Australia’s outdated, unfair and flawed policy on Macedonia is in need of review and innovation if Australia is to become an independent middle power in international relations. Calls for policy innovation have come from a number of sources.
First, the Australian Macedonian community has voiced its concerns through a variety of means such as a peaceful protest in May 2008 in Melbourne attended by at least 20,000 people; and more than 50,000 letters were sent to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on August 2, 2008 to which no response has been received.
Second, the Rudd Government has ignored the calls made by federal MPs - such as from its own ranks like Ms Jenny George MP and from the opposition, Mr Luke Simpkins MP - for Australia to change its policies on Macedonia’s constitutional name and to bring Australia into line with the rest of the world.
The Rudd Government and the Leader of the Opposition are ignoring the fact that 124 nations, including USA, China, Russia, Canada and the UK, have already recognised the Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name for ethical, social justice and strategic reasons. They have also largely ignored the concerns of Australian Macedonian citizens who are appalled by Greece’s constant attempts to destroy Macedonian culture, language, identity and civilisation not only in Aegean Macedonia but also in the Republic of Macedonia, in the EU, the UN and here in Australia.
Funded by the Greek government budget and various foundations, the ultra-nationalistic Greek lobby has pursued a destabilising foreign policy which is now the single biggest impediment to any sensible EU, UN or Australian policy on Macedonia and its people, including the diaspora.
The Rudd Government, like previous federal and state governments, has allowed the Greek lobby to dictate Australian foreign policy on Macedonia in return for votes and other promises.
The Australian political system, the mainstream media and leading foreign policy think tanks have collectively failed to scrutinise the unsubstantiated propaganda of the Greek lobby. They have also failed to analyse and assess the damage that this flawed policy is having on Australia’s international image and reputation as a serious and independent player especially in regional peace and stability and human rights protection.
Australian policy towards Macedonia is not evidence-based given the fact that Macedonia has gone out of its way to integrate into the European Union, NATO and the wider international community. Macedonia along with Slovenia was ready to join the EU back in the early 1990s. Macedonia is a candidate to join the EU but its accession has been blocked by Greece. Macedonia has constantly tried to find a solution to the artificial smokescreen problem that Greek political parties have created around the name issue. Macedonia, since independence, has modified its flag and changed its constitution in order to allay fears from Greece about any territorial claims. Macedonia has a tiny army of 8,000 self defence soldiers whereas Greece has 240,000 combat-ready troops. Macedonia has also engaged in a ridiculous process of negotiating its name and identity under UN auspices only to be vetoed by Greece at the NATO Summit in Bucharest in 2008.
Macedonia and its people have been in existence centuries before Christ and have a separate language and identity from the Greeks. Following the break up of the Ottoman Empire, Macedonia was partitioned in 1913 into four parts without the consent of the Macedonian people. Modern Greece, with the help of the French and the British Empire received 51 per cent of Macedonian territory.
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