Archived Pages from 20th Century!!
MACEDONIA IN HISTORY
THE MACEDONIAN QUESTION IN MODERN TIMES
Historical evidence and archaeological finds point to the existence of Greek-speaking inhabitants of the North Pindus mountains in the period 2200-2100 B.C. These Protohellenic tribes are thought to have broken away from the main bulk of the family of Indo-European peoples in the course of the 5th millennium B.C. and to have spread throughout the area known today as Northern Greece.
In the early centuries of the second millennium B.C. three basic groups of Greek-speaking peoples can be distinguished: a) the South-Eastern group (in the NW part of Thessaly), whose principal representatives were the Ionians, b) the Eastern group (W. Macedonia), with two dialect subgroups, the Arcadian and the Aeolian and c) the Western group, of which the tribe of the Makednoi was the most populous.
At about this time, these Protohellenic tribes, led by the Ionians, began a slow advance southward. Here they came into contact with the Prehellenic populations of Crete and the islands, who had reached a high cultural level. The lonians were followed south by the Eastern group of peoples, those who used the Aeolian dialect. It was from these populations, which included the Achaeans, the Lapiths, the Minyans and others, that Mycenean civilisation was to spring.
The Western group, and the Makednoi first and foremost, split. One group pushed into Central Greece and the Peloponnese. Another established itself in Doris, where it mixed with the local populations and eventually acquired the name 'Dorians'. A third group made its way to Thessaly, while a fourth -the Macedonians- spread out through the regions which today are called Western, Southern and Central Macedonia. This group, Greek-speaking like the others, did not move south, and for some centuries remained outside the rapid cultural development of its related peoples, who had come into contact with the highly-developed Creto-insular populations of the south.
This brief description of the migrations of the Greek-speaking peoples from the north southward also explains the relationship between Macedonians and Dorians, which ancient sources often refer to. The Macedonians, that is, were not Dorians, since as we have seen the latter people acquired its name at a later date. However, the Dorians and the Macedonians belong to the ethnolinguistic group of the Makednoi, from which the Dorians split away to seek their fortunes in the south.
In historical times -the 8th century B.C.- the Macedonians, hitherto aloof from the enormously important cultural developments taking place in the south, began gradually to occupy a place in the limelight of history. All the ancient writers classify the Macedonians among the Greek-speaking family of peoples.
In the 7th century B.C., Orestis (the area around what is today Kastoria) is mentioned as the birthplace of the Macedonian dynasty of the Argeads and the Temenids. The name 'Argeads' has created the impression that the Macedonian kings traced their descent back to Argos in the Peloponnese, but today most scholars believe that this impression is the result of confusion between Argos in the Peloponnese and Argos Orestikon just south of Kastoria. However, the fact that the same placename was used by both the Macedonians and the Greek peoples of the south does prove their common ethnolinguisitic ancestry. In both cases, 'Argos' is an indigenous placename, not a loan-word.
In the course of the 7th and 6th centuries B.C. the Macedonians moved east from Orestis and settled, in succession in the areas of Pieria, Bottiaia (Mount Vermion), Eordaea (the modern city of Ptolemaida) and Almopia (today Aridaia). They then crossed the river Axios, and approached the borders of Chalkidiki. The tribes which had previously dwelt in these areas -Pelasgians and other- were driven out or, in some cases, assimilated.
By this time the Macedonians were beginning to break out of their isolation, as the influence of the developed south penetrated into Macedonia through the colonies founded in Chalkidiki and through increasing land and sea communication. Thus the Macedonian world was the scene of rapid cultural development, reaching its peak in the reigns of kings Amyn- tas, Philip II and Alexander the Great.
It would be difficult today to advance the claim that the Macedonians were not part of the ancient Greek world. Recent archaeological findings in conjunction with linguistic analysis and the discovery of large numbers of new inscriptions -all in Greek- with a vast range of Greek names prove that was never any break (either cultural or linguistic) in the unity of the Macedonians with the other Greeks. Indeed the dissemination of the Greek language and Greek culture throughout the known world by Alexander the Great and his Macedonians provides the most irrefutable confirmation of this. The unity of Macedonians and the rest of the Greeks is proved once more every year, with the finds brought to light at the major archaeological sites of Pella, Vergina, Dion and Sindos, and scores of less well-known sites (such as those in the Voio, Kozani, Kastoria, Florina, Edessa, Aridaia and Kilkis areas) and, of course, in Thessaloniki itself and in Chalkidiki.
Macedonia continued to be a Greek-land under the Epigonoi (the successors of Alexander the Great) and for some two centuries was the core of larger state units ruled by Macedonian kings. It was only after the decisive battle of Pydna in 168 B.C. that Macedonia ceased to exist as an independent state and came under Roman domination. Its territories were divided into four semi-autonomous regions.
Despite Roman rule, the Macedonian provinces prospered, and attracted new colonists from the East and from Italy. For the first time, Jewish communities appeared. However, as can be seen from the inscriptions, the Roman colonists were gradually hellenised.
During the 3rd century A.D. there were successive invasions of Goths and other tribes related to them, but these attacks were beaten off and did not lead to ethnological adulteration. In 324 A.D., Byzantium became the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. This had a positive effect on the further development of Macedonia and particularly on that of its capital, Thessaloniki, which soon grew to the point where it was regarded as the second most important city in the Byzantine Empire.
With the exception of some enclaves of Latin-speaking and other peoples, the fundamentally Greek population of Macedonia remained effectively unchanged until the 7th century A.D., when various Slav races (Drogovites, Strumonites, Sagoudates, and others) began to settle in the area of Macedonia. With the permission of the Byzantine authorities, these tribes formed small Slavic enclaves known to the Byzantines as 'Sclavineae'. Throughout the 7th century the Slavs fought the Byzantines and made repeated attacks on Thessaloniki, though without success. In 688 Justinian II won a decisive victory over them, and forcibly removed many of them to Bithynia in Asia Minor. For a long time the Slavs lived peacefully in the European provinces of the Byzantine Empire and, as can be seen from Byzantine writers, many of them were hellenised.
In the meantime the Balkans had been invaded by Finno-Tartar tribes, the Proto-Bulgars, who in turn began to gain sway over the Slavs and the other peoples who lived in the area which today is Bulgaria. However, these tribes were assimilated linguistically by the Slavs, who far outnumbered them. The amalgamation of these peoples -who jointly used the name Bulgars- created the medieval state of Bulgaria.
At this point it should be noted that there is considerable controversy amongst scholars with regard to the extent of the 'Bulgarisation' of the Slav tribes which had settled in parts of Macedonia. The historians of Skopje (Yugoslav Macedonia) maintain that there were no Bulgars in Macedonia during the Middle Ages, and that Samuel was a Slav Macedonian king who fought against Byzantines and Bulgars alike. However, the Byzantine sources reveal that Samuel's kingdom was a multi-racial one, and that for a short period in the 10th century it extended further than Bulgaria, into Macedonia and even further south and north. The fact remains, nonetheless, that despite the dynamism which this state displayed for a few decades it was unable to dislodge Byzantine rule over the whole of Macedonia or bring about any radical change in its ethnological composition. The major centres of population in southern Macedonia did not fall into the hands of Samuel and continued to be Greek, without interruption. In the rural areas of northern Macedonia, on the other hand -in areas, that is, which today are mostly within the frontiers of Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, though some lie to the south- it would appear that there was a solid Slav element. After the overthrow of Samuel's state by the Byzantine Emperor Basil II, known as 'the Bulgarslayer' (11th century), the Greek population of the rural areas revived and there was a Greek renaissance throughout the length and breadth of Macedonia.
