Nationalism and Intolerance Among Greek Intellectuals

By – Greek Helsinki Monitor/ Minority Rights Group – Greece

“How can we explain the absence of intellectuals, the silence of the thinkers, the desertion of the scholars. Is it fear, ignorance, or indifference? Don’t you have anything to say to these people whom populists and chauvinists are dragging by the tips of their noses?” (Dimou, from the poem 1992 AD, 1993:28-9).

In order to understand modern Greece, one should stop viewing it as a Western European country and consider it instead as a Central and Eastern European one, not only for geographical reasons but also because of historical and cultural ones. Thus, the role of the intelligentsia in Greece is much more comparable to the one in Serbia or in Croatia than to the one in France or in Great Britain. The common characteristics of these non-Western intelligentsias have been well summarized by Djilas (1993:92):

“The main carrier of nationalism in Central and Eastern Europe is the intelligentsia. The eighteenth-century Enlightenment reached those parts of Europe only in diluted form and was never fully accepted by the relatively small, educated middle classes. In addition, the main employer of the intelligentsia was the state -as it still is today. Finally, the absence of deeply rooted liberal democratic institutions allowed little room for the development of a genuinely pluralist political culture. All these factors combined to make the intelligentsia less liberal and rationalist than it was in the West, and always ready to sacrifice its liberal democratic aspirations at the altar of ‘national interest.’”

Greek nationalism, indeed, has also the two distinguishing traits of Serbian nationalism which makes national ideology a bitter one (Djilas, 1993:93):

“This nihilistic view, that history has never rewarded the Serbs for their noble idealism, but instead has punished them with humiliation and suffering, has been combined with the conviction that international factors in the contemporary world have also conspired to deprive the Serbs of their legitimate rights.”

The reason for that attitude of an only seemingly Westernized Greek intelligentsia is that, since the creation of the modern Greek state, its function was perceived to be stressing (Kitromilides, 1990:41):

“The need for national unity within Greece, with uniformity and homogenization becoming prevalent norms of cultural discourse; on a geographical level it stressed the unity of Hellenism, of the Greek nation as an integral whole bringing together its constituent parts within and outside the kingdom; and on a historical level it stressed the unity of the Greek nation along a temporal dimension, emphasizing its uninterrupted continuity throughout the centuries from Homeric through Byzantine to modern times.”

 The unavoidable consequence of this mission was:

“a par excellence ideological use of history in Greece imposed by the integration of the operational intellectuals into the system of a social and political authority which expresses itself through a series of stereotypes” (historian Spyros Asdrahas quoted in Lithoxoou (1992b:37)).

“If there is, however, a joint reluctance on the part of historians and of their readers to treat the subject objectively and in a detached fashion, distorted perceptions will indeed evolve. Such can be said to be the tendency when Greeks have turned towards evaluating their own historical record. Greeks have preferred, for example, to emphasize the unity and not the complex diversity of their historical experiences during the Classical, Byzantine and Ottoman periods, so as to present an impregnable image of Hellenism, so vital for the development and maintenance of national consciousness and pride” (Papacosma, 1983:30).

To this day, this traditional militant approach to Greek history stresses the continuity through the ages, with anti-Slavic and anti-Bulgarian connotations (Liakos, 1993: 10) leading to the belief that (Karakasidou, 1993:8-9 & 18):

“Greeks have always maintained a superior civilization in the Balkans, (…) the dominant ethnological, historical, and political position of the overwhelming majority of Greek scholars who identify ethnicity with nationality. (…) This academic racism delegitimizes these ‘other’ social or ethnic groups, denying or negating their cultural and historical validity.”

