Posts Tagged ‘Greece’

Macedonia, A Plea for the Primitive, 1921

Friday, December 12th, 2008

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FYROM: How a Lie was Imposed as a Supreme Reality

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2008

Vasko Gligorijevic
Skopjle,FYROM
A citizen of FYROM 

The nominally “Macedonian” nation of FYROM emerged as a byproduct of Yugoslavia’s dissolution in the 1990’s and suffered a major transformation of the internal relationships after the US-supported uprising of its Albanian population in 2001 which led to a de facto confederalization of the country. As of late 2008, it is led by the charismatic ex-boxer Nikola Gruevski surrounded by a clique of young politicians. Plagued by chronic unemployment standing at the rate of 35%, with economy characterized by collapsing light industry based on primitive technologies and decaying public infrastructure, the nationalistic government of VMRO-DPMNE failed to attract any substantial foreign investments. Most of its economic policies failed to raise the public standard based on average salary of barely 300 USD. At the same time analysts predict that the consequences of the Global financial crisis are yet to strike FYROM, raising the issue of further deterioration of the prospects for decent livelihood.

The main-although progressively marginalized ethnic group-in FYROM are the “Macedonians”, a nation postulated by the Communist internationale in 1934 and created by policies of Josip Broz, Communist’s Yugoslavia strongman after 1944. A basic historical review of their ethnicity reveals that prior to 1941, when the Bulgarian army, invading the remains of royalist Yugoslavia, was greeted euphorically by the local population, this population considered itself Bulgarian and led a combined struggle of civil disobedience and guerrilla warfare against Belgrade in order to achieve either annexation to Bulgaria or a transitional autonomous state with Bulgarian preeminence. Further exploration of the past reveals an ubiquitously attested in historical sources Bulgarian character, an impression complemented with the peculiar character of the local Slavic language which shares features with standard and dialectal forms of the Bulgarian language proper which set it quite radically apart from all Slavic languages. While this ethnic group to a various degrees assimilated in the last two centuries a certain number of Serbs and Vlach/Aromanians (the latter having historically a Greek consciousness), this is almost irrelevant to its ethnological and linguistic qualities which are almost identical as the Bulgarian vernacular.

The other large population in FYROM is the Albanian. Compromised from descendants of the Paleobalkan ethnic group of Dardanians which was to a certain extent influenced by Roman culture and Latin language and which took refuge in the mountains of present-day north Albania (“Ghegnia”) in late antiquity/early middle ages, the Albanians which converted to Islam under Ottoman rule spread to Kosovo and western FYROM in 17th and 18th centuries. Today, in FYROM, they number near 600. 000, with a compact presence in the towns of Tetovo, Gostivar and Debar and representing a significant population in Skoplje, Kumanovo, Ki?evo and Struga. Cherishing an archaic formalized code of conduct based on family and clan loyalty, ethos of reciprocity and obligation, Albanians have been historically more successful than the Bulgarians/”Macedonians” in preservation of means of private entrepreneurship and achieving a more vertical socio-economic stratification coupled with elaborated social network designed to minimize contact with the “Macedonian” non-Muslim population.

Among both the “Macedonians” and the Albanians, collectivist, anti-individualist attitude is deep-seated. Within the daily affairs of both ethnic groups there is a strong reverence for authority and hierarchy. The notion of “state”, a concept held identical with the actual government, which has to be obeyed and respected and which represent the supreme reality in which any individuality is lost is particularity prominent among the “Macedonians” having its root in their quite recent and long-lasting premodern feudal historical phase. It is no wonder that having realized that after the 2001 conflict and the subsequent signing of the Ohrid Agreement they lost the privileged status and that both factually and symbolically they cannot cherish the FYROMian state as their own, the elite of the “Macedonians”, realizing that any confrontation with the Albanian factor would be too dangerous, designed a national idea with the purpose of keeping the wider “Macedonian” public mobilized against non-issues. This recent idea is composed of the recycled concept of “Macedonian autonomism”-Bulgarian idea that that any initiative of the Slavs of Geographic Macedonia has to be labeled “Macedonian” in order to gain sympathies by deciding external political factors and the concept of “Ancient Macedonism”, the idea that the Slavs of FYROM are direct descendants of Ancient Macedonians.

The idea of “Macedonian autonomism” needs no further explanation of its perfidiousness and absurdity. Regardless of the trick character of the concept it still remains a doctrine of the Bulgarian nationalist originating from FYROM: The Bulgarians of Geographic Macedonia should claim that although their singular ethnic identity is the Bulgarian one they are, nevertheless, the exclusive Macedonians. As late as 1960’s this doctrine was restated by the leader of VMRO Ivan Mihailoff with the words “the name Macedonia should be preserved because it is a thorn in the eyes of Greeks and Serbs”.

