Dangerous loss of proportion

FYROM Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski appears to have lost all sense of proportion. First he wants Greece to recognize a Macedonian minority and a Macedonian language. Then he wants the name of Thessaloniki’s Macedonia Airport to be changed and now he is telling us we can’t eat our Macedonian halva because his country is claiming it for itself. It is one thing for Gruevski to derail and drag out his country’s dispute with Greece over the former Yugoslav republic’s use of the name Macedonia, however harmful to his own country’s interests, but, as his country’s leader, he has no right to cultivate hatred and fanaticism among his people regarding their neighbors. Unfortunately, Gruevski has been systematically trying to frighten his own people and, at the same time, make the rest of the world think that Greece has military designs on his country. In a letter to UN mediator Matthew Nimetz, he criticizes Greece for its high military expenditures, insinuating that Greece is arming itself to attack and occupy the former Yugoslav republic. To bolster his claims, his defense minister has claimed the Greek army was carrying out exercises in Florina with guns trained on the Skopje government’s headquarters. Such claims do not warrant any response, especially when even FYROM President Branko Crvenkovski has ridiculed them. Gruevski should know that because of Greece’s history with Turkey, Athens has had to increase military spending every year, unfortunately for its own economy. He also should know that a country’s army can carry out exercises wherever it likes on its own territory, although none have been held recently in Florina. He is simply trying to make his people afraid of Greece, in view of developments in his country’s strategic goals, which may be unpleasant for himself and his government. But in the Balkans, hatred encouraged by ambitious leaders has always led to tragedy.