Mt. Athos condemns agreement on naming of “Republic of Northern Macedonia”

Mt. Athos, July 2, 2018

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The Sacred Community of Mt. Athos has united its voice to the great many hierarchs, clergy, and faithful of the Greek Orthodox Church and citizens of Greece in general who have spoken out against the agreement reached between the Greek and Macedonian governments to rename the latter “The Republic of Northern Macedonia.”

The communique of the Sacred Community, consisting of representatives of the 20 ruling Athonite monasteries, was released on June 26 in response to the June 12 renaming deal.

“The Holy Community of Mt. Athos received word of the joint signing of the agreement on the renaming of the neighboring country of Skopje with great sadness and sorrow,” the message begins.

The monasteries note that while it is meet and right to strive for the unity of all Orthodox Christians, for overcoming schisms, for peace, and for avoiding the creation of centers of fanaticism and religious and ethnic hatred, and while it is desirable to resolve the long-standing dispute about the naming of Macedonia (or Skopje, as the communique calls it) and to fully restore relations, “It is unacceptable that, in the name of the above-mentioned good reasons, the resolution of this major national problem should be carried out through improvised, opaque, and hasty proceedings, taking positions contrary to academic truth and historical reality and memory in a way that offends the national conscience of the Greek people.”

The Greek government “cannot” accept a binding agreement that is rejected by the people, and the monks of Mt. Athos, as the guardians of a millennium-long spiritual and cultural tradition, “cannot accept that Macedonian identity should give way to a language and people having no relation to the ancient Macedonian Greek dialect and the Greek origin of the ancient Macedonians.”

The Sacred Community then calls on the Greek parliament and government to respect the will of the Greek people and the historical truth.

The Athonites pray: “May the defender of the Holy Mountain, the Most Holy Theotokos enlighten those who head the state, that they might realize their mistakes, that they might correct them, and that, finally, they might reach an agreement that respects the truth and which will become the basis for unity and a common peace for these two peoples who share one and the same faith in our Orthodox Church.”

The communique ends by noting that the heads of all 20 of the holy monasteries of Mt. Athos are in agreement on this matter.

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