes a failed state? With whom shall they talk then? Who to negotiate with? The negotiations of the Syrian government about a ceasefire with the so called “FSA” show that this cannot be successful as almost every armed militia acts on its own. So in case of a failed state there will be lots of different warlords with their militias. The vacuum of power in the center of the Middle East will be filled by the guys with the biggest guns. Tel Aviv might then make expensive agreements with 99% of the militia leaders, but at least one percent will fire rockets at Israel and send insurgents.

Interview by Kourosh Ziabari 

Manuel Ochsenreiter is the Editor in Chief of the German monthly magazine ZUERST!

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Founding Declaration

Founding Declaration of the United Popular Front

For more than a year the country has been driven into a suffocating new regime of occupation.  The first act of this regime was to demolish every concept of legality in order to impose a savage programme of plundering of working people. The population stands bewildered as every day it hears announcements of ever harsher anti-social measures that are overturning domestic and personal planning, trampling underfoot rights and progress acquired over decades of struggle, violently thrusting people into poverty, unemployment, and misery.  With every passing day working people are losing more of their basic guarantees for a minimally decent life. Small and medium sized businesses are being wiped out. The populace is left with no  prospect other than a continually worsening  situation.

All this is taking place amidst a global economic crisis that is unique in terms of its breadth, depth and destructive consequences: a crisis which, when it was transformed into a debt crisis, hit Greece as the weak link in the chain, along with a number of other peripheral countries of the EU. The suffering that our people are experiencing, the loss of sovereignty, the dissolution and destruction, are the products of an international mechanism of exploitation spearheaded by an entirely parasitical fiscal system at the European and global level.

Greek working people, pensioners, professionals, farmers, small and medium business people, are not only being required to pay off a debt that has been designed to increase as you pay it rather than decrease, but they are also being called upon to accept the official mortgaging and selling off of their country by the EU and the IMF. This is what the government and the official political system is promising the Greek people. They try to hide the fact that the key prerequisite for the “support packages” is not just the greater “sacrifices” that the popular strata are expected to accept. What is really at stake is the country’s sovereignty. Under the tutelage of the IMF and the EU, Greek working people face the prospect not only of losing their jobs, pensions, and rights but also of losing their country.

The very survival of the country is now being drawn into question openly by the controllers of the Eurozone and the markets. The country will have to accept being carved up, at least economically, into regions, relinquishing its economic rights over the islands, ceding sovereignty of the Aegean. The entire country has been turned into a site for a real estate auction, to be sold off, acre by acre. Greece has already become a state on probation, divided into semi-autonomous regions readily susceptible to privatization and annexation by neighbouring states, statelets and protectorates, depending on the requirements of the masters of the Eurozone and the USA.

The United Popular Front (UPF) has been established to organise resistance and reinforce the popular struggle against the occupation regime. Τhe turning point for its establishment was the magnificent resistance mounted by the people in gatherings lasting more than a month in the public squares of virtually all the cities and towns of Greece, first and foremost in Syntagma (Constitution) Square in Athens.  These spontaneous, protracted demonstrations by a very large proportion of the Greek people transformed the persistent protest struggle that had been waged primarily by workers, with mobilizations and strikes throughout the preceding year, into a struggle for the overturn of the existing power structures and the dominant political system as such. From the moment that a great proportion of the Greek people had come down into the streets with unprecedented determination and persistence not only against individual policies and measures but against the official regime, in whatever sense one might understand this term, then the question that was posed in practice from the outset was what the next step should be. How the people could win the confrontation it had initiated against the power structures. The UPF came into existence to answer this question. Its struggle is above all one of liberation, both national and social.  Its objective is to reclaim the country from the encroaching tyranny, indeed from execution: to defend the interests of the great popular majority: workers, farmers, small and medium business people, and above all the younger generation, so that it can have a future in this country.

The UPF is determined to make a decisive contribution to uniting the people, above and beyond party lines and ideological (or other) divisions. The people and the country are in grave danger. It is only by creating a great social and political front of the entire people to save the country that we will be able to escape from the oppressive one-way-street of destruction, plunder and oppressive debt.

