Photo: AP Images
False accusations have exacerbated the strained relationship between Greece and Macedonia, and it is all because of a Facebook post.On Sunday, a handful of Macedonia’s prominent media outlets reported that a young man of Macedonian decent, Aleksandar Samardziev, was beaten to death by members of the hyper-nationalist Greek political party Golden Dawn in Greece.
And why did they allegedly take such heinous actions? Because Samardziev refused to change his last name to a Greek one.
A day later, Samardziev died. Allegedly.
But other news outlets, including the Macedonian International News Agency, could not confirm the story independently after calling all the hospitals in the area and the Macedonian consulate in Greece (MINA’s link to the original article is no longer up).
Apparently the outlets reporting the story got their facts from the Facebook page of Samardziev’s cousin, Stilijan Samardziev. Stilijan’s Facebook page has since been deleted.
But the damage had already been done; the strong reaction from Macedonians added fuel to the anti-Greek sentiment throughout the country.
Todor Petrov, the head of a pan-Macedonian NGO, the World Macedonian Congress, went on television to express his outrage: “For the Macedonians, the death of Aleksandar Samardziev is a provocation for war.”
The Macedonian government immediately went into damage-control mode. According to Balkan Insight, the government has condemned “all attempts to manipulate this sensitive and serious issue,” and the National Broadcasting Council and the Journalist’s Association recommended that the organisations which published the news “step up their professional standards.”
Greek and Macedonian relations are already tense; Greeks believe that the use of the name “Macedonia”, brings into question the sovereignty of the northern Greek province named Macedonia.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.