EurActiv - Letters to the Editor

Sir,

Regarding ‘Macedonia under pressure to solve ‘name dispute’‘:

As a Macedonian living in the heart of Europe, I am surprised to read all that is happening to my country and my countrymen, and all the pressure coming from Greece (Europe’s favourite country, which is allowed to do what it likes and ask for anything from Europe and its neighbours).

Since when do we make the name of a country equal to the name of a region?

Why don’t we change the names of the same cities that appear in two different countries as well, so there are no misunderstandings or attempts to steal someone else’s history?

When will Europe put some pressure on Greece for not respecting the basic human rights of its minorities instead of giving her everything she asks of it, including financial help to get her out of the misery she put herself into? It should let her manage it by herself now.

What is Europe’s interest in helping Greece? Does it want more financial power to buy factories in Macedonia? Does it want to own this small country at the end, so it has more power to blackmail it into changing its name, identity, and whatever its the next demand is? Does it want to give more financial power to Greece so that it can ring more bells about how Macedonia depends financially on Greece and so Greece can own more Macedonian industry?

When will Greece be punished for the exodus of Macedonians years ago?

What kind of democracy is Europe trying to preach to us when it cannot resolve its own issues first? It is frustrating.

How can the EU ask us to change our name and constitution because Greece has decided so?

Why would Macedonia need to change its name to please the EU and Greece?

How does the EU have the right to put so much pressure on us and our government?

On what basis can it discriminate against our country and our people before we can join the EU and NATO?

The EU needs Macedonia more than Macedonia needs the EU in the end, because it cannot create its big Europe without us, no matter how small a country we are.

It should try to resolve its own issues before teaching others about democracy.

Kind Regards,

L. Todorova

Macedonian citizen

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Comments

  1. The reality is that there was, isn’t and will never be a country with the name “Macedonia” (only) that doesn’t have the GREEK language as its official one and the majority of the ethnic group the (real) macedonians = the greeks. This means that the issue cannot be a comparison of the rights of these two: a country which never had and doesn’t have the official name of “Macedonia” and whose majority of the population is speaking a slavic language = (still) FYROM and a region in GREECE which for over two and a half millenia is known and called as MACEDONIA (?????????) proper and that gave this world its greatest military genius that spread the HELLENIC (GREEK) culture all over his entire large empire (Alexander the Great = MEGAS ALEKSANDROS).

  2. Those ????????? are representing the MACEDONIA name written in GREEK, but it seems that the site doesn’t accept greek letters.

  3. I’ve read your sorrowful letter and decided to comment on it. I’m a non-Greek European citizen and tried to be unbiased in my reply.
    -Why don’t we change the names of the same cities that appear in two different countries as well, so there are no misunderstandings or attempts to steal someone else’s history?
    -Because no-one’s contesting the rights of people who want to name a city a name that another city already uses.

    -When will Europe put some pressure on Greece for not respecting the basic human rights of its minorities instead of giving her everything she asks of it, including financial help to get her out of the misery she put herself into? It should let her manage it by herself now.
    -These are internal matters of the EU, and have nothing to do with your country’s membership application. Why are you asking these questions on this occasion?

    -What is Europe’s interest in helping Greece?
    -Greece is a full member of the EU so it doesn’t need to see any benefits in helping Greece. It’s called solidarity.

    -Does it want more financial power to buy factories in Macedonia? Does it want to own this small country at the end, so it has more power to blackmail it into changing its name, identity, and whatever its the next demand is? Does it want to give more financial power to Greece so that it can ring more bells about how Macedonia depends financially on Greece and so Greece can own more Macedonian industry?
    -Eh? Conspiracy?

    -When will Greece be punished for the exodus of Macedonians years ago?
    -I know nothing about the exodus but I don’t think it’s very relevant to the name dispute.

    -What kind of democracy is Europe trying to preach to us when it cannot resolve its own issues first? It is frustrating.
    -What issues? If you don’t like the way democracy in the EU functions, don’t join it. After all, no-one forced you to apply for membership.

    -How can the EU ask us to change our name and constitution because Greece has decided so?
    -Because in order for a country to join the EU, every Member State has to agree to it. If Greece says it will say no to your country’s entry, there’s nothing the EU can do about it. Greece has a veto and if it uses it, your membership will be postponed or will never happen.