A united and determined people has no need to fear anything or anybody. It cannot be stopped by any threat, any punishment by the markets or by the powerful. Once the people have decided to unite and claim their rights, there is no power that can stop them, no adversity that they cannot withstand.

This popular unity must be, and can be, constructed around the following central demands that make possible a total overturn of the regime of occupation, expropriation and vassalage, because they function as a point of departure for democratic rebirth of the country on the basis of popular interests.

The central demands may be summarized as follows:

1. Non-recognition of the public debt, on the basis of international law, which permits a sovereign state to refuse to pay all illegal, usurious and unauthorized debt that leads a people and a country to bankruptcy.  This means immediate – here and now – cessation of payment to lenders, to check the hemorrhaging of wealth that has been imposed on the country and the people by the international usurers and speculators.

This is the only way the country can be saved from disaster,  and workers and their incomes, their jobs, their pensions and their rights safeguarded. It is the only way that there can be any prospect for young people, for farmers, professionals, small and medium businesses. It is the only way the country can avoid the bankruptcy and destruction that is already being organized by the government, the EU and the IMF.

Non-recognition of debt means that we do not recognize any demand that would enable those lending the country money to expropriate, to confiscate, to plunder. It means that we stop paying money on loans that we have already paid off twice and three times. It means that we unilaterally cancel all the debts that are the product of fraud and speculation at the expense of the country and its people. It means that we refuse, finally, to give our life blood for payments on loans dating from the 19thcentury, but which the markets and our great “partners” have forced us to pay until the present day. It means quite simply that we stop paying ransom money to international and local usurers.

The Greek people must proceed with non-recognition of the debt not because we want to hurt anybody or “steal” money that has been lent to us. We have to do it because there is no other way to overturn the debtor/creditor relationship in the interest of the country and to rescue ourselves from the threat of official bankruptcy. We have to do it because there is no other way to get back on our feet, to reclaim our country from the markets and the money-grabbers, to secure its survival, to emancipate ourselves finally  from the corrupt system that governs it. The people will not refuse to discuss demands for repayment of loans that have been contracted in good faith and have verifiably contributed to the development of the country. Discussion will be on the basis of mutual benefit. This will apply particularly in the case of the money of small depositors and money in insurance funds, which in any case does not account for more than 15% of today’s public debt. The basic presumption will always be that no such demand will impede the progress of the country, mortgaging the country or reducing it to hostage status. If someone has to lose, it is certainly not going to be the country or the people of Greece.

2.  There must be a dismantling here and now of the entire edifice of agreements, obligations, interventions and measures that have been made and taken since the time of the first Memorandum, so that the country can re-establish legal order internally and reclaim from the IMF, the EU and the European Central Bank the sovereignty ceded by the pitiful traitors comprising the entirety of the country’s economic and political establishment, and above all – of course – the government.  We must, in everything the popular movement says and does, emphasize our warning to local and foreign power brokers, investors and market speculators that whatever they have seized and are going to seize in the near future will be taken back by the people through its struggle. Investment in the disintegration and expropriation of this country will cost them dearly.

3. Restructuring Greece’s relations with the EU, starting with the exit from the Eurozone and adoption of a national currency that will express the dynamic of a new economic course for the country in the interests of the people. Disaster does not await us if we leave the euro. It awaits us if we remain at the mercy of the euro. Only if we gain control of the currency and the economy will the country cease to be subject to the pressures, the blackmail, the attacks, of international speculators: a dispensable by-product of movements of the market.

Return to the national currency is not a panacea. It is, rather, a necessary starting point if we are to embark on a new course. To achieve the necessary redistribution of wealth in favour of the economically weaker strata, but also immediate decisive strengthening of popular incomes, which is the only way to restart the economy and begin to come out of recession.

To proceed with nationalization of the major banks, starting with the Bank of Greece, for the sake of securing control of the economy, reorienting credit policy, striking at financial quackery, regulating movements of capital. This is the only way to defend the savings of ordinary people, savings that  are being whittled away by today’s banking system of usurers and speculators.

For the state to emerge as the basic lever of the country’s economic and social development, starting with nationalization of the old public corporations, infrastructures  and services that have been privatised. A state that must cease to be the fief of the parasitical economic and political oligarchy that is today governing the country. It is only in this way that the private initiative of  small and medium businesses can be freed from domination by trusts, cartels, local and foreign market monopolies.

