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Macedonia Harshens Tone Towards EU And US Critics

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Diplomats, journalists, businessmen and mayors close to Macedonia’s ruling party have begun using increasingly inflammatory language in verbal duels with EU and US representatives.

Vladimir Taleski, mayor of Bitola, the second largest town, set a new bar last week by comparing EU critics of Macedonia with Yugoslavia’s Nazi invaders in the Second World War.

In a speech marking the anniversary of the deportation of Macedonian Jews to Nazi death camps, the mayor, a member of the ruling VMRO-DPMNE party, likened EU policy towards Macedonia to the Holocaust.

Diplomat Risto Nikovski last week controversially called for US ambassador Philip Reeker to be expelled.

He said the diplomat had overstepped the mark by proposing that Macedonia should make concessions in its ongoing dispute with Greece over its name.

As a result of the ensuing row, he was obliged to resign from his post as foreign policy advisor to the Macedonian President, Gjorge Ivanov.

Meanwhile, a joint letter signed by four high-profile journalists and sent to 50 official EU addresses attacked the former EU ambassador to Macedonia, Erwan Fouere, the European Parliament’s rapporteur for Macedonia, Zoran Thaler, and the Dutch ambassador, Simone Filippini.

Earlier, in December, a ruling party deputy accused former ambassador Fouere of being politically biased against the government of Nikola Gruevski and of favouring the opposition Social Democrats. Vlatko Gjorcev defended his standpoint on the grounds of freedom of expression.

Political analyst Kim Mehmeti said the series of outbursts were intended to emphasis the Gruevski government’s determination now to be cowed by the EU, the US, or by neighbouring Greece .

Mehmeti noted that Gruevski had adopted a increasingly hard line since 2008, when Greece vetoed a NATO membership invitation to Macedonia over the unresolved name dispute. Greece says that use of the name “Macedonia” implies a territorial pretension to the Greek northern province of Macedonia.

Jovan Donev, on the other hand, head of the Skopje-based Euro Balkan institute, defended the remarks, arguing that everyone had right to state his or her opinion.

“Official standpoints [on the EU, Greece, etc] come from the President and Prime Minister and are very clear,” he said. Gruevski’s government is officially committed to EU and NATO integration.

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

37 thoughts on “Macedonia Harshens Tone Towards EU And US Critics

  • March 14, 2011 at 7:13 pm
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    The problem lies with the Greeks. Macedonia could be your greatest friend and neibor, instead you continue to deny her national status; which in turn creates a backlash. The two countries share the same religious beliefs and customs. The New testament was written with strong support among the peoples. Historically they are almost the same BUT, the facts and logic have no place in Greeks stubborn behavior.
    One day, I would hope not, the Greeks are gonna realize how wrong they have been when the muslims surround them and they pretty much help it happen by not strenthening relations with their fellow balkan cristians.
    WAKE UP

    Reply
    • March 15, 2011 at 1:08 am
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      I am neither Macedonian or Greek. Just an American with a strong christian belief. Your right about ignorance, its your own! I’ve traveled through both contries and its a shame how politics are at play with truth. The truth always comes out!

      Reply
      • March 20, 2011 at 9:10 pm
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        hey franky , what truth ? do you care to elaborate mr fyrom?

        Reply
    • March 15, 2011 at 1:29 am
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      Eugene N. Borza is joke!
      You need to read more than one book. I suggest you start with the Holy Bible. A good historical start that can clearly differenciate 2 peoples. Then go into the historical writings of Josephus. In all my searching I have’nt found a shred of evidence of migrating “slavs” into the balkans. I do understand that the word Slav in the Macedonian language means glory. The term is used to discribe people of the orthadox christian faith of whom the evangelists of certanin regions spred Christianity to the north of Europe.
      The Geeks, Macedonians, Bulgarians, Serbians, Russians are Pravo-Slav. It means truely-glorified. That has been translated to orthadox christian. So when you say Slav, so are the Greeks. Also, the city of Petra in Syria was built before christ. On the stone walls are writing in Greeks script that can easily be translated with the Macedonian/slavic language. Now you expain these truths.

      Reply
      • March 20, 2011 at 12:30 pm
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        The Holy Bible??
        You must be joking right?
        Ist that the book where it sais it knows everithing and that you should look no further for the truth?
        The Holy Bible is ancient history,
        Please open your own eyes and spare the readers from dogmatism.

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    • March 15, 2011 at 10:49 am
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      DEAR FRANKLIN,

      WHAT INFORMATION STATES THAT THE RELIGION IN BOTH COUNTRIES ARE VIRTUALLY THE SAME? AND WHERE DO YOU FIND HISTORICALLY THAT WE ARE THE SAME? ARE YOU SAYING THAT THE SKOPJIANS ARE ALL ORTHODOX? BECAUSE WE ARE CERTAINLY NOT MUSLIM!!!! AND WE ARE IN NO WAY SHAPE OR FORM SIMILAR.

      WHERE THE ROOT CAUSE OF THE PROBLEM IS, IS THE LIES THAT HAVE BEEN CREATED BY THE SKOPJANS TO ALTER HISTORY. I WOULD DO SOME RESEARCH AND GET YOUR FACTS STRAIGHT!!!!

      Reply
    • March 15, 2011 at 1:28 pm
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      Strange and at the same time a very arrogant post on your part quoting Eugene Borza who also said that: “Ancient Macedonians were a distinct and a separate people from the ancient Greeks.” He further states: “Greeks came in Macedonia for the first time in 1013.” By selectively quoting individuals and at the same time lifting certain passages from the quotes in order to make an impression different than the text intended, you score some “points” with readers who are here for the first time or care not too much about ancient history. truth is that mainstream historians like Borza, like Green, like Badian. like Bosworth, like Heckel know the truth and have clearly/explicitly stated the obvious: Greeks cannot put a claim on ancient Macedonia. Factis that Greeks have usurped history for political gains. Greek claim/dispute about the name of Republic of Macedonia is just a ploy to cover up the other, more sinister aims of Greece and that is to eradicate anything Macedonian in order to retain the province of Macedonia which they occupied in 1912-13 with the spoils of the Balkan Wars. Greeks will not be “dancing” on this platform if Macedonia had 300 modern jet fighters or well organised army like in the early 1900. Greeks have done a lot of damage to a whole lot of people in their neighborhood.Greeks act like spoiled children and it is time Europe removes the pacifier from their mouth.