    -Why would Macedonia need to change its name to please the EU and Greece?
    -Frankly, I don’t think they EU care what you call your country. At the moment, it’s acting as a mediator and trying to find a solution to this issue.

    -How does the EU have the right to put so much pressure on us and our government?
    -Because you allow it. If you think that requesting you to alter your country’s name is too much pressure, then abandon your membership efforts.

    -On what basis can it discriminate against our country and our people before we can join the EU and NATO?
    -That’s the law. If one country doesn’t express its support for a candidate country to join the EU, this country cannot join. It’s that simple.

    -The EU needs Macedonia more than Macedonia needs the EU in the end, because it cannot create its big Europe without us, no matter how small a country we are.
    -Did the EU apply so your country could join the EU or did you apply for EU membership? On what basis are you saying that the EU needs your country more than it needs the EU? But if you think that it is so, then why apply for membership in the first place? The EU doesn’t Switzerland or Norway to join, let alone a country as small and poor as yours.

    -It should try to resolve its own issues before teaching others about democracy.
    -Again, no-one forced you try to become a member of the EU. It should be a voluntary decision and if you don’t like the laws and principles on which the EU is based, then remain outside of it.

    My question is: why is your country so keen on keeping your constitutional name? Why all these references to Ancient Macedonia (Alexander the Great airport, the country’s name and so on) if you have nothing to do with it. Why all these lies and propaganda?
    I suspect that if the Slavs had arrived in the region in the time of Alexander the Great, he would have conquered and Hellenised you, so be happy that you have nothing in common with him apart from geography, be proud to be Slavs and rename your country to Northern Macedonia, Slavonic Macedonia or something else and join the EU or stick to your inaccurate name and stay outside the EU.
    Regards,

  4. Hi,
    First: I am not Greek nor Macedonian nor from any Balkanic country. I am from a different EU country.

    I am sad to see so much resentment on Myself comments but, Zarazek is right on the spot on three issues:

    1.) The EU has given itself a certain set of rules (laws) that any country willing to apply for membership must follow. Take it or leave it, it’s as simple as that. Nobody is forcing Macedonia/FYROM to apply for membership.

    2.) Number-wise, it’s a bit absurd to say the EU needs Macedonia or any other small country in Europe for that matter. It’s advisable, it’s desirable too but not “necessary” to embrace all our neighbourghs: after all cooperation is good for everybody, but as Zarazek says, neither Switzerland nor Norway -which have a much greater GDP than Macedonia/FYROM- are members and it’s not the end of the world!. Don’t take it personal, it may sound arrogant but it’s not intended like that, it’s simply a matter of size and relevance in the world arena.

    3.) Greece: well, it’s only normal that EU backs up one of its members, isn’t it?. That’s the root of any association: to defend it’s members’ interests!.

    In any case, and seeing it from the distance, I believe this should not be such a big issue. I can understand that’s a very emotional issue but an ‘amicable’ solution should (and can) be found between you and Greece because one must look to the future not to the past and adapt accordingly to the needs of the present: what’s more convenient for you?

    Having said all these, I would like citizens of Macedonia/FYROM to become full EU members.

  5. I am a Macedonian citizen, aged 29, and can only say that at this point in time (having lived in a country that has had identity issues for 20 years now) I am very tired both of Europe and Greece and the whole rich gang, and would really like that we just drop the whole application and integration farce and am waiting for the political option that will provide this possibility to me.

    Nobody denies that like any other country in their independence-gaining, constitutional period, we are also bothered with identity issues, first of all with ourselves, mostly represented via national romantic themes.

    It its undeniable also that there are history examples when such periods have brought lots of sorrow to the whole world during 20th century, but I don’t think that it is realistic to expect such escalations in the case of a 2 million people country, that has remained under somebody else’s occupation for 500 years, and whose leitmotif is: keep your head down, and you will surrvive.

    However, just like people, nations also need to go through their phases of life – and we have been stuck in a limbo of teenagers for like 20 years now, and although we are the masters of our destiny, it is also true that Europe and particularly our bigger, older, richer and wiser neighbours are not helpful at all.

    So, yes, i am tired of the PoliticSpeak that everybody is supporting us and would really appreciate if we could just drop the whole “integration” process.

