Thursday, May 15, 2008

Macedonia: Bloggers Emphasize Need for Open Communication with Greece

by Filip Stojanovski for Global Voices Online (15.05.2008).

Amid the internal turmoil caused by Greek actions to block Macedonia's accession to NATO and the EU, and due to an increasing number of reports of attacks over Macedonian truck drivers (official reaction) by nationalist mobs in Greece, many Macedonian bloggers are attempting to bridge the gap of ignorance existing between the two nations. On the one hand, they've identified the need to pass information about Macedonians to Greeks, and, on the other hand, some have taken to the task to share information from Greek media with fellow Macedonians.

Many bloggers reacted to a statement by Greek Foreign Minister that even mentioning the existence of Macedonian language and ethnicity is “not helpful” to solving the name issue, perceiving it as continuation of the policy of ethnocide. Zharko Trajanovski, referred to the related U.S. Dept. of State Briefing, extracting the most interesting parts (MKD).

In the same vein, dozens of bloggers promoted the video of the song “Postojam” (”I Exist”), by embedding it in their own posts and even reposting copies of it on YouTube. The video features scenes from documentary films about the ethnic cleansing of Macedonians during the Greek Civil War of 1946-49, accompanied with humanistic lyrics: “I exist… All is forgiven: even your wish for me to be no more.”

The author of the blog Agness wrote (MKD):

Since its official release, the video of the single “Postojam” by the pop rock singer Miyatta received wide media coverage and it is a topic of discussion among the Macedonian population all around the world. Interest for the English translation of the lyrics and releasing it abroad has also been shown. Regardless of the context, the video has become something worth a comment. Those who were familiar with that part of Macedonia's history congratulated Miyatta for delivering this audio-visual expression. Those who see such pictures for the first time, think that it is too painful to be true. Some believe that this is just an attempt at attention-seeking. All kinds of positive and negative comments are yet to be heard. I am happy that the number of people who were indifferent towards “Postojam” is rather small.

Images of sorrow and exile on the one hand, and images of unity and pride on the other make for a rather authentic representation of Macedonia.

The past is not to be revived, but to be outgrown.
Let us outgrow it, but first,
Let us know it!
Macedonia exists.

In the other direction, the blog Drugarche posted translations of articles from the Greek press, including cartoons [MKD]. A number of bloggers also praised the interview of the Macedonian director Milcho Manchevski [GRE], given to the Greek newspaper Eleftherotypia, and posted links to its English translations. Some offered more historical information from ancient books [MKD] and Western newspaper archives [MKD], as well as about the possible origins of the Greek flag.

But, most importantly, blogs have proved to be the primary vehicle for distributing information on grassroots peace-building. The news about the upcoming visit of about 50 Greek peace activists to Skopje scheduled for May 17, 2008, appeared [MKD] on the influential Vuna blog first:

This is not an attempt to stoke fires of the Macedonian nationalist sentiments. This is not a call to stone embassies, supermarkets or whatever.

On the contrary, this is a call to participate in an event intended as opposition to all the madness. Greek citizens are first and foremost human beings, and most of them have nothing to do with their retrograde and fascizoid state policy, nor with the hordes of morons who harass people on the highways. At the same time, not all Macedonian citizens are hotheads who “hate every Greek thing” and can't wait to throw stones on the Liaison office.


Peace, love, empathy!

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