      Reply
      • March 20, 2011 at 3:12 pm
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        “Our understanding of the Macedonians’ emergence into history is confounded by two events: the establishment of the Macedonians as an identifiable ethnic group, and the foundation of their ruling house. The “highlanders” or “Makedones” of the mountainous regions of western Macedonia are derived from northwest Greek stock; they were akin both to those who at an earlier time may have migrated south to become the historical “Dorians”, ”

        Eugene N. Borza, “Makedonika”, Regina Books, Claremont CA

        No historian in the world links the people from Fyrom with ancient Macedonians. It is just Fyroms ultra nationalistic governmet that tries to do that

        Reply
  • March 14, 2011 at 9:41 pm
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    Hello, why do you have the urge to christen your neighbor. Are we some lesser kind? Kids?
    Only God and parents have the right to give names to others… We have our name, and we do not anyone to tell us how to call ourselves.
    Case closed.
    We are Macedonians, our country is Macedonia.

    Reply
    • March 15, 2011 at 1:30 am
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      Kiro Velkovski, Very well said, could not put it in any better words

      Thank You

      Reply
    • March 20, 2011 at 9:16 pm
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      dear sir, call yourself anything you like but not in nato or the eu, understand?

      Reply
  • March 15, 2011 at 12:14 am
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    Patience is the key everyone!

    Greece is on the verge of collapse!

    Macedonia just needs to worry about being Macedonia and the rest will fall into place. Only God All Mighty can stop Macedonia from identifying itself!

    Reply
    • March 20, 2011 at 9:17 pm
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      yes god and nato and the eu, are you a polack?

      Reply
  • March 15, 2011 at 1:54 pm
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    When the foundation of ancient history was laid down by the 19th century revisionists, it was done in aid of political objectives. Modern Greece was created by the Western Powers expressly to curtail Slavic expansionism. Moreover, Greece was created to divide the Slavs and stop Imperial Russia from achieving her long ambition of sailing the waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

    In their zeal to satisfy their own ambitions, the 19th century Powers, perhaps unbeknownst to them at the time, unleashed a “Balkan turmoil” that would have long lasting consequences for the Balkan people.

    People that existed together, united for centuries by a common faith, were divided without their consent and thrown into disarray by artificially imposed values and ideals.

    A century has passed and peace has not been achieved. Why?

    When the Western Powers superficially created Greece in 1829, they launched her on a polemic course, her survival to be made possible only at the expense of the Macedonian nation.
    The problems experienced between Greece and Macedonia today are nothing new but another stage in a continuous and timeless struggle.

    Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia have generated more literature to disprove the existence of a Macedonian nation than they have written books about their own histories. This is truly sad and such a waste of effort.

    Reply
  • March 15, 2011 at 3:52 pm
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    Greeks need to rethink their strategies. I think destroying Macedonia could only hurt Greece in the long run. Its a no brainer. No logic on her part. You know the Turks are no friends to the balkans. With every denial, the balkans loose. Greeks give credit and power to radical Islam, divided the balkans will fall. That is what’s at stake. Macedonia could be friend not foe. Your kind are to egotistic and nationalistic to see the truth. Its truelly sad. Wake up!

    Reply
  • March 15, 2011 at 4:25 pm
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    Oh, come on guys! Not all of us are Gruevski’s and his “Macedonism” supporters. Facts is that we are Slavs who came to this area in the 6th century BC, that is 1,000 years after the ancient Macedonians! We speak a modern south Slavic language with Bulgarian and Serbian characteristics, not Greek like ancient Macedonians did! We live in a land that was called with this Greek name (“Macedonia”) by the Ottomans for their administrative reasons, even if the same land was Paeonia in antiquity, a kingdom that was enemy to the ancient Macedonians. Our country occupies just 10% of the ancient Macedonian kingdom, while the Greek region of Macedonia in our southern borders occupies almost the whole of ancient Macedonia! Alexander and Philip born in Macedonia, Greece, not in our Macedonia! It is us that have territorial claims on Greece and not the opposite! Numerous maps, car stickers and posters had been circulated in our country, portraying a “Greater Macedonia,” i.e. the whole of geographic Macedonia stretching south to Mt. Olympus, as the historic homeland of us, “Macedonians”. These had been issued by private or semi-official
    sources (e.g. the VMRO) and were used by Greece as proof of the territorial aspirations against her northern provinces. Our government authorities however have always disavowed themselves from this and tried to diffuse the matter as either the work of a few extremists or the direct popular reaction to Greece’s relentless attempts to smother us. More troublesome, because of its official origin, appeared to be the inclusion of similar maps in our school textbooks of history published in 1992 and 1993. These created the impression that all Macedonian heritage belongs rightfully to us and that there exist unliberated territories within the boundaries of Bulgaria and Greece that have been stolen from the “motherland”! One of the main weapons in the bilateral propaganda struggle was the vexed issue of the existence of a Slavic minority in Macedonia, Greece. The policy of Athens in the last five decades has been a staunch denial of the existence of any
    such minority, however small. Especially after independence however, we repeatedly raised the matter in international fora, demanding that Greece respect the fundamental human rights of this “long-suffering” minority and
    recognize its “Macedonian” status. The existence and the numbers of the Slav minority in Greece became one of the
    major issues in the ensuing bedlam, especially as we was fleet to employ the Greek objections to Art. 49 of our Constitution as implied evidence for the real numerical strength of the minority. Finally in August 1992, our Parliament adopted as an emblem on their flag the sixteen-pointed Star of
    Vergina, the symbol of the ancient Macedonian dynasty. This move was not only historically questionable but was also regarded as a gross national slur by the incensed public opinion in Greece. It had been suggested at the time that what prompted the adoption of the Vergina Star was a desire from our part to advance maximalist objectives in order to barter with them for other concessions at the negotiating table when the time comes. The bilateral
    negotiations that followed the 1995 interim accord justified this view.