The Macedonians are one of these groups whose existence has been denied by the overwhelming majority of Greek intellectuals (Karakasidou, 1993:9 & 18; Elefantis, 1993:37), who have also defined what can be said and what cannot on these matters, a line that the prosecutor and the courts consider it a duty to define (Liakos, 1993:11). Thus, in the 1990’s (Manitakis, 1993:65-8):

“National discourse becomes absolute when it does not tolerate disagreements nor challenges. Whoever disagrees with the dominant policy runs the risk -as it happened with the issue of the recognition of Skopje-, if he is an ‘unknown’ student to go to prison and if he is a ‘well-known’ person to be publicly accused as a traitor. (…) The campaign to collect signatures of academics and administrative personnel (…), inspired by the rector’s office, with the only purpose the public condemnation of their colleagues and of other intellectuals and artists, because the latter defended the right of disagreement of every citizen regardless of the content of that disagreement, is reminiscent of procedures of proscriptions of totalitarian regimes and may be compared with public stone throwing against persons in primitive societies.”

Garde reports that a similar treatment is reserved to dissidents in Serbia (Garde, 1992:357).

Samuel Huntington American political scientist, adviser and academic

Greece is certainly one of the contemporary ‘torn countries,’ as defined by Huntington (1993:42), like Turkey and Russia:

“Their leaders typically wish to pursue a bandwagoning strategy and to make their countries members of the West, but the history, culture and traditions of their countries are non-Western.”

But Greece has never fully acquired a Western identity (Huntington, 1993:44):

“To redefine its civilization identity, a torn country must meet three requirements. First, its political and economic elite has to be generally supportive of and enthusiastic about this move. Second, its public has to be willing to acquiesce in the redefinition. Third, the dominant groups in the recipient civilization have to be willing to embrace the convert. All three requirements in large part exist with respect to Mexico. The first two in large part exist with respect to Turkey. It is not clear that any of them exist with respect to Russia’s joining the West.”

 In the Greek case, the third requirement exists so strongly that it has given the illusion to the recipient civilization that the first two have also been present, something that is questionable and has gone through various phases.

This illusion has been maintained thanks to the presence of a considerable number of apparently Westernized cosmopolitan intellectuals in opposition with the Hellenocentric anti-Western ones, a cleavage similar to the one found in other Orthodox nations like Serbia or Russia (Garde, 1992:398). However, most of the cosmopolitan intellectuals, in times of crises like the early 1990’s, demonstrate that their Westernophilia is superficial: they have easily succumbed to the “kin-country” syndrome, espousing a heavily one-sided pro-Serbianism, and contributed to a phenomenon common to many non-Western countries, (Huntington, 1993: 27 & 35):

“a de-Westernization and indigenization of elites (…) at the same time that Western, usually American, cultures, styles and habits become popular among the mass of the people.”

They sometimes even accuse the rare exceptions, intellectuals who persist in the cosmopolitan liberal thinking, of “European parochialism, indecisive cosmopolitanism” (Lygeros, 1992:21). These rare intellectuals are also totally ignored by their colleagues when the latter organize think-tank debates or write about the Macedonian imbroglio; and, when vicious attacks against those dissenters appear in the media threatening their work and their freedom of movement, most intellectuals and Greek human rights NGO’s remain silent.

The attitude of the supposedly Westernized cosmopolitan and considered as most prestigious think tank ELIAMEP (Greek European and Foreign Policy Foundation) is characteristic. In the last two years, it has published, among others, the books The Balkans: From Bipolarity to a New Era (Gnosi, 1994) [B] and The Moslem Minority in Greece (1993) [M]. For starters, in the first book, the chapter on Albania was commissioned to the Eleftheros Typos journalist George Harvalias, whose opinion on that country -on the basis of which one can guess how scholarly and objective his texts may be- was published in Typos on Sunday (19/3/1995): [Albanians are] “ragged, with doubtful conscience and intentions, inhabitants of a contemporary third world ‘banana republic’”. Mainly though, in these two books, there are references to the Turkish minority of Thrace that only the worst kind of propaganda of the Foreign Ministry could produce. Though contradicted elsewhere in these texts, the arguments are made that “Western Thrace Muslims enjoy all the rights called for by the Greek constitution and the special provisions in the Treaty of Lausanne on minority protection” [B, pp. 816-7] and “there is no discrimination in Thrace” [M, p. 10], which is logical since “the Greek state (…) is one of the leading countries in protecting human rights around the globe” [M, p. 9]. How do they then treat all the related accusations by international non-governmental organizations on violations of the rights of the Turks of Thrace? Without any effort to counter the specific accusations, the “serious” research centre argues that “the negative picture that is technically presented has no relation to reality; it is a by-product of the propaganda that is originated from Ankara” [M, p. 10]. More specifically, “the Turkish side (…) recruited a series of researchers and propagandists devoted to the idea of Great Turkey”: follow the names of the -propagandistic for ELIAMEP- authors of the related reports of the leading international organizations with which our organizations are affiliated, that is of the Minority Rights Group and the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights: F. De Jong, H. Poulton, L. Whitman, E. Siesby [B, pp. 826-7]. Let us note here the schizophrenia of the ELIAMEP authors, as elsewhere they embrace the reports of the obviously “propagandist of Ankara” L. Whitman on the Greeks of Turkey and on the improvement of the situation in Thrace [M, pp. 18 & 34-5].