    Thank you for reading.

    And yes, it is stupid to name airport this or that, but it is also stupid to rename a whole region that has been called Northern Greece for 80 years into Macedonia, once a Socialist Republic of Macedonia becomes a Republic of Macedonia.
    Please…

  6. From the point of view of a person who had studied too much history:

    1. Ancient Macedonia (including Alexander the Great) has nothing to do, in terms of historical heritage, with FYROM. They were Hellenic.

    2. Contemporary Greek population has nothing to do with the Hellenic civilization, except geographically – just open the Iliad and take a glance at the description of Achilles.

    3. Think about the fact that before the 1990s Macedonia had never been an independent state. These lands (including not only the current territory of FYROM, but also some regions of nowadays Greece, Bulgaria and Albania) had been consequently part of different states, such as The Byzantine Empire, Medieval Bulgaria, The Ottoman Empire. Many of these sovereign states had been at war for the possession of these lands. And nowadays all of their successors can claim these lands.

    4. If I have to get into detail, I can also flag the assimilation processes imposed on the locals and carried out by the authorities in Yugoslavia after its emergence on the international arena as a consolidated state between the two Worlds Wars. That is how the Macedonian “nation” was created – by brainwashing the ordinary people who were scared.

    So, there is no an unambiguous solution. However, we live in the 21st century and claim to be democratic (at least most of “us”). All parties have to be more diplomatic and to leave such nationalistic claims in the past. Otherwise, they have no place in the EU.

  7. Is anyone familiar with the phrase “tempest in a teapot”? The nationalists of FYRO Macedonia seem to want their cake and to eat it, too. They want to join the EU project – but they want to establish an independent national identity. So, are they interested in the European project or not? Perhaps they would consider changing their region’s name to MacEUdonia?

    Of course the Greek nationalists are being just as silly and just as insistent that they have a right to eat their cake and then to still have it. For heaven’s sake! Will the world think less of Greece if a neighbor calls itself Macedonia? Rather, the silly Greeks should be proud that another nation wishes to honor the history of the area! Do they complain that a city in the USA calls itself Athens? Or, if Macedonia is so important a name to the Greeks, let them change the name of Greece to Macedonia and FYRO Macedonia can then call itself Greece. Why not? Or they can both be Macedonia – the world gets along fine with two Congos, the USA gets along fine with two Washingtons. Why, I even know two men named John and neither wants to fight over who has an exclusive right to the name!

    To put it simply, what’s wrong with all you people? Get over it. Grow up. Join – I mean really join – the EU project and the UN project.

  8. Lora – really insightful and balanced point of view!

    I absolutely agree with your post – to add that I am neither Greek nor Macedonian but I also have studied my fair share of Balkans history.

  9. “If I have to get into detail, I can also flag the assimilation processes imposed on the locals” in Greece but it is no more interesting than to provide Greece with an adjective – Former Ottoman.

    Unfortunately we can not discuss power politics with members of a club which has set rules for themselves. The problem is that we Macedonians sometimes ignore the historical context in IR in Europe and the traditional allies now integrated in the EU bureaucracy.

    We should IMMEDIATELY stop all negotiations an concentrate on the domestic economy.

    I can NEVER ignore the fact that Greece is also constituted today as a modern state, but THE REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA also! And GREEKS should never forget HOW they have acquired the part of the region – through WAR, annexation and GENOCIDE and ASSIMILATION through poverty!

    Hey, this is EUROPE, this is the BALKANS…unfortunately one day it will explode in the face of both…unfortunately…