    The bottom line is that is about time for us to learn to be proud of our Slavic origin, heritage and culture, and to stop claim that we are Macedonians and nothing but Macedonians! We lost our capability for strategic dialogue. With Greeks? No, with ourselves. We reach towards some fictional ethnic purity which we seek in the depths of the history and we are angry at those which dare to call us Slavs and our language and culture Slavic!! We are angry when they name us what we are, showing that we are people full with complexes which are ashamed for ourselves! Enough with Gruevski’s childish (yet dangerous) “Macedonism”. The world is laughing at us!

    Reply
    • March 15, 2011 at 4:58 pm
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      Correction on the second line of my above post: we Slavs came here in Balkans in the 6th century AD, not BC, we didn’t exist then… :)

      Reply
      • March 16, 2011 at 1:28 pm
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        ‘Slav-Macedonian’
        I am not sure who you are fooling by claiming to be one of us. Any real Macedonian would not make such statements.
        The fact remains as far back as our great grandfathers can remember we have been calling ourselves Macedonians. This argument how Slavs came in the 6th century to Macedonia and hence have no right to the name is ridiculous. That is before the Anglo-saxons came to the British Islands and even much longer then the 16 colonies became the USA. Does anyone claim the the English or Americans are not legitimate nations?

        As for the 90% of Macedonia that is in greek territory you understand that greece was formed in 1823 by the west as a buffer state. At its forming it never possesed Macedonia. The newly minted greeks with western advisors, weapons and other help fought the Ottomans for every far away island and little pieces of rock yet never bother trying to take Macedonia which was just north of them and would have required the least amount of logistics and effort. Where they too tired or was it that at the time the greeks never considered Macedonia theirs or anything to do with Greece hence not worth fight for. Only 90 years later during the Balkan wars when they took their share from the retreating Ottomans did they ever come to Macedonia. Since there was and still is a sizeable minority the did the greeks try to co-opt Macedonia as their and even then they didn’t try until 1990 when Macedonia was emerging as an independant nation to the north of them and they started worrying about the ramifications.

        I guarantee the public that ‘slav-macedonian’ is not a real Macedonian because we refer to ourselves as Macedonian, period. What you are reading is more greek propoganda which my have worked in the 19th century but not anymore. Please be real.

        Reply
        • March 17, 2011 at 2:11 am
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          You are just another victim of Macedonism. I feel sorry.

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          • March 17, 2011 at 2:12 am
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            That was for Goran.

        • March 20, 2011 at 9:22 pm
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          dear idiot, what will fyrom do about it, remain painfully poor and ignorant. good luck, no compromise, no admission to eu and nato.

          Reply
  • March 16, 2011 at 6:31 pm
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    A Reader/’Slav Macedonian’

    I agree with you that we have a list of moderates in our embassies and gov’t. We actually have a real democracy where there are varying opinions and ideas. Never did I say in my post that I believe we are direct descendants of Aleksandar the great.

    All I said was we have been here since at least the 6th century and that since a few generations back at least, people have been calling themselves Macedonians. My grandfather was born in 1917 and he called himself Macedonian, long before you claim the ethnicity was created by Tito. Since there has been documented proof of Macedonians since before there was British and American that should be enough history. Otherwise we draw the line at 3000 years. Why not at 4000 when the ancient hellenes never existed?

    Let me ask you one question, do you believe as a modern greek you are a DIRECT descendant or even a somewhat descendant of the ancient Hellenes? Do you really beleive that in the almost 3000 years between then and now, the different empires and conquerers that came through greece that you have an unbroken lineage?
    Do you think that Turkish Coffee(oops greek coffee), Baklkava, Shiskebab(Souvlaki) and many other ‘greek’ things are greek?

    You claim Macedonia was an invented nation but you don’t realize that Greece is the same. During the 1800s ancienit greece(hellenes, greece was a roman term so it cannot be ancient) was a romantic ideal of the west. Greece was disneyland for the west. When they wanted to stick it to the Ottomans they used greece because of the romantic ideals.

    Please understand you need to be grateful to the french and british for creating a nation and entire history with backstory for you on a platter. Like almost all other small nations greece was a pet project and if you submitted to a dna test you would be shocked as to your background. Please understand greece’s situation when you accuse others of nation building. No disrespect intented but you have to look past your own propaganda.

    Reply
    • March 20, 2011 at 9:26 pm
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      i will explain why you are ignorant. all you slavs take the polition that greeks ceased to exist and that the country is full of vlahs, albanians and everyone who is not greek. where is your proof? did others enter the territories and mix, sure, that happened in the classical period and is reported. but you say no greeks existed and this is stupidity. the vast majority were greek and there is no other way around it.

      Reply
  • March 20, 2011 at 8:53 am
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    Goran,

    Your conceptualization of what it means to be Greek is selective. You seem to already forget the source of words like mathmatika, biologia, philosophia, ta physika…. I could go on and on.

    Furthermore the 1000 year Roman state that was before the Ottoman takeover (called Byzantine) was the natural inheritors of ancient Greeks. (they spoke Greek, studied Greek philosophy, and many on record calling ancient Greeks their ancestors. (unlike your Bulgarian ancestors)

    In short, you have things completely backwards Goran. Of all the people’s on this earth it is Greeks that typically share BY FAR the most in common with their ancient ancestors.

