2/4/19

Συνέχεια για την "αόρατη μειονότητα" του BBC


BBC
Απάντηση στο άρθρο του BBC

Response to BBC’s article about “Greece’s invisible minority” 
[επιστολή στα αγγλικά και στα ελληνικά]

Αξιότιμοι κυρίες και κύριοι του BBC,

Στο πρόσφατο άρθρο που παρουσιάστηκε στον ιστοχώρο σας με τίτλο «Η αόρατη μειονότητα στην Ελλάδα – οι Σλάβοι Μακεδόνες» υπάρχουν αρκετά αμφιλεγόμενα στοιχεία. Επιτρέψτε μου να σας παρουσιάσω την οπτική μου γωνία για το άρθρο.

Δεν υπάρχει «μακεδονική εθνική μειονότητα» στην Ελλάδα. Για δύο λόγους:

Πρώτον, οι άνθρωποι στους οποίους γίνεται αναφορά στο άρθρο έχουν ένα πολιτικό κόμμα που τους εκπροσωπεί. Στις τελευταίες ευρωεκλογές το 2014 (όπου οι άνθρωποι γενικώς ψηφίζουν σχετικά απελευθερωμένοι χωρίς δεσμεύσεις από τα μεγάλα ιδεολογικά πολιτικά κόμματα που τυχόν τους εκφράζουν) έλαβαν περίπου 2000 ψήφους στην Μακεδονία, στην βόρεια Ελλάδα.

Δεύτερον, δεν υφίσταται «μακεδονική εθνότητα». Υπογραφές των κυβερνήσεων δεν «αναγνωρίζουν γλώσσες και εθνότητες», όπως λέει το άρθρο. Αυτό το κάνει η Ιστορία. Μακεδονικό έθνος δεν υφίσταται επειδή δεν ικανοποιεί τον ορισμό του όρου έθνους. η Ιστορία λέει ότι οι πρόγονοι των σημερινών «Σλαβομακεδόνων» (είτε στην Ελλάδα, είτε στα Σκόπια) 3-4 γενιές πίσω ήταν Βούλγαροι και πολέμησαν στο πλευρό των Βουλγάρων σε όλους τους Βαλκανικούς Πολέμους. Οι πολιτικοί επιστήμονες συμφωνούν μ’ αυτό.

Ο διάσημος Βρετανός επιστήμονας και Ιστορικός Nicholas GL Hammond έχει γράψει πολλούς τόμους για το εν λόγω θέμα. Στην Οθωμανική απογραφή του 1905 δεν βρέθηκε κανένας «εθνικά Μακεδόνας». Στην Γιουγκοσλαβική απογραφή του 1921 δεν βρέθηκε κανένας «εθνικά Μακεδόνας». Ούτε βρέθηκε αναφορά κανενός να μιλάει κάποια «μακεδονική γλώσσα».

Πώς είναι δυνατόν να υπάρχει γλώσσα που διεκδικεί να ονομάζεται «μακεδονική» όταν το ίδιο το όνομά της («Μακεδονία») είναι ξένη λέξη από την ελληνική γλώσσα, ή όταν βασίζεται στο Κυριλλικό αλφάβητο το οποίο δημιουργήθηκε τον 7ο μ.Χ. αιώνα, δηλαδή 1000 χρόνια μετά την ακμή της Μακεδονικής Αυτοκρατορίας του Μεγάλου Αλεξάνδρου, ο οποίος μιλούσε ελληνικά, διδάχθηκε στα ελληνικά από τον Αριστοτέλη και έγινε ο υπέρτατος στρατηγός όλων των Ελλήνων πλην Λακεδαιμονίων κατά την εντυπωσιακή εκστρατεία του στην Ασία. Πώς είναι δυνατόν Σλάβοι να διεκδικούν να ονομάζονται Μακεδόνες όταν εμφανίστηκαν στο προσκήνιο της Ιστορίας τόσο μεταγενέστερα;

Επιπλέον, όχι μόνο υφαρπάζουν την ελληνική ιστορία (αρχαία και σύγχρονη), αλλά και την Βουλγαρική, φερ’ ειπείν οικειοποιούνται την ιστορική προσωπικότητα του Σαμουήλ, Τσάρου των Βουλγάρων και τον αποκαλούν «Μακεδόνα Τσάρο»!

