Monday, August 04, 2008
Friday, August 01, 2008
On July 18 the Miami Herald published an article "Chavez party seeks changes for third term." The article discussed Chavez's efforts to amend the Venezuelan Constitution and allow infinite presidential re-election. COHA Research Associate Lydia Pardini prepared and submitted the following letter to the editor in response to the article.
Venezuelan President Chávez’s renewed effort to amend the Constitution is based on his idea that “peace, tranquility and development” in Venezuela is contingent on him remaining in power (“Chávez party seeks changes for third term,” Jul 18). Yet his two terms in office have revealed a somewhat mixed record in achieving these goals. For example, the murder rate in Venezuela has risen in the past few years to 48 per 100,000, the second highest rate in the world.
The social missions aimed at bringing social justice to the country’s poverty stricken established early in the Chávez presidency, have enjoyed some successes. However, these programs are entirely dependent on a constant flow of high-price state oil revenue and do not necessarily constitute reliable development. Furthermore, the extensive and inefficient bureaucracy in charge of these programs (much of it inherited from the country’s past traditional regimes) has been marred by accusations of corruption.
In a referendum last December a narrow majority of Venezuelans rejected a set of reforms that would have allowed indefinite presidential re-election. Yet, as of now, up to 56% seem convinced of his ability to provide peace and development in the long term. Thus, if Chávez truly hopes to win the country’s upcoming regional elections in November, he needs to deliver on some of his promises, concentrating more on internal improvements rather than grand visions.
Council on Hemispheric Affairs
The Mexican government has every right to question the specifics of the United States anti-drug plan, but their objections regarding human rights stipulations might be misguided and counterproductive (“U.S. lawmakers to review Mexico aid terms,” June 8). Prioritizing human rights in the pending $1.4 billion US aid package to the Calderon administration needs to send an urgent message to Latin America, emphasizing
Council on Hemispheric Affairs
You are correct in your claim that the termination of the U.S.’s economic sanctions on Cuba would not only resolve America’s institutionalized violation of World Trade Organization guidelines (“Cuba Demands US to End Economic Sanctions at WTO Forum”, June 11). However, you fail to state the benefits that lifting the sanctions could have for both the U.S. and Cuba. Such an action would help U.S. exporters by opening up Cuban markets. It would also help solve Cuba’s endemic fuel and food shortages and let Cuban families receive more remittances from relatives living abroad, which currently is restricted by the embargo to $100 per month.
Ending the embargo would allow for real reform on Cuba’s part, much more so than the modest and largely symbolic measures taken by Raul Castro. True, he has lifted the ban on cell phones and allowed Cubans to visit tourist hotels, but these rights are still financially unattainable for most Cubans, who average only $18 per month in income. Lifting the U.S. embargo would surely have a more lasting and positive effect for the average Cuban than Raul’s otherwise token reforms. Better yet, it likely will benefit both the U.S. as well as Cuba.
Council on Hemispheric Affairs
COHA Research Associate Emily Dunn submitted this letter to the editor in response to the article.
Despite the argument that it would be a violation of Mexico’s sovereignty for the U.S. Congress to lay down conditions before any aid is dispersed under the $1.4 billion Merida Initiative, investigations into recurring human rights abuses by Mexico’s military would prove extremely beneficial (“Richardson urges US on aid package for Mexico,” May 29). In addition to curbing human rights abuses, Mexico could gain from this telling blow against corruption, U.S. aid aimed at stopping crime and ending of the spate of crime and drug shipments crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.
Mexico’s failure to adequately confront its rampant gangs has allowed the number of armed groups to climb. As The Post correctly notes, crime-related homicides have increased considerably this year. Clearly, President Calderon needs the aid that the proposed Merida Initiative would supply him in order to curb the dangerous increase in the number of organized crime groups and the lethal weapons at their disposal.
While the equipment and training that the Merida Initiative would provide may be essential to stem organized crime and ward off drug cartels that adversely affect both Mexico and the United States, the assistance to one of the most corrupt societies in the world needs to be supervised. If Washington is to aid Mexico in confronting crime, gangs and drugs, then Mexico should not oppose reasonable conditions calling for close monitoring of its war against derelictions in all forms.
