Institute for Democracy „Societas Civilis“ Skopje
FLAWED ARGUMENTS AND OMITTED TRUTHS
A COMMENTARY OF THE „ELIAMEP THESIS“ ON THE „NAME ISSUE“
14 April 2009
Institute for Democracy „Societas Civilis“ Skopje
Kraguevacka 2, 1000 Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, Tel/Fax: + 389 2 3094 760,
In April 2009, ELIAMEP, a Greek Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, published a „Thesis“ entitled „The Current Macedonian Issue between Athens and Skopje: Is there an Option for a Breakthrough?“
The paper was written by Evangelos Kofos, a long-time „Consultant“ to the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His views have and continue to form key aspects of Greek foreign policy in relation to the Macedonian issue.
Although ELIMEP’s paper is presented in a clear and concise manner, it contains a number of flawed arguments and omits certain truths on the „name issue“ which will be outlined in this paper.
1. On the constitutional name of the Republic of Macedonia
„[The] current constitutional name, „Macedonia“, is, however, identical with the name of the wider geographic region „Macedonia“.“
This claim is false. The constitutional name of the country is not simply „Macedonia“ – it is the „Republic of Macedonia“. There is a clear political qualifier („Republic of„) preceding the noun „Macedonia“. If the Republic of Macedonia wanted to use the name „Macedonia“, without any qualifiers, then this might give rise to confusion or monopolization. However this is clearly not the case.
Moreover, in Greece there is no region simply called „Macedonia“ nor is there an „EU region of „Greek Macedonia““ as Kofos has erroneously claimed. In Greece, there are three separate administrative regions or „Peripheries“ which use the noun „Macedonia“ in their name. These regions are: „Region of Western Macedonia„, „Region of Central Macedonia“ and „Region of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace„. 1 These regions are clearly distinguishable one from another by the respective prefixes „Region of Western“ „Region of Central“ and „Region of Eastern“ used before the noun „Macedonia“. Moreover, these internal administrative regions of Greece are easily differentiated from the independent and sovereign state called the „Republic of Macedonia“.
2. On Macedonian ethnicity and the Greek Macedonians (Makedones)
„The third, and even more disturbing development to Greek public opinion, particularly to the Greek Macedonians, was a re-appraisal of the ethno genetic dogma of the „Macedonian“ ethnicity. In their view, the state controlled educational system in FYROM, by extending the historical roots of the new nation to classical antiquity, was encroaching upon an illustrious past, which had been recorded in the annals of Hellenic heritage almost a millennium prior to the arrival of Slavic tribes in the region. The Greeks, particularly the Makedones, feel that a cherished human right,their right to their heritage and identity is in jeopardy. Moreover, by claiming the entire geographic Macedonian region of modern times astheir „tatkovina“ (fatherland), Slav Macedonians laid claim to everything Macedonian. As a result, the new generation, graduating school after the emergence of an independent Macedonian state in 1991, have espoused the new dogma, which those over 45 are at a loss to comprehend.“
Firstly, ethnic Macedonians and indeed the Republic of Macedonia have not claimed the „entire geographic region of modern times as their „tatkovina““. The Macedonian people in the Republic of Macedonia consider the Republic of Macedonia to be their homeland or „fatherland“. The only people who in the Republic of Macedonia who might consider (and rightly so) Greek Macedonia as their „tatkovina“ are the ethnic Macedonians born in Greece, who to this very day are denied the right of return to their „fatherland“ (this issue will be addressed later).
Moreover, what is to be said about the ethnic Greeks in Greece with origins in Asia Minor who consider Asia Minor to be their „fatherland“? Additionally, what is to be made of the „Historical Map of Greece“ officially published by the Greek Parliament and proudly displayed in Greek diplomatic missions abroad? 2 This map denotes the „unitary Greek world“ including territories in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey)? Should one consider these territories part of the Greek „fatherland“?
Secondly, it is quite absurd to speak of „Hellenic heritage almost a millennium prior to the arrival of Slavic tribes in the region“. Neither Greek-Macedonians nor ethnic Macedonians are direct descendants of ancient peoples. Over the centuries, the whole Balkan Peninsula was invaded by different peoples including Slavic tribes who went as far south as the Peloponnese. The inhabitants intermixed and therefore if „Slav Macedonians“ exist then surely „Slav Greeks“ exist too (of course Kofos does not suggest the use of this term).
