6 May 2015

The Australian Macedonian Human Rights Committee (AMHRC) has written to Neos Kosmos asking the newspaper to apologise for publishing an opinion piece by Professor Anastasios Tamis.

In a letter to the paper’s editor this week, AMHRC spokesman Dr Chris Popov requested that Neos Kosmos publish a statement “apologising to the Macedonian community for Mr Tamis’ abusive comments and that his opinion piece be removed from your website”.

Under the title of ‘Superficial and provocative’, published on 1 April, Professor Tamis was responding to the latest calls by federal MP Luke Simpkins for Australia to withdraw from its long-held position on the FYROM naming-issue.

In the text, the president of the Australian Institute for Macedonian Studies described the motivations of Macedonian nationalism as lying in a need by its supporters “to maintain their fallacy and pseudo-identity as ‘Macedonians’ to avert the disintegration of their state”.

Mr Popov said that Professor Tamis’ “attempt to paint Macedonians as a ‘pseudo-nation’ – and therefore undeserving of the name Macedonians – and Greeks as representing a ‘real’ or historical nation – is both ahistorical and extremely offensive”.

The AMHRC spokesman added that the professor’s use of terms such as ‘Macedoslavs’, ‘Bulgarians’ and ‘Bulgarophile Slavs’ was “a crude and abusive attempt to vilify and denigrate people who are members of the Macedonian nation”.

Mr Popov also asked Neos Kosmos to state that figures quoted by Professor Tamis – regarding the size of the ‘Macedonian’ and Greek communities in Australia – were incorrect. In his article Professor Tamis referred to the total number of people of Hellenic origin in Australia as being 550,000. The AMHRC say the only accurate estimation of that figure can be made in relation to the results of the 2011 Census, which identified 378,270 persons who claimed Greek ancestry.

The AMHRC has demanded that Neos Kosmos publish a statement apologising to the ‘Macedonian’ community for publishing Professor Tamis’ comments, and that the article be removed from the NK website.

Neos Kosmos’ editor-in-chief Mr Sotiris Hatzimanolis said that while the opinion piece may have raised controversial issues, the newspaper stood by its publishing of the article.

“All requests for the online deletion of stories and published apologies are considered very carefully, but in this instance it is clear that this opinion piece was the professor’s judgment on the matters at hand; matters which are always contentious,” said Mr Hatzimanolis.

“There are many views on the subject and we believe there is no basis for censoring his views.”

Read Professor Tamis’ opinion piece here: http://neoskosmos.com/news/en/Superficial-and-provocative-Simpkins