Interview of the president of EACM, Lazar Elenovski for most known Greek newspaper Elefterotipia Print
Thursday, 26 August 2010 13:21

Lazar ElenovskiDuring his visit to Athens where he participated at the Conference for the NATO New Strategic Concept organized by the Atlantic Association of Greece, the president of the EACM, Lazar Elenovski, had an interview for the Greek newspaper Elefterotipia.
Elefterotipia: Gruevski and Ivanov insist on expanding the agenda of dialogue by adding subjects like national identity, language etc. Do you think that they have a final scenario for the next six months?

Elenovski: It is an interesting question, which unveils the essence of the process. You know, our public has the impression that the Greek party has opened these questions of identity and language. It is a good evidence of the manner in which the name dispute process has been working all of these years. It worked more for domestic political goals by the ones who led it, instead of finding proper solution. In particular, the question of identity and language came out on the surface in our public two years ago, before the Bucharest Summit, which implies it is not related to President Ivanov. In our public, it has been created by other political structures, which are current and today, who were looking for their own political exemption on the very wrong side for the possible compromise. Unfortunately, later the President and the Prime Minister accepted that logic.  
You know the story on your side the best.
My personal position is that identity and language cannot be negotiated. Those are categories, which are not negotiable in their nature. The identity which epistemologically speaking is very hard to define determines certain social diversity, inherence, belonging to a group within time and space.
It is illogical to negotiate the culture of people such as customs, folklore, songs, historical events. It is something that is simply accepted from the past and it is up to us to determine our future, more or less identifying with the past. We are in front of a great idea for Europe, which your people have decided to follow, and idea, which we also follow. With many difficulties we have reached the gateway to that civilization idea and concept and it is very hard to know that your next-door neighbor is preventing the entrance. Regardless of the reason, even more when we speak about something from a distant past.

Elefterotipia: Would you accept Nimetz proposition for Republic of North Macedonia and erga omnes usage?

Elenovski: It is a good proposal as a compromise solution, regarding the purpose of the process within the United Nations. The mediator Nimetz has been for long years playing a very hard role and I admire his patience and desire he still has to find a solution for the dispute, having in mind that it is not only a matter of the name, but its usage as well, which uncovers many details about the usage of the international name of the country.
On the other hand, the Republic of Macedonia has been recognized under its constitutional name from over than 125 countries in the world, and it is a serious right as well as a duty to my country to obey that fact.
Regarding ergo omnes, I have a different definition. As a democrat and a person who has been working for long years on integration and regional cooperation I respect every person’s right to identify oneself as they feel. If 2.5 million Greeks feel like Macedonians I can only bow to that fact. In Bulgaria some friends tell me that about hundred thousand Bulgarians feel like Macedonians. Complying with basic democratic principles, I accept that. If the majority of ethnic Macedonian population and citizens of the Republic of Macedonia feel like Macedonians, then everybody else should accept it. In addition to that, we have no other option. Instead of meaning division, “Macedonia” will have noble meaning, unison. Then, you have ergo omnes principle to the content of everybody.

Elefterotipia: EU and Greece consider that the choice of referendum on a possible solution between the two governments undermines the procedure. What is your opinion?

Elenovski: Holding a referendum is a matter of secondary concern. Whenever I discuss the issue with someone, including the international representatives, I always underline that I would be very happy if we make it to a referendum. It will above all mean that we finally have a finite proposal agreed on both sides. This will be an immense progress since we have been negotiating for 15 years and there is not yet a proposed solution for the dispute. The second step is the referendum, which is a serious issue, but also a democratic right.
Still, the Government has the key for this question considering its absolute majority. It is a fact that the promise they made in public will be too difficult to change, which is not impossible. Therefore, my suggestion to the international representatives is primarily on accepting the proposal for solution and in the positive outcome of possible referendum.

Elefterotipia: How helpful do you consider the last immediate contacts between Papandreou and Gruevski?

Elenovski: The immediate contacts between Papandreou and Gruevski are positive and good-spirited which was lacking in the past. The meetings should continue, because they will lead us to approaching the positions and will contribute to intensifying the negotiations for a faster solution to the name dispute within the UN.