The right of ethnic Macedonians to make a cultural connection to the past including the ancient past cannot be denied, just as ethnic Greeks are not denied this right. If it is argued that ethnic Macedonians do not possess such as right, then in light of the fact that part of the population of Greek Macedonia today has origins in Asia Minor, do they have a right to call themselves „Greek-Macedonians“ and make a cultural connection to ancient Macedonia?
In order to fully understand the term Makedones (Greek Macedonians), it is useful to briefly explain the ethnic and cultural composition of the population of Northern Greece. The southern part of the geographic region of Macedonia (today’s Greek Macedonia or Northern Greece) officially became part of the Greek state in 1913. At that time, the population was very mixed, comprising of a variety of different ethnic and linguistic groups (Macedonians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Vlachs, Turks, Albanians, Jews, etc). Different sources give different figures as to the size of each group. What cannot be disputed is that the entire region was multi-ethnic and multi-linguistic. For the purposes of this paper and without any prejudice to the identities of the above mentioned groups, we shall use, in an abstract manner, the term „natives“ to describe the above mentioned category of people living in Greek Macedonia (Northern Greece) when it became part of the Greek state. 3
In 1923, according to the terms of the Treaty of Lausanne, about 1,500,000 Orthodox Christian refugees (Greek and Turkish speaking) were resettled from Asia Minor, Anatolia and Eastern Thrace to Greece. About half of these refugees were settled in Greek Macedonia, which severely altered the ethnic and linguistic structure of Greek Macedonia. For the sake of this paper and without any prejudice to the identity of the above mentioned group, we shall use, in an abstract manner, the term „settlers“ to describe this category of people now living in Greek Macedonia (Northern Greece). 4
Today, broadly speaking, these two groups („natives“ and „settlers“) make up the population of northern Greece. According to the Greek government they are all Makedones (Greek Macedonians).5 As mentioned above, among the „native“ population, a group identify as ethnic Macedonians i.e. a distinct ethnic, cultural and linguistic group. However Kofos conveniently makes no mention of this fact. Indeed, the Greek government denies ethnic Macedonians the right to call themselves Macedonians, yet somehow the „settlers“ from Asia Minor have the right to call themselves Macedonians or Greek-Macedonians (Makedones).
Thus, according to Kofos and the Greek government, ethnic Macedonians who have lived in Greek Macedonia from the time of its incorporation into the Greek state in 1913 cannot be Macedonians for this usurps the right of the Greek Macedonians, hundreds of thousands whose ancestry is from Asia Minor and not Macedonia! Perhaps instead of applying offensive labels to ethnic Macedonians (i.e. Slav Macedonians, bilingual Greeks, etc), it might be more appropriate and constructive to find prefixes which more accurately describe many of today’s Makedones who prior to 1923 were Greek and Turkish speaking Orthodox Christians living in Asia Minor. Given the fact they settled in Macedonia as recently as 1923, a more accurate label might be them „New Macedonians“ (Νέα Μακεδόνες – Nea Makedones).
Of course to be called „New Macedonians“ would be unacceptable to „settlers“ and rightly so. The right to self-identification is paramount and must be respected by both sides. In practice this means respect for and recognition of the existence of ethnic Macedonian identity and Macedonian language by Greece and the respect and recognition of a Greek-Macedonian by the Republic of Macedonia (i.e. ethnic Greeks with a Macedonian regional/cultural identity).
The recognition of the right of both identities to co-exist in should be enshrined in a final agreement on the name issue. There would be no confusion in the use of the term „Macedonian“ as both are clearly defined. The use of the prefixes before the word „Macedonian“ clearly distinguishes between the two groups (i.e. ethnic Macedonians and Greek-Macedonians). Moreover, both terms are ones of self identification which is of fundamental importance. No undesirable names are being imposed (e.g. Slav Macedonian, New Macedonian) and both identities remain unaltered.