In the 14th century, the Serbian empire of Stefan Dugan spread into Macedonia. However, this short-lived empire, which preceded the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans, had no effective impact on the ethnological nature of Macedonia, as explained by Professor A. Vakalopoulos in his History of Macedonia. Serbian rule left in its passage a few more Slav enclaves which reinforced the strata of Slav population already there. More importantly, however, Serbian rule left behind it tales of a great, though transient, empire. It should be noted that these misty recollections of a glorious past played their part in inciting the national awakening of the Serbs in the 19th century to put forward claims on Macedonia. A similar process occurred with the national awakening of the Bulgarians, who, during the 19th century, laid claim to the title deeds of Macedonia by virtue of its shortlived occupation by czar Samuel. It is, perhaps, necessary to emphasize at this point that during the Byzantine era and, later, in the Ottoman period the term 'Macedonia' had lost its former geographical implications. According to the historians Amantos, Zakythinos and Vakalopoulos, the Byzantine authors often applied the term Macedonia to areas including the greater part of modern Albania, Northern Thrace (Eastern Rumelia) and regions of what is today Greek Thrace. That the term 'Macedonian' had, in Byzantine times, lost the national and even the geographical meaning which it had had in antiquity is proved by the fact that the 'Macedonian Dynasty' of Byzantine emperors actually consisted of princes from Thrace.
The Ottoman conquest of Macedonia, which was completed during the 15th century, caused major changes in the population of the Balkans in general and of Macedonia in particular. The Christian population began to abandon the plains and take refuge in the mountains, while the economic and intellectual elite fled to the West. Simultaneously, Turkmen populations (Uruks) moved in, settling principally in Central Macedonia. Those Christians who found themselves unable to bear the harshness of the Ottoman yoke and the humiliations to which they were subjected embraced Islam. Known as 'Valaades', these Greek-speaking Muslim populations were still to be found in some parts of the Kozani area until the liberation of Macedonia in 1912. Later, with the exchange of populations of 1923-24, they shared the fate of their co- religionists and settled in Turkey.
In and after the 17th century the situation stabilized somewhat and the Greek populations returned to the plains. Since the vast Ottoman Empire had no borders, there were widespread population movements. As Professor Vakalopoulos notes in his History of Macedonia (p. 7):
Muslims and Christians availed themselves of the opportunity to move freely in every direction, towards Macedonia and inside it, and they interbred and intermingled with the local populations, creating new settlements, new living conditions and new problems. While on the one hand Turks entered and settled in various parts of Western, Central and Eastern Macedonia, on the other hand the Greeks of Thessaly and primarily of Macedonia and Epirus moved on, advancing peacefully northwards into Serbia, Austro-Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania, forming Greek colonies in the cities of those countries, founding towns and villages or injecting new blood into very ancient nuclei ofpopulation. The South Slavs and, above all, the Bulgars, moved south in search of work, revitalizing the remnants of the old Slav colonies of the Middle Ages in some parts of Macedonia or forming new settlements of their own.
In this way, the Slav element gained in strength while the Slavic-Bulgarian language gained ground in the northern zone (what today is Yugoslavian Macedonia) and in the central area. After the 18th century, however, the Greek element flourished in a multitude of ways in the economic, social and educational sectors, thus leading to the complete domination of the area by Greek intellectual and cultural influences. With the support and guidance of the Greek clergy, the Christian masses of Macedonia acquired a consciousness of their Greek identity. It is characteristic that numerous Slav-speaking Christians sent their children to Greek schools, fought against the Ottoman Empire during the Greek War of Independence of 1821-28 and later took part, throughout the 19th century, in all the Greek risings in Macedonia, fighting for the unification of Macedonia with the free Greek State.
After the foundation, in 1870, of an independent Bulgarian church known as the Exarchate, open rivalry broke out between Greece and Bulgaria over which of the two was to dominate Macedonia. In reality, this rivalry focused on the question of the national consciousness among the Slav-speaking masses inhabiting the central zone of Macedonia. According to consular reports of the time, this zone lay between the Kastoria-Ptolemaida-Yannitsa-Zichni Serron line in the south and the Ochrid-PrilepStrumnitsa-Meleniko-Nevrokop line in the north.
After the Greco-Turkish war of 1897, which proved a disaster for Greece, the Bulgarians managed to win over a considerable proportion of the Slav-speaking inhabitants of Macedonia. Thus it came about that on the feastday (20 July) of the Prophet Elijah in 1903 there was a Bulgarian rising, known as the Iliden rising, which the Turkish army soon bloodly suppressed. This rising led also to the destruction of numerous Greek communities and towns in Western and Northern Macedonia, including that of Krusovo. The rising, however, made plain the danger that Macedonia might be lost for ever, which stimulated a general moblisation on the part of the Greeks. So it came about, in 1904, that the armed'Macedonian Struggle' began, lasting until 1908. During this period, units made up of volunteers from the free Greek state, from Crete and from other as yet unredeemed areas poured into Macedonia in solidarity with the local Greek Macedonian fighters. Together, they managed to check the spread of Bulgarian infiltration and to maintain the predominantly Greek character of the central and southern parts of Macedonia. It should not be overlooked that in many areas the volunteer units were made up principally of Slav-and Vlach-speaking guerrillas, fighting on the side of the Greek cause. Their devotion to the Greek national cause led the Bulgarians to call them 'Graikomans', that is, fanatical Greeks.
When the Greco-Bulgarian rivalry was at its height, various sets of statistics claiming to show the ethnological composition of Macedonia were published. The numerical data presented varied wildly, since the statistics were based on different criteria and were intended to serve the national aspirations of their authors. The Bulgarians usually took the language spoken as their criterion, while the Greeks relied on the national consciousness of the specific population or its ecclesiastical affilition to the Ecumenical Patriarchate or the Bulgarian Exarchate. Perhaps closer to reality was the Turkish census conducted by Hilmi Pasha in 1904, which showed the numbers of Greeks and Bulgarians as follows:
Greeks Bulgarians Vilayet of Thessaloniki 373,227 207,317 Vilayet of Monastir 261,283 178,412 634,510 385,729
The armed Macedonian Struggle was cut short by the Young Turk revolution of July 1908, which overthrew the absolutist regime of the Sultan. The Young Turks issued a general amnesty and promised equality of civil rights for all the nationalities. In those circumstances, the armed conflict between Greeks and Bulgarians and Bulgarians and Serbs came to an end.
For the Greeks, the four years of fighting, which had begun in the most adverse conditions, eventually proved highly successful. Greek superiority in the south had been consolidated and there was now a powerful Greek presence in the disputed central zone. The morale of the indigenous population had burgeoned, and the Greeks of Macedonia were now in a position, alone, to withstand foreign designs upon their territory. The Macedonian Struggle had made it more than clear to the European Powers that the Greeks of Macedonia were to be the most important factor in moulding the future of this Ottoman province.
This success must be attributed to the fact that the struggie attracted Greeks from the free State, from Crete and from the other still unredeemed areas, who fought side by side with the Greek Macedonians. In other words, the Macedonian Struggle involved the whole of the Greek nation in a way that only the Revolution of Greece, in 1821 and the Cretan risings of the 19th century had done.
The second factor in the success noted above should be sought in the point made by British historian Douglas Dakin naniely, that the Greeks were fighting in an area in which the population was well-disposed and even related to them, with a profound devotion to the Ecumenical Patriarchate and the Greek idea even if not always speaking the language.
The reward for the efforts and sacrifices of the participans in the Macedonian Struggle came with the victorious Balkan Wars of 1912-13, by which Macedonia shook off the Ottoman yoke that had lain upon it for five centuries. The Treaty of Bucharest (10 August 1913) finally fixed the frontiers of the Balkan states in Macedonia.