    What I can’t understand is why do FYROM nationalists hide their ethnic Bulgarian ancestry? Or do you imagine there was no name the people that today live in what is today FYROM went by between the year 200 BC and the 20th century?

    Reply
  • March 20, 2011 at 9:02 am
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    Goran,

    IMRO aligned with fascist ethnic cleansers in the 1940s (since your Bulgarian cousins did). It seems to me like the former self-identifying ethnic Bulgarians of the former Yugoslavia haven’t learned from history. Once again you seem to be trying to ethnically erase Greeks to not only cover up the shame and lies of nationalists extremists in FRYOM….but to usurp our very identity.

    “The Greek question has a longer history in Turkey. Greeks have lived in Anatolia for millennia, especially along the Aegean coast. For a while, under Alexander, they dominated the land. And for all intents and purposes, the Byzantine Empire (the Eastern Roman Empire at the time) was Greek. When Mehmct 11 conquered Constantinople, he appointed a Greek monk to the orthodox Patriarch and allowed him to govern both the religious and secular affairs of the Greek community. The first Ottoman census, of 1477, counted half of Constantinople’s population as Greek, and four-hundred years later, even after the Greek War of Independence, it was still 21 percent Greek.” – Lowenthal, David (1998). The heritage crusade and the spoils of history. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 245

    “Greeks, Armenians, Jews, Persians, Chinese and Japanese could be cited as examples of ethnic continuity, since, despite massive cultural changes over the centuries, certain key identifying components—name, language, customs, religious community and territorial association—were broadly maintained and reproduced for millennia.” – Smith, Anthony Robert (1998). Nationalism and modernism: a critical survey of recent theories of nations and nationalism. New York: Routledge

    Reply
  • March 20, 2011 at 5:10 pm
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    And these are some of the reasons the world is on a collision coarse with the next big war. People are completely nuts!

    I think every human on earth has the right to claim their own ethnicity. Just like religion, who is right to say? NOBODY!

    As is stated before, Macedonia and Greece should look to make good on all they share in common, historically speaking. Other than arguing like schoolyard children, they should be nourishing relations.

    Balkan Nationalism is INSANE!

    Reply
    • March 20, 2011 at 7:30 pm
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      400 world famouse historians are protesting against the former self determined Bulgarians from Fyrom and their historical propaganda. they write in w w w macedonia-evidence org

      ” the government in Skopje to understand that it cannot build a national identity at the expense of historic truth. Our common international society cannot survive when history is ignored, much less when history is fabricated.”

      According to historians the slavs of fyrom are ancestors of Bulgarians and have nothing to do with ancient Macedonia.

      It is NOT a human right to absorb identity and history from other people. The Greek Macedonians that actually lives on the land and speaks the language of the ancient Macedonians have a human right to keep their history and culture.

      When will Fyrom stop with this insanity and falsification of history? This is INSANE

      Reply
    • March 20, 2011 at 9:32 pm
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      dear dellusional franky, you fyroms have no right to twist history and seek greek land.

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  • March 20, 2011 at 8:25 pm
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    “I think every human on earth has the right to claim their own ethnicity. Just like religion, who is right to say? NOBODY! ”

    And FYROM already had an ethnicity- ethnic Bulgarian (which the current government, much like the prior Yugoslav communists, oppresses through state propaganda)

    Furthermore are ethnic identities now trading cards to be thrown away with disregard for history and reason? If FYROM nationalists next decide to call themselves “ethnic Athenians” and proclaim Athens “occupied” should Greeks not object either?

    In the real world state emblems are supposed to be protected under international law to prevent these sorts of issues from arising. Instead of standing on a soapbox I would recommend you first check to see if your own country actually officially recognizes Taiwan’s desired name (because chances are it doesn’t since China objects)

    The reason for this is if it were otherwise anyone could deligitimize/destability any neighbouring state by simply using their name and going on to proclaim a neighbouring state as “occupied”. (as many FYROM nationalists are trying to do to Greeks by rebranding themselves from “ethnic Bulgarians” into “ethnic Macedonians”)

    In short, your carte blanche approach to names would sometimes amount to advocacy for cultural genocide. (in this case against Greeks whose identity you generously hand over to the former self-identifying ethnic Bulgarians living in what was once ancient Paeonia).

    Macedonians (i.e. Greeks living in THE ancient Macedonia) also have a right to their own identity no? Or do you only apply your rules to the former self-identifying ethnic Bulgarians of the former Yugoslavia?

    In my opinion, some that claim to stand up for human rigths are on some level racists that just hide their racism towards some minority they don’t like just by hiding their hate behind a wall of “human rights” buzz words.

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    • March 21, 2011 at 4:12 am
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      Lets just forget about Greece and Macedonia for a minute. If the tiny landlocked nation of Macedonia where to enter the EU, what negitive effect does it bring to the region. Forget about all the ethnic who’s who bull. Lets talk some serious facts. What is the worst that could happen. Why is Greece so concerned about a tiny country with 80% smaller population and a thousand time smaller economy that it.
      What can such a small minute nation do that can destablize such a bigger more powerful nation like Greece. If Macedonia became a member of EU or Nato, how does Greece loose. I mean think about it. If Macedonia just changed its name to , SLAVO-MACEDONIA or SKOPJE, what would change. Would they open the boarders and make the region free like the rest of Europe. And if that is the case, who the hell would care anyway. Does Greece think this would purifiy its self image. I just dont get it. Is Greece have imperial Balkan dreams. The Greeks cant even get their own house in order. The Turks are watering at the mouth. The Albanians have rabid dreams of spreading out right into Greece. BTW, would Greece really like the idea of a Bulgarian state surrounding it. Greeks very well know that the Macedonian nation has every right to exist. Just stop denying it and everyone can go on with living. There is no loosers only winners. Free movement across boarders.