Emily A. Dunn
Research Associate, Council on Hemispheric Affairs
The death of Manuel Marulanda, leader of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), will not improve the chances of a sustained peace resolution nor stop the violence of FARC as some have suggested (“Colombia urges FARC to surrender: Impact of rebel's death still unclear,” May 26th). Optimism surrounding the significance of Marulanda’s death, with respect to peace talks, falsely presumes that a new leader can single-handedly stop the violent ways of an entire guerilla force and create peace. This notion is impractical considering that FARC is a terrorist group with a long history of spontaneous and counterproductive violence. For example, promising peace talks in 1998 and 2002 were abruptly halted because of FARC’s terrorist activities. All parties involved in future peace talks with FARC cannot assume that Marulanda’s death is a positive step toward peace and an end to FARC’s violence, as has been proven in recent history.
Council on Hemispheric Affairs
Thursday, July 31, 2008
COHA Research Associate
On July 4,
Therefore, Washington’s continued hard-line approach towards Cuba has been largely responsible for repeatedly providing the revolutionary government with a justification for concentrating power and enforcing loyalty to the government, so as to protect itself from the “American empire’s attacks.” The Cuban Revolution was successful precisely because of its anti-imperialist rhetoric, which fed Cubans’ desire to free themselves from American intervention in their domestic affairs. It is
In February 2008,
Analysts should not limit the definition of Cuban progress to an automatic compliance with western democratic standards. The government has controlled most aspects of its citizens’ lives since the Revolution. Fidel micromanaged the island’s politics and economics, making the government synonymous with his persona. This cannot be reversed overnight. Now that he has formally stepped down, the government will need to differentiate the executive office from Fidel in order to promote a new style of autonomous governance. Raúl has not been overly aggressive in transforming his brother’s state, but he has certainly started to create a sharply different
The EU’s recent decision to lift its diplomatic sanctions against
By lifting the sanctions, the EU is not merely opening the path to dialogue and positively reinforcing Raúl’s progressive actions now and into the future; it is also performing an enormous act of good faith that could fully restore
Research Associate, Council on Hemispheric Affairs
On June 2, 2008
Tampoco se puede declarar concluyentemente el éxito de dichos movimientos. El Presidente Morales ha declarado en varias ocasiones que no reconocerá la validez de estas elecciones, convirtiendo la declaración de autonomía de Beni, Pando y Santa Cruz simplemente en un deseo, no en una realidad a nivel nacional e internacional. Dado a que estas tres regiones contienen solo un 30% de la población boliviana, su poder e influencia en la política pública nacional para poder independizarse es debatible.
Research Associate, Council on Hemispheric Affairs
Regarding EU Should Recognize Significance of Reforms under Raúl Castro and Inefficiency of Sanctions
On June 16, 2008 The Guardian published an article entitled "EU postpones decision on
It seems that the some countries do not fully appreciate the significance of
Now is the perfect time for the EU to exercise its creative leverage over
Research Associate, Council on Hemispheric Affairs
My hat goes off to
Council on Hemispheric Affairs
To read the full article, please go to:
Your article clearly details the recent surge in drug-related violence throughout
What is needed is an upgraded approach:
Council on Hemispheric Affairs
To read the full article, please go to: http://www.chron.com/CDA/archives/archive.mpl?id=2008_4569699
Regarding "The Failings of Chile’s Education System: Institutionalized Inequality and a Preference for the Affluent"
You must be especially proud of Andrea Arango's report on Chilean education. The clear writing and attentive research are far above average for COHA. There is hardly a tendentious formulation or bloody shirt to be found. I hope this praise has not cost the woman her non-paying position at COHA.
Inevitably, though, there are a few points with which one might disagree. I mention these simply to open for you and the COHA staff another perspective on the matters considered in the release.
1. In 2800 words no mention appears of the trajectory in test scores nationwide under the current educational system. Are more Chileans literate and numerate when compared with their predecessors of five or ten years ago? How do their achievements compare with those of neighboring countries, where the effort at educational leveling is further progressed? Surely, those are basic, more critical evaluative questions than asking which students gain access to a particular rank of university.
2. The question of poor people's access to better primary and secondary schools is complex. It is insufficient to attribute the disparity of access at the primary and secondary levels to inconvenient transport and a lack of knowledge of an occult admission process. It has been demonstrated across the world that the middle class will suffer great inconvenience to ensure their children's educational success. They instill a greater respect for education, they tutor them, they program their days, they game the application systems for better public and private schools. It cannot be a surprise, then, that middle class children achieve higher rates of admission to choice schools than the poor. After all, they have been formed as education-seeking missles since they left the womb.
