Since the collapse of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1992, Athens and Skopje have been in a conflict over the name of the former Socialist Republic of Macedonia (1945-1991). Today this country is named Republic of Macedonia, but internationally only recognized as Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Greece has never accepted the country’s name, because it claims the current people living there have no historical links to Hellenic Macedonia. Because of the name dispute, the Republic of Macedonia has not been able to join the EU or NATO as Greece would veto any attempt by Skopje to apply for membership. Revolutionary socialists reject nationalism on both sides. The ruling class is dividing the Greek and Macedonian workers to weaken class struggle. Out of all former Yugoslav republics, Macedonia was the least developed. Its capitalist class would love to join the neoliberal EU to strengthen their rule. We say NO to both EU and NATO membership.
Revolutionary Socialist Media stands in opposition to any kind of nationalism. The name Macedonia has become a battleground for nationalists in both countries. Greece has a province they call Macedonia and there is a Slavic country that is called Macedonia since 1943. The Greeks did not seemed to care about that when Yugoslavia was still around. But after the collapse of the federal state, the Republic of Macedonia became independent. Greek nationalists could not accept this. All Greek governments have used their veto’s in the EU and NATO to oppose Macedonia attempts to join these institutions of capitalism and western imperialism. Skopje wants to join the western world, their capitalist politicians have this illusion that EU and NATO membership would make the Republic of Macedonia stronger. As demonstrated by eastern European countries, EU membership turns out only to benefit the ruling class, who own the means of production!
The Republic of Macedonia is a landlocked country of 2,1 million people. Its economy was the weakest of Yugoslavia and the collapse of the federal state resulted in a decline of living standards. Capitalist institutions have praised Skopje with its neoliberal reforms since 1996. Opening up the economy has resulted in a rising GDP for those who benefit from the system. Unemployment is 27% of the total labour force and 22% out of all Macedonians live in poverty. The majority of working class people (72% according to a national poll) have indicated that they struggle financially as wages are low and prices high for basis needs. Macedonia is only a success story for those who are part of the political and economic elite. For average workers life is not easy, with incomes no higher then 385 euros a month. The government does not care, they have lowered corporate taxes and are very happy that European capitalists ”invest” in the country!
Politically the republic is led by two major parties of capitalism. The Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity is the main right-wing national conservative party. This party is promoting Macedonian nationalism combined with right-wing populism (anti-Muslim bigotry). Unlike other European populists the VMRO-DPMNE is not anti-EU. In fact the national-conservatives are supportive of the European-Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. This is because VMRO-DPMNE wants Macedonia to be part of the western capitalist world. Its main opponent is the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia. This pseudo-leftist party was founded by the members of the old communist league. As titoism (Yugoslav stalinism) collapsed the Macedonian wing of the Communist League of Yugoslavia quickly abandoned Marxism. In 1990 they added the title: ”Party of Democratic Renewal” to their name. A small year later the former ”champions of the proletariat” dropped their facade and became fully supportive of capitalism as the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia. Together with neoliberals they won the 1996 elections, only to promote austerity and deregulation!
Because Macedonia lacks a workers party, the traitorous ex-stalinists are still portrayed as the only left-wing force. But their so called leftism is a scam, the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia is no alternative for the suffering working class. Like all European social democrats, these class traitors only serve one class: the capitalist class of Macedonia. In 2016 a coalition around the social democratic party won the elections, forcing the national-conservatives into the opposition. The new government started to talk with the Greek government of Alexis Tsipras (another class traitor) over the name dispute. Until now the Republic of Macedonia is known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia internationally. Prime minister Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras came to a compromise. Macedonia would be called; ”Republic of North Macedonia” this is what Greece would accept. However the nationalist president of Macedonia has rejected this name. Gjorge Ivanov said he would veto any attempt to change the name of the country. In Greece the far-right nationalists of the Golden Dawn have also called for demonstrations. Like the Macedonian nationalists these Greek fascists claim that the name; ”Macedonia” only belongs to them!
The deep betrayal of Alexis Tsipras in 2015 resulted in the fact that Greece has suffered the full blow, as Europe forced privatizations of its last state-owned enterprises. Airports, once under state ownership are now sold to foreign capitalists to exploit. The same is done with seaports, which means that Greece has no control nor ownership of its air and sea bases. For Greek workers, Tsipras is a traitor who sold them to European capitalism. Right-wing nationalists like the Golden Dawn know how to exploit their anger into racism and hatred. Many who live in Greek Macedonia are using racial slurs to denounce the Slavic Macedonians, who are called ”inferior” and ”Albanian” as nationalist Greeks refuse to call them Macedonians. Tsipras and his ”Coalition of the Radical Left” (SYRIZA) face a certain election defeat in 2019. It does not take much guessing to know that the conservatives of New Democracy will return to power. The Greek left-wing is still unable to build a socialist alternative after SYRIZA turned out to be a party of class traitors!
Revolutionary socialists reject both the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE and the Greek nationalists of Golden Dawn and others. A name change will not improve the lives of workers in both countries. Capitalism is the main reason why 72% of Macedonian workers face financial difficulties. Capitalism is why 68% of all Greek workers are facing relative poverty. Although the Greeks still earn 800 euros above the average income of Macedonia, we must not forget that prices for basic human needs are almost equal to that of western Europe. The main difference is that German, French and Dutch workers earn 1000 euros above the average Greek income. 72% of Macedonians and 68% of Greeks do not enjoy the fruits of their labour. They are excluded from the wealth they create by working for capitalists both domestic and international. Greece has always been called a ”developed” nation, while Macedonia is often called a developing country. Reality is that because of austerity and privatizations, the living standards in both countries has declined. To end this, working class people need a party of their own. Not a bunch of ex-Stalinist scum like the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia or the pseudo-leftists of SYRIZA!
- NO to nationalist demonstrations in Macedonia and Greece organized by the far-right.
- NO to political leaders like Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras
- NO to ethnic nationalism and austerity cuts
- NO to the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
- NO trust in politicians and parties of the bourgeoisie
- Greek and Macedonian workers need to unite in parties of their own
- For a Socialist Macedonia and a Socialist Greece, part of a Balkan Socialist Federation!