The enormous success of the idea of “Ancient Macedonian continuity”, which originated among the most primitive sections of FYRO Macedonian emigration in 1970’s (in Sweden, Australia and Canada) needs careful analysis. Although the fallacy of the crude ethnogenetic theory which claims that the “Macedonians” of FYROM and elsewhere speak the tongue of Phillip II and Alexander the Great and that their customs, folklore and other aspects of the culture are either intact or evolved form of the civilization of Ancient Macedon is quite easy refutable, this is not the case in the current conditions under which the national discourse articulates itself in FYROM.

Briefly, Ancient Macedonians were a Greek entity with Greek ethnic name, using exclusively a Greek Doric dialect and later Koine Greek and practicing the same Olympian religion with the rest of the Greek. Ancient Macedonians participated at the Olympic Games, where only Greek were allowed to compete and had theaters on the soil of Macedon, an uniquely Greek concept. All names of Macedonians (with several exceptions) are Greek as confirmed by their Greek etymology. Conclusive to 2008, no scholar outside FYROM has even remotely claimed that the language and culture of Ancient Macedonians are an ancestral type of the present-day FYRO Macedonians, which are descendants of Slavs, an ethnic group originating from North-East Europe. Slavs settled the Balkans from 5th to 7th century and the FYRO Macedonian tribes were homogenized under the rule of the Turkic horsemen tribe of Bulgarians. These Slavs never called themselves “Macedonians”, while Byzantine, Bulgarian, Serbian, Ottoman sources as well as western travelers and others failed to furnish any reference to a “Macedonian” ethnic group prior to late 19th century.

The issue of the ethnic, cultural and linguistic nature of the Ancient Macedonians deserves a wider and detailed expose, referenced and structured according to the scientific method. However, in light of the present state of knowledge, based on the enormous archaeological wealth and a plethora of historic sources, modern historiography universally accepts the conclusion that Ancient Macedonians were Greeks. The key issue with regard to the “Macedonian” nationalism is how the opposite and improbable conclusion could became a “valid” and all-pervading form of public discourse and the root of national self-identification.

The problems arouse with the way in which the totalitarian VMRO-DPMNE government energized the masses among which the national confusion brought by media exposure of contradictory data grew. Firstly, it reactivated the conflict with Greece by multitude of irredentist moves. Secondly, within FYROM it carried massive policy of introduction of Ancient Macedonian symbols (names of institutions, statues) after the expected and natural Greek negative reaction. The population, feeling threatened, mistook the attitude of aggressive “Macedonization” sponsored by the government as “defiance” against a hostile state (the hostility of which was precisely provoked by FYROM’s initial provocations). Capitalizing on the fact that the vast majority of the general population does not have neither a capability nor a will for sustained scientific research regarding ethnology, history and linguistics, the government managed to capture attention of the whole body of citizens. One can presume that the sheer authority the organized government yields in a conformist society where libertarian principles of critical thinking and individual self-reliance regarding the process of opinion-forming are practically absent is sufficient to impose an entirely absurd idea of identity. In FYROM it is unchallenged by organized bodies from which a better knowledge of the true state of affairs might be expected, including universities, institutes, museums etc. With the sole exception of Internet, all electronic and printed media are participants in government’s monopoly over identity dogmas. Only few individual voices of distaste and revolt against the lies have insofar voiced their concerns (Denko Maleski, Petar Hr. Ilievski) but they got a hostile, unsympathetic public response.

While the prospect of organized challenge of the pro-governmental stances regarding the identity issues is something expected given the conventional political dynamics within pluralist societies, this is not quite a case. Nikola Gruevski achieved dominance of his party by calling premature elections in 2008 at the time of peak in the approval rating of his first mandate caused by populist measures. That gave him an unprecedented might against which FYROM has no institutionalized mechanisms of control. Furthermore, in a state of affairs whereby the larger part of the Slavs have abandoned their Bulgarian and Serbian culture in belief that they represent a separate ancient ethnicity in a category of its own, creators of the policy of the opposition (led by the leftist SDSM party) must carefully measure their words of opposition to the lavish Pseudomacedonian rhetorics, since they may be branded as “traitors” given the appropriate circumstances. Consequently, in such occasion they would find themselves ostracized from the ongoing debate.