The part of Macedonia which came into Greek possession included most of the vilayets of Thessaloniki and Monastir, with the exception of some provinces which today lie within Yugoslavian and Bulgarian Macedonia. To be more specific, Macedonia was divided up according to the following proportions:
Greek Macedonia : 34,603 kM2 or 51.57% Yugoslavian Macedonia : 25,714 kM2 or 38.32% Bulgarian Macedonia : 6,789 kM2 or 10.11%
To quote from Ekdotiki Athinon's volume Macedonia, 4000 Years of Greek History and Civilization (Athens 1983, p. 484):
"The solution achieved in the second decade of the twentieth century can only be considered the most natural outcome of a long process. Ottoman domination had been thrown off The mainly Slav northern areas went to the Slav Balkan countries (not withstanding the fact that the amount of territory received by Serbia and Bulgaria was in inverseproportion of the nationalpreference of the Slavpopulation). By a cufious coincidence, the southern area that went to Greece was roughly identical in extent with the "historical" Macedonia of the classical period, with the exception of a smah strip that remained within the Serbian and Bulgarian territories. This southern zone included, in addition to the Greek-speaking population, the majority of the Slav-speaking inhabitants who had retained a Greek national conscience".
Nonetheless, considerable Greek populations remained within the territories passed to Serbia and Bulgaria, and quite a number of Bulgarians were left on Greek soil. The First World War which followed the Asia Minor campaign and its dramatic conclusion were to cause widespread movements of population which stabilised the national homogeneity of Greek Macedonia.
During a period of some 10-15 years (1913-1925), the enormous movements of population which took place in Greek Macedonia changed the ethnological composition of the area. In the period of sustained warfare (1912-1919) tens of thousands of Bulgarians left, and this shift was completed with the departure of a further 53,000 Bulgarians by virtue of the voluntary exchange of populations between Greece and Bulgaria. This left only the Slav-speakers principally in Western Macedonia, most of whom had a Greek national consciousness. League of Nations figures dated 1926 give the following picture of the population of Greek Macedonia (at a time when the exchange of populations between Greece and Turkey had been completed):
Greeks 1,341,000 88.8% Muslims 2,000 0.1% Bulgarians 77,000 5.1% Others (mainly Jews) 91,000 Total 1,511,000
The liberation of Macedonia and the widespread movements of population which followed led to the three sections of Macedonia, as incorporated into the three Balkan states, becoming part of the life of the respective countries. This process was neither uniform nor rapid.
In Greek Macedonia, the revolutionary ethnological developments led to the emergence of homogeneously Greek population, with only sparse alien elements mainly in border districts. The Treaty of Lausanne (1923) put an end to the traditional Greek policy of the "Great Idea". This allowed the Greek governments of the inter-war years to turn their attention to the country's domestic affairs and to the building of the modern Greek state. The "new lands", including Macedonia, experienced difficulties at first in absording the influx of refugees but were later to play a leading part in the economic and social upsurge of modern Greece and her people.
As for the problem of the other ethnic and linguistic groups left within Greek borders, the Greek government attempted, after the signing of the peace treaties ending the First World War, to keep in line with the atmosphere current in Europe at the time, complying to the letter with all the provisions of the League of Nations minority treaties. Overlooking the fact that the Slav-speakers who had chosen to remain in Greece thought of themselves largely as Greeks, the Greek government of the day agreed, in 1924, to sign with Bulgaria an agreement known as the Kalfov-Politis protocol, by which the Slav- speaking populations left within Greek territory were acknowledged to be Bulgarian. However, this raised such an outcry in the country -not to mention the fact that Serbia reacted by repudiating the Greco-Serbian treaty of alliance of 1913- that the Greek Parliament refused to ratify the protocol and the League of Nations relieved Greece of the obligations she had undertaken by it. After that Greece regarded the remaining Slav-speakers -of whom there were in any case not more than 100,000- as Slav-speaking Greeks, an attitude which was greeted with relief by the vast majority of those concerned since their national consciousness was Greek regardless of what language they might speak.
A few years later (1927), a new Greco-Bulgarian agreement settled all the economic issues which had manifested themselves during the mass exchange of populations and remained pending since.
In Bulgarian Macedonia, the influx of large numbers of refugees from the Serbian and Greek zones caused widespread social and political conflict. These populations had not been reconciled to the idea of being uprooted from their homes. They were sharply irridentist and their feelings fed the political revanchism of successive governments in Sofia throughout the inter-war period.
The attempts of pre-war Serbian (Yugoslav) governments to "Serbianise" the Slav populations of Yugoslavian Macedonia met with less success. These populations, largely imbued since the period of Turkish rule with the Bulgarian national ideology, continued to be orientated towards Sofia.
After the ethnological restoration of Greek Macedonia, it was only natural that disputes over 'the Macedonian question' in the inter-war period should shift principally to the fate of the population of Yugoslavian Macedonia. The designs of the Bulgarians -and only secondarily of the Yugoslavs- on Greek Macedonia and Thrace no longer involved the liberation of ethnically kin populations but was a matter of geopolitical calculation and the search for an outlet to the Aegean.
In the meantime, a new factor had burst dynamically on to the scene. After the end of the war, the leaders of the infant Soviet Union attempted to exploit any instance of smouldering socio-political unrest in Eastern Europe, in the hope that the revolution could be spread to the area. In the early 1920s, Bulgaria appeared to be the ripest of all the Balkan states for a successful attempt to repeat the Soviet experiment. For that reason, the Comintern adopted the view of the Bulgarian communists on the Macedonian question, hoping thus to win over to the cause of communist revolution the aggrieved masses of the Bulgarian Macedonian refugees. The armed rising attempted in Bulgaria in 1923 failed, but the Comintern continued for a number of years to suppont Bulgarian nationalist positions as expressed by Bulgarian leaders such as Vasili Kolarov and Georgi Dimitrov (General Secretary of the Comintern).
The line taken by the Comintern and the Balkan Communist Federation (BCF) -in which all the Balkan communist parties were represented - was expressed in a series of party texts in the period 1922-24 and provided for the foundation of an "independent and united Macedonia (and Thrace)" which would have consisted of the corresponding geographical departments of Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Greece. The putative state would in effect have been a second Bulgaria. This, at any rate, is what emerges from the initial texts of the Comintern and the BCF which use the te-rm "Macedonians" to denote not any particular ethnic group but, in general, all the inhabitants of Macedonia and more specifically the Bulgarians of Macedonia.
Even the Yugoslav Communist Party, as can be seen from the decisions of its Third Conference of 1923, when referring to the oppressed masses in Yugoslavian Macedonia, spoke only of "Turks, Albanians, Bulgarians and Vlachs".
Despite their initial reservations, the Communist Parties of Greece and Yugoslavia in the end came into line with the Comintern. Some cadres, inluding the historian Yannis Kordatos, editor of the party newspaper Rizospastis, resigned from the Party, claiming that the conditions -at least in Greek Macedonia after the major exchanges of populations- made the line taken by their Bulgarian comrades entirely groundless.
The Comintern persisted in its pro-Bulgarian line until 1935, when international conditions in view of the rise of Nazism and Fascism in Europe led to the popular front policy, which did not favour the advancing of nationalist or separatist slogans capable of alienating the broad masses of the people. The KKE (Communist Party of Greece) decided at its Sixth Congress in December 1935 to adopt a new line on the Macedonian question, replacing the "independent and united Macedonia" line with one of complete equality for all minorities.