  10. Enic and Lora,you are totally wrong.a)Philip 11 as his son Alexander were Macedonian who put a stanglehold on ancient Hellens who today do not exist.The Hellenic language today is not spoken.The Hellenic language durring those times was spoken same way as today the English language.Please remember what Alexander said to Philotas,where a language distinction was made by Alexander.Greece was never in Macedonia before 1913.Furtheremore,Greece became a nation of mixed people in 1834.From Philips time,Greece did not exist,as evidanced durring the Roman Empire Greece was not even mebtioned,but Macedonia became a Roman Province.Geographical Macedonia incuds,Aegean,Vardar,Pirin and small Prespa.Therefore,in all these areas live Macedonians and have the right to be called Macedonians.Greece, in the 21st century still denies the existance of the Macedonian minority within its borders.Greeces problems are not the name,but as former Prime Minister Mitsotakis said in his interview “The problem of the Republic of Macedonia is not a real problem,but the real problem is, the recognition of the Macedonian minority”.The name negosiation between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia are illigal according to the UN charter of Human Rights.Every person has the right to identify himself/herself what they feel.This is a basic Human Right for every individual on this earth.Greece continues to fabricate history since 1913,not before!The Prime Minister Ralis in 1903 interview with the New York Times has said “We are co-operating with the Turkish autorities to eliminate the Macedonian Revolutionaries.Why do you think,a PM making a statement of this kind?Why Greece had a consulate in Macedonia durring 1903?.If you want to be more objective in history,you must see history from both ends.On the languges;”Quote from Polybius, speakers of same language with which the Greek fellow wanted to use as proof that ancient Macedonians spoke the same language as the ancient Greeks and thus, they must be classed as Greeks. Now these same Greeks are burning the candle from the other end and want to argue the point but this time since it suits their purpose,in the opposite direction: namely that “linguistic criteria are not only insufficient to denote ethnic naunces in the Balkans but they can be misleading”.i am Macedonian from Lerin (Florina),if I can tell you how the Greek police were treating us,you wont believe it.I will leave that for next time.

  11. Amandla said:
    “And yes, it is stupid to name airport this or that, but it is also stupid to rename a whole region that has been called Northern Greece for 80 years into Macedonia”
    Amandla,
    where did you get this idea that the Northern Greek province of Macedonia was called “Northern Greece”? that’s totally false. It has ALWAYS been called Macedonia.
    There was a ministry of “Northern Greece” that was renamed into ministry of “Macedonia and Thrace”, but the regions themselves were called Masedonia and Thrace since a few thousand years ago, long before your Slavic ancestors arrived in the area.

  12. “Since when do we make the name of a country equal to the name of a region?”

    We don’t or at least we shouldn’t…The country of Georgia to Georgia in America, to Luxemburg etc.

    “Why don’t we change the names of the same cities that appear in two different countries as well, so there are no misunderstandings or attempts to steal someone else’s history?”

    Greece is more likely to change its region sometime in the future (as history dictates), as first it was “newly acquired territories’ then ‘Northern Greece ‘then’ Macedonia’ albeit the peripheries of West, Central and east Macedonia (and thrace).

    “When will Europe put some pressure on Greece for not respecting the basic human rights of its minorities. “

    They kind of have (in there own strange political ways where nothing ends up happening), look at all the court cases Greece has lost (the vast majority of them) regarding human rights violation and discriminatory practices. Look at Eu reports, Helsinki reports, even the UN reports regarding the aforementioned information, The problem however is in Greece it self – its xenophobia.

    “Does it want to give more financial power to Greece so that it can ring more bells about how Macedonia depends financially on Greece and so Greece can own more Macedonian industry?”

    Greece is economically going backwards, and will stay that way unfortunately for Greece – for years. While Macedonia strangely is forecasted to have the highest GDP growth rate from all Balkan countries, (check the web) Greece investments in Macedonia is quickly changing as Foreign investments slowly making there way in. Have you heard of new major investments by Greece?

    “When will Greece be punished for the exodus of Macedonians years ago?”

    There are court proceedings in process for such matters you mention (you may what to check into that), but it will take much time, as there are many thousands of people involved in the processes,

    “What kind of democracy is Europe trying to preach to us when it cannot resolve its own issues first?”

    The EU does have structural issues – a quick search through the internet and news you will find the answers,

    “How can the EU ask us to change our name and constitution because Greece has decided so?”

    Because Greece is in the EU. Further there is much support for our rightful name by political elities, but unfortunately the EU system allows for such stupidity by Greece. Lets not forget that Macedonia is recognised by over 125 countries (Including EU countries), note that many countries Macedonia has no diplomatic relations with

    “Why would Macedonia need to change its name to please the EU and Greece?”

    Again its to appease Greece, you think if Greece didn’t have a problem with the Macedonian name the EU would care about which name we enter the EU with? of course not.

    “How does the EU have the right to put so much pressure on us and our government?”