To secure the necessary investments for productive reconstruction of the country, which will not be based on speculative investors, whether foreign or local, or on state-supported entrepreneurs and monopolies, but on the needs and on the income of working people, on the dynamic and the initiative of the country’s living productive forces.

4.  The first act of atonement to Greek society for the lawlessness of those in government will be when the natural and legal persons (parties and business networks)  implicated throughout the preceding period in the dissipation of public monies and public property are put in the dock.  This is not a proposal for erecting gallows in Constitution Square, or for filling the prisons with good-for-nothing traitors. Its purpose is grander: immediate confiscation on behalf of the public of all the property  of such natural and legal persons as have been involved in this misappropriation  of public funds and in the high treason that has been committed against the people and against the public through the imposition of this regime of occupation and expropriation.  As for the culprits: they can be assigned socially beneficial work, cleaning and tending public places, maintaining infrastructures, etc.  The first concern of the movement must therefore be… not to round them up and expel them, but to apprehend them before they escape, to show them how the people in practice punish high treason and how they themselves can be of some use to society as a whole, perhaps for the first time in their lives.

5.  The country cannot be saved with the people kept “on the back burner”, with all-party coalition governments or corporatized non-party governments. The way out of the crisis is through more, not less,  democracy, and  democracy that goes deeper. It requires a populace in the center of the political stage, not a population of passive spectators of events, not victims. It requires a new form of political power with the people as its focus, not a corrupt system of governmental absolutism.  It requires that democracy be achieved on an authentic basis of popular sovereignty and national independence.  This can be accomplished through thorough institutional change, the refounding of the political system as a whole, through the election of a Constituent Assembly with broadened authentic representation of the people itself, for the sole purpose of drawing up and voting a new democratic Constitution. Only in this way will it be possible for the people to become master in their own house, to establish a system of government based on popular representation, with a binding mandate, continuous control from below, the power of recall and limited terms of office.  Only in this way will it be possible to be rid of the restrictions that come with vassal status, so that the country and the people can be open at long last to all the currents of international life, to take advantage of potential and opportunities, seeking out new bases of support, new contacts and relationships, with all the peoples of Europe and the world, without coerced alliances, impositions, and monopolistic dependence.

The struggle in which working people, farmers, small and medium businesses, professionals, young people, are now summoned to become engaged is  not just a question of personal survival. Nobody can escape just by looking after himself, doing his job, for as long as he still has one. Nobody can be saved today unless he fights to save the whole country.  There is no other choice. We no longer have the luxury of being able to say “first let’s see what is going to happen, and then we’ll talk about it”.  Either the working people and all of the population  take matters into their own hands, embarking on actions to save the country, or we condemn ourselves – and even moreso generations to come – to what could be the darkest period in modern Greek history.

The Greek people are not alone in this struggle. At their side are other peoples of the southern part of the Eurozone, in the EU and internationally who are being hit by similar policies of banditry. The duty of dispensing with the regime of debt bondage, starting with our own country, is something the Greek people owe not only to themselves but to all the peoples who find themselves subject to the power of the same international band of thieves. Each step towards liberation in Greece, each timely blow against the occupation regime will inspire other struggling peoples, heightening morale and strengthening resolve. The national and social liberation of Greece will trigger a generalized spring of the peoples in Europe, which no species of reaction will be able to hold back.

The United Popular Front is pledged to contribute with all the power at its disposal to every authentic popular movement against today’s regime, irrespective of where it originates and who is leading it. It  undertakes to play an active and decisive role in every movement of resistance and to help it in its task of awakening and organizing the population, in every neighbourhood and every workplace, with the aim of achieving national and social liberation. The UPF is open to every democratic, patriotic activist who wants to struggle for the same purpose, without asking for any “certificate of social conscience”, genuflections before self-designated authorities, self-appointed leaders, dignitaries and/or concealed  or overt party mechanisms.  By its nature the UPF  is a transitional socio-political alliance of broad popular forces whose central objective is to achieve its basic objectives and demands.  In its ranks there are no dividing lines of party or ideological origins between its members, nor is there any recognition of organised groups or blocs. This corresponds to the unity that must be constructed in the ranks of the people  against the common enemy. As an alliance it is temporary because with the achievement of  its central objectives the UPF  will pass irrevocably into history.