Οι αναγνώστες σας μπορεί να τα βρίσκουν όλα αυτά ως επουσιώδη και να αναρωτιούνται «πόσο νόημα έχει τελικά ένα όνομα;»

Λοιπόν, το όνομα σχετίζεται με την ταυτότητα, ένα ζωτικό και κεντρικό συστατικό και για το άτομο, αλλά και για ένα έθνος. Οι Βρετανοί το δέχονται αυτό αναμφισβήτητα. Μεγάλο μέρος της Βρετανικής Ιστορίας ή ακόμη και των σημερινών πολιτικών εξελίξεων σχετίζονται άμεσα με την ταυτότητα. Η διχοτόμηση της Ιρλανδίας, το σκωτσέζικο αίτημα περί ανεξαρτησίας, ακόμα και το Μπρέξιτ: όλα σχετίζονται με την ταυτότητα. Μην το υποτιμάτε.

Ειδικά για τα Βαλκάνια, τα οποία «παράγουν περισσότερη Ιστορία από όση μπορούν να καταναλώσουν» όπως είπε κάποτε ο Ουΐνστον Τσώρτσιλλ.

Στη σημερινή εποχή, τα ονόματα μη ιστορικών εθνών-κρατών, μπορούν πράγματι να παράγουν σύγχρονα έθνη. Αυτό είναι κατανοητό.

Παρόλ’ αυτά, η μακεδονική ταυτότητα παραμένει στοιχειώδες συστατικό του ελληνικού πολιτισμού. Είναι παντελώς αδύνατον να την αποκόψει κανείς.

Είμαι από την Μακεδονία. Δεν θα αποκαλέσω ποτέ Σλάβους με το όνομα Μακεδόνες, ή βορειο-μακεδόνες ή οτιδήποτε άλλο περιλαμβάνει αυτόν τον όρο. Περισσότεροι από το 75% των Ελλήνων συμφωνούν μ’ αυτήν την θέση, όπως βρίσκουν δεκάδες σφυγμομετρήσεις.

Αν 2000 ή 7000 άνθρωποι μιλάνε σήμερα την σλαβική διάλεκτο στην Ελλάδα, η οποία – ειρήσθω εν παρόδω – δεν είναι η ίδια με την γλώσσα στην πΓΔΜ, υπάρχουν περισσότεροι από 2 εκατομμύρια Έλληνες στη Μακεδονία, οι οποίοι μιλούν ελληνικά και διαχρονικά αυτοχαρακτηρίζονται Μακεδόνες από τον 6ο αιώνα π.Χ. Πώς θα ονομάζονται αυτοί, εφόσον τους αρνούνται το όνομα Μακεδόνες;

Ταυτόχρονα, σας διαβεβαιώ ότι όλοι οι Έλληνες επιθυμούν να ζουν σε ειρήνη με τους γείτονές τους και να έχουν σχέσεις σεβασμού μαζί τους. Αυτή είναι μία ξεκάθαρη και απόλυτη αλήθεια.

Με τιμή,
Ανδρέας Σταλίδης

* * *

BBC Complaints
PO Box 1922
Darlington
DL3 0UR

Date: 4th March 2019

Subject: complaint about your journalist Maria Margaronis and about BBC’s practices in general.

Dear Madam/Sir,

I have sent you a letter of complaint about an article that appeared on the BBC website on 24th February 2019 by Maria Margaronis with the title “Greece’s invisible minority – the Macedonian Slavs” ( https://www.bbc.com/news/amp/stories-47258809 ).

Reality is much worse than what I thought at the time. I will try to be laconic:

First point:

Not only the journalist failed to include the view of the other part, but she did not even consider that option.

This is proved by the fact that the Ambassador of Greece in the UK started his own letter of complaint saying that “It was to [his] great surprise and dismay that he read yesterday…” ( https://www.mfa.gr/uk/en/the-embassy/news/letter-by-the-ambassador-mr-dimitris-caramitsos-tziras-to-the-bbc-concerning-the-article-greeces-invisible-minority-25022019.html ).

You tried to correct this error by just adding a link to this letter one week after the publication of the article. However, I believe it is not ideal practice for the BBC to just put an external link (to another source) for a letter the BBC formally received as a complaint by an Ambassador!

