Macedonia: the stupid, it burns

The latest news from Macedonia: a local art gallery did a billboard showing the Greek flag with a swastika in place of the cross.

The Greeks have, of course, gone completely apeshit. Front page news, demonstrations, formal diplomatic protest.

This is one of those perfect Balkan storms where you have obnoxious and stupid behavior that leads to even more obnoxious and stupid behavior. The billboards are both obnoxious and stupid; they’re nothing but a finger in the eye to Athens, and deliberately done a few days before the NATO summit where Macedonia’s membership is on the table. The owner of the art gallery apparently is from Greek Macedonia, where the Greeks have been treating the Macedonians like dirt since they took over in 1913, but that’s neither here nor there; it’s just a really fucking stupid thing to do.

That said, the Greek response is even dumber: demands that Macedonia take the billboards down and apologize. (The billboards are paid for by a private organization, so the government can’t do much about them and isn’t responsible for them.) This accompanied by a descent into narcissistic, self-righteous outrage that’s… well, I wanted to say very Balkan, but in this case there’s something particularly Greek about it.

Anyway. This pretty much eliminates Macedonia’s chance of joining NATO this year. Which by itself is no big deal — the Greeks were probably going to veto them anyhow — but Athens has been given a wonderful gift. Now instead of being disgusted by Greek stupidity and stubbornness, the rest of NATO will be disgusted by both parties. So, a net loss for Macedonia.

There are already plenty of the usual Balkan conspiracy theories floating around, but you know? Sometimes stupidity is all.

I should probably add here that I lived in the Balkans for five years and hope to go back and live there some more. But: Jesus Christ, people. Is it something in the water?

97 thoughts on “Macedonia: the stupid, it burns

  1. Personally I think that they should make “shooting yourself in the foot” an Olympic sport. A Balkan country would take gold every time, which would be a big morale booster.

  2. Call me old-fashioned, but I for one do not believe in the freedom of expression when that expression is clearly intended to offend someone else.

    I don’t think there’s anything ‘in the water’, I just think that the Balkan countries (particularly Macedonia) are too often led by unexperienced leaders that are incapable of long term planning and are satisfied with short term political maneuvers.

    Macedonia boasts the world’s youngest prime minister, but I don’t think that’s something to boast about. Many people believe that Macedonia lacks an identity and that’s why it has to “steal” from others, but in my opinion they lack a long term strategy and political vision that goes beyond the next 4 years (next elections).

    Macedonia shares borders with Greece, Albania, Kosovo, Serbia and Bulgaria. It’s not particularly good friends with any of them.

    It angered Greece, in addition to everything else, by naming it’s main airport “Alexander the Great” – not a great political move in my opinion – and now it allows certain groups to link Greece with Nazism (a clear copycat of vintage Serbian anti-Western, anti-NATO, anti-US campaigns).

    It angered Albanians in Albania and Kosovo by suggesting Mother Teresa ‘could have’ been ethnically Macedonian, which is something than a seven year old can debunk in a minute.

    It angered Serbia by arresting some Serbian monks in their churches a year or two ago.

    And, finally, the Bulgarians believe that Macedonians are ethnic Bulgarians so the relations between the two are not great. The world’s youngest ever prime minister has recently declared himself to be ethnically Bulgarian, which has further added fuel to the fire of “identity issue.”

    Now, I am not even trying to suggest that Macedonians are to blame for all or most of these issues, but the question has to be asked does Macedonia really need more of the “world record-breaking” prime ministers and leaders with no experience or do they need some more elder, more mature statesmen and women that can create long term regional alliances with neighbours.

    In my opinion, NATO membership would have been like a badge of a “stable and secure country” (not a bad badge to wear in front of foreign investors) and it looks like they will miss out on that. EU membership is far more important and Greece (and Cyprus) have veto powers there too. So, why stir things up by naming the airport “Alexander the Great?” Couldn’t someone in the Macedonian leadership foresee these issues and dealt with them earlier? Missing out on NATO membership this year does not remove the Greek veto next time around, leading to a more “humiliating” public defeat at a later stage. If they had agreed on a name a few years ago it would have been an “agreement”, anything post-NATO summit in Bucharest will be a retreat (read “defeat”).