    The same as above

    “The EU needs Macedonia more than Macedonia needs the EU in the end, because it cannot create its big Europe without us, no matter how small a country we are.”

    In a way its true what you say, throughout history the land of Macedonia, even before its division, has been thorn on Europe, it triggered the Balkan wars and such wars were the prelude that lead to WW1. So what the EU needs is a peaceful and stable Macedonia if it wants peace in the Balkans. But unfortunately the EU seems to be carrying out similar mistakes (or allow it or all but ignore it) from the past.

    “It should try to resolve its own issues before teaching others about democracy.”

    This is true, if only one member (Greece) can hold up the EU, then what sort of system is the EU? It appears more centralized than democratically functioning?

    And LORA

    I have no idea why ancient history is relevant here, every one in the Balkans (especially the Balkans) has diverse origins even in ancient times (A Hellene could have been a Thracian a Thracian a Hellene whos ancestors were Illyrians but one time came from Persia – I mean really what conclusion can one draw from things that happened long ago – considering also the ongoing debates of ancient people by moern historians – thus irrelevent).

    Further everyone on this earth has an ancient ancestor, (How can you conclude that a whole people have nothing to do with an ancient people- that sounds to literal thus strange. I agree though completely mostly through logic that things are not the same as ancient times and that people are not whole heartedly the same as before and thats like anywhere in the world, for many different reasons) can you honestly point out today which person had which specific ancestor?, of course not? The Macedonian governments official line is that the Macedonian people are a collective of all those who have resided/settled in Macedonia through time, and that is the logical and reasonable perspective (such is the reason Macedonia respects all of Macedonia’s history and not just “slav” history – such history is just another chapter in a large book) I know its not logical that we are a “pure race of slavs” simply because we speak a Slavonic tongue!!! (not that you stated that, just getting a point across) Just like the Brazilians are not Portuguese simply because they speak Portuguese etc.

    Actually Macedonia was a recognised republic within Yugoslavia (even by Greece, strange isnt’) since the mid to late 1940s, it just became independent in 1991. Do you also remember when Greece was playing Yugoslavia in the Macedonian republic in Soccer, in Skopje, packed with Greek supporters – I didn’t hear protests about Macedonia then. It was only when Macedonia was becoming independent that Greece started panically changing everything to ‘Macedonia’ and ‘Macedonia is Greece’, even sugar packets.

    Assimilation? Really? How is it then that Macedonia (the centre of the Balkans) happens to be the most multicultural country in the Balkans and not necessarily because it is but because it recognises its diversity. (Sure its not perfect as no country is, but my point still stands) Strange wouldn’t you say – again check the human rights reports, shouldn’t take you long to find.

    Oh and Yugoslavia must have been really powerful to brainwash all those Macedonians that resided In Canada, Australia, and America to became Macedonians – the black hand???

  13. Bulgaria has nothing to do with ancient Bulgarians. France (as a name) has everything to do with Francs – but then the country should be named Gallia.
    Egypt has an arab population, true Egyptians are perhaps under 10% of population.
    Northern Macedonia sounds fine – and is true, as there is a Southern part which belongs to Greece ( Northern Greece for them).
    Altough Greeks have been unreasonable (see Cyprus, and many other examples) – on this occasion Northern Macedonia seems both fair and a step down from their request some time ago.
    Even if that means changing the constitution – which is a bit of paper after all – Macedonia should consider taking the offer.Hopefully once in the EU tensions will melt away in a decade or two.
    If they don’t want to do that, they can stay out of the EU altogether, EU should then offer a Norway/Swiss type of agreement for most issues, and we can move on from a very boring and pointless argument.
    I guess Macedonia should take a vote on the issue and park it once and for all.

  14. There are four small countries in South East Europe who have to co-operate as neighbours, if we want not to continue in near future as it happened in the recent past. They are all not in the EU but are interested to join the Union.
    A country called the United States of South-East-Europe including Mazedonia, Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro on the basis of a confederation would be a good proof that they can solve their conflicts as democrates. A modern Europe needs moderators for democracy and not masters of there own people. In such a confederation names are of less interest. Why did the greek move out from a place called Mzedonia and why did the Greek put pressure on slawes to run from Thessaloniki to the place which is called Mazedonia.Whenever you treat minorities badly no wonder if they think in an seprate state they would be more happy. Unfortunately only the leader will be more happy but what about the folks.

