Holiday between nationalism and everyday life


The Greek Region of Halkidiki is a holiday Paradise for the citizens of North Macedonia. But the mood after the name dispute remains clouded. People avoid the subject.

For the small town of Neos Marmaras, in the Northern Greek holiday region of Halkidiki, the season is in full swing. The sprawling sandy beach during the day is well attended. In the evening the Restaurant offers and the owner of the bar full of tables. The three peninsulas in the Greek Northern Aegean sea are just a stone’s throw away from the borders to the neighbouring countries of the Balkans. Therefore, cavort here, in addition to German, the English and the French, especially Bulgarians, Serbs, Albanians, and Macedonians. Although the name dispute between Greece and the present North of Macedonia is resolved, the cultural tensions between the people are not able to solve the Prespa agreement. It is precisely here, in the Northern Greek Region of Macedonia, the fact that the Greek government has allowed the neighboring country to use the name, many to anger and lack of understanding pushes.

The trenches are deep

“I don’t want to comment in particular. I have nothing Good to say to,” warns the owner of a barbecue restaurant. “There, You see this image?” he asks, pointing to the old photograph of a man in Macedonian costume. “I know my history and the facts demonstrated,” explains the restaurateur. People from the neighboring country came in his restaurant and as the Macedonians praised, he feels as an Affront.

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Tourists from the North of Macedonia in Greece

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Tourists from the North of Macedonia in Greece

While generally speaking nothing against the people from the Balkans. To have just the Serbs, who constitute a majority of the tourists in Neos Marmaras, he have a good relationship. But this reflects well in the history of the two countries. In contrast to Skopje, to connect Athens and Belgrade, per se, a friendly bunch. Greece has not recognised Kosovo during the Yugoslav wars on the side of Serbia, provided. Documents and photos that prove that Greeks were even involved in the massacre of Srebrenica. Greek media have reported extensively about it.

The history of the Region is difficult. However, the name dispute with North Macedonia hits the sore point of the Greek historical understanding. “I have employees from Bulgaria and from Albania. And the mother of one of my employees comes even from Skopje” (capital of North-Mazdoniens), the restaurant operator and thus avoids to take the name “Northern Macedonia” in the mouth.

In Northern Macedonia The sun of Vergina, Symbol of ancient Macedonia banned

A method, which is a kind of Greek resistance to the expression, according to the Motto: Macedonia, the we are. The Prespa agreement was to resolve the tensions between the two countries. Politically, this seems to be a success. Even the newly elected Prime Minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and it seems, in spite of the threat of words during the election campaign to the agreements.

Implementation of the Prespa agreement

North of Macedonia, meanwhile, has to go through a whole series of complicated processes in order to meet the conditions for the name of compromise. Since a few weeks the country will no longer be allowed to use officially, the “Vergina sun”, those yellow sun on a blue background as a Flag in the North of Greece on the balconies. Not rare in which, where nationalists live in. Greece is watching the progress like a hawk. Many people feel offended when you see cars where the country code “MK” has not yet been replaced by “NMK”.

Also for the tourists that come for years from the North of Macedonia, Halkidiki, many of these Changes are associated with efforts. New papers, new driving licences, new number plates. A Macedonian journalist, the power in Neos Marmaras holiday, reported that Prime Minister Zoran Zaev corrected your colleagues, if you are using the old name. Macedonia seems to take the agreement seriously. And if the Macedonians then travel with the car back from the holiday home, you will see on the Greek streets are still the old signs, the “Skopje” and not North Macedonia ads.

Pragmatism and silent rage

In Neos Marmaras you generally get out of the way. “We are not discriminated, but in fact, we have not been in contact with Greeks,” says a vacationer, comes to Halkidiki. She likes the beaches, and was already in many different places. She came to a rest, and not to policy.

Latent tensions between the Greeks and the Northern Macedonians, despite the romantic sunset

This setting is also the most Restaurant and hotel owners represented. “With the number of guests I’m not talking about politics,” explains the operator of a beach bar. He also does not want to speak in particular. “I have my opinion, but I don’t have anywhere to get in the way,” explains the owner of a café in the centre of the place. He does not want to alienate its customers from the North of Macedonia. At the same time he fears Trouble with other caterers, if he would take a position for you.

The Situation is tense. Fear and anger dominate the climate in Neos Marmaras, when it comes to the tourists from the neighboring country. And not all hold back. Many Macedonians reports of clashes, especially with holiday makers from Greece. In a beach bar on the first Peninsula of Halkidiki, the Wi-Fi password: “Macedonia is Greek is” Macedonia is Greek. An open provocation.

Macedonians bring in money

“These kinds of incidents do not reflect the majority of the entrepreneurs in Halkidiki, which wüollen receive the guests from the North of Macedonia, professionally and respectfully, like everybody else,” says Grigoris Tasiou by the local tourist Association, in an Interview with Deutsche Welle. In the summer months of June to September, about 150,000 tourists from the North of Macedonia, Halkidiki visit. “This means that this is an important market for us.”

The life-worlds of the two peoples do not overlap, only one in tourism. Many Macedonians study in Greece. The trade between the two countries is booming. Long before the Prespa agreement, have established a large Greek companies in the North of Macedonia, and earn money. In Greece you do not or are reluctant to talk about it at all. A aware could be that both sides benefit from each other, the ongoing dispute about a name is to provide a new direction.