    The real problem is that this dispute does not only affect the ethnic Macedonians, but also Albanians, Turks, Roma and others that live in Macedonia.

    So, yeah, to whoever designed those posters: well done, you’re a true Macedonian patriot. Stay true to the regional tradition and hurt yourself a lot as long as you hurt others a little bit too!

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  4. First, the UN-accepted name(mutually accepted by both parties, but pleasant to none ) is FYROM. You want to do FYROM’s propaganda, please label it as such.
    Second, where did you get this delusional idea that greeks have been treating Macedonians like dirt? There are real macedonians(in greece) and phony ones in FYROM(if fyromians are not going to recognize greek macedonians, then the name phony is appropriate). Even the prime minister of Greece is Macedonian! There is no fyromian minority in Greece, while there is a greek minority in FYROM. In the last elections, a coalition of ultraleftists and anarchists who perceive anything that is not harmful to the country is nationalistic, as they oppose the notion of a nation,
    including a handful of people claiming to be Macedonian(with names showing an origing from South greece) got some 6000 votes, most of them in Athens. Greek macedonia is Just get it and get over it. The problem with the dispute is not history, though the FYROM propaganda that Alexander the great was not greek is pure bull(ask jews the victory over who do they celebrate in hannuka and they’ll tell you greeks, not macedonians, because ancient macedonians were just that),
    but their claim that he was fyromian is simply delusional, as slavs appear in the region 1000 years later. The problem is that FYROM, which has maybe 30% of the geographical area of ancient macedonia claims all of it, including the over 50% by greece and the rest by Bulgaria.
    It is as if one European country would rename itself republic of Europe, say they are the european nation and expect others to
    recognize it. Or Mexico breaking up and one breakup republic wishing to go by the name of Republic of California. Or Stalin having renamed a part or all of Siberia “Soviet Socialist Republic of Alaska” and today this republic wishing to be recognized as Alaska. Or Argentina breakin up and one part wanting to go by the name “republc of the Falklands”.
    This is exactly the kind of delusions we are talking about with FYROM: Thessaloniki is the 2nd largest greek city in greek macedonia. The people througout greek(real) macedonia are proud to be greek and macedonian, but they have no and want no relation with fyromians. It’s the same as Bavarians being proud to be both German and Bavaria, but should there be a former Swiss state of Bavaria, they would have no relation with them.
    The problem with FYROM is that they do not recognize this, instead they talk about the macedonian nation, as if the greeks in real macedonia were not macedonian and print maps(that is the government, not private nationalists) showing all of macedonia(including the greek part ) under their flag.
    Greece could agree to a name like “Northwest Macedonia” or Slavoalbanian Macedonia,
    which would be even a concession, as the larger part of their country was never macedonia(Dardania, Vardaria etc were names used), but no, the other side is adamant.
    So greece does not have any obligation to be friends with someone whose sole objective is to take over parts of Greece.
    So, next time get your facts straight

  5. Fidel, there are no Macedonians in That Country. There are only Former Yugoslav Macedonians. Honest. Pericles said so. (“In about 1500 years Slavs will settle those mountains Alexander will have left for sunnier climes and Indian takeout. They’ll fight a bunch and then make a small republic filled with Former Yugoslavs.” It’s in his less-known Afternoon Tea Oration.)

    Seriously, though, there’s a United States of America and a United States of Mexico; there’s a Federal Republic of Germany and a Federal Republic of Austria; there’s two Congos. Why does the Greek government still gets its collective fustanella in a wad about what name to call the greater Skopje metropolitan area? Are they that eager to give us things to blog about?

  6. A.Dimitriou Says: “There is no fyromian minority in Greece, while there is a greek minority in FYROM”

    You just proved Doug right. There is no “Slavic Macedonians”, Albanians, Turks or Bulgarians in Greece, but there are Greeks in “Slavic Macedonia,” Albania, Turkey and Bulgaria – is that so?

