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Anti-Greek Fever in Skopje because of a murder that never happened

October 10, 2012

By Stavros Tzimas, Kathimerini, 02.10.2012

[Translated from the Greek original by B.S.]

Slightly before midnight of last Saturday the public opinion in Skopje went into high alert. The state controlled TV was transmitting the news-bomb that “in Greece they are killing Macedonians”.

As soon as the 11’o’clock news (local time) started, the citizens were informed that in Thessalonike members of Chrysi Avgi (Golden Dawn) had ferociously beaten a young man, named Alexandar Samardziev “because he refused to changed his family name to a Greek-sounding one”. During the news bulletin the president of the marginal nationalist organisation “World Macedonian Congress”, Todor Petrov intervened and prayed via telephone “in the memory of Alexandar”, screaming that “his death is a cause for war!’. The online publications of newspapers and TV stations, as well as social networks “caught fire”, and an anti-Greek wind blew across the whole country. The fact that the “evil neighbour to the south, who is responsible for all our woes all these years, is now killing our own children” was not something to be taken lightly. In this nationalist hysteria, some remained calm and tried to find what exactly had happened ; and thus the thread of an incredible – laughter and tear provoking – story  started to unravel, about a claimed “murder of a Macedonian” in Thessalonike, in which the governments of the two countries got involved, as well as the commissioner for EU Enlargment, mr Stephen Füle himself!

It all started when on Friday, a person from the village of Achlada near Florina, calling himself Stiljan Samartdziev, listed in the municipal records as Stylianos Semertzis, a bilingual activist, posted on his personal web-page the claim that in Thessalonike members of Chrysi Avgi heavily wounded his cousin Alexander Samardziev (Alexandros Samartzis), who was supposed to have been hospitalised in a hospital of that city.

Investigation and Information

Almost all the Media in Skopje believed from the start that the “news” was real, but when their reporters and envoys in Greece started to investigate further they found that something was wrong. Their investigations showed that in no hospital was there a patient of the name Samardjiev or Samartzis, no report had been filed with the police of such an incident, and in Florina no one had heard anything about it. But while the issue had started to calm down, in the evening of Saturday, a nationalist web page, threw fuel on the fire, posting the “information” which was later “confirmed” on state TV by Petrov, that Samardziev had succumb to his wounds

The anti-Greek fever on the Web and the Media mounted vertically, the issue started to take on political and diplomatic dimensions, and the Contact Bureau of Greece in Skopje informed Athens. Outside the building of the Greek diplomatic mission a group of people gathered, holding candles in the memory of the victim.

On Sunday everybody, from the journalists to the governments of the two countries, were trying to discover if the event had really happened and which were its real dimentions. Alexandar Samardziev however was nowhere to be found, either dead or alive. In Achlada of Florina, the village from which the family of Nikola Gruevski originates, the cousin of the man who had started the story, Alexandros Samartzis, an employee of the Public Electricity Company, was in the best of health.

Members of “Rainbow”, to which the media envoys from Skopje turned, declared that they were totally ignorant concerning the events Stilian Samardziev had reported, and declared “leave it, the boy is crazy”. The government in Skopje, despite the fact that the information from the envoys of the commercial office (consulate) of fYROM in Thessalonike to Florina had arrived, showing that it was a non-existent issue, kept the issue high on the agenda with its spokesperson even making a declaration with which he adopted as “disgusting” the « unofficial information”, insisting that he awaited their confirmation!

The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs, via its spokesperson, mr Delaverkouras, reacted, speaking of “products of a sick imagination” and advising Gruevski’s government “to be more careful and not to leave space for the cultivation of aggravation and nationalism”. The affair reached Brussels, with the Commissioner charged with EU Enlargement, mr Füle, in view of his upcoming visit to Athens, posting on Twitter that he is very worried about the “murder” and inviting the two sides to remain calm!

As the fuss continued and the “victim” nowhere to be found in Florina, Stilian Samardziev changed his story, claiming now that his “cousin” was from Mavrovouni near Pella, where he had been buried. Mayors, priests, burial salons etc were mobilised, but his “funeral” had not taken place there either, until he expressed a new version, that it was in fact a “distant cousin” that had disappeared and was being sought!

With all this the propaganda of Gruevski, based on the well know theory “if you keep saying it, something will stick”, poured a little more poison into the souls of the citizens of his country.

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One Comment
  1. Well, I wonder what would have happened if the event of the murder of that student would have really taken place? For instance, would that have proved that ancient Macedonia wasn’t a part of the Greek cultural world, despite of the archaeological findings and scientific historical writings, but something so much different, that, now, it must totally belong to the history and territory of the nowadays Slavic FYROM? Of course, no normal Greek, who supports Greece in its reasonable actions to protect and preserve its territory and historical heritage, would agree with such a thing, of killing individual people for having a different stance or opinion, even if it would be the most lunatic one. Anyway, what a person or a group of persons, like the Golden Dawn, more or less large and known for their extreme views and actions, might do is not to be applied and considered specific to an entire nation or the official position of the state of that nation (Greek or any other). I wonder, also, for how long will much of the civilized world continue to remain blind, for political reasons, to this FYROM state’s policy of amplifying sporadic negative events, many not even real, instead of asking it to come to the negotiating table and accept that it must share with its neighbors something that it is very discussable to even belong to it, according to any reasonable approach, considering its historical and even territorial claims.

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