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Macedonia and Greece play the blame game, Europe, DW

Macedonia and Greece play the blame game

The tensions between Macedonia and Greece over the refugee crisis are high. Athens and Skopje are trading accusations and insults.

Two days after Macedonian security forces stopped hundreds of migrants and refugees attempting to break through the border fence, tensions remain high between the Balkan neighbors already involved in a two-decade dispute over Macedonia's name.

While Greece's economic and political problems are well documented, it is the ongoing political turmoil in Macedonia that worries analysts most. In the meantime, both Athens and Skopje are using the refugee crisis to divert attention from their own deficiencies and internal problems, said Dane Taleski, visiting Fellow at the Centre for Southeast European Studies at the University of Graz.

"Greece is in a constant socio-economic turmoil with a precarious political stability and Macedonia is in a prolonged deep political and institutional crisis," Taleski told DW. "The refugee crisis provides an opportunity to play the blame game against each other and to use the refugees as a scapegoat."

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras accused Macedonia on Monday of "shaming" Europe by using what he said was tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the migrants.

Dane Taleski: Macedonia and Greece are using the refugees as a scapegoat

From bad to worse

Macedonia replied by accusing its southern neighbor of not having reacted to prevent hundreds of refugees from attempting to breach the border fence, as the Greek police did not intervene.

"The establishment of law and order in the border zone in and around migrant reception centers is essential to prevent such incidents in the future," said the Macedonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement. Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov called on the EU to help Greece clear the provisional refugee camp in Idomeni.

Medical aid agencies said they treated about 300 people, including children, for respiratory problems and injuries. Macedonia stated that 14 police officers and nine soldiers were wounded.

The Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos added: "With such behavior towards refugees, the neighboring country has no place in the EU or NATO."

Greece has been blocking Macedonia's bid to join NATO and the EU since 2008, insisting that the neighboring country has to change its name first. "Macedonia" is also the name of the northern Hellenic province where Thessaloniki is located. Greek officials have insisted that the international community refers to the country as the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia," or FYROM.

Taleski said the lingering "name-dispute" between Athens and Skopje made things even worse, adding to the hostility and tensions. "Even if things were normal, both countries hardly have the capacity to shelter and help the refugees. But with boiling domestic issues and a constant animosity, they do not even have the political will to properly address the erupting humanitarian crisis," Taleski says.

Macedonian President Ivanov called on the EU to help Greece clear the provisional refugee camp in Idomeni

Chaos in the Macedonian police

The situation has become even more complicated due to the political crisis in Macedonia and the ongoing turmoil in the interior ministry. The current Interior Minister Oliver Spasovski, a member of the opposition Social Democrats, was named in November last year as part of the deal mediated by the EU and the US aimed at ending a lingering political crisis.

The government is led by a caretaker prime minister, Emil Dimitrev from the ruling conservative VMRO-DPMNE party. Last week, Dimitriev annulled all decisions and resolutions made by Spasovski in the ministry.

Spasovski previously resigned from office, but the parliament did not convene to discuss the resignation, as it hurried to dissolve before the early parliamentary elections on June 5.

DW recommends Macedonia Prime Minister Gruevski agrees to step down

Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski has said he would resign and call early elections in April. The move stems from an EU-brokered agreement with opposition to end Macedonia's political crisis. (15.01.2016)

Solution to Macedonia's name issue 'should be possible'

As Nikola Poposki becomes the first high-ranking Macedonian to visit Greece in 15 years, many hope the two nations find a compromise on his country's name. Analyst Thanos Dokos explains why it won't be easy. (17.12.2015)

Macedonia factfile

Recent events in Kumanovo have brought the media's attention back to Macedonia, a small landlocked country of two million in the southern corner of Europe's Balkan Peninsula. (13.05.2015)

Seeking better ties, Greece and Macedonia ask: What's in a name?

Macedonia's foreign minister has visited Athens for talks with his Greek counterpart. It's the first such trip in 15 years, with both countries locked in a bitter naming dispute. (17.12.2015)

Police officials told Macedonian media that they are witnessing a chaotic situation in the ministry: After Dimitriev annulled Spasovski's decisions on personal appointments, the police is practically being run simultaneously by cadres named by Spasovski and the previous government. Thus, confusion reigns over about hundred official posts where two people are assigned the same position.

"The hierarchy in the Macedonian police is completely disrupted," Pavle Trayanov, a former Macedonian interior minister, told DW. "The capacity and efficiency of the police had been reduced, and it can lead to a disruption of the Macedonian security system as a whole."

A nightmare scenario

According to Taleski, the state of disarray in Macedonia and the tensions at the border completely discredit the idea of "fortress Europe" as an answer to the refugee crisis: "It is a nightmare scenario to have two of the weakest states in Europe to play a pivotal role in managing the refugee crisis. It is politically irresponsible, and it is not a sustainable policy."

