Friday, July 27, 2012

Olympic Inspiration or Why Some Greeks Think I Am a Wanker

I was not watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games, but was watching the twitter snarkery when the topic of FYROM came up.  I guess Macedonia marched along with Fiji and France rather than with Manitoba (kidding).  Why?  Because Greece has obsessively blocked Macedonia's entrance into international organizations under its preferred name.  So FYROM--Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is the default until this is resolved. 

What did I tweet that angered the Greeks (well, the ones I angered anyway) on twitter:

The Greeks will say that the name Macedonia poses an irredentist threat to Greece--that Macedonia would claim northern parts of Greece.  Who am I to question that?

Well, I wrote the book on irredentism.  Okay, I co-wrote the book on irredentism.  Ok, ok, I co-wrote a book on irredentism.  Anyhow, yes, there are folks in Macedonia who have irredentist ambitions, but these folks are not a powerful force.  More importantly, Greece is a much more powerful country--militarily, economically, politically--so there is really no threat at all of Macedonia taking over hunks of Greece to create a Greater Macedonia.  No, Macedonia is actually threatened by irredentism--the brief skirmish that NATO ended in 2001 was part of a Greater Albania project.  Actually, aside from Turkey (which is a big aside), the biggest irredentist threat in the neighborhood is ... Greece.  Greece's involvement in Cyprus has often been a bit questionable, and Greece has played politics with the Albanian Orthodox Church to get folks in there that support giving up hunks of Albania to Greece.

To be clear, I am not saying that I am in love with the government of Macedonia, which has often been flawed.  What I am saying is that Macedonia does not present a real security threat to Greece.  Instead, it provides an opportunity for politicians to take nationalist stances--that the politician who lets Macedonia enter an international organization as Macedonia will be accused of betrayal.  I compared this outbidding dynamic of a largely substance-less issue to be akin to the silliness of American politicians comparing flag pins that they now must wear or else be accused of being not sufficiently American or patriotic of whatever.  The difference is that the flag pin competition has not had any real impact, whereas keeping Macedonia out of organizations has hurt its economy and perhaps been damaging politically.  Rather than focusing on the substantial issues of the day, Macedonian politicians can focus on the name game, too. 

Indeed, as I have mentioned before, these nationalist games are handy distractions from good governance.  How has Greece's government performed during the era of FYROM/the "threat" of Macedonian irredentism?  Not so good.

As a result, I got called a name that apparently means wanker in Greek.  It does not bother me at all--I might even be a bit proud today.  Antagonizing nationalists around the world? Not a bad slogan.  Not quite as good as "danger is my middle name." 

Anyhow, what an appropriate way to kick off the Olympics, which is one of the many great presents Greece has given the planet (democracy, philosophy, Oedipus jokes, and tzatziki are a few others).   Enjoy the games!


Anonymous said...

So - what is wanker in Greek?

Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Saideman,

My name is Iluvtoo Plagiarisov and I am contacting you regarding a job opportunity here in FYROM. We have a position open within our ministry of propaganda and you would be the perfect candidate.

Please visit our offices. Next time you're in the central square of Skopje walk past the statue of Aleksanderov the Greatov and you will see our building. We look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards comrade,

Iluvtoo Plagiarisov
Ministry of Propaganda

Sasho Spasoski said...

@Iluvtoo Plagiarisov
Thank you so much you once again proved how uncreative the Greek propagandists are... From what I've read in the past 13 years on the Greek stance, you are eligible for the capital part of the propagandists - barking everywhere, while presenting none of the arguments.
It was fun to notice you, though!

Steve Saideman said...

Malarkes, apparently.

Oh, and I would never work for FYROM's Minister of Propaganda. But Macedonia's? Maybe ;)

Cvetin Cilimanov said...

It is malaka. You can get the correct pronunciation here:

Or here, deployed by Greek-German member of European Parliament Jorgos Chatzimarkakis against Macedonian journalists (remember to turn down the volume before clicking on this link):