  15. Just read the book “La guerre revient” (Black Hand Over Europe, is the title of its English 1935 edition) by Mr. Henri Pozzi, a French diplomat at that time and try to comment after that. The then Yugoslav Government did its best to prevent the publishing and distribution of the book. The book was banned in Yugoslavia and the author sentenced (in absentia) to life imprisonment by the Yugoslav Government and to death by the White Hand organisation in Serbia.

  16. Please, before commenting on the topic read the book La guerre revient (the English 1934 edition title is Black Hand Over Europe) by Henri Pozzi, French diplomat. The book was published in 1934, despite the attempts of the Yugoslav Embassy in Paris to prevent this, and was banned in former Yugoslavia.

  17. The name Macedonia is by itself Greek. There are other regions in Greece such as Lakonia, Messinia, Magnisia etc. Don’t they sound familiar to a person who don’t speak Greek? End of story. I know it is nice to have long history. But hey guys get real…You are just (ex Yugo) Slavs. Don’t you ever forget this! At the end of the day what is wrong with this?

  18. Deal all,
    I am a Greek who resides in another EU country than Greece and I come from Thessaloniki. The name of an region, a city and a country reflects on the historical, linguistic, ethnic and cultural identity of the people.
    The name Macedonia and Macedonians belongs to a greater area in the Balkanian region which has certain cultural elements. Greece has used this name for the area covering a great part of North Greece but yet Greece has never monopolized this name by indicating that this is the name of the country for example.
    I belong to the Macedonian culture as well and I feel Macedonian Greek as I know that there are many people in Bulgaria and other slavic countries that feel connected to the Macedonian heritage.
    I am very much supportive to all countries that feel the need to acquire an identity but I do not agree that these should monopolize cultures. The country named currently FYROM cannot monopolize the name Macedonia. The politics of FYROM has been very much provocative with this by ignoring population in other countries in the Balkan area that are Macedonians as well and implying that these people are victims of a genocide or an exodus etc. This are very irresponsible words for a real matter as this one.
    There are Greek Macedonians and Macedonians from Fyrom and Bulgaria etc…
    I have to be able now and in the future to say that I am Macedonian without being afraid that I am mistaken to belong to another specific country. I have a cultural right to identify myself with a culture (as also people from FYROM) without being identifying myself with a different country than the one that I come from.
    I do not agree with nationalists by any countries and thus I think that there should be a name that respects the feeling of the people in FYROM and in the same time the cultural identity of Macedonians in the whole Balkanian Area (and by this again I mean Greeks etc etc).
    Perhaps the current proposal of Republic of Macedonia of Vardar is a good solution because it shows that there are Macedonians elsewhere who are Greeks or Bulgarians etc for example.
    There is an area in Belgium and the Netherlands that is called Limburg and it has distinctive language at certain parts of it and culture. Now if the Dutch people of Limburg wanted to make their own country and call it Limburg then Belgium would be very much annoyed. But if they called it e.g. Limburg of the East/West etc then this is a solution which acknowledges that there is Limburg somewhere else as well and it does not suppress the human rights of people to belong to a certain culture.
    I think FYROM has a right to the name they wish but they cannot monopolize a culture.
    Thank you for this interesting discussion and to L. Todorova I would like to say that I am of Macedonian culture as well but I am Macedonian Greek and I believe it is not prudent to imply neither that I am not Macedonian because I am Greek and not in FYROM nor that I belong to a political minority ‘captured’ by Greece. I could very well use historical facts and evidence to prove my arguments -let alone the fact of the Greek language which was the language of Alexander the Great and of his teacher Aristotle- but I choose not to employ such considerations because then FYROM would loose any right to identifying themselves with Macedonian elements we have to be realistic and acknowledge cultural and human rights from both sides. To the other participants, I am very much positively surprised that you participate in discussions regarding Balkan politics. This is a good sign for the future of South European regions when citizens of Europe are sensitive about it and they are participate.

  19. Dear all

    In this world there are facts and there are also things open to interpretation.

    Let us all start from the facts, shall we?