"If the Macedonian-Greek border was the 'first line of defense,' as some would have it, clashes at the border would probably occur on a daily basis."

Instead of focusing on building fences, Taleski adds, "the EU must pay more attention to restoring socio-economic stability in Greece, to restoring democracy in Macedonia and to establishing a closer political and security cooperation between the two."

  • Date 12.04.2016
  • Author Boris Georgievski
  • Related SubjectsGreece, Macedonia
  • KeywordsRefugees, Macedonia, Greece, political crisis
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Inside Europe: Mental health emergency in Greek refugee camps 20.10.2017

Overcrowding, chaos and a mental health emergency have international aid agencies concerned about what they call deteriorating living conditions at state-run refugee camps in Greece. The situation is so bad that suicide attempts, self-harm and psychotic episodes have increased by 50 percent in recent months. Anthee Carassava sent us this postcard from Athens.

Spotlight on Europe 20 October 2017 20.10.2017

In this weeks programme with your host Jane Nyingi, International aid agencies concerned with the worsening living conditions of refugees in Greece+++Spain set to trigger ‘nuclear option’ on Catalonia crisis+++ Brexit to put German village at center of Europe

Inside Europe 19.10.17 20.10.2017

On today's programme: Spain moves to suspend Catalonia’s autonomy - Austria’s wunderkind wins elections – Mental health emergency in Greek refugee camps - A Bavarian field at the heart of the EU - Journalist’s murder shocks Malta - Poland’s rosary for peace - The Polder model and Dutch decision making - A library for migrant children in Lampedusa.

  • Date 12.04.2016
  • Author Boris Georgievski
  • Related SubjectsGreece, Macedonia
  • KeywordsRefugees, Macedonia, Greece, political crisis
  • ShareSendFacebookTwitterGoogle+MoreWhatsappTumblrlinkedinstumbleDiggredditNewsvine
  • Send us your feedback.
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Greek Playreading Project - History for Kids!

Ancient Greek Play reading

If a scene from a Greek play would work for you, here's a suggestion for that.

(First some background) In the history of Greek theater, we know that the first plays grew out of choir performances, starting around 600 BC. First, the choirmaster began facing the choir and singing a few lines, and then the choir would respond. In this way, you could tell a short story. Then the choirmaster was joined by the assistant choir-master, and the two of them spoke to each other, as well as to the choir. With these two actors you could tell a story with a more complicated plot. By about 525 BC, somebody had the idea that each of the actors could play several different roles by going offstage and changing costumes. Most Greek plays have only two speaking actors onstage at any one time, plus the choir and a few extras who don't speak. A few later plays (after about 475 BC) have three speaking actors; no Greek play has more than that.

So what might be interesting would be to pick a few scenes from a Greek play to act, but try to use only two speaking actors, plus the choir and non-speaking extras. Let the kids figure out how that would be managed - who has to play which parts? How do they change their costume so they can play somebody else? Why did the Greeks live with such restrictions on their plays? Why didn't they experiment more? (Because the plays were presented as part of a competition, and so they had to obey the rules of the competition, or be disqualified).

Perhaps you, too could have a competition between different plays, and have judges or a vote decide which one was best?

One good one to try might be Euripides' The Trojan Women, about the fall of Troy after the Trojan War. Then the kids could learn about the Trojan War at the same time.

Activities: For more ideas for Ancient Greek projects, check out these books from or your library:

Ancient Greece!: 40 Hands-On Activities to Experience This Wondrous Age (Kaleidoscope Kids), by Avery Hart, Paul Mantell, and Michael P. Kline (1999). Gives ideas to get kids thinking, rather than step-by-step instructions.

Ancient Greece page

Kidipede - History and Science for Kids is an award-winning website for middle school written and published since 1995 by Dr. K.E. Carr, Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University.


History for Kids is entirely supported by your generous donations and by our sponsors. Most donors give about $10. Can you give $10 today to keep this site running? Or give $50 to sponsor a page?

Vacation in Greece - Play & Download Free Online Game

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What games did people play in ancient Greece?

Greek Games

Discus Thrower (classical period)

April 2017 - The Greeks took games of all kinds very seriously, but especially physical athletic competition. The Greeks believed that their gods particularly loved to see strong, fit, graceful human bodies, especially boys' and men's bodies.

So one way to get on the good side of the gods was to exercise, to eat right, to oil your skin, to create a beautiful body that the gods would love. Because of the Greek tendency to turn everything into an agon, a competition, this also meant that there were a lot of athletic competitions in Greece. The most famous of these is the Olympic Games, but there were other games held in other places as well, like the Isthmian Games at Corinth.

Young men playing field hockey

Young men (from richer families who didn't have to work) in most Greek cities spent a lot of their time training for these competitions, and the best of them were chosen to compete against the best young men from other cities. Then they would all meet, at the Olympic Games or the Isthmian Games or another festival, and compete for prizes and for the favor of the gods. Of course these games also served as good training for the army, because all these men would be soldiers as well.