These texts are also full of intolerant comments but also of lies such as “there is no restriction referring to the movement of citizens” [M, p. 13] (what about the forbidden zones in mountainous Thrace then?) or that the 1989 electoral law “secured for the hard-line Muslims the possibility to enter the Greek Parliament” [B, p. 824] (while it is well-known that they would have been elected with any law of the period 1977-1989 simply because they exceeded the electoral quota, and it was for that reason that a 3% nationwide threshold was introduced in the 1990 law). As for the Macedonians, ELIAMEP Director Professor Thanos Veremis calls the minority in Greece “alleged” and “fictitious”, and the Macedonian nation “so-called” and “fictitious” too [B, p. 621-625]. Just as we were going to press, we discovered a related debate on the intolerance of Greek intellectuals (which we joined) that we reproduce here in Appendix IV.

Moreover, in May 1995, in a highly publicized and well-funded conference on racism, that took place in Salonica, -co-organized by the Universities of Salonica, of Macedonia, and of Thrace; and under the patronage of EU Commissioner Padraig Flynn and the General Secretariat for the Youth- Professor Krateros Ioannou praised the “high level of human rights protection” in Greece and UN human rights (!) high executive Erica Daes repeated her well-known views that (newspapers 18/5/1995):

“Greece has one and only one minority, the Muslim one, whose rights are very well protected (…) no other minority as defined by the international conventions exists and those who disagree are isolated individuals who may be pursuing political aims.”

By their attitude, therefore, the vast majority of Greek intellectuals, and as a consequence of the Greek media, have contributed to the intolerance of Greek society: in the June 1993 Eurobarometer survey report (an EEC-sponsored survey in its 12 member states), only 21% of the Greeks considered tolerance as one of the qualities parents should try to encourage in their children (vs. 42%-62% in the other countries and even 29% in former East Germany). Greeks also had the highest percentage of intolerance towards people with different nationality, race or religion (an average 28% vs. 6%-27% for the other peoples). More specifically:

  • 90% of Greeks believe that “foreigners in our country take our jobs away” and 84% believe that “many of the foreigners who live in our country constitute a public hazard”
  • 89% of Greeks have an aversion to Turks
  • 76% of Greeks have an aversion to Albanians
  • 62% of Greeks have an aversion to Western Thrace Turks and
  • 52% want “them all to go to Turkey”
  • 57% of Greeks have an aversion to Jews
  • 55% of Greeks have an aversion to Gypsies and 48% believe that “even if their living conditions improve, the Gypsies will go on being dirty”
  • 38% of Greeks have an aversion to Slavs

[survey by Opinion (1,200 interviews, 20/1-20/2/1993), for the Lambrakis Research Foundation: prepared by a team of academics under C. Tsoukalas and El. Nikolakopoulos and financed by the European Union; the survey was ‘buried’ by its sponsors and revealed in the Greek press by GHM on International Human Rights day, 10/12/1995].