    Greece is simply not tolerant enough to allow anyone to have any other identity other then Greek regardless of their ethnic, racial or even religious background. Old Greeks gave democracy to the world, isn’t it time they start practicing it in their own home?

  7. Fidel,
    why do you present me as having said things I did not? Neither I, nor Greece would have a problem if there were a slavic minority.(However, people would be offended if anyone said they are part of a macedonian minority. So it 1/3 of the population and denying them their identity means they can sue and the courts will settle it). Anyone can say they are whatever they wish. I can say I am part of a Viking minority; but just because I say it does not mean people have to buy it.

    But back to your question:
    Greece and its neighbors have a history of population swaps. This means greeks in Bulgaria move to Greece and Bulgarians in Greece moved to Bulgaria, for example. This happened over 100 years ago and while by modern standards this
    may look undesirable, it certainely was better than the ethnic cleansing that happened in Armenia, the Black sea and Asia Minor, for example. So this is the reason why there is no
    Bulgarian minority in Greece and vice versa for example.
    There are many Albanians in Greece, as there are Pakistanis, Indians, Kurds, Syrians and so on, but this is not a minority: Immigrants, either legal or illegal do NOT constitute a minority. I have lived and worked in a number of countries and never considered myself part of a “greek minority” there.

    Regarding the turkish minority, there are treaties that talk about moslem minority in Greece and christian minority in Turkey, not Turks and Greeks. And, remember what has happened to the christian/greek community in Turkey in 55 and so on. Are you saying that because Greece did not do a cleansing, like Turkey did, they should be called intolerant? Are you really saying we should follow Turkey’s tolerant example and progrom the moslem/turkish minority????
    And, let’s not forget Cyprus. The UK and the US is campaigning for instance for intellectual property rights(illegal mp3 downloads) which is petty theft, and calling those (immigrants) who have accepted the result of armed robbery with murder, Turkish-cypriots. Do we need a repeat of an invasion supposedly to protect a minority, especially given that the EU army is explicitly designed to go fight in far away places like Afghanistan, but not allowed to protect EU soil?
    Look at how the US and the UK handle human rights(much more serious than name calling) when they think they interfere with security issues.
    Greece, even though the security problems are much more serious, is not doing anything of the sort.

    And to Doug: What is your interest in promoting another war in the area? Are you saying fyrom is not nationalistic in denying the greeks in macedonia the right to call themselves Macedonia
    and printing maps of ALL of macedonia, tecahning their kids all sort of irredentist claims and greece is?????
    What part of the republc of Europe argument did not you get or do you disagree with?
    Particularly in conjunction with the irredentist claims by Fyrom(see the boing blog and the “truth” position!)

  8. “There is no fyromian minority in Greece,”

    Well, that’s just not true. There are tens of thousands of “Slavophone Greeks” in northern Greece. Nobody knows the exact number, because the Greek government hasn’t allowed them to identify themselves to census takers since 1951. But in 1951 there were at least 40,000 of them, and probably more. They haven’t gone anywhere.

    It’s an interesting thing. The Greek government insists that there are almost no ethnic minorities in Greece. They acknowledge only a few — Turks, Jews, Armenians — all small. They vigorously deny the existence of others, even groups (like the Slav Macedonians) that have been there for hundreds of years. /And most Greeks accept this./

    But yes, there is a Slav Macedonian minority; and yes, the Greeks have treated them badly since 1913. (Worse after 1948, since the Slavs tended to favor the Communist side in the civil war.)

    The fact that most Greeks don’t know this and don’t want to hear it… well, it is a bit strange in a First World country that’s been in the EU for a generation. But there it is.

    Doug M.

  9. Douglas Muir Says
    “There are tens of thousands of “Slavophone Greeks” in northern Greece.”
    I speak fluent english, french and german, but that does not make me any of these nationalities. My wife’s grandfather came over from Istanbul,
    and he spoke fluent turkish, but that did not make him turkish. I knew Israelis who came to Israel from Arab countries and the were fluent in Arabic, but they did not consider themselves Arab. Since during the ottoman times (before 1913) there were also bulgarians there, people had to speak other language to communicate. But that does not say something on ethnic identity.