The two small points raised in this regard (access to transport and knowledge of the system's variables) could be readily addressed via the provision of transport vouchers and a program of public
notification regarding school rankings. Many cities allow students to travel free on the mass transit system, and so could Chilean cities. School rankings could readily be broadcast via the news media, as they are in many places. The sad/happy truth, though, is that the middle class is largely self-selecting. The people who join are those who decipher and negotiate the system, not those who manage to discern and protest yet another pea under another heap of matresses.
3. The fact that more than a fifth of Chilean students fled the public schools when given the opportunity is a telling fact about life in that system. If the calculus were based on families rather than students, the rates would be still higher. Parents do not thoughtlessly inconvenience themselves and upset their children's social networks by bouncing them from school to school. They transfered because, like so many government systems, the public schools had come to serve constituencies other than the children they purport to serve. My point is best illustrated by a case mentioned in Ms Arango's essay, that of the encouragement of test-day absences. I doubt that there is a private or semi-private school in Chile where the administrators would direct children to be truants in the service of test scores. Yet, that maneuver is a device employed by education bureaucrats in many countries. The thread that ties those bureaucrats together, across borders, mountains and oceans, is the fact that they are almost inevitably government employees.
4. . The essay cites more than once the lower quality of public school teachers when compared with their confreres in the more private systems. In a free market, that sort of failing is addressed by the gradation of salaries according to job performance. Even in the public sector, that rational approach is sometimes employed. The US military, for example, pays increments for everything from qualification as a parachutist to the ability to speak a second language. The pay enhances capacity and performance. Yet -- I just know -- if the spectre of performance pay for teachers were raised, it would be opposed as a further imposition of divisive capitalist norms on a well-intentioned, failing system of education. The inept teacher would be more deserving of protection than the under-served student.
5. At the level of higher education, many solutions to the cited problems are available. You will recall that Jews in the US, denied access to the Ivy League, made the New York public colleges models of underfunded, intellectually glorious institutions. Similarly, poor Asians across the US bring their academic excellence with them to less prestigious public schools. Their very presence enhances the institutions. Protesting one's inability to gain admission to PUC is less effectual that taking the Chilean version of a Kaplan course. In the American model, the Ivy League, confronted with the promise, achievements and growing influence of those whom it had rejected, adjusted its admissions policies in order to avoid becoming a dumping ground for the stupid privileged. As recent world history has made clear, that process is sadly incomplete, but its force and direction are undeniable.
All of which is to say, Ms Arango (did I mention what a good expository writer she is?) and her sources might have identified aspects of the Chilean education system in need of improvement, but they have not made the case for tearing up the blueprint and beginning anew.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
By contrast, the US has struggled constantly and openly with the question of trade and the moral burdens that attend it. Thus, we sometimes trade with dictators and sometimes do not. When we do trade, we press, with varying degrees of effectualness and sincerity, for higher standards of humane governance. I prefer the Chinese model, in which business is simply business; it seems to me a less impeded route out of poverty. Naturally,I acknowledge the moral ledge on which such a policy is balanced. I would defend my position by pointing to the hundreds of millions killed in the name of utopian planning: they far outnumber the people murdered by free trade. Opposite to my line of thinking, COHA has consistently held that trade imposes grave obligations on the US to press democratic development on our more benighted trading partners, even if that development leaves them as wards of the international community.
Curiously, though, the Heine article appears to welcome the increased momentum of the Chinese model.
So, what do you want? Trade free of moral cant and posturing, as the Chinese offer? Or the conflicted American model in which we dither constantly between doing business and moral agonizing?
- usually not doing either particulary well.