This leads to the conclusion that the solution to the Pseudomacedonian hysteria which totally dominates public life in FYROM is not only confined to the change in the internal situation which may come as a result of economic collapse or a full-scale civil war, but also from strong pressure from outside which would enable FYROM to conform itself to reality and to rational way of conducting cultural policy. The reign of VMRO-DPMNE, characterized by collectivist, group-centered policies, extensive role of the police in society, new legislature sponsoring religious education, subsidizing biological procreation with wealth redistribution, enforcing ethics of service to the “common good”, emphasizing the feral, folklorist and medieval aspects of local national culture in opposition to modern as well as apolitical high culture, is the greatest political catastrophe FYROM faces in early 21st century. A hope remains that the Slavs of FYROM will reject the artificial and overbearing attempts to instill a connection with chronologically and ethnically distant Greek kingdom as well as to make history the most important aspect of their everyday lives. Only through enduring action from within and from abroad the local state-worshiping, centrally-planned tribal way of life may be liquidated and replaced with a political system based on freedom, a change which will forever put the era of Pseudomacedonism behind, as a doomed ideology based on lies.

http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/83386
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http://www.americanchronicle.com/vie…?authorID=3645

John Rylands Book-1914

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

In 1914, a study was done on the continuity of the Greek ethnicity and how Greeks have been able to absorb other groups who have come into historical Greek lands while maintaining their culture and of course their language.

Foreign Affairs; ‘Macedonia’ for Greece

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

Old one but a good one nonetheless………

June 12, 1992
Foreign Affairs; ‘Macedonia’ for Greece
By LESLIE H. GELB
What’s in a name? Ghosts or real historical demons. Perhaps war or peace. Nothing and everything.

The name in question is Macedonia, birthplace of Alexander the Great and Aristotle. Some 1.9 million souls who used to constitute a republic within Yugoslavia now insist they must have that name for their newly independent state. Greece, with its own province of Macedonia, says it will recognize the new state, with its capital of Skopje — but only if “Macedonia” appears nowhere in its name.

From the Balkan wars of 1913 to the Greek civil war of 1946 to 1949, when Greek and Macedonian Communists tried to unite the two Macedonias into Yugoslavia, tens of thousands have died over this obscure pinch of land. And over this issue today, Greece is united as it has rarely been throughout what Greeks here call their 2,500 years of democracy.

This history and situation would be quite unremarkable save for one very curious occurrence: Most West European nations and the U.S. are not supporting Greece in the matter. That fence-sitting is curious, even mysterious, because the West has every incentive to back reform-minded Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis — whose two-seat majority in Parliament surely will collapse unless he can bring the Macedonian issue to a successful conclusion.

The question of Western neutrality and even quiet opposition saturates newspapers, television and daily conversation in this low-slung, white city on the Aegean.

The conservative Mr. Mitsotakis is the most pro-American Greek leader in a very long time. He consummated a controversial naval base agreement with the U.S. He recognized Israel and got tough on terrorism. Surprisingly, he delivered Greek help for the war against Iraq. He has the full weight of the powerful Greek-American lobby behind him, a lobby with close ties to President Bush. Not least, the alternatives to Mr. Mitsotakis are the notoriously anti-American Socialists.

The 12-nation European Community, of which Greece is a member, also has strong reasons for helping Mr. Mitsotakis out. Greece has become the poorest E.C. nation, a basket case constantly in need of E.C. economic aid. And though E.C. leaders feel that this gentle Prime Minister has not gone far or fast enough in making reforms, they greatly prefer him to Andreas Papandreou, his old and bitter Socialist rival.

Mr. Mitsotakis does not have a good explanation for his plight either. “Perhaps Greece didn’t provide enough historical information soon enough to the West” before their positions were staked out, he said in an interview in his office, sitting behind his desk flanked by the Greek and E.C. flags with tables adorned by proud pictures of his extensive family.

He recalled that months ago he offered compromise names like Slav-Macedonia, only to be rebuffed by Skopje and Greek politicians and ignored by the West. Pressed for further explanations, he responded: “I would prefer not to explain.”

In the Balkans, answers are always elusive. Perhaps the West does not like the friendly relationship between Mr. Mitsotakis and President Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia. Though the Greek fully supports E.C. sanctions against Serbia. Perhaps the West fears the two will divide Yugo-Macedonia between them. Though it is now known that Mr. Mitsotakis rejected just such a Milosevic offer. Perhaps the West thinks of Skopje as a democracy. Though it is run by a bunch of Communists who still look to Serbia. Perhaps the West reckons that independence for Skopje can work only if it has the name Macedonia. Though these “Macedonians” are mostly Slavs, and though Macedonia is largely a geographical expression and not a tribal reality. Perhaps Britain and Turkey are secretly conspiring against Greece, as many Greeks darkly suggest.

Or maybe the explanation for Western neutrality is tragically simple — Greece no longer counts. Once at the center of Western civilization, it now seems a backwater.

