Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Macedonian Church Rejects Greek Criticism

Archbishop Stefan of Macedonia’s Orthodox Church has rejected Greek claims that remarks he made at a ceremony in the Vatican last week imply a Macedonian claim on Greek territory.

A statement issued by the Archbishop's office on Monday said that his remarks had been "deliberately misinterpreted” by Greek officials and clergy.

On Friday, Speaking in the Vatican at the grave of one of the most venerated Slavic saints, Saint Cyril, the Archbishop noted that in Cyril's hometown, Thessaloniki in Greece, his work has been almost negated.

“No one can deny that Thessaloniki is the fatherland of the first pan-Slavic and our alphabet, that was devised on the basis of the speech of the people that lived there at those times. That is why Thessaloniki spiritually and culturally belongs to us and to all Slavic people for all time,” the statement issued by the Archbishop's office reads.

On Saturday Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyiannis accused the Archbishop of encouraging irredentism and the Macedonian state for provoking Athens. Greek clergy also condemned the Archbishop's Vatican remarks.


Greek-Macedonia relations reached a new low after Athens vetoed a NATO invitation to Macedonia to join the Alliance at its summit in Bucharest in April this year. Athens is demanding that Macedonia first change its constitutional name, which, Athens argues, could imply a territorial claim over the northern Greek province of the same name.

The Byzantine brothers Saints Cyril and Methodius, known as “the Apostles to the Slavs”, were born in Thessaloniki in the ninth century. They are credited with devising the Glagolitic alphabet, the first alphabet used to transcribe Old Church Slavonic, the language of the Slav liturgy.

The Cyrillic alphabet, which was based on the Glagolitic alphabet, is used today in Macedonia and in several other countries.

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