    FACT 1.
    There is a direct line in the Greek language spoken from antiquity until now, ask any linguist. Of course expecting modern Greek to sound like ancient Greek is more or less similar as to expect few English blokes in a pub in Newcastle to sound like King Richard.

    FACT 2.
    Greece had always been a crossroad between different civilizations and ethnic groups through the ages..having conquered and having been conquered numerous times it is naive to think that there has ever been such a thing as Hellenic racial purity.

    That is why from the ancient times, Hellenism was a matter of a common religion and a common language rather than hair colour. Greeks in ancient times where a white race that came in all shapes and sizes, with the early Greeks in Minoan Crete being shorter and darker, the Dorians taller and blond, the Pelasgians in prehistoric times also being blonde..and Ionians and others being anything in between.

    Therefore trying to compare our impression of Achilles to the taxi driver that picked us up from the airport in Athens is very romantic but also lacks any logical basis and certainly (dear Lora) cannot be used as an argument that there are no Greeks in modern Greece. There is a chance that there could be some Persian, Scythian, Latin, Turkish, Bulgarian, Roman blood in him, or Swedish or German (like I have a German mother) but being Greek had never been that.

    The fact is that for at least 3,500-4,000 years the region where modern Greece is now displays a continuous presence of people who shared common traditions, a common language and a common religion (the ancient one and the Christian later on). These were Greek traditions, Greek Language and Greek religion (and later a mix of Greek Mythology and a Jewish religion).

    When someone identifies himself as a Greek, speaking Greek, following Greek traditions and having the same religion for centuries..then he/she is Greek.

    FACT 3.
    The region called Macedonia today is not what Macedonia was in ancient times. The name itself derives from Macednos, meaning a very tall man, given to the people of the region cause they were on average taller than most Greeks. But they spoke Greek, had Greek Gods, Greek culture..they were Greeks. The fact that they gave other Greeks a hard time through wars is just because Greek city-states had that habit of kicking each other’s ass regularly. So it wasn’t just the Macedonians against the Athenians, it was also
    Athenians against Spartans, Spartans against Thebans etc etc.

    So Greeks are right in saying that (Ancient) Macedonians were Greeks and (Ancient) Macedonia was a Greek inhabited region. The limits of that ancient region are by 90% within modern Greek borderline and 10% in F.Y.R.O.M.

    FACT 4.
    Slavs arrived at the region much later in history. In the Byzantine times however Ancient Macedonian territory was part of a biggest empire, the same applied during the Ottoman Empire times. This meant two things:
    (a) Apparently a biggest area was named after the most ancient and famous kingdom which existed there, thus Macedonia in Ottoman times was a bigger region than the actual (Ancient) Macedonia.
    (b) The population of the (New) Macedonia comprised of Greeks, Turks, Slavs, Albanians, Bulgarians, Gypsies, Jews and others.
    (c) With all those ethnicities living together for centuries, there was a mixture occasionally but in broad terms ethnic groups remained fairly distinct. That explains why many Albanians or Slavs embraced Islam and how some Slavs were using a Bulgarian idiom as their language.

    FACT 5.
    Although the distinction between an Ancient Macedonia and a Modern Macedonia (a region that took its name from an ancient Greek kingdom that occupied a part of it) is clear, the root of the problem is ETHNIC IDENTITY.

    This identity was imposed on the people of the south of Yugoslavia by Tito after WW2. Imagine that Tito had built a confederation of ethnic states right? So he had Slovenia with its Slovenians, Croatia with the Croatians, Serbia with its Serbians. However there were other areas where things were a bit mixed. He had Albanians living alongside Orthodox Serbians and Catholic Croats where in other areas he had Muslim Croats or Muslim Serbians and Gypsies and so on. So he called the Muslim Slavs Bosnians…and of course the Christian Slavs who spoke the Bulgarian idiom..MACEDONIANS.

    Now the interpretation:

    It is true that the people living in F.Y.R.O.M. today are Macedonians because they live in the region of (Modern) Macedonia in EXACTLY the same way people living in Germany are Europeans. Greeks do not object anyone being called Macedonian like we do not object anyone being called European..because this identification does not and SHOULD NOT provide an ethnic identity.

    The German European is a proper European but he speaks a German Language and has German traditions and culture. The German European does not speak the “European” Language or have “European” culture, cause there is no such thing as ethnic European…there may be some common heritage and characteristics between the nations in Europe but Europe remains a REGION.