The interview was taken in September 2018 in Macedonia, Greece. It was part of an “assignment” which was broadcast on BBC Radio 4. There was enough time of at least 5 months to invite the official opinion of the Greek government, especially as the main argument of the article was to accuse Greece of oppressing a (non-existent) ethnic minority.

This is a huge disappointment not only on the journalist herself, but entirely on the BBC causing unrepairable damage. Probably it would be worth considering how Greeks could ever trust the BBC as previously?

The second point is that the allegation against a sovereign state is based upon only one interviewee!

This is undoubtedly bad practice, but let’s focus a little more on that.

In the article we read: “Mr Fokas has been referred to by his first name to protect his identity“.

Well, this person did appear on national Greek TV in 2017, in the state owned and fully state controlled ERT, narrating the same story as he did to your journalist, giving his full name: Fokas Spontis. What sort of protection by the BBC is that? Not only unnecessary, but depicting an entirely distorted reality. How far is that from the label: “fake news”?

An video extract from ERT: https://www.facebook.com/asana70/videos/2507242189350800/

The third point is that the only interviewee was presented as an oppressed person by the Greek state, which is entirely not true.

There are more publicly known facts about Fokas Spontis. Some are published in a newspaper called Kroua here https://krouakroua.blogspot.com/2019/02/bbc_28.html
He is a full member of the political party “Ouranio Toxo”, which is supposed to represent the “minority of Macedonians in Macedonia, Greece”. [This is a paradox in itself, but this is a different topic.]
He has publicly supported Mr Goulas in Ptolemaida in 1980s, who was a candidate of the political party EPEN, that represented the supporters of the military dictatorship 1967-74(!)
His two children are acting lawyers
Both of his two children have represented the Greek state in the courts on various occasions, especially related to the Public Power Corporation (PPC or DEI in Greek).
His son served a military officer of the Greek army.
His daughter has been MP candidate for the Communist Party (KKE) and the socialist party that ruled the country for over 30 years in the last 45 years (PASOK).

He doesn’t sound an oppressed family, does it.

So, the fourth point is that no checks have been done on the sole interviewee, and he was given full trust to the story he wanted to present at this point of time.

This is an additional poor-standards fact against the BBC as an organisation.

The fifth point is that the Radio broadcast in September 2018, where we can also hear Mr Fokas Spontis’ voice was another show of biased jounalism from Maria Margaronis and the BBC.

Let’s see a few facts:
She kept referring as plain “Macedonia” to the country that Greeks call it “Skopje”, the UN used to call it (at least up to that time) as “FYROM”, and the Prespa agreement was trying to rename it as “North Macedonia”. A mere provocation.

She had interviewed people who expressed the “Greek side”, but only broadcast one of them for less than 5% of the time of the broadcast. This person was Mr Giorgos Tatsios, president of The Panhellenic Federation of Macedonian Cultural Associations (PFPCA or POPSM in Greek).
She clearly presented him as the “mirror image” (her words) of an extreme nationalist politician in Skopje. She also said that those two people “should have invented one another” (her own words). Well, there is absolutely no link between the two. The Skopjan politician says in this very radio broadcast published by the BBC that “the area [in Greece] belongs to them, it was taken by Greece, and their clear objective is to take it back one day”. This looks quite nationalistic and aggressive, doesn’t it. The view of Mr Tatsios is exactly that this claim is unjustified and that we should reject all talk about such nationalism in the Balkans. How can denying a warmongering claim be “mirror image” of the claim itself, is something that the BBC should answer.

She presented people with extreme views as neutrals and representing the compromise middle ground. For example: the leader of the “Ouranio Toxo” Mr Voskopoulos. While in practice he is the main voice of the so called “ethnic Macedonians” in Macedonia (!), he is presented as an independent voice. Similarly with the SYRIZA MP of Florina MR Seltsas. He is a well-known supporter of those people in Greece. He has been one of the four founding members (along with Mr. Voskopoulos and two others) of the “Macedonian Cultural Centre” (“Steki Makedonikou Politismou”), back in 1990.

Here is the link to the BBC Radio 4 broadcast in September: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3cswf5g

The sixth point: the size of the self-characterised “ethnically Slav Macedonians” in Greece is not sufficient to establish a claim as in the article in question.