It was defeated by a vote of 29/69. Voting for the amendment was Thomas Carper (D-Del) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) One the Republican side, 27 voted for the amendment, which was a logical compromise. They were, Lamar Alexander, Wayne Allard, Robert Bennett, Kit Bond,
Jim Bunning, Richard Burr, Saxby Chambliss, Thad Cochran, Norm Coleman, Susan Collins, John Cornyn, Michael Crapo, Jim DeMint, Pete Domenici, Charles Grassley, Judd Gregg, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Johnny Isakson, Jon Kyl, Trent Lott, Richard Lugar, Mel Martinez, Mitch McConnell, Lisa Murkowski, Ted Stevens, John Sununu, David Vitter
Earlier the Dorgan Amendment was introduced, (2797) It passed, as we know by 75/23. The vote on the Democratic side of the aisle was unanimous at 49. 25 Republicans voted for the original Dorgan Amendment.
Those opposing the original Dorgan Amendment were Wayne Allard, Robert Bennett, Kit Bond, Jim Bunning, Richard Burr, Thad Cochran, John Cornyn, Jim DeMint, Pete Domenici, Charles Grassley, Judd Gregg, Chuck Hagel, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Jon Kyl, Trent Lott, Richard Lugar, Mel Martinez, Mitch McConnell, Lisa Murkowski, Ted Stevens, John Sununu, David Vitter. John McCain and Larry Craig abstained.
This was the Bill were the now infamous word "establish" was used as a supposed "catch all".
I haven't found the specific vote count on the new amendment yet but the committee members are as follows. Shouldn't be too hard to figure out who did what unless they flipped.
Democratic Subcommittee Members:
- Senator Patty Murray (Chairman) (WA)
- Senator Robert C. Byrd (WV)
- Senator Barbara Mikulski (MD)
- Senator Herb Kohl (WI)
- Senator Richard Durbin (IL)
- Senator Byron Dorgan (ND)
- Senator Patrick Leahy (VT)
- Senator Tom Harkin (IA)
- Senator Dianne Feinstein (CA)
- Senator Tim Johnson (SD)
- Senator Frank Lautenberg (NJ)
Republican Subcommittee Members:
- Senator Christopher Bond (Ranking Member) (MO)
- Senator Richard Shelby (AL)
- Senator Arlen Specter (PA)
- Senator Robert Bennett (UT)
- Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX)
- Senator Sam Brownback (KS)
- Senator Ted Stevens (AK)
- Senator Pete Domenici (NM)
- Senator Lamar Alexander (TN)
- Senator Wayne Allard (CO)
Sent to COHA on July 30, 2008 by Porter M. Corn
Friday, July 18, 2008
The Base of the Pyramid (BoP) approach certainly has the potential to bring economic development to the poorest areas in
Chris Sweeney; Research Associate
Council on Hemispheric Affairs
To read the full Guardian article, please go to:
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Looking at the size of the mine shovel behind Pat Crisby makes me wonder how far mankind is willing to go in its quest for oil (“Well-Oiled Machine,” May 22). The pyramids of Giza and the Great Wall of China are monumental engineering achievements that added to the natural landscape; however, the consumption of tar sands in Althabasca threatens to destroy a territory the size of England and turn Alberta into a desert due to the large amounts of water required for the process. This is an amazing feat of engineering in scale but not in purpose. A more impressive achievement would be a world where fossil fuels are no longer the dominant energy source. Besides the obvious environmental benefits, sustainable energy results in stable jobs and economic growth. This is in contrast to the oil industry, which experiences constant fluctuations as sources come online, peak, and then slowly decline. Althabasca’s tar sands will provide only temporary gains in oil production and economic growth at a permanent cost to the environment. Alberta authorities would be wise to invest a major part of revenue from oil taxes into a serious sustainable development program.
Council on Hemispheric Affairs Research Associate
To read the full Time Magazine article, go to:
COHA responds to the San Francisco Chronicle's, “Venezuela weapons worry US, Colombia” (May 16th, 2008)
Newspaper accounts of
Additionally, your author fails to contextualize his story within the history of defense spending in the region. He could have revealed how links between Colombian officials and rightist paramilitary groups render
While Chávez’s modus operandi has favored haranguing leaders with whom he disagrees, he has yet to manifest this in a threatening manner. Recent Interpol findings that Venezuelan officials funded and supplied weapons to the FARC certainly warrant further investigation but are not conclusive. It would be wise to maintain rhetoric that generates more light than heat.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
The "lost decade" of Latin America was attended by an equally lost decade in the state of Texas and in other economies where raw materials played very important roles After rapid increases in the price of oil and other commodities during the 1970s, prices fell hard in the early 1980s - plunging in the late 80s. Countries that depended on these sales for tax revenues began to default on their government's debt. Of course these same problems caused difficulties in the private sector. As the poor got poorer, and even the rich did, political strife became common across Latin America. Everybody wanted to grab what was left. It isn't for me to be telling anybody about the effects of IRI activies, but I am certain that much of the conflict was a reaction to these price shocks and resulting income shocks. While it is interesting to read about the IRI as a conduit for politically charged money, turbulent world commodity markets and subsequent sovereign debt defaults would have been plenty by themselves to cause a lost decade. This is not rocket science. Just access databases of the prices for oil, copper, gas, iron, or soybeans.