    The hard fact is that in the latest elections the self-proclaimed “Macedonian party” took part under an umbrella of ultraleftwing/anarchist coalition and got some 6000 votes, most of them in Athens. For each of these 10s of thousand as you claim, or <6000 as the votes show of slav macedonians(now you use the term, before you used macedonian), there are many more greek macedonians. Don’t they also have the right to be called macedonian?

    I’m not sure if you are saying population exchanges never happened. I’m sure back in 1913
    people who supported the bulgarian comitadji
    against the greek macedonian villages would not be welcome with open arms. Greece has no problem aknowledging Armenian or jewish minorities as you point out and although religiously different from what most greeks officially are(which does not say much, as religion is not taken that seriously), they are very well integrated and I have yet to hear a complaint from any.

    Personally and also, I think the vast majority of greeks would have no problem accepting a slav minority, if there were one.
    The problem would be if that slav minority would identify themselves as “Macedonians”, implying that the greek macedonians are not macedonian.
    The same if true for FYROM. Just picking a name that will recognize that the greeks in for example Thessaloniki are Macedonian too, yet have nothingto do with them, would be acceptable(you still chose not to answer the republic of Europe argument). But so far FYROM is denying that and
    is clear on having irredentist claims.
    So, who is the nationalist here?

  10. 1) “Slavophone Greek” is your term, not theirs. These people call themselves Macedonians.

    2) The “self proclaimed Macedonian party” was just that — a party that announced itself without any connection to the actual Slavs living in Greek Macedonia. So, not surprising it didn’t get many votes.

    Again, there were 41,000 Slavs living up there in 1951. Did they all just go away?

    3) “Greece has no problem accepting Armenian or Jewish minorities” — that’s true. And it’s true because those minorities are very small and not particularly difficult politically. Greece also accepts its small Turkish minority, because it’s required to be treaty.

    But Greece is less accepting of its Slav, Romanian, Roma, and Albanian minorities. Also of its Greek Catholic minority — the Greek government got called before the European Court three times in the 1990s for actions against the Catholics, and John Paul II had to mention it more than once.

    Again, the standard Greek reaction is to first deny that some of these minorities even exist. So.

    4) “Population exchanges never happened” — I’m not sure where you get this from. Quite the opposite; the population exchanges are the reason Greeks are an overwhelming majority of the population in Greek Macedonia. Before 1913, they weren’t. It took the post-1923 exchange with Asia Minor, followed by the Holocaust, followed by two brisk bouts of ethnic cleansing (one in 1944, which got rid of the Albanians, and another in 1948, which pushed out most of the Slavs) to do that.

    5) “The problem would be if that Slav minority would identify themselves as Macedonians”

    Right, because people who have lived in Macedonia for centuries should call themselves, I don’t know, Swedes or something.

    6) “FYROM is denying that and is clear on having irredentist claims.”

    Actually, FYROM has amended its constitution (15 years ago!) and has formally rejected any irredentist claims. Repeatedly.

    7) “So, who is the nationalist here?”

    The guy who’s making stuff up? Just a guess.

    Doug M.

  11. <>

    Actually Slavophone is a term used by Rainbow and Helsinki and members of the minority.

    You confuse the issue by writing: “these people all themselves Macedonian” since literally hundreds of thousands of Greeks self identify as “Macedonian” without any affinity (linguistic, historic or personal) with anything Slavic.

    Some 40% of the Yugoslav “Macedonian” state identify themselves as Albanians anyway.

    You also seem unaware that Greece’s de jure definition and social sense of minorities was externally defined and legitimized by treaty. Every country and social system has its own sense of what minorites are. This often confers special rights. certainly in the US legal minorities are accorded certain special preferential rights and this creates all kinds of tensions. Imagine throwing irredentism in a traditionally unstable and violent region on to of that.

  12. “literally hundreds of thousands of Greeks self identify as “Macedonian” without any affinity (linguistic, historic or personal) with anything Slavic.”

    So what? This has precisely nothing to do with what the country to the north of Greece whose capital is Skopje calls itself.