The Second World War provided Bulgaria with an opportunity to annex the Macedonian territories of Yugoslavia and Greece, as well as Western Thrace. The Filov government, with the approval of King Boris, allied itself with Hitler's Germany, and thus when the Nazi armed forces stabbed in the back the Greek Army, which was fighting against Italy, the Bulgarians were given their reward.
By virtue of the Hilter -Filov accords, Bulgaria occupied almost the whole of Yugoslavian Macedonia- with the exception of the western provinces, which fell within the Italian zone of occupation- and, initially at least, only the eastem part of Greek Macedonia. The Germans kept Central Macedonia under their own command, turning the westem prefectures over to the Italians. Later, however, in 1943, after Italy capitulated, the Bulgarians gained German permission to extend their zone of occupation to include the prefectures of Chalkidiki and Kilkis, while in Western Macedonia they exploited their contacts in the local German Kommandaturs to set up security battalions of pro-Bulgarian Slav-speakers, known as "Ohrana".
Throughout the occupation the Bulgarian authorities implemented a policy of forcible 'Bulgarisation'. The mass expulsion of that part of the population which was of refugee origin and the financial, moral and even physical annihilation of the remainder of the Greek population was combined with the implanting of colonists from Bulgaria itself.
However, the complete incorporation into the Kingdom of Bulgaria of eastern Macedonia (and western Thrace) was averted, thanks to massive demonstrations in Athens and in other cities in occupied Greece. The German authorities calculated the risk to their own security interests and forbade their Bulgarian allies to proceed with annexation proceedings.
During this period some of the Slav-speakers underwent a crisis of consciousness. Although most of them remained firmly devoted to the Greek idea -and many took part in the Greek resistance movementthere were quite a number who swallowed Bulgarian propaganda. Either deliberately or out of opportunism, they became tools in the hands of the Bulgarian occupying forces and persecuted their Greek compatriots.
At the same period, significant developments, which would later affect the situation in Greek Macedonia, were taking place in Yugoslavian Macedonia, most of which had been ceded to Bulgaria. Initially, a large part of the population, unhappy with the Serbian administration, greeted the Bulgarian army as liberators. Even the local communist leaders seceded from the Yugoslav Party and joined its Bulgarian counterpart. The inconsiderate behaviour, however, of the Bulgarian authorities created a much cooler climate which developed into hostility between the local population and the Bulgarian occupation forces. Thus, with considerable delay, the Titoist partisan movement began to spread also in Yugoslav Macedonia. It was at this critical moment that the Yugoslav communists announced their manifesto for the post-war reorganisation of the Yugoslavian state on a federal basis. One of the six federated republics was to be the "Socialist [at that time, 'People's'] Republic of Macedonia", whose Slav population would cease to be regarded as "Serbian' or 'Bulgarian' and would acquire a new name: 'Macedonian'.
The name 'Macedonian' was relatively widespread among the local South Slav population, but as an indication of geographical origin rather than an ethnic attribute. The use of this term as a definition of a particular national South Slav population group was a neologism, but it was one which served the political purposes of the new leaders of Yugoslavia. By giving ethnic content to a geographical term, the new political leaders hoped to be able to contruct a nationality cut off from both its Serbian and Bulgarian roots, particularly the latter.
The new leaders of Yugoslavia were not content, however, to restrict the implementation of their experiment only to their own country. Their aim was to exploit the strength of their position to impose their views on Greek and Bulgarian Macedonia as well. Having invented the 'Macedonian' nationality, they worked out a twin goal: to eliminate the Bulgarian influence on their own people, and at the same time to provide a final solution to the Macedonian question by incorporating both Bulgarian Macedonia and Greek Macedonia into a united Macedonian state which would then be converted into a federated state in the post-war Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
For that purpose, one of Tito's deputies, Vukmanovi@-Tempo, was sent to Greece in 1943 to persuade the leaders of the KKE and ELAS (the Popular Liberation Army) to set up a Joint Headquarters for all the guerrilla armies fighting in the Balkans. In reality, the aim of the Yugoslav partisans was to bring national resistance in Macedonia as a whole under their own command. Their proposal was turned down. Tempo then tried to form separate armed Slavo-Macedonian units in the hope of winning Greek Slav-speakers over to the 'Macedonian' ideology. Although this proposal, too, was rejected, permission was finally given for the formation of a political Organisation of Slavo-Macedonians, known as SNOF (the Slavo-Macedonian National Liberation Front) which was, in effect, guided covertly by Yugoslav partisans. After this permission was granted for the development of Slavo-Macedonian battalions within larger ELAS units and Yugoslav commissars were not prevented from spreading propaganda for the idea of a 'Macedonian nation'. To explain this, the argument was advanced that it would be possible in this way to attract to the guerrilla forces Slav-speakers who had come under the influence of Fascist Bulgarian propaganda.
It is indeed true that in the last months of the occupation, as the might of Nazism crubled throughout Europe, many members of the Bulgarian Ohrana threw away the shoulder-flashes of the Fascist Bulgarian army and enlisted en masse in SNOF and the Slavo-Macedonian battalions passing themselves off as 'Macedonian' communist resistance fighters.
In the meantime, the secret contacts of the Slavo-Macedonians and their direct dependence on the Yugoslavian Macedonian military staff had begun to come to the attention of the leaders of ELAS and were causing serious concern to such a point that shortly before Liberation ELAS units in the Florina-Kastoria area clashed with armed Slavo-Macedonian detachments and pushed them back into Yugoslavia.
Nonetheless the Slavo-Macedonians, with the backing of the newlyformed Tito regime in Yugoslavia, kept up their efforts. Just a few days after the Varkiza agreement, Slavo-Macedonian emigres from Greece formed, in Skopje, an Organisation named NOF (National Liberation Front) and sent armed guerrilla bands back to the border areas of Greek Macedonia. The activities of these bands attracted the criticism of the KKE, since it was in conflict with the terms of the Varkiza agreement and gave the government forces an excuse for applying severe measures to suppress them.
However, when the Civil War began in 1946, the Slavo-Macedonians, returned to Greek Macedonia in great numbers and joined the Greek Communist movement, while still retaining their own Organisation, the NOF. To judge from the various collections of documents and memoirs which have been published in Skopje, the Slavo-Macedonians -that is, the part of the Slav-speaking population whose national consciousness was Slav-were fighting what they saw at this time as a "national liberation struggle for the Macedonians of the Aegean" in order to win their national rights. These rights were none other than the policy which Yugoslavia was officially pursuing at this time and which was intended to incorporate the Macedonian territories of both Greek and Bulgarian Macedonia into the Socialist Republic of Macedonia.
In the meantime, and while the outcome of the civil war in Greece still hung in the balance, the Yugoslavs exerted unbearable pressure on their Bulgarian comrades in order to blackmail them into ceding Bulgarian Macedonia to Yugoslavia. In the end, by the Bled accords of 1947 Dimitrov agreed, in return for minor concessions, to acknowledge the inhabitants of Bulgarian Macedonia (Pirin) as "Macedonians" and to pave the way for the incorporation of the province of Pirin into the Socialist Republic of Macedonia. The incorporation of Greek Macedonia would await the outcome of the civil war.
The split between Stalin and Tito, which occurred suddently in the summer of 1948, upset all the Yugoslavian calculations about playing a leading role in the Balkans using the Macedonian question as the central lever. Bulgaria seized the opportunity to release itself from the concessions it had made over the Macedonian question. It repudiated the theory of the 'Macedonian nation' and drove the commissars from Skopje off its territory. It then attempted to exploit the difficulties which the Yugoslavs were facing in order to advance once more the pre-war slogan of an "Independent and united Macedonia". This slogan also served to increase the more general political pressure which the Soviet Union was at that time exerting on Tito.