However, the easiest way of figuring this all out is through each country's terms of trade statistics. Most people don't quite understand what "terms of trade" means. Terms of trade is simply the ratio of the prices of things that a country exports to the prices of things that a country imports. Just go to the World Bank's World Development Indicators, pick out an assortment of Latin American countries, and then command the database to produce terms of trade statistics from the late 1960s to the present. I just did this. I punched in the names of each of Latin America's seven largest countries - (in order of population size) Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Peru, Venezuela, and Chile. Terms of trade fall throughout the 1980s and are at their worse in the second half of the decade. Try this and I think that you will not have the slightest difficulty deciding what the lost decade was really about.
In response to "A Hidden Agenda: John McCain and the IRI," by COHA Research Associate Sarah Hamburger.
Sarah Hamburger's response:
You have obviously considered my article thoughtfully and your explanation of the “lost decade” in Latin America was clarifying. I regret it if I was not clear enough in my article. My intention was never to imply that the lost decade was a result of the IRI, in fact the events I spoke of regarding Haiti and Venezuela took place in the 2000s, not the 80s and 90s. My point is that the IRI illegally intervenes in the affairs of sovereign nations, which is a violation of international law. The “lost decade” portion of the piece was just a brief statement about the auspices under which the IRI was founded (essentially, it is an organization based on a speech by President Reagan, a man with a demonstrably disastrous Latin American policy with Iran-Contra and the Salvadoran Civil War). I appreciate your response.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
In response to your piece "Immigration Compromise, too little too late...." from July 26th, 2007, I would like to present to you some real questions that I believe truly reflect the will of the American People. I would like to preface w/the fact that I'm a 34 year old, African-American, from Kansas. I lived in Mexico City as an exchange student during my senior year in high school and loved my familia Mexicana so much that I returned on 3 different occasions to have 12-16 weeks 'live-in' visits with them. As a younger man, I witnessed first hand Mexico's foray into the global economy, NAFTA and to Mexico's present day GDP ranking 12th in the world according to the World Bank. I know as well, as you, that Mexico is not a poor country, but has a lot of her citizens who live in poverty, thus my email to you today. Poverty, my friend, is the greatest enemy of the people on both sides of the border and here is where my question's come in to you. In your article you outline the common political argument's and/or sound bytes, such as, American's losing job's, wages being depressed, the 'criminalization' of people who enter illegally, that 'nativists' or restrictionist are a recent phenomena, immigrant's don't assimilate, the environmental impact and the war on terror. I would like to present to you the following questions, because as an American, I often feel that the actual American people are not consulted in this as it seems only migrant's, first or second generation, their lobbyist or the politicians seem to be the only voices heard on the matter.