Argyroupoli, 16/7/2011

If «Greeks» can call themselves Greeks, «Skopians» can call themselves Skopians

IF “GREEKS” CAN CALL THEMSELVES GREEKS, “SKOPIANS” CAN CALL THEMSELVES SKOPIANS

Macedonia is not Greek.

Obama was born in Hawaii.

The September 11 2001 attacks were carried out by Osama bin Laden and other Islamic terrorists.

The Pentagon was hit by an airliner.

Chemtrails are nothing but water vapor.

Geoengineering is a sane response to anthropogenic climate change, which nobody desires (apart from those who deny it is occurring) and nobody is deliberately causing.

HAARP is a harmless upper-atmosphere research project.

All recent tsunamis, earthquakes and other disasters have been examples of «the revenge of Mother Nature».

Genetically modified foods are safe for human consumption and a solution for «world hunger».

Nuclear weapons are a necessary and effective deterrent against conventional military attack, both for the United States and for other states that possess them (apart from China and Pakistan) but not for states that do not possess them.

Nuclear power is a defensible, responsible and economically viable way of generating electricity.

All the above has more or less become the required credo for the well-adjusted and “normal” citizen of today.

Can this reality-defying credo be “made to stick”? Often it appears that Greece has been elevated into a test case, a global guinea-pig whose function is to provide the answer to this, i.e. to whether the credo can be successfully imposed on the world under construction, the world of comatose masses and neo-slavery.

Let us see if it can be challenged from its apparently most innocuous and least interesting component: Macedonia.

Greeks call the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM, its legal and internationally recognized [provisional] name) Skopia (Skopje) and its citizens Skopians. Greeks do not believe that anyone else other than themselves could be expected to accept, understand or sympathize with this terminology. But isn’t the word “Greek” the same kind of word: a pejorative Western term for Hellene? If Hellenes can be called Greeks, and – in English – call themselves Greeks, why can inhabitants of FYROM not be called, and – in English – call themselves – Skopians? They should. And Greeks should get into the habit of calling them Skopians simply and unaggressively in English when speaking to foreigners. If the problem of the citizens of FYROM is that they don’t want to be Greek, they don’t want to be Serb, they don’t want to be Bulgarian, they don’t want to be Albanian, they don’t want to be Yugoslav, they don’t want to be proletarian internationalist, they don’t want to be….etc. etc., then they are Skopians: it is as simple as that. It is not necessary, and no viable solution for them, to choose an option without authentic substance that depends for its credibility on the goodwill of planetary masters who are also riding roughshod over reality in other much more dangerous ways. It is wrong for the citizens of FYROM to allow their own peculiar identity problem to remain a problem and be exploited by the worst enemies of the human race.

The following are details of (what would be seen as a trivial) incident that occurred in Austria last summer (the summer of 2011) at the forum on food sovereignty held by the organization NYELENI. http://www.nyelenieurope.net/

The behavior at the forum of certain delegates from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia was provocative. When I, as one of the Greeks present, reacted to it in a way that indicated that I was not willing to accept insults without protest, the forum organizers showed by their attitude that they regarded me, rather than the behavior of the FYROM delegates in question, as the problem. There was nothing unusual about this. It is the norm, just as many other bizarre assumptions are in today’s world.

I think that many times Greeks do not react in an organized manner in the face of provocations from FYROM citizens. The relevant polarization occurs primarily at the summit of politics. At the level of civil society, Greek leftists and ecologists in particular tend to think, or at least to say, that “it is not worth making a fuss over such irrelevant nonsense”.

Fortunately at the NYELENI forum there were three members of EPAM, the United Popular Front, http://www.epam-hellas.gr, who decided not to follow the usual tactic, or rather non-tactic, of Greek leftists in relation to such “patriotic” themes. They/we drew up an official letter of protest and sent it to the steering committee of the forum. The answer we received may be read below.

Because I believe that our reaction should serve as an example to Greek citizens of what can be achieved with a little persistence, I wanted our successful protest to be given publicity within our organization EPAM, and perhaps not only there.

