Ethnos has brought to light the changes proposed by the Joint Interdisciplinary Committee of Experts of Greece-Northern Macedonia and the mistakes made in the process.
On October 1 when schools start again in “North Macedonia,” there will be no changes in the textbooks of the neighboring country, as agreed by the Joint Interdisciplinary Committee of Experts (MDEE). The students of the neighboring country will be taught again this year about maps of “Greater Macedonia,” “Macedonia of the Aegean,” as well as a series of redemptive reports such as the correlation of their country with the ancient Greek Macedonian Kings of Philip II and Alexander the Great.
These have not been removed from the books two years after the Prespa Agreement that ensured Greece’s northern neighbour will relinquish its claims that the Ancient Macedonians were not Greek and territorial expansionism.
The unpaid Greek Committee of Experts under Spyridon Sfetas- Professor of the Department of History and Archeology of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki who developed the historical background of the “Slavo-Macedonian identity” and the “Slavo-Macedonian language” from the 19th century until today – has identified 37 problem maps that need improvements and submitted a 57 page text with comments on manuals and the curriculum.
The two sides met a total of four times with the last meeting taking place in Ohrid in May 2019. According to the plan, another meeting was expected last summer where the twentieth century would be examined, mainly the gloomy period of the civil war.
Based on what was agreed, between the two sides, the neighbors officially accept in their educational system that “ancient Macedonia” is only Greek. One of the most serious issues along with the nomenclature was the distortion of the historical record of ancient Macedonia, an issue that was put to an end by the Joint Interdisciplinary Committee of Experts.
It was accepted after a two-day “battle” in Skopje that as Slavs they have nothing to do with the Ancient Macedonians, and that Ancient Macedonian history and culture was part of the Ancient Greek culture that had an impact on world culture. For the Byzantine period they accepted that the Slavs did not take the name “Macedonians” from the Ancient Macedonians, that the terms “Macedonians” and “Slav” were not identical in the Middle Ages.
Greece’s northern neighbors also agreed, among other things, to replace the term “Aegean Macedonia” with the term Greek province of Macedonia.
However, despite the progress made, the editorial committees for the writing of new textbooks with the complete elimination of any redemptive terms and any distortions of history were not formed in November 2019, as planned.
The two sides have been meeting for more than a year due to both the electoral contest in Greece and the change of government relations, as well as the prolonged election period in Greece’s northern neighbour, but also due to the coronavirus pandemic. In particular, as far as the Greek committee of experts is concerned, it was virtually inactivated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs throughout the previous period, while after the elections in the neighboring country, Athens proceeded with extensive changes of the Commission, removing Spyridon Sfetas who was close to the former Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, and lifted most of the proposed changes.
The new Head of the Committee of Experts is Sofia Iliadou-Tachou, MP candidate with New Democracy in Florina in the last parliamentary elections and professor of Modern Greek History at the University of Western Macedonia, who previously criticized the Prespa Accord.
The composition of the committee is:
Alexandros Kougiou, Director of Cultural, Religious and Consular Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, President of MDEE.
Nikolaos Zaikos, Associate Professor of International Law, University of Macedonia (the only member who participated in the composition of the previous Committee).
Stavroula Mavrogeni, Associate Professor, University of Macedonia
Angeliki Delikari, Associate Professor, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
George Kalpidakis, Authorized Researcher of the Academy of Athens.