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They spoke the Bulgarian language in Northern Greece 100 years ago

02 December 2014 / 13:12:23  GRReporter
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An interview of famous Greek composer Stamatis Kraounakis in a broadcast of the Greek television has provoked violent responses and a new dispute between the ruling New Democracy and the radical left SYRIZA coalition.

The statement, which has ignited passions in the majority of Greek society is, "A friend from Northern Greece came and said, "Since when have the people in northern Greece been speaking Greek? Has it been since one hundred years ago? They were speaking Bulgarian before the liberations." As they say, none of the residents above Lamia (a city in central Greece - author’s note) understands Greek."

To the disturbance of host Catherine Karavatou, who was born and raised in Thessaloniki and who said, "Is not the spirituality of the people associated with this too?" Kraounakis replied by saying, "Of course, but should not every nation wake up at this moment in that long-suffering Europe, which is dependent on banks, and where Germany is waving its finger like the sword of Damocles over the destinies of the peoples of southern Europe?"

Commenting on the reactions provoked by his words during the broadcast, Kraounakis said a day later, "Dear friends and enemies of our northern Greece ... in a television broadcast that took place yesterday, Sunday, on the day of St. Andrew, we discussed many topics and some concerned freedom, language and or two words about the language have been misinterpreted, being isolated from everything I said. They have been dished out on the Internet and ‘presented’ me as someone who ‘questions the affiliation of the inhabitants of the region of Macedonia to the Greek nation.’ I have watched the video again and I do not think that my words can lead to such a conclusion. But as I have received many messages from people who have written to me with a lot of pain and regret, as representatives of the friends from this part of my homeland where I have been respected, loved, appreciated, and so on, I do not want to leave even a shadow of the fuss connected with this case. I am neither a historian nor a linguist, but simply an artist. I decided that it would make sense on Sunday, when a child would die during a hunger strike, to urge the President of the Republic and the government on this occasion, talking just like that before we started all the presentations. Strangely, I have never seen this statement isolated and presented, (who would have expected the opposite to happen of course?), but only the other one that has put me in an open moral conflict with that part of Greece, the homeland of my two grandmothers and grandfathers - fighters, where I have received awards and I have enjoyed great interest from the audience. During "Aharnis” show at the Forest Theatre in Thessaloniki the mass influx of spectators halted the traffic. We had a very large audience everywhere - in Verona, Prespes, Drama, Alexandroupoli, Komotini, Xanthi... I inaugurated different cultural spaces in many places, I was the first who reduced the ticket prices in the winter of 2011...when there was a lot of snow.
Therefore, I consider as suspicious the isolated presentation of the statements that have led to the conflict between us in such a hard era. I do not want to leave this like that... I am the first who steps on the serpent's head to make it disappear! I sincerely apologize if I have unwittingly offended you. This was completely out of my intentions and the purpose of the discussion was quite different. I hope...these  words will put an end to the misunderstanding, and violence and cynicism will never gain ground. I wish you a successful month. Our language is our future. I want to apologize for something else. I have never learnt how to put accents with the keyboard. Maybe in my next life! Stamatis Kraounakis. 01/12/2014 in a country that is on its knees."

The composer’s comments on the relationship of artists with politics in the same interview have provoked reactions at the political level. New Democracy has called SYRIZA to strike off the name Kraounakis from the "club" of its supporters and him himself - to withdraw the controversial remarks. "The offences against Northern Greece to the detriment of half the population of Greece, who live in Northern Greece, discredit the one who commits them. Even if he is defined as "a friend of SYRIZA," reads the statement of New Democracy. It continues with the call to Stamatis Kraounakis "to withdraw his statement and to SYRIZA to strike off his name from the list of its supporters that Mr. Tsipras had presented before the European elections. Otherwise, it will mean that SYRIZA shares his unacceptable views."

During the interview, Kraounakis commented on his political views, "I think an artist is way above any politician. Politicians need us but we do not need them. When artists become the tail of any party procedure, they do not deserve anything but tainting. Many people tell me that I am from SYRIZA, because I work for SYRIZA radio. No, I am not from SYRIZA, I am just on friendly terms with the party. And I reserve the right to not be friendly at all when I see that things there start to become intolerable."

Tags: PoliticsNew DemocracySYRIZAStamatis KraounakisInterviewNorthern GreeceBulgarian language
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