Greece-North Macedonia Commission ‘Won’t Rewrite History’
Viktor Gaber, the diplomat and head of North Macedonia's team in the joint commission with Greece, has told BIRN that the commission of historians, archaeologists, sociologists and political science experts has already laid the grounds for its future work that will involve revising history books in both countries.
So far, he said, they have held 13 meetings with their Greek colleagues in a positive and constructive atmosphere and have exchanged many batches of textbooks. But, he warned, "the work on the concrete elaboration of the materials is yet to begin".
The expert commission on history, archaeology and educational issues was formed after last year's signing of a historic agreement with Greece that terminated the long dispute over Macedonia's name.
Its task is to check and improve history textbooks, so that they no longer contain formulations that one or the other side sees as irridentist or revisionist.
Gaber dismissed fears that Greece would use the commission to rewrite his country's history. He insisted that the commission was not discussing altering historical facts but how these facts are presented.
"We cannot say that something did not happen. But we can acknowledge the facts and describe them in a different context," he explained.
Last year's deal resulted in Macedonia changing its name to North Macedonia in exchange for Greek ceasing to block the country's EU and NATO membership hopes.
Greece had long claimed that use of the name Macedonia implied territorial claims to the northern Greek province of the same name and appropriated Hellenic history and heritage.
But the name issue is only one of many contested issues that have lingered between the two countries.
Another is the exodus of ethnic...