The Moscow-Belgrade split, however, also had dramatic repercussions for Greek Macedonia. The leadership of the KKE judged it to be expendient to fall into line with the Soviet Union in attacking Tito and at the same time adopt its new policy towards Macedonia. Thus, by decision of the 5th Plenum of the Central Committee, in January 1949, the KKE revived the old pro-Bulgarian slogan of the "independent and united Macedonia" in the framework of a future Balkan Communist Federation.
This shift of policy had grave consequences for the course of military operations, since the Yugoslavs, in order to protect their own rear, closed the border with Greece, which until that time had been the main channel through which supplies had flowed to the Communist forces in Greece. Some of the NOF supporters fled to Yugoslavian Macedonia, where they settled. Later, when the armed conflict ended in August 1949, the remaining masses of NOF supporters followed the other Greek political refugees into exile in the countries of Eastern Europe and in the Soviet Union.
The final outcome of those five tragic years was that all the Slavo-Macedonians left Greece. Yugoslavia, faced with the nightmarish prospect of a Soviet invasion, sought support in the West, which opened up the way for the normalisation of relations with Greece and the signing, in 1954, of a tripartite Balkan Pact of defensive alliance, to which Turkey also was a member.
The new circumstances led Yugoslavia to drop the territorial demands it had been putting forward and to restrict itself to formal claims for the recognition of 'Macedonian' minorities. These claims were, however, totally unsubstantiated, since the objective conditions to justify them no longer existed. The KKE, on its part, soon realised the enormous political cost of the decision taken by the 5th Plenum and reversed it with a theoretical position involving "the equality of the Slavo- Macedonians". However, since the Slavo-Macedonians concerned were no longer in Greece, this position gradually lost force and was officially abandoned with the categorical statement by General Secretary Harilaos Florakis in Thessaloniki in September 1988 that "for the KKE, there is no Macedonian minority in Greece".
Lastly, Bulgaria too dropped the slogan of a united Macedonia after the death of Stalin in 1953. After a considerable amount of vacilliation -directly connected to the state of Soviet-Yugoslav relations at any given time- Bulgaria also adopted the position that there is no "Macedonian nation" and that consequently there can be no 'Macedonian' minority in Bulgaria.
As a conclusion, after the upheavals of the period 1940-50, the three sections of Macedonia went over to licking their wounds and have since followed, peacefully, the political, economic and social development of the countries to which they belong.
The solution which Tito arrived at for the Macedonian problem of Yugoslavia -even before the war was really over- was one quite accommodating. By acknowledging the Slav inhabitants of Yugoslavian 'Macedonian' as "Macedonians", he eliminated (or hoped to eliminate) the links between that population and Bulgaria. On the other hand, this gave him the initiative in imposing a unilateral Yugoslav solution to the Macedonian problem by incorporating the other two geographical regions into the Socialist republic of Macedonia. Of course, the break with Stalin in 1948 and the end of the Civil War in Greece in 1949 upset these plans, as we have seen already. However, since it had proved impossible to settle the whole Macedonian question unilaterally, it was essential that it be consolidated at least within Yugoslav Macedonia. This was a far from easy task. A whole people, who for decades had been identified with or orientated towards the Bulgarian national ideas, and a smaller section which had had a similar orientation towards Serbia, would have to sever these bonds and adopt an entirely novel national ideology, the 'Macedonian' ideology. That undertaking was Yugoslavia's domestic 'Macedonian problem' in the post-war decades.
The problem amounted to nothing more or less than the construction of an artificial nationality, dhe 'Macedonian' nationality. The task was difficult not only because the Bulgarian consciousness was relatively highly-developed in a considerable portion of the population of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia but also because the new nationality did not have the features which are essential for its establishment as such. It followed that these components had to be discovered or invented.
First of all, the nationality was given a state identity. The 'Macedonians' acquired a government for the first time -even if only on a local scale- with a Prime Minister and a Cabinet. Senior cadres from Yugoslavian Macedonia flanked the federal authorities in Belgrade. Of course, all the important decisions were taken in the capital, but the disputes between the nationalities led the republican governments to gradually take on more and more initiative, until they reached the point at which, today, they have ministers (Secretaries) for foreign affairs. At the same time, with its party representatives on the Central Committee, Skopje began to influence the party and government hierarchy in favour of its views.
The second feature of the nationality was its language. It was generally accepted that the language spoken by the Slavs of Macedonia is a dialect of Bulgarian. In order to sever the substantive linguistic bond between the Macedonian Slaves and the Bulgarians, a separate 'Macedonian' written language had to be invented. This was done by exploiting local peculiarities and by borrowing from Serbian and other Slav languages. However, despite the painstaking efforts of thirty years, the new language remains for the open-minded observer or scholar nothing more than an offshoot of Bulgarian: not, of course, that this prevents Skopje from proclaiming near and far that there is a 'Macedonian' language.
Throughout the troubled history of the Balkans, religion has usually been a fundamental element in determining, to some extent at least, the national identity of the peoples of any particular area. For that reason the leaders in Skopje, though atheists themselves, made considerable efforts to create an Autocephalous Church of Macedonia, which was eventually established in 1967 over the objections of the Serbian Partiarchate, and the refusal of all the Orthodox Partiarchates and Churches to recognize the uncanonical diktat.
In this way the language and the church, two features which connected the Slavs of Macedonia with the Bulgarians and the Serbs, respectively, were radically altered. All that was left was to sever the links which connected the past of the Macedonian Slavs with Bulgaria and Greece. Here it was necessary to reinterpret the history of the Balkans, since the most ancient times. In this way it would be possible to explain into existence the myth of a 'Macedonian nation'.
The efforts made by the revisionist historians of Skopje had two basic goals: a) to eliminate from Macedonia any historical or cultural traces of other peoples (Greeks, Bulgarians and Serbs) by labelling them all as simply 'Macedonian', and b) to establish the 'Macedonian nation' as a historical dogma, dating it not from 1944 when the Socialist Republic of Macedonia was formed, but from 13 centuries before -in other words, from the time when the first Slav tribes settled in Macedonia, in the 7th century AD.
In dealing with antiquity, these historians put forward the viewpoint that the Ancient Macedonians, like their neighbours the Illyrians and the Thracians, were not Greeks. They claim that only the ruling classes had been helienised, while the mass of the people remained Macedonian, i.e. non-Greek. Thus when the Slav tribes arrived in Macedonia in the 6th-7th centuries A.D., they mingled with indigenous 'non-Greek' Macedonians. This admixture produced the Slavo-Macedonians, a new compound of a fundamentally Slavic nature which could, nonetheless, claim to be the indirect heirs to the heritage of Ancient Macedonia. Later, they say, the 'Macedonian' nation sprang from these Slavo- Macedonians.
However simplistic this theory may seem, it is nonetheless employed systematically in order to attribute a 'Macedonian' national identity to the historical heritage of all the national groups which, down the centuries, have lived and left important traces in Macedonia. It is, however, only to be expected that this process of adulteration of the historical physiognomy of Macedonia and the peoples who lived there should have provoked violent reaction on the part of Greeks, Bulgarians and even Serbs.
The Bulgarians and the Serbs react because the historiographers of Skopje have no inhibition about appropriating the entire historical presence and heritage of other -related- Slav peoples. With the Greeks, matters are more difficult, since the Greek identity is clearly different to that of the Slavs. In order to overcome this difficulty, the Skopje historians hit upon the idea of appropriating and monopolising the name 'Macedonia' and its derivatives. This name is in fact of ancient Greek origin, since it referred to the ancient Greek nation of Philip and Alexander.
