From the Australian Macedonian Advisory Council:

Say My Name by Dean Kalimniou

…Just three months after the official state visit of Greek PM Karamanlis to Albania, a visit touted as a great success by his government, and his undertaking to support Albania’s accession to the EU, the Albanian PM, Sali Berisha, former doctor of the paranoid Stalinist dictator Enver Hoxha, has chosen to reciprocate, by announcing his plans to change all Greek toponyms in Albania to ones derived from “ancient Albanian.”

The ludicrousness of such a decision is immediately apparent. Firstly, no archaeological or literary records exist, attesting to an ancient Albanian language…The vast majority of toponyms in Southern Albania and coastal Albania are of Greek origin, simply because these places were or are founded and inhabited by Greeks…To change the names of these places is to deny their history.

One may ask why this is particularly offensive. After all, Greece too has indulged in intensive name changing, especially of Turkish and Slavic toponyms. The answer lies in the fact that most of these toponyms have been altered subsequent to the passage of those ethnic groups from the regions in question. Slavs have not existed in any significant numbers in Epirus for hundreds of years. Yet the prevalence of Slavic toponyms and words in the local patois attests to a time when Serbian kings such as Stefan Dušan incorporated much of Greece into their empire. The changing of these is thus inoffensive, since the intention is not to deny the Serbian occupation of Greece, which is a historical fact, but rather, to revert toponyms to their original forms.

In Berisha’s case, the opposite seems to be the case. Given that Northern Epirus forms part of the same cultural and geographical entity as southern Epirus, the prevalence of Slavic toponyms such as Lambovo, Gorantzi, and Kossovitsa for Greek villages, is also acute. If Berisha sought to revert to original names for these places, pre-dating their inclusion within Serbian and Bulgarian medieval empires, the only names he should find would be Greek, as up until the twentieth century, Albanians had not existed in any appreciable numbers in this geographic region. Berisha’s intent is thus clear: By imposing upon villages in which Greeks still reside, Albanian names, he seeks to deny their inhabitants their basic right to freely choose their ethnic and cultural affiliation. In short, he seeks to deny the historical Greek character of those villages and towns

Acknowledging a people’s current and historical presence in a region does not in any way impinge upon a nation’s sovereignty. At no stage since the fall of the Albanian communist regime have the slightest hint of irredentist or secessionist intentions been made by either Greece or the Northern Epirotes. Berisha’s act is thus racist and highly offensive and it is embarrassing for the Greek government to undertake to support the accession of such a politically immature country to the EU.

Indeed, the Greek government’s lack of protest at yet another abrogation of the human rights of ethnic Greeks in Albania exposes their stated ‘concern’ as to the welfare of Greeks living beyond the borders of Greece, as mere rhetoric…Greek foreign ministry officials are quick to meddle in the political affairs of the Greek minority but rather slow to defend them when their rights are compromised. Northern Epirote organisations within the region and around the world have expressed their indignation at the fact that not once during Karamanlis’ expression of empty platitudes, did he substantially address the vast gamut of problems endured by the Greeks of Albania.

Even more concerning is the fact that Berisha’s announcement comes just days after the Albanian Cabinet rejected an application by His Beatitude, the Orthodox Archbishop of Albania, Anastasios, to build a private educational institution. The Orthodox Church in Albania and its saintly Primate have played a key role in the reconstruction of Albania and the provision of welfare to all Albanian citizens, regardless of ethnic or religious affiliation. Nonetheless, the Church’s application was rejected, not on its merits, but rather because the proposed name of the school was to be “Logo” (from λόγος the Greek word for the ‘Divine Word.’) […]

Imagine the uproar if countries hosting large Albanian minorities — even though those minorities are always irredentist and secessionist — started de-Albanizing the names of places. But this is what Albanians do to the far less seditious minorities living among them. The writer summarized Albania best: racist and politically immature — indeed, politically tantrumous. Now, what does that say about Albania’s even more volatile, evil, degenerate spawn, “Kosova”?

And yet “mature” countries like the U.S. are trying to con the world into thinking this non-country is all ready for international organizations like the IMF and NATO — a way of legitimizing Kosovo by stealth as usual, making statehood a fait accompli:

U.S. Hosts Republic of Kosovo’s Signing Ceremony of the Articles of Agreement of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development

June 29, 2009

MODERATOR: Good morning, and thank you for joining us today. As a depositary for the Bretton Woods Accords, the United States is pleased to host this ceremony for the Republic of Kosovo’s signature and acceptance of the Articles of Agreement of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.

Before we begin, I would like to introduce Deputy Secretary James Steinberg, who will be accepting Kosovo’s instruments of acceptance of the agreements. I would also like to introduce President Fatmir Sejdiu and Prime Minister Hashim Thaci, who will be signing the agreements for Kosovo.

At this time, I would like to invite President Sejdiu and Prime Minister Thaci to sit at the Treaty Table and sign the International Monetary Fund and World Bank agreements. The president and prime minister are now signing the International Monetary Fund agreement.

MODERATOR: The president and prime minister are now signing the World Bank agreement.

(Applause.)

DEPUTY SECRETARY STEINBERG: Well, thank you all very much. Thank you, Mr. President and Mr. Prime Minister. On behalf of Secretary Clinton, I’m just delighted to be here at this really momentous occasion to congratulate you and the people of Kosovo for this magnificent achievement. It’s one of the nice privileges that goes with being the Deputy Secretary of State here in the United States and our role in the IMF and the World Bank to be able to serve as the depositary for the IMF and the World Bank and to have the honor of accepting these agreements.

And this is a – it’s a very memorable occasion, indeed. The documents that you’ve just signed are documents to two of the most important international institutions that we have. The World Bank and the IMF reflect the cooperation of the broader international community to address the economic challenges that we all face, and they will be important partners for you, as you continue the journey that you’ve embarked on over the last decade to build a stronger and more capable Kosovo for all of your people, and they will be important partners for you. And it really represents your growing integration into the international community, which is something that we all welcome and are delighted to see happen.

This is really a sign of your being a contributor and a participant in some of the most important work that the international community does. This will help you develop a sound budget and sustainable fiscal policies and to work with you. And we stand ready to support your efforts, and have pledged $150 million to help Kosovo reduce its debt. So you have an opportunity here to use the bank and the fund to help build a strong economic climate for investment in your country, to build transparent rule-of-law institutions that will attract investment and create jobs. And this is something that the United States is very deeply committed to.

The Vice President was honored to be able to visit you recently. And the Secretary and I are committed on behalf of the State Department to continue those efforts as well. So congratulations to you for this fine achievement, and we look forward to our cooperation both in the IMF and the Bank and bilaterally in the days and months ahead. Thank you. (Applause.)

PRIME MINISTER THACI: (Via interpreter) Honorable Mr. Steinberg, Honorable representatives of the World Bank and the Monetary Fund, now the – now Kosovo has built its own institutions which are transparent and efficient. We have the rule of law and we have the perspective of implementing the democratic institutions. This is the new history of Kosovo, and we have worked for this together very much. Kosovo’s membership in IMF and the World Bank has not only economic repercussions, but also political. It strengthens the sovereignty of our country, opens up prospects for the economic development of the country, and creates the work for an independent Kosovo. […]

The KLA just announced that Kosovo’s institutions are already transparent and efficient and that the rule of law exists in Kosovo. Well that’s a relief — phew!