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Macedonia: Remembering Kiro Gligorov

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By Misko Taleski

Many grieved at the news that the first president of independent Macedonia, Kiro Gligorov, died on the first day of the new year. But a debate has also opened up over his role in Macedonia’s history.

Gligorov was buried without any state ceremony — at his request — the government recognised the late leader by proclaiming January 3rd a day of mourning.

“Gligorov uttered the now well-known maxim ‘Macedonia is all we have’, through which he carried the faith of our ancestors,” President Gjorge Ivanov said at the commemorative session in parliament.”We remember what Macedonia meant to him, and also to all of us.”

But Gligorov also aroused anger in his country in 1994 when he told Greek media that the Macedonians are a Slavic people, having come to the Balkans in the 6th century, and have no connection to Alexander the Great and his civilisation.

“Yugoslavism was in Gligorov’s blood; for 50 years he believed all Yugoslav peoples have the same Slavic roots,” historian Violeta Achkovska told SETimes. “Gligorov’s unfortunate statement about the alleged Slavic character of the Macedonian nation was based on that old and unfounded argument.”

“He tried to save Yugoslavia to the last moment, [even] proposing a confederation with Bosnia’s president Izetbegovic,” she added.

During Gligorov’s two terms as president, between 1991 and 1999, Macedonia became a member of the UN under the temporary reference “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, accepted the 1995 Interim Accord with Greece and underwent a controversial economic transition.

“Practically, we laid the foundations of the Macedonian state,” former Parliament President Stoyan Andov told SETimes. “Those were dramatic times and Gligorov showed how to manage and undoubtedly has his place in contemporary Macedonian history.”

In October 1993, Gligorov survived a car-bomb assassination attempt in downtown Skopje. The police still have not uncovered who ordered or carried out the attack.

“It is a pity those involved in this terrorist act, in which I believe domestic structures such as Gligorov’s close colleagues were also included, still haven’t been caught. Not a single internal affairs minister, including the most called upon, Ljubomir Frchkovski, uncovered the truth to bring the matter to an end. This case should not be left unsolved,” security expert Ivan Babamovski told SETimes.

Skopje resident Jordan Nikolov, 49, credits the late leader for steering his people out of the bloodshed that engulfed other parts of the former Yugoslavia as the communist state fell apart.

“If it were not for Gligorov and his team, primarily then Prime Minister Nikola Kljusev, it would have been hard to pull Macedonia out of the bloody Yugoslav drama without war. Gligorov chose a wise policy in not to allowing a single bullet to be fired,” he said. “Macedonia became the only republic to have peacefully proclaimed independence.”

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SETimes

The Southeast European Times Web site is a central source of news and information about Southeastern Europe in ten languages: Albanian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, English, Greek, Macedonian, Romanian, Serbian and Turkish. The Southeast European Times is sponsored by the US European Command, the joint military command responsible for US operations in 52 countries. EUCOM is committed to promoting stability, co-operation and prosperity in the region.

3 thoughts on “Macedonia: Remembering Kiro Gligorov

  • January 4, 2012 at 5:52 pm
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    “historian Violeta Achkovska told SETimes. “Gligorov’s unfortunate statement about the alleged Slavic character of the Macedonian nation was based on that old and unfounded argument.”

    Crackpot “historian”. Its not “unfounded”. -ski -ska are well known slavic names. Historians ourside of FYROM known the majority of people that lived in what is today FYROM in the late 19th and early 20th century self-identified as ethnic Bulgarians. Gligorov was telling the truth.

    Reply
  • January 4, 2012 at 5:56 pm
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    “Modern Slavs, both Bulgarians and Macedonians, cannot establish a link with antiquity, as the Slavs entered the Balkans centuries after the demise of the ancient Macedonian kingdom. Only the most radical Slavic factions—mostly émigrés in the United States, Canada, and Australia—even attempt to establish a connection to antiquity […] The twentieth-century development of a Macedonian ethnicity, and its recent evolution into independent statehood following the collapse of the Yugoslav state in 1991, has followed a rocky road. In order to survive the vicissitudes of Balkan history and politics, the Macedonians, who have had no history, need one.”

    (Eugene N. Borza, “Macedonia Redux”, in “The Eye Expanded: life and the arts in Greco-Roman Antiquity”)

    Reply
    • January 5, 2012 at 4:05 pm
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      Reply to Anon.
      You claim you ars Greek.What gives you the right to claim the Hellens are your ancestors?
      How and why you took the name of Hellas?
      First of all,there was no country(nation)in existance before 1834 as Greece.
      Remember,if you know any real history,in 338 bc there were City States called,Athens,Sparta etc.
      In 338 bc and before that there was a country (nation)called Macedonia.
      The Macedonian kingdom of Philip fought the City States at Chaeronea, and they were under the yoke of Macedonia.Do you see the difference between a nation and city states?
      Furtheremore,present day “Greeks”have absolutly no connection to ancient Hellens,let along any connection to the ancient Macedonians.
      Up untill recently,you Greeks claimed 99%purity,how so?
      The Greek make-up is a mixture of 45% Albanians,15% Macedonians,20% of Christian Turks from Izmir that came during the population exchange,and others such as Vlahs,Roma and others.
      Mr.,you better get your history claimes right before you make absurd claimes.Stop carying the political banner of your politisians.
      Don’t you understand,why Greek politisians are claiming that the Republic of Macedonia might ask for the Aegean Macedonia,but not asking for Thesalia,Peloponisos etc.?
      I can tell you why.Greece does not own Aegean Macedonia,the people of indigenouse Macedonians own it.Greece never set foot in geographic Macedonia prior to 1913.The “Big Powers”partitioned our land illigally.
      What Mr.Gligorov said,was a totaly absurd on the identity.The ancient Macedonians were absorbed by the people who moved to the geographic Macedonian land.Therefore,we have more right to identify our selves as Macedonians than you have to identify as Greeks.
      You also claim that,Alexanders Empire was a “Greek Empire”.Why than,50,000 Hellens fought on the side of the Persian king Darious in Persia againts Alexander?Why did Alexander left part of his Macedonian army in the City States?
      Why did Alexander asked Philotas,what language will he employ during his trial for treason?
      You can fabricate history as much as you want,but the truth is coming to the surface,same as the financial falsifications that Greece had supplied the eurozone friends.
      I must agree,you Greeks are the masters of fabrications.

      Reply

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