Macedonian president opens Ohrid conference, refers to Prespa Agreement

President Gjorge Ivanov opened Thursday a conference organized by the National Committee on Byzantine and Medieval Studies titled “The Samuel State – 1,000 Years later”, making a parallel between the circumstances that had led to the collapse of the Samuel empire and the current developments in Macedonia.

“A millennium ago, the Samuel state had faced similar challenges as the contemporary Macedonian state. Those challenges include denial, non-recognition, blocks, isolation, erroneous naming. It is up to us to maintain the academic freedom or leave a censored and falsified history to future generations,” said President Ivanov.

He said the Anti-fascist Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia (ASNOM) was a sprout from the same root that produced the Samuel state, with attempts made to graft another sprout to it.

“This alien sprout is the Prespa Agreement. Article 8, Point 5 of the agreement envisages the establishment of a Joint Inter-Disciplinary Committee of Experts on historic, archaeological and educational matters. Although this committee should review the objective scholarly interpretation of historic events, it is questionable that we have the countries’ ministries of foreign affairs as supervisors. The agreement’s authors, whoever they may be, show an elementary lack of knowledge of Balkan history or concerning indifference for the complex processes of building Balkan identities. To be honest, I don’t know which of these two is worse,” said Ivanov.

According to him, the Prespa Agreement denies and right of self-determination, the right of freedom of thought and expression, which are guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“The modern Greek state insists on using name Macedonia only for the administrative territory within its borders. Bureaucrats in some international organizations are erasing name Republic of Macedonia and adjective Macedonian with the same zeal as Byzantine chroniclers had done thousand years ago,” added Ivanov.

He said the reason for the downfall of the Samuel state was the fickleness of its elites, who changed sides for benefits.

“Unfortunately, there will always be people who are willing to accept the writing of a politically correct history that imposes representations tailored by our southern neighbor. And the fruits of this new graft will be given to our children in schools and our students at universities,” noted Ivanov.

He added that the Prespa Agreement aimed at making the country a footnote in someone else’s version of history, thus closing the chapter of self-determination of the Macedonian people and its independent and sovereign Republic of Macedonia.

The two-day Ohrid conference will hear 42 Byzantine and Medieval experts, historians, archaeologists, art historians, theologians, linguists, musicologists and classical experts.



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