Greek intellectuals have also contributed to the persistence of the myth of an ethnically homogeneous country, a concept shared in many places of Central and Eastern Europe, so well summarized by Pfaff (1993:101):

“The idea of the ethnic nation is a permanent provocation to war. It is an idea that makes spies and prospective insurgents of those who have the misfortune to live outside the shifting frontiers identified with their nationality, inviting their persecution by the people among whom they live, and rationalizing national expansion by the government to which they are ethnically attached.”

Nationally conscious Macedonians and Turks of Greece experience this attitude on a regular basis.

 

APPENDIX IV

 THE DEBATE IN THE ‘TIMES LITERARY SUPPLEMENT’ ON THE GREEK INTELLECTUALS’ INTOLERANCE

Greeks stay at home

(TLS, 3/11/1995)

Mark Mazower

—————————————————

Thanos M. Veremis and

Mark Dragoumis

 

HISTORICAL DICTIONARY

OF GREECE

European Historical Dictionaries,

Number Five

258pp. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow;

distributed in the UK by

Folkestone: Shelwing. $32.50.

0 8108 2888 X.

—————————————————

There can be no doubt that a thorough and up-to-date historical dictionary would go a long way to improving the popular and scholarly understanding of Greece in this country. Readers look­ing for such a guide in Thanos M. Veremis and Mark Dragoumis’s Historical Dictionary of Greece will be disappointed. Sandwiched between a perfunctory historical summary and a useful bibliog­raphical guide (scarcely matching the Cloggs’s 1980 Greece, however), the dictionary proper runs to less than 170 pages. Not much for a work which covers ancient and modern times.

Editorial choices are everything in the genre, and some of those here are pretty strange. Acropolis starts the volume with a whole page; Hesychasm gets over two; so too do the Ecumenical Coun­cils. We learn more about Pollution, Air, then about the First World War, more about Ver­ghina than Venizelos, Eleftherios. In general, the editors seem unsure about their readership: are they aiming for tourists, with their meditation on the mysteries of Greekness and lengthy geographical summaries of the country’s islands and regions; for businessmen (with their odd accolade to beneficent Tycoons, and their enticing paragraph on Investment [Foreign]); or for scholars (who are likely to be somewhat puzzled by a work which, for example, gives the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, a think-tank run by one of the authors, almost as much space as Ottoman Rule)?

Hellas, Greekness and Orthodoxy set the tone. The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is firmly put in its place, while anyone interested in minorities will be relieved to be told (under Macedonia) that there is actually no Slavo-Macedonian minority in Greece. Give this book a miss if you wish to learn more about Greece’s ethnic history; the entry on Epirus omits any mention of the Chams; the only mention of the Vlachs refers to the twelfth century. There is an entry on Jews, but it is hardly comprehensive. As for the Greek diaspora, we are told: “Greeks emigrate hope­fully but live to regret it”. Much the same will apply to hopeful purchasers of this book.

‘Historical Dictionary of Greece’

(TLS, 17/11/1995)

Mark Dragoumis

Sir, -Mark Mazower (November 3) resents the fact that, in the Historical Dictionary of Greece which I co-authored with Thanos M. Veremis, “Hellas Greekness and Orthodoxy set the tone.” These are indeed three of the 119 entries included in this handy reference book addressed to the general reader, one among many in the series of Historical Dictionaries published by Scarecrow Press in the United States. They are indeed important entries for someone wanting to know more about Greece. To take an example your reviewer might perhaps be more familiar with: if I were given a slender “Historical Dictionary of Israel”, the first entries I would look up -unless of course, I were an inveterate anti-Semite- would be those of Israel, Jewishness and Judaism. Entries like Hebron, the Yom Kippur War, Golda Meir, Zionism and the Holocaust would come next, as would the one dealing with the Economy, the Environment and the Diaspora. I would also expect to see at least a mention of the Orthodox presence in the Holy Lands, but it would never occur to me to accuse the authors’ coverage of this issue of being “hardly comprehensive” as Mazower does about our entry on Jews in Greece. Incidentally, this is slightly more than half the size of Hellas and slightly less than half the size of the Greek Church.