      Reply
  • March 21, 2011 at 4:21 am
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    Another Macedonia,

    What are you talking about, are you insane. Do you really believe that which you say. Are you that detached. Do you honestly believe the crap that your parents, grandparents, and nutty school teachers in Greece taught you. Ignorant….

    Reply
  • March 21, 2011 at 4:28 am
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    Louis,
    Macedonians just want freedom! Unshackle them, they’re not looking for land. Land belongs to God, Give them back their dignety! Greeks have much to be proud of. Together, the balkans can move foward.

    Reply
  • March 21, 2011 at 5:28 pm
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    @franklin

    Those that claim to be supportive of FYROM’s “Macedonian”identity are defacto morally complicit in oppressing FYROM’s Bulgarian heritage. (much like Yugoslav communists tyrants once did).

    If you really wanted freedom for the people of FYROM, you would stop helping Gruevski use state propaganda to oppress evidence of FYROM’s ethnic Bulgarian past.

    Reply
  • March 22, 2011 at 12:36 am
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    @Stojan Danevski

    Your arguments are very reasonable and I agree most of your points.

    Mixing occurs in every region of the world. DNA tests do not lie. Even Jews and Palestinians share some DNA and culture. Ditto with Japanese and Chinese. English and French. Germans and Poles. And so on…

    While there are certainly biological relationships to past populations it’s shocking that today many still believe that identities are a synonym for pure races.

    However, a few shared strands of DNA and similar aspects to our cultures does not invalidate the uniqueness of different ethnic groups. To respect minorities as current FYROM government constantly claims it does.. it also needs to respect Greeks too. Trying to usurp our heritage by adopting our names and symbols is getting back into the game of trying to ethnically cleanse Greeks (like IMRO did when it helped occupy Greece during WW2)

    You mentioned “slavic Macedonian persecution at the hand of Greek authorities” but we both know that’s not an accurate picture of what actually happened. FYROM nationalists also need to ask how many Greeks were killed at the hands of their ancestors too.

    The fact is there were wars between people that identified with different cultures in the Balkans. As with most ethnic conflicts the motive was to achieve some political goal not to persecute per se.

    During the Balkan wars Greeks no more “persecuting” ethnic Bulgarians (what you call “Slavic Macedonians” today) then those same ethnic Bulgarians persecuted Greeks (e.g. Slavic speaking Macedonians that were loyal to Greece during the Greek civil war remain to this day and are considered not an iota less Greek than I am)

    You made a valid point Greeks called themselves Romans but again that too needs to be put into a little context (to hopefully shed some light as to why many Greeks are so stubborn about this name issue).

    Germans were also officially Romans too (as was much of Europe at some point or another). And much like what we label Germans today, Greece’s Romans were largely a specific type of Roman…. Greek-speaking ones that received a Greek education and many of whom are on record referencing ancient Greeks as their ancestors. We were even called Greeks by the Latin west (including some Germans who highlighted our Greek heritage to undermine any claim to roman imperial authority since they were the leaders of the Holy Roman empire)

    Thus our claim to Macedonian history is fundamentally different than FYROMs whose ancestors were (as you suggest) primarily in the Bulgarian/Slavic cultural sphere but with some Byzantine influences (which included prior Greek ones as well)

    A cultural identity is ultimately more than just remembering who is allegedly ones ancestor though. It is also about preserving ideas, language, and culture. Greeks clearly are in Hellenistic sphere of things (as were ancient Macedonians). We are not opposed to other cultures but, like everyone else, we try to preserve our own cultural/linguistic themes.

    So to us someone calling Thessaloniki “Solun” is ANTI-Macedonian. Or someone claiming a language other than Greek as “Macedonian”… we see it as anti-Macedonian. Or claiming ancient Macedonians weren’t Greeks… more anti-Macedonian.

    In short, Greeks are trying to preserve genuine Macedonian culture and language not replace whatever thought enters our head as “Macedonian”. In 2000 years we want our children to still be able to pick up ancient Macedonian artifacts be able to experience the wonderful feeling of being able to read the Greek writing on them… not pretend that a Bulgarian dialect is somehow “Macedonian”.

    The problem at the moment is FYROM is being run by Gruevski whom, in my opinion, is an ignorant egomaniac nationalist fanatic that is more interested in glorying himself and hating Greeks than preserving genuine Macedonia culture. All he does is substitute “Bulgarian” with the word “Macedonian”. (which is why Greeks say FYROM is fabricated history)

    He also encourages paranoia and a persecution complex in his citizens which has lead to large numbers of FYROM citizens thinking Greeks are trying to trick them by suggesting that most of the people in FYROM used to freely self-identify as ethnic Bulgarians in the 19th century. (and the mess Greece has made of its government fiances has done nothing to improve our credibility)

    So we are stuck in this quigmire. If it was me in you in a room and no one else we could have probably worked this out 20 years ago. Unfortunately we are both caught amongst fanatics. (we have them too. Some extreme nationalists Greeks on the right bizarrely claim racial purity… while some extreme anti-nationalists of the left bizarrely claim no relationship whatsoever)

    I don’t have an answer. All I can say is if Gruevski doesn’t stop trying to build an ethnic identity out of lands physically located in Greece and a history that rightfully belongs to the Greek people.. we will likely eventually find ourselves in another ethnic conflict down the road.

    I wish the moderates in FYROM well but much like when the communists played these name games in 1944-1948 period it is beyond my control if another country attempts to usurp our identity and sovereign territory. The moral responsibility for that lays squarely in the hands of the former self-identifying ethnic Bulgarians that live in what was once known as Paeonia in antiquity. If they really want peace and prosperity it will require resolution of FYROM’s identity crisis.

    To be honest I think the best solution would be if FYROM nationalists just went back to calling themselves ethnic Bulgarians or called themselves something completely new (thus allowing Albanians to become a full part of a new nationality). We could put this ugliness behind us and you could finally cherish your heritage.