3. On Macedonian political refugees from Greece
„The emergence of a new generation of politicians in Skopje, belonging to the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party, some of them with family roots in Greek Macedonia, brought to the surface issues and grievances dating back to the years of the Greek Civil War of 1945-1949. For the past two decades, the Greeks have managed to mend fences of their savage fratricidal war. Nevertheless, in FYROM third generation descendants of the so-called „Egejski“ refugees, including the current Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, attempt to rekindle the travails of that period. The Greeks are certainly aware of the role of Tito’s Yugoslavia, and more so of the Slav Macedonian nationalists of Skopje at the time, in fanning the armed conflict in Greece, hoping to profit themselves. By now, it is well known that the price for the Yugoslav support to the Greek communist insurrection was Greek Macedonia. In the midst of negotiations over the „name issue“ to reopen such old wounds would hardly be productive to people on both sides of the border.“
Firstly, it should be stated the issue of the return of citizenship and property to ethnic Macedonian political refugees is not being pushed by „third generation descendants“, but by the refugees themselves! Furthermore, it is disgraceful to claim that „[f]or the past two decades, the Greeks have managed to mend fences of their savage fratricidal war“ while omitting to note that Greece continues to deny the right of return to ethnic Macedonian political refugees.
As a bit of background to this issue, during the Greek Civil War (1946-1949) thousands of Greek citizens, from a variety of ethnic groups fled Greece. Following the end of the war, all those who left Greece during this period were stripped of their Greek citizenship and property. In 1982 the Greek government passed an amnesty law (Law no. 106841) which declared that political exiles who fled during the Civil War and were stripped of their citizenship are allowed to return provided they are „Greeks by genus“. In 1985, Law 1540 was enacted which granted political exiles who fled during the Civil War to reclaim confiscated property, provided they are „Greeks by genus“. The term „Greeks by genus“ is a reference used by the Greek government for all those who identify themselves as ethnic Greeks. Hence, ethnic Macedonians and others who left Greece under the same conditions as the ethnic Greeks and had their citizenship and property confiscated are excluded from enjoying the rights granted under these laws.
This severely questions the very standing of the laws based on the grounds of equality and fairness. Moreover, the construction of the wording as relating to these laws is not benign, it has a clear intent to discriminate against all those who belong to the category of people classified as political refugees and who are not „Greeks by genus“. Given that ethnic Macedonians predominantly make up this category of people, it is indisputable that they have been the ones targeted by this exclusivist definition and the ones who have suffered the most. The individuals excluded by these two laws reside in the Republic of Macedonia, the United States of America, Australia and Canada and throughout Europe. The term „Greeks by genus“ in these two laws, which are still in force today, are in violation of the fundamental principle of non-discrimination. 6 Therefore, the „fence“ will be „mended“ when and only when these refugees are allowed the right to return to their country of birth, Greece.
4. Kofos‘ Conclusions and Recommendations
The „ELIAMEP Thesis“ makes several conclusions and recommendations which shall be dealt in this paper individually.
„In order to resolve the dispute, one has to approach constructively those „existential“ elements, which are of particular concern to both parties. It is evident that the dispute is not simply the state name of Greece’s neighbour, it is what is conveyed through it. Skopje – and third parties offering their services for a compromise solution – need to understand that the geographical region of Macedonia, which includes the entire region of „Greek Macedonia“, is not and cannot be considered the „tatkovina“ (fatherland) of the Makedonski people living in FYROM. This is a red line for Greece and the Greeks!“
Many things can be conveyed through a name, however this is not the Republic of Macedonia’s responsibility to be concerned about what irrational persons might perceive. Again, as argued previously, the Macedonian people in the Republic of Macedonia consider the Republic of Macedonia their homeland or „fatherland“.
The only people who in the Republic of Macedonia who might consider (and rightly so) Greek Macedonia as their „tatkovina“ are the ethnic Macedonians born in Greece, which to this day are denied the right of return to their „fatherland“. As previously argued, this is similar to the way in which ethnic Greeks from Asia Minor now living in Greece consider Asia Minor to be their „fatherland“!
„Similarly, Slav Macedonians need to realize that their newly conceived ethno genetic dogma, extending to classical antiquity, encroaches upon the Hellenic cultural heritage and the identity of their Greek neighbours to the south. As such, it threatens to ignite a clash of identities in the region as a whole.“
This is absolute nonsense. The so-called „ethno-generic dogma“ of the ethnic Macedonians is just a mirror image of the ethno-generic dogma of Greece and the ethnic Greeks. Moreover, it should be noted that the Republic of Macedonia does not seek to monopolise or claim exclusivity of the cultural heritage of ancient Macedonia, but rather wishes to share it. Notwithstanding what one may think of policies to rename airports, stadiums, highways, surely one must agree that if Greece and the ethnic Greeks have a right to claim origins in classical antiquity and subsequently establish such a tradition, then surely the Republic of Macedonia and the ethnic Macedonians also possess this right!