So, Mr. Racheotes, is it not true that that this is largely an issue between The United States and Mexico? Our proximity,history, present and our future is our commonality. Mexico, is by far the largest source of illegal immigration, because the masses from say Lithuania, Haiti or Guatemala, don't have the option of walking through the deserts, mountains or rivers to reach the promise land. Also doesn't Mexico have 47 consular offices throughout the U.S.? So, in my opinion, we should give Mexico what she's been begging for all along a 'special' agreement between the two lands allowing for the free flow of people, as well as goods and services between the two nations. However, this could only happen if we can get Mexico's people, her pro-immigration lobby and President Calderone on board with channeling of their energies into real change in their house FIRST!!! On a micro scale, you and I are neighbors and I'm living in modest house on a meager existence and you have much the same, except your existence isn't so meager and your house is 13 times the size of my house. Your family is large with 1/2 of them doing really well, but the other 1/2 struggling to survive on a daily basis and really they don't have anything. My family, while also large is doing quite well, with only about 10% living in poverty, but opportunity exists to affect change. Because I have more does not give you carte blanche access to my house to further yourself and your needs. It would only be proper for you to knock on the front door and await my permissions to enter. Correct? On a macro scale, The US has acted with impunity or imperialistically in her historic actions and yes, we did take land from Mexico 160 years ago, but we all have to come to terms with the our present. The US also allowed slavery until shortly after this war, a morally bankrupted policy, but it is our American History. So,my point is if Mexico feels that she needs her land back, that should have been addressed centuries ago. So, geopolitics has altered the landscape and the outlook of some of it's inhabitants, but we common American's see such much energy being focused on changing our government's policies, but see no effort's in Mexico City to change the outlook of her peoples, to stamp out corruption and the lack of transparency. It would be nice for the American people to know that there is just as much passion for change at home as well as here, but we do not see this. We see millions of Mexican flags waving in the streets, millions of Mexican dollars being spent on immigration lobbying (sustaining those remittances, no doubt), even branding their efforts as Ya! Ciuadana! Also, according the an email from sarajuanavir.sre.gob.mx, if I attempt to enter Mexico City without a passport, I will be detained, arrested and deported for violating the entry requirements for La Republica Mexicana. She also went on to detail that if I purchase a home in Mexico, I'm required to pay taxes on my property but am not allowed to work without the proper permissions of their government. Again, a violation of Mexican law, which is criminally punishable and a deportable offense. So, in short, it feels as if many Open Borders Advocacy groups want the very thing that even their home country will not permit. I know first hand that many citizens in and from Mexico cry racists because US immigration policy doesn't work in their favor, yet many Guatemalans and Cubans are picked up by Mexico's department of Immigration Control and guess what, detained and then shipped back to their home base. As an African-American, I've also witnessed the cultural racism that exists in Mexico towards the Indian populous and even the attitudes towards the children of Africa who've been scattered throughout the earth. Another question or actually concern of the average American, is the immigrants who want so desperately to cling to their national identity. It's rather unsettling to know that I live in an area where a large percentage of my 'neighbors' are really concerned about our great nation first and foremost. I understand dual loyalties or even divided, but when a people live in a place that they have no allegiance too, it's quite disturbing. Of course I know that a lot of what we are experiencing in these times has a lot to do with globalization. But, I believe the average everyday American would like our Southern neighbors to love their country more so and not be afraid to live there and to be enabled to thrive there, like Canada. Again, it's the ruling superclass on both sides of the Rio that are going to have an awful future to face if they continually ignore the plight of the people. But it is absolutely not fair for one to dump their poor on the other.
Monday, April 07, 2008
Zlatko Kovach, in his Macedonia: Reaching Out To Win L. American Hearts, proves one more time that he is the product of the continuous brainwashing condition and lies, provided by an education system which emerged from a Balkan nation, under Tito’s and Stalin’s tutelage.
Mr. Kovach begins his elaborations, stating: “Macedonia historically and culturally did transcend the country's current borders. In 1912-13, through two brutal regional wars, Macedonia was forcefully partitioned among Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia. The Macedonians were subject to qualified genocide and many were driven from their land. It is this reality that Greece tirelessly tries to cover up.” Mr. Kovach fails to bring up that during the Ottoman era which lasted for five hundred years and ended in 1912 in that area, there was no use of the term Macedonia (meaning the boundaries of the geographic or ancient Macedonia). Ancient Macedonia was divided in two vilaets, the vilaet of Thessaloniki and the vilaet of Monastiri (Bitola). Skopje was the capital of the Kosovo vilaet and was never included in the so-called geographic Macedonia.
The author of this article is referring to the Slavic element that existed in Macedonia as part of a “Macedonian” nation whose people were wronged and “were subject to qualified genocide and many were driven from their land.” He however fails to explain why there was no “Macedonian ARMY” to fight for the rights of the supposed “ethnic Macedonians” during the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913. In addition during the negotiating talks of the Bucharest Treaty, which determined today’s borders with Greece’s neighbors, there were no representatives of any “Macedonian Nation”. The 1914 Carnegie Report (Report of the International Commission to Report on the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars) not only did not record the existence of a “Macedonian” army, but neither did it record the existence of any “ethnic Macedonian” civilians.