    Ancient Macedonian history may sound more glamorous but its not. Its a burden because everyone looks at ancient Greek history and expects Greeks to be Gods. Since were are not the narrative then becomes we are all stupid peasants with nothing in common. This is just the hate of others speaking though. Greeks today typically have far more in with ancient counterparts than virtually any other people but its obfuscated by the tremendous impact ancient Greeks had on western civilization (and to a lessor extent our Byzantine ancestors) In many respects we are all Greeks.

    I used to be ashamed to say I’m Greek but I don’t want to hide in shame from my own roots. If someone hates me for defending my own heritage and nation than the problem is them not me. Greeks aren’t the one’s drawing up mapa of “united Greece”. We just want peace with our neighbours and to live in mutual respect but it takes two to tango.

    Reply
    • March 22, 2011 at 2:58 am
      Permalink

      Hello Macedonian

      I agree that it is very important to maintain a peoplehood going. In the modern humanistic and materialistic ideals in the West people only exist as individualized and completely atomised entities free to build a worldview and lifestyle they want….I believe that this is spiritually crippiling. We have a past and that past gives us great meaning to our lives and the communities we live in.

      I don’t doubt that the Greek people survived and changed through out the centeries since ancient times. But even though the Greeks have changed a lot through the ages I see that a lineage has survived to presevre a peoplehood.

      I believe that people should have a cultural and spiritual space for their ethnic community group.

      But the way that people in the Balkans present history is a zero-sum game. “We have roots here for longer than you therefore this land is our land”. The Albanians in the Republic of Macedonia are doing the same thing to legitimize their claim on the land they live on…well actually everyone does this. This is crazy.

      This space needs to be %100 Albanian, Serbian, Macedonian, etc, etc in order for we to have a real claim to the land. Makes sense if it was a zero-sum game but it shouldn’t be.

      You said that IMRO and the Bulgarian army drove out Greeks out of Aegean Macedonia during World War Two. That is correct and that is a crime. For that I apologise on behalf of my people…if that is worth anything comming from one individual to another.

      Many of those IMRO and Bulgarian soldiers were either dispossessed of their land and had their culture suppressed by the Greek authorities. That happened as well and I have relatives that told me what happened to the Slavic Macedonians and Bulgarians in Aegean Macedonia. It was tough for the Slavs in Greece. I understand that the Slavs who identified with Greece stayed in Aegean Macedonia and the authorites either left then alone or rewarded them. IMRO’s and the Bulgarian army’s attacks were revenge attacks that they felt justified in carrying out. But this is no excuse. Persecution is persecution.

      This is why it is important to see and feel the pain and defeats that our communities have faced. From there we can move on hopefully with the truth and with forgiveness. Then our enemies become very human.

      The population exchanges between Greece and Bulgaria and Greece and Turkey were supposed to have solidified the lands that came under their control for their peoplehood.

      During the Ottoman era the different communities in Macedonia and beyond fused together in a bizarre patchwork of different communities (i.e think of the French word for mixed salad). Though the population exchanges succeeded i.e a more stable territory that can be governable with a stable and homogeneous ethnic group on that land it did leave a lot of scars on the people that were forced to go.

      To solve the Macedonian name dispute the Slavic Macedonians need to see and incorporate our Bulgarian ancestors to their rightful and central place for understanding our language and culture. The Montenegrins do this with their relationship with the Serbs witgh no problem.

      But the Greeks need to accept that we are also Macedonians and share the same space for our spiritual and cultural group. In that way the Slavic Macedonians need to accept that the Greeks have been in Macedonia before their were Slavs in the Balkans into…well a long time. So the Slavic Macedonians need to recognise the right for the Greeks to use Macedonia or Macedonian and the territiory as it is part of their spiritual and cultural space.

      So we now have two different Macedonians. And if anyone from the outside asks why this is we would just tell them the whole long story.

      And if thats the case I don’t think too many Greeks would oppose.

      I know my ancestors are Bulgarian and that we are the same people but it just doesn’t feel right to say I am not Macedonian. I am. Granted its different from a Greek Macedonian but a Macedonian of a different variety.

      Macedonia really is a Switzerland of the Balkans.

      Reply
  • March 22, 2011 at 6:30 am
    Permalink

    @Stojan

    You write: “Many of those IMRO and Bulgarian soldiers were either dispossessed of their land and had their culture suppressed by the Greek authorities.”

    Again I wish to emphasize the same is true of the Greeks that were suppressed by your ancestors too. Lets keep in mind the region was officially part of the Ottoman empire at the time not some non-existent “Macedonian” state.

    In addition all the statutes the Gruevski digs up have Greek writing on them for good reason. Much like China is mostly a Chinese region… Germany is German… Greece and parts of Asia minor have been part of the Greek cultural sphere for the last several thousand years. (even under Ottoman control for the most part)

    Greece is the only tiny homeland for those the identity as Greeks Stojan. We aren’t like Slavs that also have a cultural and linguistic connection to other Slavic peoples (that already cover large sections of the world I would note)

    You write: “IMRO’s and the Bulgarian army’s attacks were revenge attacks that they felt justified in carrying out. But this is no excuse. Persecution is persecution.”

    I thank-you for your comment but (at least with someone honest like you) these is no need to apologize to me. The problem I find with language like “persecution” is can lead back to a tit-for-tat of who is the more persecuted than the other situations. (Much like Palestinians and Israelis are these days) It was just war for former Ottoman territory to form our modern states. None of us got everything we wanted but we all got some.

    It could have ended there but unfortunately BMARC plans got so out of control (helped along by Tito that wanted to erase your Bulgarian heritage) that and it ended up with what appears to be a permanent division of ethnic Bulgarians into two distinct ethnic groups. (with “ethnic Macedonians” continuing to portray greece is “occupied” territory)

    You strike me as very moderate fellow Stojan. Unfortunately I know you don’t represent the majority in your country (which ultra nationalist Gruevski’s election attests to). In practice the vast majority of people in FYROM don’t agree with your historical narrative.