Professor Veremis and I are further accused of having appended a bibliographical guide -“useful” as far as it goes but “scarcely matching the Clogg’s 1980 Greece”. Professor Clogg’s work, however, was not an appendix but an “annotated bibliography” in its own right which 830 entries spread over 224 pages. Had we been commissioned to produce such a specialized reference work, we would probably have been able to match these numbers, as our database of titles keeps growing.

One last point: Thanos Veremis is indeed in charge of the Hel­lenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, a think-tank whose work your reviewer is personally acquainted with and, to the best of my knowledge, appreciative of. Should an entry on the Foundation be omitted for this reason only, or is the Foundation itself not really worth mentioning in the reference book on Greece, whoever might be in charge of it?

Nationalism in Greece

(TLS, 15/12/1995)

Professor Edward N. Luttwak, USA

Edward N. Luttwak

Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, DC.

Sir, – Mark Dragoumis’s response (Letters, November 17) to Mark Mazower’s review of the Historical Dictionary of Greece he co-authored illuminates a question of the greatest possible contem­porary importance: the production and distribution of ethnic hatred by intellectuals.

In his review, Mazower had deplored the luxuriant, self-­congratulatory nationalism that permeates the Dictionary; few readers would disagree with him, once they peruse the entry Hel­las, or Greekness, among many others. Moreover, the Dictionary‘s nationalism, as Mr. Mazower noted, is not merely self-loving but other-hating, even unto the extreme of denying the very existence of the Other. Specifically, it reiterates the official claim that Macedonians, or Slavs of any kind for that matter, simply do not exist in Greece. Yet any tourist can encounter natives in many parts of northern Greece who speak a non-Greek Slav language that can only be defined as Macedonian. If they feel safe, some will identify themselves as Macedonians.

The Greek state, to be sure, provides no schooling in Macedonian; more than that, it actively dissuades its use in every way, in­cluding some officially encouraged bullying by local ultra­-nationalists. The same is true of the Vlachs, another sig­nificantly large nationality present in northern Greece. I myself have heard Vlachs bitterly complain that their children are forced to grow up illiterate in their own ancient Latin language. In Metzovo, I was chatting in Vlach with some locals when a policeman harshly told us to “speak Greek”. But then, of course, Thracian Turks have been imprisoned for describing themselves as Turks, as opposed to Greeks of the Muslim religion. Sooner or later, the EU will have to contend with the institutionalized ultra-nationalism of the Greek state.

Instead of calling for more toleration of minority cultures, the co-authors of the Dictionary, Mr. Dragoumis himself and Thanos Veremis (Ph.D.), head of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, have added their own contribution to the great mass of violence-inducing language that is now being manufactured in many parts of Eastern Europe, from Poland down to Greece, from Slovakia across to the Ukraine and beyond. Undissuaded by what words like their own, spoken and written by people like themselves (notably the Croat and Bosnian-Serb professoriate) have brought about in the former Yugoslavia, they availed themselves of the Dictionary to disseminate the potentially murderous ethnographic and historiographic false-hoods of extreme nationalism.

Now in the letter of Mark Dragoumis we have Act II. I am not ac­quainted with your reviewer, Mark Mazower, but Dragoumis clearly is (for he notes that Mazower has had dealings with Veremis’s Foundation). As many an aggrieved author has done before him, Dragoumis defends his Dictionary by attacking the reviewer. In this case, however, the attack is not ad hominem but rather ad gentem. For Dragoumis does not refer to the reviewer’s per­sonality, his politics, or his academic credentials, but rather and most revealingly, to something else: his race – evidently Mr Dragoumis rightly or wrongly thinks that Mr. Mazower is Jewish. Thus he defends the Dictionary‘s (very eccentric) selection of entries as follows: “To take an example your reviewer might per­haps be more familiar with: if I were given a slender “Historical Dictionary of Israel”, the first entries I would look up – unless of course I were an inveterate anti-Semite – would be those of Israel, Jewishness and Judaism. Entries like Hebron, the Yom Kip­pur War…would come next” (Emphasis added). The “perhaps” gives the game away; I presume you selected Mark Mazower because he is an expert on Greece, not Israel. But no matter; he is a Jewish, or Mr. Dragoumis thinks he is, so he must know about Israel. This is how it is done nowadays – complete with the ritual denial of anti-Semitism; Lech Walesa did the same, each time he wondered aloud whether his successive political opponents echoed “the views of Moscow or Tel Aviv”.