But such a judgment would be shortsighted. Greece is the one true democracy in the Balkans. And it is led by a man trying to rid the Greek economy of bureaucratic Socialism and who is also working with Turkey toward a solution of the long-festering Cyprus problem. These are not prospects to throw away over a name. Let the West tell Skopje to be “Skopje,” and let “Macedonia” be Greek.

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpag…55C0A964958260

Macedonia,Hellenism & Stefov

Thursday, November 20th, 2008

Macedonia and Hellenism

by Theodoros Karakostas
November 11, 2008
The Hellenic Electronic Center (HEC) A Non-Profit Organization Registered in the US

with 37,000 Hellenes as members and 36 Hellenic associations in the US and abroad.

In his attack on the Austalian Macedonian Advisory Council (November 3) Risto Stefov continues behaving like a zealot. Attesting to the intellectually corrupt nature of his racist anti-Hellenic attacks are his very selective citations which he proceeds to list without any serious elaboration on his part. Mr. Stefov quite clearly cannot make an argument based on his own knowledge which is why in this most recent attack on the Australian Macedonian Advisory Council he puts fourth several statements as if they were factual without actually elaborating on them. The emotional tone of his writings over the past several weeks indicate the lack of thoughtful or objective analysis with regard to his attitude toward Greece and Greeks throughout the world.

His inability to elaborate demonstrates his own lack of knowledge and the manner and tone of his writings serve witness to the pattern of blatant anti-Greek bigotry. Mr. Stefov has continued to deny not only the proven Hellenism of Macedonia, but the very existence of the Greek people and their language throughout the collection of writings that he has posted on the American Chronicle’s forum. The fact remains the Greek Case for Macedonia is solid, and this can be seen by the international support that Greece has built based on the merits of historical evidence and documentation.

First, France, Italy, and others supported the Greek position when Athens blocked Skopje from entering the NATO alliance. Other countries such as Hungary and Germany expressed “understanding” for the Greek position. In 1995, the United States and United Nations pressured Skopje to remove the ancient Macedonian Sun of Vergina from its flag. Why would they have pressured Skopje to make this concession were it not for the fact that the evidence for Macedonia’s Hellenic heritage is beyond dispute?

Even critics of Greece’s opposition to Skopje’s membership in NATO do not question the substantive points raised by Greece in its opposition to Skopjan membership. The Skopjan cause owes its life only to the fact that its lobby has successfully misrepresented Skopje as a potential victim in the Balkans during the period of the Yugoslav wars during the 1990’s, thus leading a variety of western commentators to adopt a pro-Skopjan stance. Regardless of these public positions, few supporters of Skopje in any government or media organization has ever questioned the historical facts as put forward by the Greek government on the question of ancient Macedonia.

In fact when Slavs emanating from Skopje have been publicly pressed on the matter of Macedonia, they have made a clear departure from their own propaganda. Former President Gligorov denied any connection between the Slavs of Skopje and the ancient Macedonian Greeks. When asked by a prominent American film critic about Greece’s objection to the use of the name Macedonia by Skopje, filmmaker Milcho Manchevski (Before the Rain) did not deny the Hellenism of Macedonia, nor did he put forward any of the preposterous theories disseminated by Mr. Stefov. Indeed, prominent citizens of Skopje seem to have been very careful about disseminating their anti-Hellenic propaganda outside Skopje and in forums where their theories are bound to attract attention and raise serious questions. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has stated that he agrees with Greece on the issue of Macedonia. Journalists such as Christopher Hitchens (recently honored by Foreign Policy Magazine as one of the top intellectuals in the World) have supported Greece on the issue of Macedonia. Even Misha Glenny, whom Mr, Stefov recently cited in one of his commentaries has expressed sharp criticism of the Skopjans in his book, “The Fall of Yugoslavia” by pointing out there were no Slavs in the Balkans during the time of Alexander the Great. In a later edition of the same book, Mr. Glenny expressed sympathy for the interim pact between Greece and Skopje in 1995 which saw the latter remove the Macedonian Sun of Vergina from its flag.

Mr. Stefov’s extremism can be seen by his overall denigration of historic Greek figures from Alexander the Great up to Saints Cyril and Methodios, and by his attempt to denigrate the Greek language which has been in continuous use from the classical period. It is this sort of ignorance and bigotry that has fueled the dispute between Greece and Skopje. Ordinary Greeks have shown a dignified respect for Skopje by investing in that country and supporting it economically. The Greek government opened diplomatic relations with Skopje, a profound gesture that demonstrates a desire for friendship on the part of the Greece.

Mr. Stefov and his writings contribute nothing to the advancement of friendship between the two countries, but continue to promote hatred and division.

Theodore G. Karakostas [email protected], Member of HEC Executive Council, Greece.org