Members of the youth wing of the far-right Greek group Golden Dawn, with masks on their faces, on Wednesday night broke into an exhibition of the fine artist Sergej Andreevski from North Macedonia, held in the gallery of the Thessaloniki municipality of Kalamaria. They verbally attacked the artist and bragged later on the internet that they had shut down the exhibition.
Greek police told BIRN that 15 people, wearing garments covered with Golden Dawn insignia, had invaded the exhibition. They had pasted printed material at the entrance of the venue and then left. No damage or injury was caused.
“The police security department in Thessaloniki is investigating the case. At this stage, no press release will be issued,” police told BIRN.
The Municipality of Kalamaria told BIRN that the incident had been forwarded to its Security Department.
“Kalamaria is a city of refuge, of culture, deeply democratic … Last night a group of 10 people appeared at the end of an exhibition of paintings by an artist who has been exhibiting in Greece since 2002, who, according to his statement, is far from the attitudes and groups of irredentism … The incident has been taken up by the relevant service of the Security Department of Kalamaria,” the municipality told BIRN.
A video was uploaded to Golden Dawn’s YouTube channel after members of the organization filmed the operation.
The members, wearing black and with their faces covered, were seen verbally attacking the artist, accusing him of celebrating past massacres of Greeks and demanding that he make a public apology.
“You have no right to be here in a Greek public space; you should be ashamed, we have relatives and ancestors who sacrificed their lives for the Greekness of Macedonia, and you dare to come here to celebrate the massacres of Greeks on your profiles. If you want to be here, you are obliged to apologize publicly … You can be either a Slav or a Greek. There are no alleged non-Greek Macedonians. This is over,” one member of the group told the artist, as shown on the video footage.
North Macedonia’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday said the masked activists had behaved rudely and vulgarly, insisting that they do not accept any compromise over the “Greek character of Macedonia”, after which they left.
“The Consulate General of North Macedonia in Thessaloniki and the embassy in Athens immediately contacted the competent authorities of Greece, and the Greek Foreign Ministry was also informed about the incident,” the Foreign Ministry said.
Dimitris Christopoulos, professor of political science at Panteion University, told BIRN that as long as the Greek political elites “do not mess with” the extreme right, these kinds of incidents will persist.
“In the mainstream Greek media In.gr, it was written that Golden Dawn destroyed an exhibition of a Skopjan artist. In.gr is not an extreme media but it expresses the country’s average perception of information. After five years of the Prespa agreement, the media insist on using the term ‘Skopjan’; this means that they give the green light to Golden Dawn members to enter and claim censorship of the exhibition.”
“We ought not only to condemn these incidents by Nazis and Golden Dawn members but should also not forget what fuels them; inertia, uncertainty, bewilderment, and the hidden nationalism of a section of the mainstream political elites in Greece who do not have the courage actually to confront them [the far-right] on their merits,” Christopoulos said.
Greece and North Macedonia in June 2018 signed a landmark treaty, known as the “Prespa” agreement, under which the then Republic of Macedonia agreed to change its name to the Republic of North Macedonia, and Greece dropped its veto on its neighbour’s Euro-Atlantic integration.
In November 2022, the first official Macedonian language centre was formed in Greece, which will provide online courses and advocate for the linguistic rights of the country’s Macedonian speakers.
BIRN asked the North Macedonian consulate in Thessaloniki to comment on the incident but did not receive an answer by time of publication.
Source: Balkan Insight