It is, of course, the issue of Macedonia that decomposed the critical faculties of Messrs. Dragoumis and Veremis. But the former’s letter reminds us that once the fire of ethnic hatred is kindled, it spreads. Jew are a non-issue in Greece, there being so few of them, so that the classic anti-Semitism propagated by the Orthodox Church (to fight the inroads of Protestant sects – ­of course) hardly matters to anyone. But the hatred of Macedonians (and Albanians and Turks) propagated by the Diction­ary is an instance of incitement to hatred that may yet be con­sequential.

Nationalism in Greece

(TLS, 29/12/1995)

Mark Dragoumis

Sir, -Edward N. Luttwak (Letters, December 15) accuses me of having failed -in my letter of November 17- to answer Mark Mazower’s criticisms of the Historical Dictionary of Greece by myself and Thanos M. Veremis. Unfortunately, Dr. Mazower’s objec­tions were unanswerable, as they did not refer to content but dealt almost entirely with choice and length of entries: too few pages for “the Dictionary proper”, too much on the “Acropolis” (“whole page”), too “perfunctory” an introduction, too much on “Greekness” and “Orthodoxy”, too little on “Jews” (only half a page) and so on. In all fairness, though, Mazower never mentioned that “the Dictionary’s nationalism is not merely self-loving but other-hating”, as Mr Luttwak says he did. A scholar who mis­construes even texts he seems to agree with is a rarity in the TLS correspondence page.

In my letter, I pointed out that if someone had written a similar Dictionary on Israel, one would expect to find in it entries on Israel, Jewishness and Judaism. The two peoples are indeed in many ways comparable. Strongly shaped by their religion, vul­nerable but resourceful, prone to political bickering but united in adversity, Jews and Greeks have displayed throughout the mil­lennia an extraordinary tenacity in surviving as distinct groups in the face of enormous odds. Incidentally, “holocaust” is a Greek word meaning originally a sacrifice wholly consumed by fire.

Luttwak brackets me together with Lech Walesa as an anti-Semite because, he says, I attacked our reviewer not ad hominem, as is usual in the case of aggrieved writers, but “ad gentem”. In his opinion, I com­mitted this offence by implying that Mazower’s presumed Jewish­ness might perhaps (a word which he believes, “gives the game away”) make him a better judge of Israel than of Greece. Even if this were true, one is tempted to ask: so what? Is it a slur against a scholar’s religion or race to imply that he might un­derstand his own culture marginally better than the one he hap­pened to choose as his PhD subject? The truth is that having read Mr. Mazower’s masterful account of the plight of Greek Jewry in his work Inside Hitler’s Greece, I thought he might have gained insights into the notion of “Jewishness” which would have made him accept with less hostility the inclusion of “Greekness” as an entry in a dictionary on Greece. If that is a crime against the Jewish nation then I sincerely ask to be forgiven.

Having worked himself up into a verbal frenzy, Edward Luttwak then hits blindly at other targets, mixing untruths with anecdo­tal evidence, the whole peppered with humourless, jargon-ridden invective. No Greek citizen of the Muslim religion has ever been imprisoned in Greece because he called himself a Turk. Newspapers circulate freely in Thrace in Turkish, and commonly, use the epithet “Turkish” in their titles. In Metzovon, most people, lo­cal policemen included, speak the Vlach language openly. Not least among them was George Averoff, the Greek minister of defence, who used it, as the story goes, to good effect in February 1975, when he faced an abortive coup. A Greek officer, also fluent in Vlach, telephoned him and disclosed the conspirators’ plan in a language they could not understand, even if they had had the phone tapped.

