Letter to President Barack Obama regarding Philip T. Reeker (English)


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January 25, 2012

Barack Obama President of the United States

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW

Washington DC, 20502


Dear Mr. President,
 
We, the members of the PanMacedonian Association USA (one of the largest Greek organizations in the US), and the World Macedonian Associations – together representing over 3.5 million Greeks worldwide stemming from Macedonia, Greece – are writing to inform you of our concern about events that transpired at last week’s European Handball Championships in Niš, Serbia. In the presence of your Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Mr. Philp T. Reeker, during the January 19, 2012 match between the Czech Republic and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) there were irredentist displays against Greece by the FYROM’s fans. These can be characterized without doubt as insulting to the Greek nation. It can be easily argued that Mr. Reeker’s seeming complacency with the ultranationalistic chanting by these fans was a diplomatic gaffe [1, 2]. In the interview that he gave for the European Handball Federation Network that day, he praised “sports diplomacy”, yet was shown waving appreciatively in the direction of the FYROM’s fans. Perhaps he was unaware of the words these fans were chanting but they certainly were not defined by “sports diplomacy”, which is supposed to overcome political differences between peoples and bring them closer together through sport.
 
The whole of the FYROM’s fan section was filled with that country’s first flag, which by using a Greek symbol (implying that Skopje is its owner) was deemed inappropriate for its irredentist nature against Greece by the 1995 Interim Accord between Athens and Skopje, and by the decision of the International Court of Justice at The Hague in December 2011. If he may have missed the individual flags then we are certain that he did not miss the gigantic flag that was hoisted and covered half the stadium. Moreover, we would like to inform you and him that the song that was chanted is called “Izlezi Momče” or “Young boy” and the lyrics are:
 
“Get out young boy, on the terrace and wave at Goče Delčev’s race...raise your hand out high...we are off to conquer Thessaloniki!”
 
He was also photographed with the FYROM’s national handball team on the front page of Skopje’s “Fokus” newspaper under the title: “Reeker also sang about Goče’s race” [2]. Unfortunately, Mr. Reeker’s tolerance of this is being used by the FYROM’s mass media as an implicit support of the country in...What exactly? Is it perhaps the takeover of northern Greek regions? This chant is needless to say a new phenomenon in the FYROM, and the irredentist stirrings it is supposed to promote have been expressed by fans and national sports teams alike [3]. While we understand and can appreciate that these are mere sporting events, and while we are also aware that the irredentist flag should be avoided by Skopje’s officials only, we nevertheless feel

 

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                                                                                                                                 President’s Office: Kostas Hatzistefanidis

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that they express the attitude of a large base of the FYROM’s population and official circles. They

are distasteful examples of a society incensed by official Skopje’s irredentist ideas about what are its fatherland, its history, and its rightful place in the Balkans. It is therefore the duty of the international community to put a stop to the slippery slope of nationalism stemming from Skopje, and not to show support for this. The problem is not only the use of the Greek name “Macedonia” by Skopje, and this has been obvious from the beginning. The problem is also the ultranationalism of Skopje’s government.
 
With this in mind, we are taking this opportunity to note that Skopje’s government and society (both inside and outside their country) have increased their rhetoric against their neighbors in the last few years and we fear that the crescendo has yet to come. From former Foreign Minister Antonio Milošoski claiming there was never any Macedonia in Greece prior to 1988, to Skopje’s official diaspora organizations claiming the same and also questioning Greece’s sovereign territory by calling for a “United Macedonia” [4, 5], to the large banner of a “United Macedonia” during official celebrations in Skopje in the presence of the highest government officials [6], to last week’s “Greece funeral” with flag burning at a state sponsored carnival in the town of Vevčani [7-9], and to current sporting events, Skopje’s society and political establishment is progressing down a dangerous path for the stability and peace in the region. All of Greece’s complaints about these events have been met with disdain, ridicule, and an air of surprise by Skopje’s media. As a result, the government Mr. Reeker cooperated with as Ambassador to the US until 2011, does not reflect a country that is mature enough to enter international organizations as a friendly equal to Greece and other member countries. We do not consider these events as isolated or trivial and we feel it inappropriate for high ranking US officials to remain silent about them let alone be associated with them.

 

Mr. President, we demand some explanations.
 
Sincerely,

                                                    

Kostas Hatzistefanidis                                                             Dimitris Chatzis

Supreme President                                                                  Supreme Secretary

PanMacedonian Association USA                                         PanMacedonian Association USA

 

 

Paul Kotrotsios

President of the Hellenic American National Council

(All Greek-American Associations in USA)

 

Co-signers:


PanMacedonian Association Australia – Dimitris Minas, President

PanMacedonian Association Canada – Haralambos Moutousides, President

PanMacedonian Association Europe – Archimandrite Panteleimon Tsorbatzoglou, President

Macedonian Associations of Africa – Amyntas Papathanasiou, President

THE COORDINATING COMMITTEE OF MACEDONIAN ORGANIZATIONS

 

Nina Gatzoulis, Coordinator (Representing over 150 Macedonian Organizations)

Philoptohos Brotherhood of Men of Thessaloniki – Theodore Dardavesis, President

E.A.S. SEGAS of Thessaloniki – Demitrios Gakis, President

Association of Pisoderites the World Over “Saint Trinity”- Michael Liakos, President