The Slavs did not arrive in the region until the sixth century AD. Until 1944, the area that is now legally referred to as the FYROM was called "Vardarska Banovina" until the Hellenic name of Macedonia was usurped by Marshall Broz Tito. According to Interim Accord (Sept. 13, 1995) and under the aegis of UN (UN Resolutions #817 of April 7 and #845 of June 18) of the year 1993, the temporary name until both countries, Greece and the aforementioned state, reach a permanent solution about this issue, is “the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, or simply The FYROM. The Interim Accord was signed by BOTH Greece and The FYROM, and its purpose was to find a name for the aforementioned country.
“…Greece labeled any use of Alexander the Great’s name by Macedonia as hostile propaganda…it was the Macedonian forces of Alexander the Great, led by his father King Philip II of Macedon, that beat the entire Greek army at Chaeronia in B.C. and conquered the modern Greeks’ ancestors,” writes Mr. Kovach. The author however, plunged into oblivion that the FYROM propaganda machination has provided for him, does not understand that his government’s actions over the years, such as distortions of geographic maps, revision of textbooks in their schoolbooks, renaming of their airport “Alexander the Great,” create hostility and animosity among their youth which is lacking knowledge to mainstream history. These actions and not Greece’s are the true threats to stability and have become the obstacle to their accession into EU and NATO.
The FYROM is a small country in the southern Balkans with very serious external and internal problems. It is the only country in Europe that succeeded in having open serious conflicts, with no prospect of resolution, with each of its four neighbors. Incredibly however, they have an entirely different type of conflict with each one of these neighbors.
In the north with Serbia who is a member State with The Partnership for Peace and an aspiring new NATO member, they have an open conflict with their schismatic illegal church, the so-called “Macedonian Orthodox Church” and this fact has angered their Serbian northern neighbor.
On the eastern side Bulgaria, a NATO member, does not recognize the so-called “Macedonians” as a distinct nation, nor a “Macedonian” language and accuses the FYROM of stealing its history. Amazingly enough The FYROM currently seems to have claims either linguistically or ethnologically to approximately 20% of the territory of this NATO ally of ours, Bulgaria.
On the west side the citizens of Albania clearly do not consider, and rightfully so, that 25% of the population of The FYROM should be called “Macedonians.” They consider them their Albanian brethren.
In the south they succeeded in angering Greece, and especially us, the true Macedonians, by using our identity and stealing our glorious history. After all Alexander the Great the Macedonian, spoke Greek, used the Hellenic alphabet, carried Homer’s works with him and spread the Hellenic language and civilization throughout the then known world. He did not speak the Bulgarian dialect that The FYROM people speak; he did not use the Cyrillic alphabet, which had not even appeared till about one thousand years after his death. Alexander the Great is our Abraham Lincoln, as he united the North and the South of the Hellenic World under Hellas.
Mr. Kovach seems to forget something very important. The Greek businesses that exist in his country right now have created over 30.000 jobs in FYROM’s depleted economy. Greece actually is helping its neighboring country to prosper economically and is guiding the FYROM on its way to EU and NATO, under one condition: the Slavs cannot be ethnically, linguistically or culturally Macedonians simply because they did not exist in this area until the 6th century AD, when they descended from Siberia and settled there. The Hellenic name Macedonia, which had always identified the northern area of Greece, preceded the introduction of the majority Slavic population of The FYROM in the Balkans by well over 2000 years. It is therefore of utmost importance that their nationality and language does not include the term “Macedonian.”
The author continuing the myth which he learned in the schooling he received, writes: “Greece is administratively divided into thirteen regions, three of which include the word Macedonia: "Region of Western Macedonia", "Region of Central Macedonia" and "Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace", but take notice that none of the regions are named simply "Macedonia." The liberation of present day Greece
from the Ottomans did not happen simultaneously in all former Greek territories, but it happened in different stages. In 1912-13, parts of Macedonia and Epirus were liberated. Since then Macedonia has been called as such. In fact, the first administrator in Thessaloniki in 1913 was called “Governor of Macedonia”. The term Northern Greece was ONLY for the Greek Ministry in Thessaloniki, because it included the region of Thrace as well. The Minister of this part of the Greek mainland is therefore called, the Minister of Macedonia and Thrace.