All in all, these are just a handful of people who shout a lot and manage to make a lot of noise. They are all part of one team. They are known for that. They don’t constitute anything sizeable. The political party of Ouranio Toxo in the most recent European elections, where people vote more freely and small parties are advantaged, got no more than 3000 votes in all prefectures of Macedonia in Greece. I don’t think that this number could in any way constitute an ethnic minority

The seventh point is that the consequences of such a serious accusation of the BBC have been ignored.

Despite the above, the article had some consequences. To accuse a sovereign state of not taking care of its people, is quite a claim. Even without evidence, without fundamental checks, without basic journalistic standards, without un-biased approach, it is unavoidable to have an impact when it borrows the validity and prestige of an organisation like BBC. So, additional measures should have been taken before it got the attention of the public eye.

The Congressman Hon. Paul Mitchell of Michigan, managed to include in the US Congress publication of 27th February 2019 (i.e. only two days of the appearance of the article on BBC’s website) the entire article.

Have a look at this publication here:

https://www.congress.gov/116/crec/2019/02/27/CREC-2019-02-27-pt1-PgE220-5.pdf

Overall, I believe there is a big damage of your reputation among Greeks. The BBC could work into restoring this by a formal apology against Greece and all Greek people, and withdrawing the article from its website.

Yours,
Andreas Stalidis

PS: I am sending you this letter by post. You will find an electronic version in this address: http://www.antibaro.gr/article/22417


* * *

Previous letter to the BBC, sent electronically using their form of complaints on 25th February 2019

25, February 2019

Dear Madam/Sir,

Several controversial points were made in this piece. Let me stress my point of view on the article (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/stories-47258809 )

First, there is no “macedonian ethnic minority” in Greece. Two main reasons:
the people that the article is referring to have a political party that represents them, which in the last european elections (where people vote more freely not bounded by the big ideological political parties) they got around 2000 votes in the area of Macedonia in northern Greece.
there is no macedonian ethnicity. Government’s signatures don’t “recognise languages and ethnicities”, as the article states. History does. A macedonian nation doesn’t exist because it doesn’t fall within the definition. History says that ancestors of today’s “Slavmacedonians” (either in Greece or in Skopje) 3-4 generations back were Bulgarians and fought along with Bulgarians all Balkan wars. Political scientists concur.

The well known British scholar Nicholas GL Hammond has written volumes on the subject. In the Ottoman census in 1905 there was no “ethnic Macedonian” found. In the Yugoslav census in 1921 there was no “ethnic Macedonian” found. Not anyone speaking a “Macedonian language”.

How can a language claiming to be “macedonian” exist, where its own name (“Macedonia”) is a foreign word from the Greek language or when it is based on the Cyrillic alphabet devised in 7th AD, i.e. 1000 years after the peak of the Macedonian empire of Alexander the Great, who was speaking Greek, taught in Greek by Aristotle, and became the “supreme commander of all Greeks apart from Lacedaemonians” in his phenomenal Asia expedition. How could Slavs claiming to be Macedonians firstly appeared to History such a long time later?

Not only do they usurp Greek history (ancient and modern) but also the Bulgarian, e.g. they adopt the famous historical figure Samuel, Tsar of Bulgarians and they call him “Macedonian Tsar”!

Your readers may find all that as irrelevant and wonder: “what’s in a name in the end of the day?”

Well, name is about identity; a vital core element both for the individual and a nation. British people undoubtedly acknowledge that. Much of British history or current political affairs have been about identity. Irish division, Scottish question on independence, even Brexit: all about identity. Don’t underestimate it.

Especially for the Balkans, which “produce more history than they can consume” as Winston Churchill once said.

Nowadays, non-historic nation-state names can indeed derive modern nations. This is well understood.

Nevertheless, the Macedonian identity is still a fundamental element of the Greek culture. It is utterly impossible to unravel that. I come from Macedonia. I will never call Slavs as Macedonians, Northern Macedonians or whatever else including that term. More than 75% of Greeks agree on this, based on dozens of polls.

If 2000 or 7000 people still speak a Slavic dialect in Greece, which by the way is _not_ the same as the language in FYROM, there are over 2 million Greeks in Macedonia, who speak Greek and continuously claim to be Macedonians since 6th century BC. How would they be called, if denied the name Macedonian?

At the same time, I can assure you that all Greeks want to live in peace with their neighbours and have respectful relations with them. This is an absolute truth whatsoever.

Yours,
Andreas Stalidis,
Bath, UK


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