Thracian Hearth of Thessaloniki-Benjamin Karakostanoglou, President

Federation of Western Macedonian Associations of Thessaloniki-George Tzoulis-President

“Omada 21” (Team 21) Macedonia – Thrace – Antonios Daskopoulos, President

 

ASSOCIATIONS BELONGING TO MACEDONIANS’ “COMMON”

 

Florina Chapter of the Descendants of the Macedonian Struggle Fighters

Amyntaio Chapter of the Descendants of the Macedonian Struggle Fighters

Florina Educational Team “Aristotle”

Cultural Chapter of Sitaria Florina

Cultural Chapter “New Horizons” Sitaria, Florina

Cultural Chapter “Alexander the Great” of Polyplatanos, Florina

Alexander the Great Chapter of Ethniko-Kratero-Agia Paraskevi

Cultural Chapter “Elpida “- (Hope) of Meliti, Florina

Carrier of history and Culture “Iera Drys” of Kella, Florina

Cultural-Educational Chapter “Amyntas” of Skopia, Florina

Connection of Letters and Arts of Kozani Prefecture

     Cultural Chapter of Kozani “The Macedonians”

     Association of Edessa’s citizens “Ion Dragoumis”
Association of Macedonian Veteran Descendants of Edessa and Almopia

Folklore Society of Pella Prefecture

Association of Edessa’s Friends of Antiquities “The Timenides”

Cultural Association “Edessa’s Book Friends”

Association of “Macedonian Cultural Home” of Aridaia

Association of “Friends of Macedonian Cultural Tradition” of Almopia

Educational Association of Ida Eksaplatanos “Ion Dragoumis”

Historical and Folklore Society of Giannitsa “Filippos”

Macedonian Dance and Cultural Association “Amyntas” of Kalyvia

Educational and Environmental Club of Pella “Ancient Pella”

Cultural Association of Kato Grammatiko “Patriarchis Xrysanthos”

Community of Letters and Arts of Kozani Prefecture

Educational Association of Florina “Aristotle”

Cultural Association of Ethniko-Kratero- Agia Paraskevi of Florina “Alexander the Great”.

Cultural Associaton “Elpida Melitis”of Florina.

Pan-Macedonian Association of the Macedonian Struggle - Thessaloniki

Pan- Hellenic Association of Macedonian Veteran Descendants “Pavlos Mellas”

Pan-Hellenic Cultural Society "Makednos" Thessaloniki

Cultural and Educational Society in Arnaia-Chalkidiki

Macedonian Artistic Society of Kilkis “Art”

Society for Study and Research of the History of Serres

Youth Educational Chapter of Arnissa

Educational-Cultural Chapter Lefkadion “St. Paraskevi”

Chapter of Startsovites & Friends “St. Minas” New Petritsi - Serres

Association of people from Monastiri (Bitola) of Thessaloniki “Karteria”

Macedonian & Thracian Association of Papagou and Holargou –Athens

Association of Women from Thessaloniki-Macedonia in Athens

Pan-Macedonian Confederation in Athens

Federation of Western Macedonian Associations in the Prefecture of Attica

Confederation of Macedonians in the area of Attica

Association “Alexander Filippou Greek Macedon”

Cultural Association of Kozani “Oi Makednoi”

Macedonian Association of Volos

Cultural Association Grivas-Kilkis

Cultural Association of Polyplatanos-Naousa

Youth Cultural Association of Polyplatanos-Naousa

Florinian Chapter in Thessaloniki

Friends of the Museum of the Macedonian Struggle, Prefecture of Kastoria

 

References:

 

1)              
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4aavnZyuEM
 
2) http://history-of-macedonia.com/wordpress/2012/01/21/fokus-daily-and-reeker-also-sung-about-the-goces-race/
 
3) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wTiVQaKyLTs [the FYROM’s national basketball team during the Euro Basket Championships August 31 - September 18, 2011]
 
4) http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2011/11/28/metodija-a-koloski-mark-branov-time-to-let-macedonia-play-with-the-big-boys/
 
5) http://makpress.blogspot.com/2012/01/3-video.html#axzz1j47XYt6B [UMD president agreeing to a vision of a “United Macedonia” during a 2010 UMD conference in Toronto, Canada]
 
6) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfTVO4Gg0Jg&;feature=player_embedded [large banner of a “United Macedonia” during Skopje’s official celebrations of Independence from Belgrade, September 8, 2011]
 
7) http://taxalia.blogspot.com/2012/01/fyrom_14.html
 
8) http://taxalia.blogspot.com/2012/01/blog-post_2851.html
 
9) http://taxalia.blogspot.com/2012/01/blog-post_6850.html

 

cc: Joe Biden, Vice-President of the United States

 Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State

Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Committee of Foreign Relations

Senator Barbara Boxer

Senator Robert Menendez

Senator Benjamin L. Cardin

Senator Robert P. Casey Jr.

Senator Jim Webb

Senator Jeanne Shaheen,

Senator Christopher Coons

Senator Richard J. Durbin

Senator Tom Udall

Senator Richard Lugar,

Senator Bob Corker

Senator James E. Risch

Senator Marco Rubio

Senator James M. Inhofe

Senator Jim DeMint

Senator Johnny Isakson

Senator John Barrasso

Senator Mike Lee

     Philip T. Reeker, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Department of State

     Hellenic Caucus of Congress

     Greek-American Press

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