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Macedonia & Its Questions

Origins, Margins, Ruptures & Continuity


Edited By Victor A Friedman, Goran Janev and George Vlahov

Macedonia and its Questions: Origins, Margins, Ruptures and Continuity is a multi-disciplinary book of 11 chapters, containing contributions that span the fields of linguistics, political science, sociology, history and law. The title of the book purposefully references but simultaneously interrogates and challenges the idea that certain nation-states and certain ethnicities can in some way constitute a "question" while others do not. The "Macedonian Question" generally has the status of a problem that involves questioning the very existence of Macedonians and one of the aims of this volume is to reframe the nature of the discussion.

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9. Forced Assimilation and Discursive Hegemony: Why the Macedonian Minority Continues to be Oppressed in Greece

9.Forced Assimilation and Discursive Hegemony: Why the Macedonian Minority Continues to be Oppressed in Greece


George Vasilev

University of Melbourne

Minority rights are legally enshrined norms that articulate international standards for the just treatment of diverse groups. Their codification in the declarations and charters of regional and global intergovernmental organisations provides benchmarks of appropriate practice below which no state should fall. As Will Kymlicka has summed it up, pro-minority ideas and respect for diversity are now ‘core values of world culture’, evidenced by their global prominence in international law and shared meanings of what defines a truly modern state (Kymlicka, forthcoming: 5). Under this normative framework, states cannot legitimately coerce minorities to ‘fit in or leave’. Rather, they are expected to permit, even support, minorities to maintain their identities and cultures, as doing so is conceived as a basic condition of ethnocultural justice.

While different states meet these international obligations with varying degrees of commitment, Greece stands out for its unwillingness to meet them at all. The Greek state has flatly rejected the relevance of minority rights for its ethnic communities. It maintains there are no ethnic minorities on its territory, only religious communities and individuals who speak ‘local idioms’. This vocabulary has been at the heart of how the existence of Greece’s Turkish and Macedonian minorities has been denied. According to Greek authorities, there are ‘Muslim Greeks’, but no Turks, and ‘Slavophone Greeks’, but no Macedonians, making appeals for Turkish and Macedonian recognition and nondiscrimination redundant (Dimitras and Papanikolatos, 2001: 190).


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