Moreover it is interesting to note Kofos‘ and Greece’s complete silence on the issue of Bulgaria „ethno-genetic dogma, extending to classical antiquity“. In Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, there is a street named „Alexander the Great“, while in Plovdiv, the country’s second largest city, there is a statute of Philip II. Furthermore, in many towns in the District of Blagoevgrad (Pirin Macedonia) there are streets named „Vodenska“ (the Bulgarian and Macedonian name for the town of Edessa in northern Greece), „Solunska“ (the Bulgarian and Macedonian name for the town of Thessaloniki in northern Greece) etc.
4.1 On the adoption of a geographic qualifier
„The state name needs specifically to refer to and describe the present region of FYROM. It should apply erga omnes in multilateral and bilateral international relations and transactions and should be observed by all organizations, states, and other non-governmental international organizations, including the government and the agencies of FYROM. In this writer’s opinion, the parties should accept the name used by the inhabitants of FYROM for their region of geographical Macedonia, i.e. Vardar Macedonia, or preferably Vardar Makedonija“
Geographic qualifiers cannot be basis of a solution. Names such as „North Macedonia“ or „Upper Macedonia“ allude to a „divided“ Macedonia and could encourage irredentism on both sides. Moreover, such geographic descriptors impact on Macedonian ethnic identity and the Macedonian language, (e.g. „North Macedonia“ = „Northern Macedonians“ and „Northern Macedonian language“). Similarly, a name such as Vardar Macedonia tampers with ethnic Macedonian identity (e.g.: „Vardar Macedonia“ = „Vardar Macedonians“). Tampering with Macedonian identity and the Macedonian language is a red line for the Republic of Macedonia and ethnic Macedonians.
4.2 On identity and self-identification
„Issues touching upon the self-identification of persons, which includes their ethnicity and their right to identify themselves, should be respected. This means that their name, Makedontsi, by which they identify themselves in their language, should be respected in all foreign languages, including the Greek. A similar arrangement might apply to the use of Makedones for the Greek Macedonians.“
Kofos began this paragraph well when he said that „Issues touching upon the self identification of persons, which includes their ethnicity and their right to identify themselves, should be respected“. He should have ended the paragraph here instead of totally manipulating the proper use of the term „self-identification“.
Indeed, ethnic Macedonians in the Macedonian language refer to themselves as „Makedonci – Makedontsi“. Of course in the English language for example they refer to themselves as „Macedonians“. Just as in the Greek language, Greeks refer to themselves as „Ellines“, in English they refer to themselves as „Greeks“ and not „Ellines people“ speaking the „Elliniki language“. Does Kofos also think it appropriate for such a formulation to apply to the Greeks and other cultural groups – e.g. the „Deutsch language“ for the Germans and the „Français language“ for the French?
Of course, there is a simple democratic alternative to Kofos‘ approach which is the recognition of self-identification without restrictions or manipulations. This is the use of the terms ethnic Macedonians and Greek Macedonians, translatable and easily distinguishable in all languages.
4.3 On the role of the international community and the so-called „monopolisation“ of the term „Macedonian“
„Finally, the international community needs to share its responsibility for resolving the name issue. After all, it is partially the culprit. Through the use of leading international languages – English, French, German and so on – they translate four different identities of Macedonian/Macedonians by one and the same name, „Macedonian“. The issue at hand is not merely one of semantics. Whoever succeeds to impose on foreign languages its own version of „Macedonian“ acquires international monopoly for its use“
Kofos makes a poor attempt to portray the international community as a culprit against Greek interests. The only thing the international community can be accused of is the continually denying a sovereign state, namely the Republic of Macedonia from exercising its right to self-determination, as guaranteed under international law. 7
Furthermore, talk of the Republic of Macedonia somehow monopolizing the term „Macedonian“ is groundless. The Republic of Macedonia has never sought to use the term exclusively or to deny Greek-Macedonians from self-identifying as such. As argued in this paper, two types of „Macedonians“ can co-exist, without confusion or clash i.e. „ethnic Macedonians“ and „Greek Macedonians“. Both terms are terms of self-identification and are mutually exclusive.