We agree that every country has the right to exist and find a proper name for itself, as long as no other ethnic group had previously rights to the same name. No German would allow a non-German ethnicity to call itself Bavarian. Therefore it is impossible for Greece to allow any non-Greek people identified as Macedonian, because the name implies Greek identity. The same would be true for Peloponnesus/Peloponnesians, Thessaly/Thessalians, etc., all being parts of the Hellenic world and identity for thousands of years. The name Macedonia/Macedonian has been copyrighted by Greece for thousands of years. Greece used the self-determination right first and she named one of her provinces Macedonia, first.
Monday, March 24, 2008
March 19, 2008
I must admit that Zlatko Kovach’s article entitled “Macedonia: Reaching out to win Latin American Hearts and Minds,” published on February 25, 2008, left me with a strong sense of surprise and amazement.
Aside from questioning Mr. Kovach’s dubious historical references regarding Greece as well as his own country, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the article fails to acknowledge Greece’s significant role in the political and economic stability of FYROM and gives, I am afraid, COHA readers the wrong impression about Greece’s true role in the Balkan region.
As a longstanding EU and NATO member, Greece is a strong advocate of these organizations’ perspective as well as a supporter of the FYROM’s political, social and economic stability. In fact, Greece is currently the largest investor in FYROM, with over $1 billion of its capital invested there, translating to more than 30,000 jobs. Moreover, through the Hellenic Plan for the Economic Reconstruction of the Balkans (HiPERB), Greece has pledged the amount of approximately $112,260,000 of development aid for FYROM.
FYROM joined the United Nations and all relevant UN Agencies and Bodies under this official international name. UN Security Council Resolution 817 (1993) specifically provides that “the difference over the name of the state (i.e. FYROM) needs to be resolved in the interest of the maintenance of peaceful and good neighborly relations in the region.”
FYROM, therefore, participates in all international organizations and conferences under this official name. Indeed, it is under that name that it established relations with the European Union and NATO, and gained membership to the Organization for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. In fact, no single regional or international organization refers to FYROM by any other name. Greece does abide with UN Resolutions 817 and 845 and seeks a solution to the name issue within the United Nations framework.
Your article also fails to recognize that Greece’s stance has very strong support in the United States Congress, which can be no mere coincidence. Senate Resolution 300, introduced by Senator Robert Menendez, and co-sponsored by Senators Barack Obama and Olympia Snowe, urges FYROM to cease hostile activities and propaganda against Greece, and reach a mutually acceptable solution. In addition, over 115 Congressmen have thus far co-sponsored House Resolution 356 on the same topic in the House of Representatives.
Crucial and delicate negotiations are currently in progress under the United Nations auspices, and intensive diplomatic efforts are required on both sides to reach a mutually acceptable solution prior to the upcoming NATO Summit in April 2008. The Greek government has taken a significant step towards that direction by announcing Greece’s readiness to accept a composite name for the FYROM with a geographic qualifier.
It is now time for FYROM and its leadership to reach out and demonstrate the political maturity, which will bring an end to the name issue, and clear the path to its European and NATO perspective. Mr. Kovach may still argue that the current United Nations process, as provided for by the UN Security Council Resolutions 817(1993) and 845(1993), is unfair to his country. But he will once again have forgotten that, as an aspiring EU and NATO member, FYROM needs, first of all, to realize that abiding with international law obligations is not an “artificial dispute” imposed by Greece, but rather a fundamental code of conduct, which applies to all.
Jorge Luis Borges once said: “For the longest time, my contemporaries are the Greeks”, which in itself sums up the profound cultural, intellectual and spiritual bonds between Greece and Latin America. Greece’s longstanding relationship with Latin American countries is furthermore characterized by strong historic ties of friendship, solidarity and cooperation. Despite the geographical distance, Greece and Latin American countries have forged a close bond between their peoples by sharing and defending precious common values, such as security, democracy and peace, concepts enshrined in the UN and OAS Charters.
I am confident that the friendly Latin American countries understand that Greece greatly respects the identity and culture of others. I am also confident that they also understand the importance for countries, which claim to abide by the rules of international law, to also act so, in order to respect the historic and cultural heritage of their neighbors, and not systematically engage in provocative propaganda prejudicial to the fundamental principle of good neighborliness. I am afraid that at this time, this is the case with FYROM’s policies vis-a-vis Greece.