In medieval and modern times, the word 'Macedonian' lost its ethnic connotation, but continued to be used in a geographical sense to refer to any inhabitant of the geographical area of Macedonia in general. Thus in the era of Ottoman rule and after liberation, in all three parts of Macedonia, the inhabitants referred to themselves, in their own languages, using the same geographical name. The Greeks of Macedonia called themselves Makedones Oust as the Greeks of Epirus called themselves Epirotes or those of Crete Krites), while the Slav groups -Serbs, Bulgars, etc.- used the term Makedonci and the Vlachs Macedoneni. However, when in 1944 the new regime in Yugoslavia decided to use the geographical term as an ethnic one, baptising the Slavs of Macedonia "Macedonians", it was done in the deliberate desire to create confusion. The theorists of Skopje claimed that since there was a state -the Socialist Republic of Macedonia- and a race with the Macedonian name, then everything Macedonian -history, culture, monuments, historical personalities- which had come to being or been active in Macedonia-was auwmatically part of the historical heritage of the newly-formed 'Macedonian' nation. By playing with the two meanings of the name, the geographical one and the ethnic one, they created such confusion that unsuspecting foreigners were unable to distinguish between the two and unthinkingly came to assume that everything Macedonian must belong to the Slavs of Yugoslavian Macedonia.
A few examples should suffice to make clear the extent of this campaign of counterfeiting. A few years ago, the authorities in Skopje organised a touring exhibition of superb Byzantine icons from Macedonia. Many of these were well- known as Greek Byzantine works, not only because of their Greek inscriptions but also because of the Greek names of the artists. The exhibition toured numerous capitals under the title "Medieval Macedonian Icons". It does not take much imagination to conceive what impression this must have created in the minds of the crowds of visitors as to the identity of these Byzantine treasures. The ironic comments of the very few experts who realised the trick which was being played did not appear to worry unduly the organisers of the exhibition.
Similar examples can be found in modern political history. The Greek War of Independence of 1821, for instance, is transformed into a war of 'Macedonian' independence when the reference is to the struggles and sacrifices of the inhabitants of Macedonia.
In the Second World War it is said that "the first victory over the forces of Fascism was won by Macedonians": the argument here is that the heroic victories won by the Greek Army over the Italians in 1940 on the northern front where the Florina division was active must be attributed to 'Macedonian' arms. And as for the Greek Civil War, when the battles in Macedonia are being described it ceases to be a 'civil' war between greeks but is transformed into a struggle of 'Macedonian' guerrillas fighting for 'their' liberation and national rehabilitation.
There are countless similar examples. However simplistic these historiacal myths may be, the Yugoslav officials responsible for them appear to be satisfied. The constant repetition over a period of more than 40 years of the same counterfeit historical theories, together with a complete state mechanism which is adapted to the cause of consolidating the mutation experiment of transforming the population of Yugoslavian Macedonia into 'Macedonians', appears to them to have brought about positive results. The beliefs which the younger generations in the Socialist Republic of Macedonia hold about the history of Macedonia are those which they have been taught in their schools, not those accepted by scholars throughout the world. With all the zeal of recent converts to nationalism, the young 'Macedonians' are proud of their counterfeit past and they occasionally reast with blind fanaticism when anyone dares to question the ordinances of their national existence. Those who resist this brain-washing are dubbed 'anti-Macedonians', 'Grekomans", "Bulgarophiles" or even -believe it or not- "forgers of history".
Apart trom its own separate state entity, its own language, its Church and its history, the newly-formed 'Macedonian' nation was also endowed with its own 'Great Idea': the dream of a Greater Macedonia consisting of the three zones united within the framework of the Yugoslavian Federation. This vision ceased after 1948 to be presented in the form of a political programme, but it is maintained indirectly by literature, school text-books and historical treatises. It is even echoed in the statements made by the allegedly responsible officials in Skopje to the effect that "in the same way as there are many different roads to socialism, so there are many paths which could lead to a solution of the Macedonian question".
However since political promotion of the vision is inapplicable under existing circumstances and perhaps even dangerous for the Yugoslavian Federation itself, a policy has been adopted of pressing for recognition of 'Macedonian' minorities in Yugoslavia's neighbours, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania. This line has become a constitutionally protected doctrine of Yugoslav policy. It was implemented as soon as the policy of annexation was abandoned. Of course, the political and ethnic conditions which have come into being in the neighbouring states since the Second World War make Yugoslavian reasoning groundless, but the persistence in putting forward the minority claim cannot be unrelated to the attempt to keep the dream of the 'Macedonian' Great Idea alive.
The truth of the matter is that the Yugoslavian Government - particularly when Tito was still at the helm- did not allow the vision to develop into something capable of poisoning relations with Greece. In recent years, however, certain malfunctions in domestic economic and political life in Yugoslavia and the confrontations between the various nationalities which live there have provoked the revival of an intense nationalism whose future possible dimensions must give onlookers pause for thought. The existence in the S.R. of Macedonia of nearly 400,000 Albanians -20% of the total population- is certainly a major headache.
Similar, and even more marked, phenomena have been observed in the countries, such as Canada and Australia, to which scores of thousands of people from all three zones of Macedonia emigrated since the Second World War. The emigrants from Yugoslavian Macedonia were, naturally enough, carriers of the Slavo-Macedonian ideology as taught to them in their homeland. They attempted to impose this ideology, with all its distorting historical misinterpretations, in the host countries, and to that end exploited to the full all the scope which countries such as Canada and Australia, which implement 'multi-cultural' policies, afforded them - the free development of their particular linguistic and cultural features. They demanded that they be recorded as a special slavic group under the name 'Macedonians', that they be taught the 'Macedonian' language in Canadian and Australian schools and that they be free to promote their 'Macedonian' cultural characteristics. The demand to be allowed to retain their cultural and linguistic features was not an unreasonable one. The Greek emigrants, too, made full use of the opportunities given them to cultivate and develop their own ethnic and cultural identity. But what caused sharp reaction on the part of the Greek communities was the attempt of the Yugoslavian emigrants from the Socialist Republic of Macedonia to monopolise the name "Macedonians" as indicative of their own national identity and to impose on the Australian or Canadian educational system their interpretation of the historical past of Macedonia.
The Greek reaction was entirely natural and the force of their protests fully justified, given that Macedonians from Greek Macedonia constituted a considerable proportion of the Greek communities in the host countries. These emigrants were proud of their homeland and its history - as are Greeks from all the other parts of the country - they set up Macedonian associations and federations (such as the Panmacedonian Associations of the USA, Canada and Australia), and gave prominence to their local Macedonian customs, songs and dances. How could they ever have imagined that anyone would call into question their national heritage or -still worse - forbid them even to use their own name, Macedonians?
This confusion was further intensified by the fact that among the emigrants were a few thousand Slav-speakers from Greek Macedonia. Some of these people - for reasons that have to be traced chiefly to the period 1940-50 - had embraced the 'Macedonian' national ideology. However, having been born in Greece and spent their childhoods there, they did not wish to lose the reflected cultural glory of descent from the Ancient Macedonians and Kings Philip and Alexander. As a result, they resorted to a theory of their own about the origins of today's 'Macedonians' - a theory which was even more conceptually ambitious than the myths invented by the historians of Skopje. They claimed that today's 'Macedonians' are a peculiar blend of nation which in the course of its history has thrown up great historical figures as diverse as Alexander the Great, Czar Samuel (of the Bulgarians) the Byzantine Emperors of the Macedonian dynasty, the Greek freedom fighters Karatasos and Gatsos (who were active in Macedonia during the Greek War of Independence of 1821), the Bulgarian leaders of the 1903 Ilinden rising (among them Goce Deltsev and Yanne Sandaski), the founders of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia of 1944 and the organisers of the Slavo-Macedonian movement in Greek Macedonia during the period 1943- 49.