But the reaction of EPAM members was lukewarm. The fact is that Leftists do NOT want to see dynamic projection of national questions of this type that provoke internal arguments and appear tiresome to outsiders.

If others see the point of making the incident better known, personally I would be pleased.

Here is the official letter of protest, preceded by the answer to it:

W. Hall http://www.enouranois.gr

Dear people of the Greek delegation!

As you demanded I changed the title of the country in the documents into FYROM.

Regards
M.P. (of Via Campesina, Austria)

To: NYELENI EUROPEAN FORUM STEERING COMMITTEE

From: The Greek Delegation to the Forum

Regarding: Official Complaint

First of all we would like to extend our thanks for a very well-organized event in Krems; we can assure you it has given us the necessary drive to bring this important message to our country and to organize the Food Sovereignty Movement on our ground.

Unfortunately, one of our neighboring countries has used this Forum as grounds for promoting their national propaganda against our own country and, contrary to international and European laws and agreements. Since silence counts as acceptance, we are left with no other choice but to launch this formal complaint.

The country in question is FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). According to the UN resolution A/RES/47/225 dating 8/4/1993, this country has been accepted as a member of the United Nations under the name FYROM – please also look into the attached file to read the full resolution. The UN has subsequently urged all countries, organizations etc. to use this as the formal name when addressing this country, until a final solution is reached between the two parties1 (Greece and FYROM).

http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/unms/theformeryugoslavrepublicofmacedonia.shtml

With regards to the EU stance on the matter: the European Union complies fully with the UN resolution and refers to the country as FYROM:

http://ec.europa.eu/enlargement/candidate-countries/the_former_yugoslav_republic_of_macedonia/index_en.htm

Therefore, we would urge you to change the name of this country to the correct form -i.e. FYROM in all documentation, websites, links, communication etc as per the above mentioned UN resolution.

Furthermore, we condemn the provocative behavior of a member of the FYROM delegation who was seen wearing a T-shirt with a symbol that has been recognized as Greek Copyright since 1995 and contained the wording ‘Republic Of Macedonia’ – details on the copyright can be found here:

http://www.wipo.int/cgi-6te/guest/ifetch5?ENG+SIXTER+15-00+41274938-KEY+256+0+-1+F-ENG+3+5+1+25+SEP-0/HITNUM,B+CC/GR

In 1995, Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia concluded an Interim Accord, which imposed a binding “code of conduct”. One of the paragraphs mentions the prohibition, under article 7.2. of “symbols – including the Vergina Sun and other symbols that are part of Greece’s historical and cultural heritage”. Other instances of such violations include the renaming of Skopje’s airport “Alexander the Great”, the raising of statues of Alexander the Great and Philip II, and naming the section of Corridor X that passes through the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia “Alexander the Macedonian”.

For more information on the official Greek view of the issue you can follow this link:

http://www1.mfa.gr/en/fyrom-name-issue/

We need to stress the importance of such claims and stop this provocative behavior when it arises because … “two can play this game”! And we are certain this is not what you want to happen in forums where we are gathering to discuss matters of a completely different nature. Just imagine the whole of the Greek delegation sporting banners, T-shirts etc. with ‘Macedonia is Greek’ on them… Since this is not the first event in which such provocative actions have taken place, we are adamant on the scope of these actions. We would like you to also condemn this behavior in order to safeguard the true meaning of such gatherings and in order not to provide a stage for such unilateral propaganda to take place. A propaganda which, we may add, is funded by a well-known New World Order Foundation.

Signed by the (8-member) Greek Delegation to the European NYELENI Forum in Krems:

Footnote
1UN

Department of political affairs

Greece – The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)

The Department of Political Affairs provides staff support and guidance to the Personal Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for talks aimed at resolving the name dispute between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Negotiations on the name dispute began in 1993 and have continued since 1999 under the auspices of Personal Envoy Matthew Nimetz. While no solution has been reached so far, both parties have cooperated in the process and urged the continuation of the efforts of the Secretary-General and his Personal Envoy.

http://www.un.org/wcm/content/site/undpa/main/activities_by_region/europe/greece