Monday, January 19, 2004

Financial Times espousing conspiracy theories? Yugoslavia and Greece

reporting > lame
[update: the article is now for subscribers only... The main points however are recapped below]
A Financial Times article claims that Dora Bakoyianni, Mayor of Athens, and daughter of ex-prime minister Konstantinos Mitsotakis has become "...the first senior Greek politician to admit that Greece should not have supported Slobodan Milosevic..."
This is news to me and it certainly doesn't follow from what the reporter quotes Bakoyianni as saying:

"Addressing leaders of Bosnia-Herzegovina, on a visit to Athens, Mrs Bakoyannis said Greece, along with other Nato members, bore "a significant moral responsibility for actions and omissions that contributed to Bosnia's suffering".
"Like other European countries, Greece takes a share of the blame for what happened before and during the conflict," she added.

Now, this woman's father was indeed an admirer of Milosevic's brand of post-communist "nationalism" (although I've showed in the past that Milosevic's political positions were flexible enough to accommodate anything that could keep him in power). It is highly doubtful however that Greece "supported" Slobo. There were more than a few supporters of him (in the context of him preventing a muslim arc to "suffocate the Balkans" or some tripe of the sort), but even during the criminal Kosovo campaign popular opinion was not that enamored of him - but rather supportive of the people of Yugoslavia who were being bombed to the stone age. As for the government, (apart from turning a blind eye to all sorts of smuggling going on at the time) it did little to help Milosevic's position in Serbia or in any war.
What the Mitsotakis government did do, was cave in to the disastrous German demand of immediate recognition of Croatian sovereignty, before any border and population agreements had even began. I sincerely believe that of all the EU countries Greece was the one that had a lot to lose (and lost) from a war in Yugoslavia. It also had knowledge of the area enough to understand (I mean I could see it coming as a twenty-something political activist) that such a development would mean certain civil war. Instead of vetoing the EU recognition, the ever-submissive to outside pressure Greek government, just mentioned their "doubts" in a footnote to the unanimous decision. Had the Mitsotakis government insisted on their veto, and had the decision to recognize the breakaway republics been postponed until after detailed negotiations about all sorts of issues, but especially Bosnia, there is the possibility that the whole Yugoslav tragedy might have been averted.
So much for apologies...
However the Financial Times goes even further and espouses a conspiracy theory that had only been circulated in Greece by confirmed crackpots:

Following a proposal by Mr Milosevic in 1991 that Greece and Serbia should split the territory of the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia between them, Mr Mitsotakis asked the defense ministry to make a plan for moving troops across the Greek border into southern Macedonia. The plan was vetoed by Costas Karamanlis, then Greek president, according to a former senior official.

Although such an "offer" might have come from an increasingly unrealistic Milosevic (although this is still unproven), it is certain that no Greek prime minister, no matter how dumb, would entertain for a moment the idea of occupying an unfriendly country with few if any Greeks inhabiting it. This would go beyond adventurism to sheer madness. Anyway by that time Karamanlis was a figurehead with little real power in his hands and could certainly not veto any plans of Mitsotakis. Like a true urban legend, this was repeated in another form in the mid nineties by the (thriving) Greek tin-foil-hat constituency: Greece was supposedly offered Southern Albania by Italy which was planning the annexation of the Northern part of that country...
Again let me point out that this was Kerin Hope in Athens reporting for the Financial bloody Times - and not the Weekly World News. Brilliant. And then people wonder how come "the West" has a distorted view of the Balkans...

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