Spartan girl running

The events were the same kind as in the Olympics today: running, jumping, throwing a javelin, and throwing a discus. There were also chariot races and horse races. Only men could compete in the Olympics, but by the time of Plato (and maybe earlier) there were other games where women competed.

These games are similar to Central Asian games, which also involved wrestling and horse races, and the Indo-Europeans may have brought them to Greece when they came in the Bronze Age.

Greek boys also played games that weren't part of the Olympic games, like field hockey. Greek boys usually played games without their clothes on. Greek girls also played games: they juggled and played catch and ran foot-races (but the girls wore short tunics).

Girls playing knucklebones

The Athenian girl in this picture is juggling three balls. In southern Greece, in Sparta, girls had organized races and competitions. Greeks also played less active games like dice and marbles, and knucklebones, and checkers.

In this Hellenistic scene, two girls are playing knucklebones, which was a game like jacks. (To Greek people, teenage girls playing knucklebones was a metaphor for the hit-or-miss gamble of marriage they were facing).

Even in these games, though, the competition was very important, and there was a feeling that losing at games meant that the gods didn't like you.

Greek Play

Greek Play

Essay by EssaySwap Contributor , High School, 12th grade , February 2008

aWhat role does the chorus play in the play? In ancient Greek plays, the role of the chorus was to sing lyrical passages. The lyrical passages were set up by the writer and the chorus would then perform dance movements to compliment those lyrics. In today¡¦s day and age, it is the cast members in many musicals who depict the role as the chorus. However, in some cases, the chorus also helps assist the modern reader in interpreting ancient terminology used during that period. I believe that the chorus held a very important role in the play Antigone, by Sophocles. The loyal and religious citizens of Thebes, who are very devoted to their state, represent the chorus. These citizens also have excellent moral values portrayed in them. The author uses the chorus as a way to illustrate the reaction that the public has to the events that occur throughout the play.

It (The chorus) can be considered the narrator of the story; it ¡§filled in the gaps¡¨ so to speak. They also help the readers (or viewers considering ancient Greek times) to better comprehend the entire concept of the play, as well as allowing the readers or the viewers to foresee the imminent tale. In the usual course of events, the chorus is used to apply a setting, or a mood in the play. For example on page 1281, the chorus describes the entrance of Isemes as she comes in as, ¡§weeping a sister¡¦s tears, ¡Kher face flushed, her cheeks streaming¡K.¡¨ The author sensibly chooses for the chorus to narrate this event because, this very minute detail provides the audience to picture the state that the character is in. Similarly, on page 1283, the chorus describes the power of Zeus as being the foremost, unbeatable power. This is quoted in the text as, ¡§power that neither sleep, the all ¡Vensnaring no, nor the tireless months of heaven can ever overmaster- young through all time, mighty lord of power¡K.¡¨ I feel that the chorus adds flavor to the play. In other words, it is used as a seasoning in the dish (play). No matter how good the chef (writer) is, without the seasoning (chorus), he is unable to provide that special flavor, that zest (interest), that the meal (play) needs in order to add that complimenting appeal in to his (writers) work. In the same notion, the chorus is added to help spice up the play, and not leave the audience wondering what the writer was trying to imply through his work. Sophocles and other dramatists use ¡§the chorus¡¨ as a notable element to portray an image, or an idea that they base their work on. In Antigone, Sophocles uses the chorus to show the chief concerns of the people of Thebes. As a matter of fact, all the tragic events occurring throughout the play are seen through the eyes of the chorus. When learning about history, we hear about the changes in form or the revision of style in an entity over a specific period of time. We realize that given an interval of a few years or more, almost everything from man to machine advances, and becomes more improved. Similarly in literature, the style or format evolves to adjust to the change in time. Over the years, the art of drama in literature has also taken a turn, and has been reconstructed for the better. Drama has also taken many twists and turns in order to stay up to date with the developing world. For instance, in the early fourteen hundreds, drama became a popular source of entertainment. In order to amuse the people, the play used the chorus as a source to keep the audience tuned in and interested. In the earlier days, the seating arrangements were designed to place the wealthy, and royalties along the back of the theater. It is ironic how today people pay a whole lot of money for the same seats, which were considered bad or limited to those who did not earn a lot of money. A similar notion applies to the various regions that make up the art of drama. In order to contrast the use of certain elements in a given genre, specifically drama or playwright, the importance of that element is considerably essential for the success of a play. In ancient Greek plays, the dramatists used an element referred to as ¡§the chorus¡¨ to enhance the level of entertainment in their work, just as in today¡¦s plays and dramas, the writer uses talented cast members.

Citation styles:

Greek Play. (2008, February 01). In Retrieved 10:47, October 24, 2017, from

WriteWork contributors. "Greek Play", 01 February, 2008. Web. 24 Oct. 2017.

WriteWork contributors, "Greek Play,", (accessed October 24, 2017)

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