4.4 Kofos‘ proposals on the use of „Macedonian“
„In order to overcome the name problem two solutions seem possible. (1) One would be to employ a traditional method and add to the respective Macedonian versions an appropriate prefix: Slav-Macedonian/s, Greek-Macedonian/s, Bulgarian-Macedonian/s or Albanian-Macedonian/s. (2) A second approach would be to apply in international languages the derivates of the various Macedonian versions in the original form of the respective local languages. Thus, the Slavic terms Makedontsi (noun) and Makedonski (adjective) would be transferred to English and other languages in an un-translated Latin alphabet (for example: „the Makedontsi immigrated to the United States…“; „The Makedonski language…“). Similarly, the Greek terms Makedones (noun) and Makedonikos (adjective) could be adopted to identify the Greek variant of the Macedonian name.“
The issue of self-identification has been already addressed. However Kofos‘ examples in the above paragraph cannot pass without comment. His demonstration of how the terms „Makedontsi“ and „Makedonski“ could be used in an English sentence are quite ironic. His first example, „the Makedontsi immigrated to the United States…“ is ironic because more than a century ago when people from all parts of Macedonia migrated to the United States of America, many of them declared their nationality (ethnicity) to be Macedonian, something different from Bulgarian, Serbian and Greek. According to the official records from Ellis Island, in the period 1897 – 1924, there were 7,821 such persons. 8 This was decades before the so-called „fabrication“ of the Macedonian nation by Tito’s Yugoslavia, as Greece has claimed.
In the other example, Kofos suggests the Macedonian language be renamed the „Makedonski language“. It should be noted that all serious linguists are in agreement on the use of the term Macedonian to describe the language. Moreover and ironically again, one of the most unequivocal pieces of evidence proving the existence of a language called Macedonian comes not from the academic world but from the Greek state itself. In the Greek national census of 1920, the Macedonian language (not „Slav-Macedonian“, not „Slavic“ language, not „Slavic“ idiom and not „Makedonski“ language) was listed as a language spoken by parts of the population in Greece. Parts of the official census results were published (and therefore recognised) by the Greek state. 9 Given that Greece in 1920 officially referred to the Macedonian language as Macedonian, any attempt by the same state almost a century later to suggest that such a language does not exist or that the people who use it refer to their language is absurd and must be rejected.
4.5 Kofos‘ explanation of the different meanings and identities of the term „Macedonian“
Kofos ends his analysis with a selective attempt to explain the „different meanings and identities of the term „Macedonian““ as it is used as a noun and an adjective in the Republic of Macedonia, Greece and Bulgaria. Each of Kofos‘ explanations deserves a close examination:
„In FYROM [sic] the noun Macedonians (Makedonci – Makedontsi – in the local Slavic language) identifies, (a) in the legal sense, all citizens of the Republic (including Slavs, Albanians, Greeks, Roma etc), and (b) in the ethnic/national sense, a million and a half local Slavs.“
The use of the generic racial term „Slav“ to describe ethnic Macedonians is not only insulting but also inaccurate. According to the 2002 Census in the Republic of Macedonia, the 64.17% of the citizens of the country were declared their ethnicity to be Macedonian and not „Slav“.10 Therefore Kofos definition of the noun „Macedonians“ as it is used in the Republic of Macedonia needs to be corrected and should read: „In the Republic of Macedonia, the noun Macedonians (Makedonci – Makedontsi – in the Macedonian language) identifies, (a) in the legal sense, all citizens of the Republic (including ethnic Macedonians, ethnic Albanians, etc) and (b) in the ethnic/national sense, of more than a million ethnic Macedonians.“ 11
„In Greece the noun Macedonians (Μακεδόνες – Makedones – in the Greek language) identifies, in the regional/cultural sense, almost two and a half million ethnic Greeks of the region of Greek Macedonia.“
What Kofos conveniently omits to point out is that the term „Macedonian“ is also used in Greece by a different group of people. While ethnic Greeks might use the term „Macedonian“ (Μακεδόνες – Makedones – in the Greek language) in a regional/cultural sense, ethnic Macedonians in Greece also use the term „Macedonian“ (……… – Makedontsi in the Macedonian language) to describe their ethnic identity. More importantly, ethnic Macedonians use this term to distinguish themselves from ethnic Greeks. The ethnic Macedonians have a distinct culture and speak a distinct language called Macedonian, thus forming a distinct linguistic and ethnic minority. A Macedonian ethnic/linguistic minority is not officially recognized by Greece, a position which has been criticized by various domestic and international human rights organizations. 12
„In Bulgaria the same name Macedonians (Makedonci – Makedontsi – in Bulgarian) identifies, in the regional sense, hundreds of thousands of ethnic Bulgarian.“
The „ELIAMEP Thesis“ also fails to mention that the term „Macedonian“ is also used in Bulgaria by a different group of people. While some ethnic Bulgarians might use the term „Macedonian“ (Makedonci – Makedontsi – in the Bulgarian language) in a regional sense, the term „Macedonian is also used by thousands of ethnic Macedonians in Bulgaria. In fact, at the last census in 2001, there were officially 5,071 Bulgarian citizens who described their ethnicity as Macedonian.
