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Rann Won't Disown Anti-Macedonian View

Rann Won't Disown Anti-Macedonian View

by Sasha Uzunov

A former New Zealand Greenpeace activist turned Australia's High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, the equivalent of Ambassador, Iron Mike Rann, has refused to publicly disown anti-Macedonian comments he made whilst as South Australian Premier in light of recent disturbing political events in Greece.

Mr Rann unwittingly walked into a political firestorm in 2010 when he accused the Republic of Macedonia President Gjorge Ivanov (George Johnson in English translation) of "stealing Greek history and culture." see story in The Australian newspaper. link:

The extremist ultra nationalist Greek party, Golden Dawn, which has made recent inroads in Athens with its anti-Western, anti-Semitic rhetoric also has the same view as Mr Rann on The Republic of Macedonia.

We are not suggesting anything untoward by Mr Rann. We are not accusing him of being anti-Western nor anti-Semitic. We have asked him via email to clear the air on the issue- that is with hindsight would he disown his anti-Macedonian view and would he publicly condemn Golden Dawn.

Mr Rann was also asked if he felt regret at his actions as a Greenpeace activist in the early 1970s in New Zealand.

Greenpeace was sending boats into French pacific territory with the aim of interrupting nuclear weapons testing. In response the French State Security was provoked into bombing the Rainbow Warrior ship in Auckland Harbour, New Zealand, in 1985. Fernando Perreira, a photographer on board, drowned. Later Mr Rann as Premier of the state of South Australia supported uranium mining. We asked Mr Rann if this ideological about turn meant that the death of Fernando Perreira was in vain.

Fernando Perreira - Photographer who drowned when the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior was bombed by French intelligence in 1985. photo: wikipedia.

In Australia the custom is when the actions of military officers, politicians or those who run organisations leads to casualties, it is assumed that those who caused the casualties be held accountable.

According to The Australian newspaper: link:

Born in Britain in 1953, Rann migrated to New Zealand in 1962 with his parents and brother, Christopher. While completing a master of arts in political science at the University of Auckland, he worked as editor of the university newspaper and participated in student politics. He was a member of the New Zealand Greenpeace executive that sent the Greenpeace III to Mururoa Atoll in 1972 to protest against French nuclear testing in the Pacific.

Mr Rann moved to Australia in the mid-1970s and began a career as a politician with the Australian Labor Party (ALP), becoming Premier of South Australia, one of the six states in the Commonwealth of Australia, from 2002 to 2011. As Premier he did an about face and suported uranium mining in his state.

In 2012 he was appointed UK High Commissioner.

A template response from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), which for some bizarre reason does not answer the questions put to Mr Rann but instead talks about another issue not connected, Australia's foreign policy and the controversy and Greek dispute over name of The Republic of Macedonia:

"Any comments attributed to Mr Rann in his former capacity as Premier of South Australia had then, and still have, no status with regards to Australia’s foreign policy – the states (parliaments/premiers) having no constitutional foreign policy role in Australia’s system of government.

"Australia’s position on the nomenclature of the former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia is clear.

"The Australian Government is mindful of community sensitivities regarding this issue. Australia's policy follows UN practice and is a temporary measure pending a resolution between the governments in Skopje and Athens.

"We maintain warm bilateral relationships with Greece and with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and encourage the parties to resolve their differences and support the mediation process.

"Foreign Minister Bob Carr publicly re-iterated these views in early June 2013. The Minister noted that Australia’s position remains stable and is not under review.

"The Minister has agreed to address on 5 July the United Macedonian Diaspora ‘Gala Dinner’ event.

"Should you draw on any of these comments, please attribute them to a spokesperson from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade"

- (end of quote) -

The United States and Canada recognise the Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name as do over a 100 other states. Macedonia gained its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 but Greece forced it to be temporarily referred to by the United Nations as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Australia follows the Greek directive because of a strong Greek-Australian lobby, which has influenced both major political parties, the ALP and the Liberals.


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