We do not contend in our book, as Luttwak misquotes us, that “Macedonians or Slavs of any kind…simply do not exist in Greece”. What we do say in this much-maligned Historical Diction­ary of Greece is that a few thousand Slavomacedonian families – ­which fully enjoy their human rights under the law as any other Greek citizen – do not form a minority in Greece in the sense of possessing special “group rights” enshrined in an international treaty, as happens with the Muslim minority composed of Pomaks, Gypsies and Turks. The Slavomacedonian issue, which has created controversy for some time, is now very likely to be defused as Greece’s relations with her northern neighbour, the Former Yugos­lav Republic of Macedonia, improve literally by the day, no thanks to a handful of extremists in both countries and their supporters abroad.

When Edward Luttwak says that Professor Veremis and I are in the business of the “production and distribution of ethnic hatred”, that we contribute to “violence-inducing language… that is now being manufactured in many parts of Eastern Europe from Poland down to Greece”, when he asserts that we avail ourselves of the Dictionary “to disseminate the potentially murderous ethnographic and historiographic falsehoods of extreme nationalism”, and ac­cuses us of “incitement to hatred that may yet be consequential”, he is making totally unsubstantiated statements which would be considered libelous by any court of law were they to be taken seriously. All things considered, they should not.

 

Letter sent to TLS on 31/12/1995

Dear Sir,

Edward N. Luttwak (Letters, December 15) is unfortunately right in denouncing the intolerance of most mainstream intellectuals in Greece, who ‘disseminate potentially murderous ethnographic and historiographic falsehoods of extreme nationalism.’

The very answer to his letter by Mark Dragoumis gives ample evidence to that fact. First and foremost, when he claims that ‘No Greek citizen of the Muslim religion has ever been imprisoned in Greece because he called himself a Turk’: but the late former deputy Sadik Ahmet did go to prison in 1989 for that (the case is before the European Court of Human Rights), a fact that no former Greek state spokesperson like Mr Dragoumis is entitled to be unaware of. Likewise, Sadik and others have received prison sentences which they bought off for the same reason, and the (banned) Turkish Teachers Union leaders go on trial in January for, among other things, the use of the ‘T’ word. Incidentally, neither any Turkish newspaper in Thrace has that word in its title, contrary to Mr Dragoumis’ claims; while no newspaper from Turkey is sold in Thrace, while they are sold in Athens and even in Corfu….

Moreover, claiming that Macedonians in Greece ‘fully enjoy their human rights under the law as any other Greek citizen’ is another such ‘falsehood’. Three months ago, after the Macedonian party ‘Rainbow’’s offices in Florina were burnt down a little after a mob led by the local authorities removed the party’s sign in Macedonian and Greek; also, some Macedonian activists have been indicted if not convicted to prison sentences for having used the ‘M’ word; another has accumulated more than a dozen such sentences for having been wearing also in Greece the Orthodox frock as a member of the Macedonian church; the Rainbow leadership has been indicted for having used in that sign the language. In fact, there are half a dozen well-documented NGO reports documenting all the problems and the past and present repression against Macedonians in Greece.

I have not yet read the Dictionary co-authored by Messrs. Dragoumis and Veremis. But our organizations have brought to the attention of the international scholarly community that the Foundation directed by the latter (which has also produced the Greek foreign ministry’s propaganda booklet on the Turkish minority) disseminates such falsehoods and even outright ‘hate speech’ in its most recent book The Balkans: therein, among other things, the Macedonian nation and the corresponding minority in Greece are called ‘fictitious’; while the authors of reports by Minority Rights Group and or national committees of the International Helsinki Federation on the Turks of Thrace are said to ‘have been recruited by Turkish propaganda.’ That is the only ‘scholarly’ argument countering these well-documented reports! So, Mr Luttwak’s strong condemnation of the attitude of Greek intellectuals (I would add any of the public silence of those few among them who may privately voice their disagreement with the prevailing climate) has a more solid basis than just the Dictionary Mr. Mazower reviewed for TLS.

 

Yours sincerely

 

Panayote Elias Dimitras

Spokesperson

Greek Helsinki Monitor &

Minority Rights Group – Greece

 

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