    People in F.Y.R.O.M. therefore are either Albanians or Slavs using a Bulgarian idiom as their official language (alongside Albanian). The lack of a specific ethnic identity leads them to use the regional identity instead to define themselves. They are right in the sense that they are Macedonians since they live in (Modern) Macedonia REGION, like a Greek in Salonica is a Macedonian in the same sense.

    If these people in F.Y.R.O.M identified themselves on ethnic criteria saying that “yes we are Albanians, Serbs and Bulgarians living in a country we want to call X”, then there would be no problem at all.

    By using a regional identity and turning it to an ethnic identity:

    (a) They are stealing that regional identity from other Macedonians (those living in Modern Macedonia)

    (b) They are creating a fake link between Modern Macedonia (the region) and Ancient Macedonia (the kingdom), thus abusing Greek history to add depth to their existence.

    (c) They are creating a potential conflict point with their neighbours. The reasoning is simple: If they are ethnic “Macedonians”, than they have historical rights over Macedonia (the region) which according to them is not just a region but an ethnic cradle. So not only they attempt to steal history, they also attempt to steal lands.

  20. La Macedoine n’a pas d’avenir dans l’UE!!!
    L’UE désire la disparition de la LA REPUBLIQUE DE MACEDOINE des cartes de l’Europe en l’a poussant à son aurtodestruction, car un pays sans nom n’existe plus!!!
    Ceci n’a pas de précédent , c’est une grande Honte pour l’UE!!!
    L’UE va contre ses propres principes , car chaque état à droit à son autodetermination! et La Macedoine – meme si elle a une histoire commune avec la Grèce- elle ne lui appartient pas pour autant – c’ est un état souverain et son nom légitime est celui que nos ancètres ont défendu à travers des siècles d’occupation : MAKEDONIJA.
    Puiseque l’UE ne veut pas de nous La Macedoine doit se tourner vers la Russie , son avenir est là.

  21. Dear Liljana,

    The right to “self-determination” has limits..the same limits as other noble things in life, like freedom and democracy.

    My freedom stops where your freedom is affected, In the same sense..if I want to define myself as Pejoska and claim a room in your house you think you would allow that?

    There are times when I listen to the people from F.Y.R.O.M. and I tend to believe that they have existed for ever..their passion is so great that prevents them from seeing the truth..that any mention to a “Macedonian” nation is not older that half a century more or less…and this was only done to serve cold-war politics.

    And Liljana, do remember please that the Americans and the US do really want a country in the region..that is the only reason why you still exist. The Americans want a buffer zone between Serbia and Greece, they want to ensure their military presence and to avoid conflicts in a region at the same time when they have enough problems in Asia and the Middle East. That is why they worked so hard to support your existence..and they would do so no matter what the name was.

    I can assure you that if things got really tough and you had to find a name and their interests are with the Albanians and/or the Greeks..they would force you to accept anything to get the matter resolved…even call you Republic of Pepsiland or whatever.

    What most readers here seem to fail to understand is that sustainable nations are not created by think-tanks somewhere in Washington or Moscow or London. The are created through centuries’ long processes and fights and civilization developments and clashes, otherwise they are destined to disappear. I find it hard to imagine the future of Kosovo, or F.Y.R.O.M. or other regions that where abnormally named “countries” to serve short-term interests.

    As it always happens in life, time will tell..but unfortunately for our neighbours, the clock is ticking against them and it is a shame.

    It is really a shame because the very same people who want an identity ALREADY HAVE ONE..they are a Slavs (Serbians or Croats, whatever they choose), Albanians and Bulgarians speaking a Bulgarian idiom..they have at least a thousand years history behind them, they have Balkan traditions and culture..their only mistake is that since they are so diverse they need one thing to unite them and they seek a regional identity.

    And finally it is a shame, because all this passion comes mainly from expatriates like you Liljana who live a nice life abroad and have no idea about the actual situation in the Balkan peninsula and simply want to sound cool to her friends who identify themselves as French, Swiss, Greek or Spanish..who have a REAL history, REAL culture, REAL tradition.

    I sympathize with your need for an identity..but you already have three to choose from..why create an additional identity by stealing it from the other REAL nations in the region?

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