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Channels of Communication

April 22, 2012

By Stavros Tzimas, Kathimerini 20.04.2012 (translated from Greek)

Sunday before last, Kathimerini published a full-page interview of the President of fYROM, Gjorge Ivanov to myself. The answers given by the Slavomacedonian leader were variously commented on by readers who exposed their own opinions on everything he had to say about the thorny issues concerning the relations with Greece. On this, on what he said in other words, everyone is entitled to his opinion.

I will refer to the contents of two letters, that do not focus on the essence, but on the procedure of the interview: “I am sorry, but the questions as they were posed to the President of Skopje did not have the intention of cornering him…” writes mr Antonis Panagiotakopoulos from Alimos, affirming that he would not accept to be mocked by the “Skopjan President”, whom he would have “cornered”. Mr Ioannis Demetriades from Kavala, on the other hand, gives a catalogue of 17 (!) questions that, in his view, should all have been posed, as, according to him, the “one support the other” so as to “uncover the usurpers of History”.

I imagine that the purpose of such an interview is to transmit, in the limited leeway allowed by the valuable space of a newspaper, the positions and the views of the interviewee, about issues that are of interest to the readers. In the case in hand, to have the President of fYROM clarify certain points of the policy followed by his country and which concern us directly, so that we Greeks can form an image that will be as complete as possible about how our neighbours think, given that we have been at odds with them for the past 20 years on the issue of the name. The rest is the job of diplomacy and of our external policy, but certainly not that of journalists.

There is however an even more interesting aspect that is put forward because of this interview as well: the lack of channels of communication between the two people. Very rarely have our politicians or the Slavomacedonian politicians or government officials given interviews to newspapers, TV, radio etc of the other side. One wonders why do they avoid it. Do they not consider it to be useful to speak to the societies that are confused? Do they consider it to be a national mistake, or are they just snobs? Really, what would be the harm if mr Samaras, mr Venizelos, or even mr Papoulias spoke, through a newspaper or a TV station of Skopje to the citizens of fYROM and explained to them, using arguments and clarity, the Greek positions, which otherwise reach them through the distorting mechanisms of propaganda of mr Gruevski? Does anyone believe that without having as an ally a well-informed and not fanatical, in its ignorance, public opinion in the two countries, the leaderships can take bold decisions so as to resolve the issue?

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