There was no danger of this theory being challenged since in the multicultural societies in which it was developed, absolute ignorance of history went hand-in-hand with absolute toleration. The watchword "you are what you say you are" covered even the most peculiar tales. Thus it is not an exaggeration to say that in the host countries there began to appear a mongrel pattern in which the ancient Macedonian, medieval Slavic and contemporary Balkan historical heritages were all jumbled up, and a new 'Macedonian' identity began to gain ground. It would not be running too great a risk of absurdity to call this identity the 'Canado-Macedonian' or 'Australo-Macedonian' theory. However, the emotional charge created by semi-ignorance and the cleverly engineered nationalism instilled by the various missionaries sent out by Skopje to centres of immigration led, inevitably, to extreme behaviour. Among the characteristic examples of this were the public demonstrations of Slavo-Macedonians against the Ist International Academic Congress on Macedonia held in Melbourne in February 1988 and organised by the Greek Institute for Macedonian Studies of Melbourne, and the protests against the unique exhibition of archaeological finds from Ancient Macedonia which the Greek Ministry of Culture sent on tour round various Australian cities in November 1988. In both cases it was clear that the Slavo-Macedonian protests were the result of the fact that the Greeks had 'dared' to use the name Macedonia and to exhibit Macedonian cultural treasures.
However, if in countries on other continents the dispute focused principally on the definition of national identity and on the appropriation of the name Macedonia, in the Balkans the problem is not confined to its cultural dimensions. International observers will be familiar with the tense relations which, for long periods of time, have been the rule between Yugoslavia and Bulgaria over the Macedqnian question. The cultural side of the problem, with Skopje casting doubt on the Bulgarian historical presence in the broader area of Macedonia, has certainly been a standing cause for the stirring up of passions. But behind that lurks a mutual suspicion between Yugoslavs and Bulgarians over the other side's claims on their Macedonian territories. The Yugoslavs claim that the Bulgarians by refusing to admit the existence of a 'Macedonian' nation - and consequently of a 'Macedonian' minority on their soil - are persisting in the belief that the Slavs of Macedonia are Bulgarians. And since they are Bulgarians -runs the Yugoslavian theory- the territory of Macedonia, and the Socialist Republic in particular, ought one day to be incorporated into the Bulgarian homeland. This suspicion relies on the fact that, in the past, as soon as a change came about in international conditions the Bulgarians hastened to take advantage of it. On the first occasion, they occupied Yugoslavian Macedonia as allies of the Germans and attempted to annex it. On the second occasion, after the Stalin-Tito split, Dimitrov first acknowledged the existence of a 'Macedonian' nation (in 1944-48) and then Bulgaria performed a volte-face and rebaptised the 'Macedonians' as Bulgarians while at the same time encouraging subversive elements inside the Socialist Republic of Macedonia itself in the hope of opening up a way for the region to be annexed. Despite Sofia's protestations of peaceful intentions with regard to the inviolability of frontiers and specific proposals for the signing of a proclamation which would confirm the current territorial status as final, Belgrade has refused to accept assurances and continues to be suspicious, as a result of Bulgaria's almost blind commitment to the policy of the Soviet Union. This policy has in the past undergone considerable shifts vis-a-vis Yugoslavia, and the leaders in Sofia have always hastened to align themselves with it, whatever their own judgement may have been.
The Bulgarian side, too, has had reservations about how far Belgrade's intentions are peaceful. Behind the demands for recognition of the 'Macedonian' minority, the Bulgarians discern an attempt to keep alive the grounds for territorial claims on Bulgarian Macedonia as soon as the conditions are ripe. The Bulgarians will not forget easily that at a time when Bulgaria, as a former ally of Hitler's Germany, was being dragged before the Paris Peace Conference (1946) and its international position was hardly enviable, Tito, with Stalin's aid, pressed Dimitrov to recognise the Bulgarians of Macedonia as 'Macedonians' - every last one of them - and, moreover, to consent to the annexation of Bulgarian Macedonia as part of a united Macedonia within the framework of the Yugoslavian Federation. If that plan was not carried out at the time, it was because of the crisis which broke out in Soviet-Yugoslav relations. Nor will the Bulgarians agree to the 'Macedonisation' of a large part of Bulgarian history and of their cultural heritage. However, in order to bring about some measure of improvement in the gloomy atmosphere hanging over their bilateral relations with Yugoslavia as a result of the Macedonian issue, the Bulgarians have made some interesting alternative proposals. They have stated that although they regard the Slav population of Macedonia as being of Bulgarian descent, they nonetheless accept that the political and social conditions - in Yugoslavian Macedonia have, since 1944, been entirely different and have allowed the formation of a new national identity. These conditions, though - which of course existed nowhere else than in the Socialist Republic of Macedonia - have not and could not have affected the populations of neighbouring countries. The Bulgarians have gone as far as to propose a compromise formula over the sensitive point of the cultural heritage: they would be prepared to accept that certain events and personalities in the broader area of Macedonia (for example, the Iliden rising) form part of the joint cultural heritage of the Bulgarians and the 'Macedonians'. This was indeed a shrewd manoeuvre, but it did not meet with Yugoslavian approval, perhaps because Belgrade and Skopje were afraid that even the slightest concession to weaken their monopoly on history would bring the edifice they had so painstakingly built with stolen materials tumbling down. Bulgarian policy over Macedonia has however had positive results in another direction. 'Me categorical statements made since 1964 by Bulgarian leaders to the effect that their country has no territorial or minority claims on Greece have allowed the development of relations of actual good neighbourliness and cooperation between the two countries. Moreover the negative aspects of the history of those relations have now passed from the domain of politics into the province of scholarly rewiew. For the first time -and for nearly a quarter of a century- relations between Greeks and Bulgarians are not only trouble-free but could be described as positive. That is undoubtedly a lesson in how even in the Balkans the most painful memories can be overcome when there is the will, the perspicacity and the political realism.
It is obvious that from the objective point of view there can be no 'Macedonian question' for Greece. The legal status of the country's northern borders is safeguarded by international treaties such as those of Bucharest (1913), which ended the Second Balkan War, and of Neuilly (1919) and Paris (1947) which ended the First and Second World Wars.
The ethnological composition of Greek Macedonia, which at the time of Ottoman rule was an inextricable tangle of nationalities, religions and languages, is today homogeneous to an extent rare for the Balkan peninsula. Contributions were indubitably made to this by the widespread movements of populations which occurred at the time of the Balkan Wars (1912 - 13) and of the First World War, by the large-scale exchanges of populations between Greece and Turkey and Greece and Bulgaria in the inter-war period, by the arrival of greekrefugees from Yugoslavia, Romania and Russia (apart from those who came from Bulgaria and Turkey), by the final departure of the remnants of the Slav population at the end of the German and Bulgarian occupation (1944) and the Civil War (1949) and by the overseas emigration of the 1950s. The official figures of the most recent Greek census (1981) show that the thirteen Prefectures of Macedonia contain some two million Greeks. Of the once-flourishing communities of Jews and Armenians, which were decimated by the events of the war, only a few thousand people are left, most of them resident in Thessaloniki.
The economic development and social conditions which caused mobility in the population during the post-war period attracted the agricultural population of the border areas into the urban centres. As a result, the various groups of the population -whether indigenous or of refugee origin- have now, after three generations, become members of uniform social and economic strata with a common education, religion and language. However, this process of convergence has not wiped out all trace of local cultural characteristics, which continue to be preserved and indeed developed with a sense of love and pride by the various sections of the population. In our day, this trend (which is to be encountered throughout Greece) keeps traditions alive and at the same time, by cross-fertilisation, gives birth to new creative cultural activities.