    It’s terribly unfortunate because you are probably the most intelligent honest polite FYROM nationalist I’ve ever had a conversation with. I genuinely believe you are being completely sincere with. (and I hope you believe the same of me).

    If I believed all FYROM nationalist were like you, I sincerely would not mind you calling yourselves Macedonians. Unfortunately FYROM nationalists (not like you) rampantly usurp Greek symbols as their own. Doing so is effectively disrespecting the Greek Macedonian cultural space and making an implicit claim on Macedonia Greece.

    You write: “To solve the Macedonian name dispute the Slavic Macedonians need to see and incorporate our Bulgarian ancestors to their rightful and central place for understanding our language and culture. The Montenegrins do this with their relationship with the Serbs witgh no problem.”

    I agree but again I don’t believe that will happen as long as Macedonia is FYROM’s name. Ultra nationalists like Gruevski will just keep building giant Alexander statues to “prove” he is a “real” Macedonian. (and thus have to actively work to show how we are not “real” Macedonians)

    We both know it is nearly impossible today to visit a FYROM run media outlet or internet website that doesn’t attempt to insinuate they are descendants of Macedonians and Greeks are persecuting them while framing Greek territory as “Greek occupied Macedonia”

    Uour voice of moderation is currently a tiny minority in your own country. Your candid analysis would get you labeled a “traitor” in your own country.

    You write: “But the Greeks need to accept that we are also Macedonians and share the same space for our spiritual and cultural group.”

    Ancient Macedonia is located physically and spiritually in Greece. It is unfair to ask us to “share” what is not yours. From my perspective it amounts to blackmailing us for control of our own heritage. Its as like Hamas asking to be recognized by Jews as ethnic Hasimonians.

    Some faf r leftist Greeks might accept it much like the communists did during the Greek civil war (because they are philosophically motivated by extreme anti-nationalism much like some othe far right are motivated by extreme nationalism) but I never will. Frankly I don’t support even the composite name solution as I do not believe appeasement will solve the issue. It will only drag the issue out for the rest of our lives and then some.

    The Greek cultural space is not the FYROM government’s or anyone else’s to take. It’s like asking Greeks to accept the Japanese language as Cantonese. I could say the words but I’ll never feel it or believe it for as long as FYROM nationalists identify with the Slavic cultural sphere. FYROM can’t have its cake and eat it too. Greeks have been Hellenizing in some form or anther for a long time (since ancient Macedonians actually). This adaptability is part of our culture strength. However, we still try to preserve actual Hellenistic culture and language too.

    You write: “Macedonia really is a Switzerland of the Balkans.”

    It will not happen for as long as FYROM names itself after Macedonia. This isn’t a case of Macedonia USA and Macedonia Greece. In this instance using the name only creates political instability (3 conflicts and possibly a forth brewing)

    To create a truly stable multi-ethnic Balkan state FYROM would have to give itself a new name so ethnic groups from all nations could participate unencumbered by history (much like America) Otherwise it will eventually collapse due to ethnic divisions.

    Places like the Balkans aren’t like North America or Australia with very little history. As soon as demographics change…borders change. (which will happen to FYROM eventually when Albanians get their numbers up enough to join back up with Albania)

    You write: “I know my ancestors are Bulgarian and that we are the same people but it just doesn’t feel right to say I am not Macedonian.”

    I feel genuine sympathy as you seem like a kind honest fellow but please understand your situation was created through conscious historical manipulations not of Greeks but of people in you own country that intentionally oppressed evidence of your ethnic Bulgarian heritage. (and continue to do so). The solution to FYROM’s ethnic identity problems are to be found waiting for Greeks to fix them and proclaim you “Macedonians” but in embracing your own Bulgarian past rather than Macedonian.

    (Much like Greeks should not blame other nations for borrowing too much money. It’s our own fault and we have to do our best to correct it)

    Reply
    • March 22, 2011 at 8:04 pm
      Permalink

      It has been great talking to you and that we are able to have a civilized conversation rather than just yelling at each other.

      The Greeks are a unique culture, language and world view. This really only exists/originates within Greece spiritual and cultural homeland. The fact that the Greeks are so unique makes them very protective of its history and land, just like the very unique and also small Jews and Armenians peoples who also went through a lot as well.

      But because I speak Slavic doesn’t make Russia or Poland my homeland. Just as Poland cannot make Russia its spiritual and culture homeland or Serbia can make Croatia theirs.

      You write “Again I wish to emphasize the same is true of the Greeks that were suppressed by your ancestors too” I understand that.