Of course one could also challenge Greek identity based on a similar reasoning as Macedonian ethnic identity is contested. Do Greeks today have a right to identify as Greeks (¸ëëçíåò – Ellines)? Modern day Greeks are not direct descendants of the ancient Greeks, therefore should we distinguish between the two by using prefixes? What sort of prefixes should be used? Maybe, prefixes describing the ethno-cultural composition of Greece would be most appropriate e.g. Albanian-Greek, Vlach-Greek, Slav-Greek?
This commentary has exposed the fundamental flaws and omissions in ELIAMEP’s analysis which are characteristic of the official Greek position in general. A solution to this irrational dispute might just be found if international law, respect for human rights and rationality prevail. However in order for this to occur, it will be essential that Greece stops acting „kofos“ and listens, one and for all, to the sounds of reason.
Regrettably, this is something that it has resisted to do thus far.
© Institute for Democracy, 2009
1 These three regions were created in the 1980s when Greece was divided into 13 administrative regions. Incidentally, in 1988 the Ministry of Northern Greece was renamed the „Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace“ (Prime Ministerial decision no. 704, 19 August 1988).
2 Official publication of the Greek Parliament under the supervision of the Geographic Military Service (GMS). A scanned copy of the map available at http://www.florina.org/news/2007/july06_e.asp
3 „Natives“ in are known in Greek as dopii meaning „locals“.
4 „Settlers“ are known in Greek as prosfiges meaning „refugees“.
5 At the last census in 2001, the total population of Greek Macedonia (Region of West Macedonia, Central Macedonia and East Macedonia and Thrace was 2,424,765. Kofos and indeed the Greek government claim that there are about 2,500,000 Greek-Macedonians i.e. the entire population of Greek Macedonia. However it should be noted, it is impossible to know how many persons in Greece declare a Greek Macedonian identity, for questions on identity were excluded from the census. The number of ethnic Macedonians is also unknown due to the same reason.
6 Greece is a part to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965) and as such has an obligation under international law to „…condemn racial discrimination and undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms and promoting understanding among all races, and, to this end…undertakes to engage in no act or practice of racial discrimination against persons, groups of persons…“
7 See the Charter of the United Nations, http://www.un.org/aboutun/charter/
8 Ellis Island Foundation, http://www.ellisislandrecords.org
9 General Archives of the Greek state, republished in Μ. Χουλιαράκης, Γεωγραφική, διοικητική και πληθυσµιακή εξέλιξη
τησ Ελλάδας, τόµος 3, σελίδα 363. A scanned copy of this document can be found at
10 Census of Population, Households and Dwellings in the Republic of Macedonia, 2002 – Book XIII, Skopje, 2005, State
Statistical Office of the Republic of Macedonia, available at: http://www.stat.gov.mk/pdf/kniga_13.pdf
11 It is interesting to note that Kofos, in a typically manipulative manner, alludes to the Greek ethnic community as one of the larger communities in the Republic of Macedonia (officially 422 persons according to the 2002 census). It is likely that in reality Kofos was not referring to the Greeks in the Republic of Macedonia, but to the Aroumanians (Vlachs) which number 9,695 according to official figures from the 2002 census.
12 See various reports from the last few decades from the Greek Helsinki Monitor, Human Rights Watch, US State Department, Council of Europe bodies including the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), the Commissioner for Human Rights, the various judgments of the European Court of Human Rights (1998 and 2004). The latest international organisation to condemn Greece’s treatment of its ethnic Macedonian minority was the United Nations. Namely, the Independent Expert on Minority Issues released a report on Greece on 18 February 2009 citing a number of human rights violations and urged „Greece to withdraw from the dispute over whether there is a Macedonian or a Turkish minority in Greece and focus on protecting the rights to self-identification, freedom of expression and freedom of association of those communities.“
13 In addition to being the surname of Evangelos Kofos, the word „kofos“ in Greek means „deaf“.