In recent years there has been a strongly growing sense of national awareness, as the impressive archaeological finds from various parts of Macedonia have confirmed in the most authentic mdnner the Greek roots of Macedonia. The fact that the area of Greek Macedonia today is identical with the Macedonia of Philip's time -with the addition of only some narrow strips which today are part of the Macedonian territories of Yugoslavia and Bulgaria- creates among Greek Maceonians a feeling of an ipso jure spatial inheritance from their forefathers. Similar testimony to the marked presence of Hellenism in Macedonia is provided by the recent evidence turned up by historical research into the Byzantine and Ottoman periods.
It is, then, necessary to investigate how Greece became involved in the 'Macedonian disputes' which manifest themselves either inside Yugoslavian Macedonia or in the traditional disagreements between Yugoslavia and Bulgaria.
Perhaps the most important cause can be traced to the insecurity which the Greeks have traditionally felt and which was the result of the military events of the 20th century. It should not be forgotten that in two World Wars parts of Greek Macedonia were occupied by the Bulgarian army, and that during the Civil War there was a direct danger of Greece losing Macedonia, which would have been annexed to a unified Macedonian state within the framework either of Federal Yugoslavia or of a Balkan Communist Federation. Despite the fact that the political conditions which have come into being in the Balkans, particularly in recent decades, are not favourable to the revival of such plans, it is nonethelesse the case that the flux for which Balkan relations were noted in the past and the interventions in the area of the Great Powers of the day have left behind powerful remnants of uncertaintly and suspicion. The action taken by neighbouring Yugoslavian Macedonia, moreover, has done nothing to dispel these suspicions: rather the reverse.
A second reason to which particular attention should be p4id is the sensitivity of the Greeks towards the historical continuity of their race since antiquity through medieval Byzantium down to the present. Historians are well acquainted with the storm of protest which broke out when, in the 19th century, the German scholar Fallmerayer attempted to discredit the idea of the continuity of Hellenism. The Greek historian Paparrigopoulos, of course, found serious arguments with which to rebut Fallmerayer's theories, but the reaction which the German scholar had provoked increased the nationalist zeal of the Greeks of the time and their determination to see the realization of their vision of a modern Greek state. Today, it is the historical revisionists of Skopje who have undertaken a Fallmerayertype provocation. The systematic counterfeiting of Macedonian history was initially treated by the Greeks as ludicrous and unworthy of their attention. However, constant reiteration, the monopolising of the name 'Macedonia' and the carefully-planned campaign to impose these novel theories abroad compelled the Greeks to awake. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this awakening, mutatis mutandis, of course, was in many ways similar to the reaction caused in the 19th century by Falimerayer's theories. It is quite natural that the Greeks, a historic people, should be particularly sensitive towards anything tampering with their historical heritage.
As the guardians of a creative tradition in history and culture unique in Europe, they are in no way disposed to abandon that tradition to the political expediency of those set on looting it.
In brief, Greek policy over the 'Macedonian question' could be summarised as follows.
Greece has no territorial or even minority claims against her neighbouring states. She believes that the borders established by international treaties and ratified by the Helsinki Final Act are inviolable. As for Greek Macedonia ' Greece is convinced that the ethnological homogeneity of the area makes it impervious to the various demands upon it which, in the past, have been advanced in the form of territorial or minority claims. On the dispute between Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, Greece believes, as one would expect, that in the long term the existence of such a problem could create a danger of the sensitive Balkan area becoming involved in fresh misadventures. For that reason, Greece is positively disposed towards any effont which may defuse what at times has been an acute dispute. For the same reason, Greece welcomes Bulgarian policy towards her, a policy which successive Greek governments have repaid in an equally positive manner.
The Greek attitude towards the 'Macedonian problem' in Yugoslavia has frequently been misunderstood. Greece sees Yugoslavia as a basic factor in safeguarding peace and security in the Balkans. For that reason Greece hopes that the internal disputes and conflict in Yugoslavia, which to a considerable extent are the result of disagreements amongst the various nationalities, will not have unpleasant consequences for the cohesion and stability of the Yugoslavian Federation. It follows that even when Greece is provoked by the nationalist extremists of Skopje she avoids aggravating the situation still further, in the hope that a more prudent attitude will prevail in the sensitive area of Yugoslavian Macedonia as well. Skopje, however -whether deliberately or out of ignorance- regularly misinterprets the Greek position. Greece is accused of denying the existence of a people, of a language and of a literature and thus of intervening in Yugoslavia's internal affairs, in breach of the ethnic and human rights of an entire nation.
This simplistic interpretation of Greek policy is self-evidently mistaken. Greece has no intention whatever of becoming involved in Yugoslavia's internal affairs, in the same way as she is not desirous of Yugoslavia becoming involved in hers. Consequently, Greece does not take up any position towards the process of definition, in one way or another, of the national groups living in Yugoslavia. If Yugoslavia managed after the Second World War to transform the populations which live in the southern part of the country and give them a new ethnic orientation, then that is a matter for those populations alone. The problem thus lies not in whether Greece acknowledges or fails to acknowledge a new ly formed nation, the language which that nation speaks and the literature in creates, but in the name which that nation uses to define itself. As we have noted above, the name 'Macedonian' -an Ancient Greek name- is used even in Greece as a geographical attribute in order to refer to the inhabitants of the geographical area of Greek Macedonia. Any establishment of the monopolisation of that name by the Yugoslavian Macedonians will create tremendous confusion, in Greece and abroad, for the Greek Macedonians, who use the term in its geographical sense. Apart from its practical aspect, of course, the dispute over the name also contains another element: that of the cultural heritage of the name, which the Greeks are not disposed to put up for auction to the highest bidder. It follows that the question is not one of failure to acknowledge the existence of a nation, but one of abandoning the monopolisation of the Macedonian name.
Various approaches to this question have been formulated on the Greek side. The most traditional proclaims that the only true Macedonians are the Greek inhabitants of Macedonia, who are the only people entitled the make use of the name. This approach has strong foundations in history. However, the political problem which has come into existence -particularly since 1944- has lead to the formulation of different positions. Some scholars believe that there ought to be a clearer definition of the Macedonians (that is, of the various national groups which live in the broader area of Macedonia, and particularly when they find themselves abroad) as Slav or Yugoslavian - Macedonians, Greek - Macedonians or Bulgarian - Macedonians. In this way the name will continue to have its traditional geographical nature while each of the national groups originating in Macedonia will have a clearer and more honest definition of itself. If a solution can be found to this question, the way will undoubtedly be open for the resolution of the myriad misunderstandings which have accumulated and which stem from the appropriation of the name 'Macedonia' and from the distortion of the Greek historical tradition in Macedonia.
The various tendencies which can be observed within the Socialist Republic of Macedonia, as well as in some parts of the Macedonian diaspora lead one to conclude that the process of 'Macedonisation' which began in 1944 has not solved the problem. The phenomena of acute neo-nationalism in its most extreme form indicate that more time is still needed for the consolidation of this experiment in ethnic transformation. Until then, one should not perhaps expect the responsible officials of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia to accept solutions such as those proposed by the Bulgarians or expressed on some sides in Greece. Until then, the disputes will continue to exist. It will be up to the responsible leaders of each of the Balkan countries to avoid giving existential dimensions to these problems ', since they have before them much greater interests capable of leading them to closer rapprochement, to mutual understanding and to cooperation for the good of peace in their countries and in the Balkans as a whole.
Also of interest: History of Thessaloniki
Back to History or