      You write “Lets keep in mind the region was officially part of the Ottoman empire at the time not some non-existent “Macedonian” state.” Yes it was part of the Ottoman Empire and it wasn’t a state. But IMRO did try to make one (though the debate was between a civic Macedonian state like America or to have a large chunk of it go to Bulgaria). Two factions of IMRO existed for these two different aims.
      In numerous articles published during that turbulent time the region of Macedonia was called that, but the people were a mix of everything.
      The Greeks in Macedonia obviously fought to be incorporated within a Greek state.
      You write “In addition all the statutes the Gruevski digs up have Greek writing on them for good reason. Much like China is mostly a Chinese region… Germany is German… Greece and parts of Asia minor have been part of the Greek cultural sphere for the last several thousand years. (even under Ottoman control for the most part)” I didn’t argue with you about the ancient character of Macedonia just the more recent Slavic or Bulgarian character of Macedonia. There are lots of Slavic or Bulgarian artefacts found in Macedonia since the 6th century AD. There were times that the Slavs even where a majority in Greek Macedonia.
      These are ethnic maps that show a large Bulgarian minority in Greek/Aegean Macedonia. (Carte Ethnographique de la Macedoine: Point de vue bulgare from the university of texas) http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical/balkan_bulgarian_1914.jpg
      Another one even shows a Slavic Macedonian people next to a Bulgarian one. (http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/historical/balkan_serbs_1914.jpg from the unversity of texas)
      Again this shows a large Slavic presence in Aegean/Greek Macedonia. They were there for a long time, long enough to absorb the specific characteristics of Macedonia and to make it their homeland. Slavic Macedonians have been making songs from the region like Vodensko, Nashta baba ut Egej (this is sang with a specific Slavic dialect from Kilkis), etc, etc. When hearing these songs you can feel how the geography of Aegean/Greek Macedonia has had an impact on there sense of home.
      Its true with the Albanians in present day Republic of Macedonia and their rootedness there.
      You said, “If I believed all FYROM nationalist were like you, I sincerely would not mind you calling yourselves Macedonians. Unfortunately FYROM nationalists (not like you) rampantly usurp Greek symbols as their own. Doing so is effectively disrespecting the Greek Macedonian cultural space and making an implicit claim on Macedonia Greece.” I agree with you. The Republic of Macedonia is usurping Greek symbols and history and saying that Greece never had a presence in Macedonia. That is wrong and it just isn’t the truth. This is part of the big problem and the whole zero-sum political game that the peoples in the Balkans play in fear
      I don’t believe that Gruevski should build statues of Alexander the Great in the Republic. The former prime minister georgievski said the same thing…..he more or less has the same worldview as I do. It’s a tragedy that must Slavic Macedonians do not see this. The truth will set us free. We should build a legacy on IMRO, the Krushevo Republic, and the civic nationalism from the leaders like Goce Delchev, Sandanski, Karev and others.
      You said, “Ancient Macedonia is located physically and spiritually in Greece. It is unfair to ask us to “share” what is not yours. From my perspective it amounts to blackmailing us for control of our own heritage. Its as like Hamas asking to be recognized by Jews as ethnic Hasimonians.
      I am not asking you to share Ancient Macedonia only the space where my ancestors lived and called home. This works in other parts of the world. For example, New Zealand also has this dual character. The Maoris have Aotearoa and the British immigrants have New Zelanad. The share the whole territory with each other….and both have a place for their peoplehood. I’m not suggesting that Greece change its borders, just to recognise the fact that much of Slavic Macedonian songs and folklore comes from that geography. Its important to many Slavic Macedonians who still see it as their homeland.
      The idea of Macedonia by Ottoman times is roughly to have been what Slavic Macedonians called Pirin, Vardar and Aegean Macedonia. Yes its different than the ancient borders but that’s what the inhabitants and the international community saw as Macedonia. You can see Poland dramatically change in borders between 1915 and 1945. But I don’t think that is the real point of Greek concerns, it’s the Slavic Macedonian claim of Greek Macedonian history and natural claims to its own territory.
      Greece has given political freedoms to the Slavic Macedonians to practice their customs and retain their language. Slavic Macedonians have held cultural festivals across Greek Macedonia that celebrates their unique culture and worldview. For that I am thankful.
      I believe it is important to recognise when persecution is done. True healing can only come from this. Just as it would be important for Greeks to hear sorry from the Turks in invading and colonising Cyprus or the Bulgarians persecuting you in WW2. It is a tragedy what had happened in Israel and Palestine and it has been a tragedy what has happened in the Balkans.
      Healing can also only come from opening up our histories and pointing truth on the sources and our peoples.
      You write, “To create a truly stable multi-ethnic Balkan state FYROM would have to give itself a new name so ethnic groups from all nations could participate unencumbered by history (much like America) Otherwise it will eventually collapse due to ethnic divisions.”
      The Bulgarians, Vlachs and a few Muslim Slavs did already think of this “civic nationalism” to incorporate all the nationalities in the 1800s. They called it Macedonia after the region. Funny hey
      You write, “Places like the Balkans aren’t like North America or Australia with very little history. As soon as demographics change…borders change. (which will happen to FYROM eventually when Albanians get their numbers up enough to join back up with Albania)”
      That is a sad truth, and I’m sick about that fact and that’s where a lot of the bloodshed starts.
      Slavic Macedonians have had a regional identity beyond the Yugoslavians pushing this in opposition to our Bulgarian identity. It was there just like the Montenegrins. Below are some sources that show this Slavic Macedonian regional identity. This is way I cannot call myself anything other than Macedonian. I never realized of my Bulgarian roots until I started researching and questioning until later in life. So you can imagine the dilemma. If the Slavic Macedonians and Greeks see history in this way (which reflects fact and the turbulent and multicultural history of the Balkans) than I think a lot of our problems will just go away naturally.
      So its not blackmail and I don’t think I’m abusing history or altering it in anyway. Ethnogenesis has occurred. Now what?

      This article in the NY Times shows the IMRO leader Dechev/Deltcheff as a ”famous Macedonian chief”. Published: May 26, 1903 Copyright © The New York Times

      http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archivefree/pdf?res=FB0B13FD385D16738DDDAF0A94DD405B838CF1D3

      The mayor of Toronto in 1938 refers to the Bulgarian Macedonian as only Macedonians. This is heard in 5:43 in the youtube video.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Py2fi4EqFUc

      This is a census form of the Slavic Macedonians coming into the United States in 1920. They say they were born in Macedonia and that they speak Macedonian. The names have the older eff/off ending which have not been changed.
      http://www.macedoniantruth.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/us_census_1920-01.jpeg
      These are two more New York Times articles which seems to have shown Macedonian as an independent nationality. The oldest one is in 1890, one hundred and 120 years ago. Now the maker of this youtube video is trying to prove that their always has been a Macedonian nationality always independent from its neighbours…which I disagree with. Anyways, the maker of this youtube video offers the date and source of this video so check it out.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OlY285FJSk&NR=1

      To be fair I have also read articles from that time which have also linked 1800s Macedonians with Greeks in a British newspaper somewhere. Seems even back then two different Macedonians have existed.

      Reply

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