  13. “and members of the minority.”

    Um, no. They don’t call themselves “Slavophone Greeks”.

    “You confuse the issue by writing: “these people all themselves Macedonian””

    Well, no. They call themselves Macedonian. Whether you approve of that or not is a separate question.

    “Some 40% of the Yugoslav “Macedonian” state identify themselves as Albanians anyway.”

    That “40%” figure? That’s become another “stupid marker”.

    The 2002 Macedonian census — surprise! They have censuses! — showed 25% Albanians. This was up from 21% in the 1991 census, which is no surprise, since Albanians have a high birth rate. By now it might be approaching 30%. But it’s definitely not 40%.

    “Greece’s de jure definition and social sense of minorities was externally defined and legitimized by treaty.”

    Again, no. There’s just one treaty — the one with Turkey — that does this. And it only applies to Greece’s Turkish and Muslim minorities.

    Doug M.

  14. Look, my background in this is this: my family came from a city in Greece that was occupied by the Bulgarians and where the Bulgarians killed half the Greeks and deported 100% of the Jews. I have not lived in the Balkans since is was five years old but I have long kept up with events there at an academic and serious level.

    It is clear from your entry and your comments that you have a limited understanding of the Balkans, and I think, some kind of bias.

    Bias? Yes. You challenge Athens’ census figures readily post those of Skopje. Your statement that using 40% for the Albanian minority is a “stupid marker”? Sorry, 25% is a “shallow fake Balkan expert” marker.

    Oh and get some facts. “the is just one treaty.” LOL! Can I suggest you get another dilettante’s expertise? The treaty with Turkey was base on the Treaty with Bulgaria! Huge numbers of Greeks where ejected from Bulgaria on the basis of being non Slavic during the first and second Balkan wars and visa versa. After World War One but BEFORE Lausanne, these “transfers” were made de jure denaturalizations by TREATY. There are quite a few other TREATY’s dealing with transfers and minorities. You also have to understand the effect of (and tensions between) the post Balkan internal legal and external treaty obligation institutionalization of the millet system conferring of rights vs the tensions of modern views.

    And as others have pointed out Slavophone is used by the Slavophic speakers themselves (many of whom have three Greek grandparents and know a handful of Slavic words) self appointed representative groups (e.g.Rainbow and Helsinki) and other third parties.

    Something in the Balkan water? I don’t drink it and understand the Greek position. Do you think the United States government was “drinking the water” when it made a HUGE deal telling the Greeks from 1940’s through the 1970’s that the renaming of province by Tito (in 1944) was an attempt to grab part of Greece? Or is that simply another basic and elementary fact you don’t know?

  15. I’ve got a reasonable solution to all this. If the Greeks won’t compromise on the name issue, why not kick them out of NATO? Then they wouldn’t have a veto, and Macedonia can easily be admitted. If the Greek government objects, Turkey could be forced out too. This might even improve their relations in the long run.

    🙂

  16. I think Doug Muir looks at things in a very ‘think tank’ analysis kind of way, sprinkled with a bit of I’m going to root for the underdog on this one.

    I live in Greece and I personally know people who at least deep down inside feel an allegiance to FYROM and not Greece. I think that’s their right as long as they keep it inside. The moment it manifests itself in an open way, well, I think we are talking about treasonable acts.

    How do Americans, Britons take to antidisestablishmentarianism when it happens close to home? Does Timothy McVay remind anyone of anything. How many Scotsmen would like to take the oil deposits that lie so close to home and make a go of it by themselves? More than a handful I suspect.

    What I am trying to say is that If you live in Greece or feel Greek, even just a little, then ‘Macedonia’ is Greek. Allowing FYROM to use it is sac religious.

    As I’ve said before, if anyone in Greece thinks that they are being oppressed they should just leave. I’m sure that is what Britain will tell any Scotsmen or Spaniard will tell any Basque or any American tell any Texan/Alaskan/Californian if they make a case for minority status.

    The Balkans have the misfortune of having too many self identifying peoples living in too close proximity to each other. I personally believe the geography is to blame. In any case, I think there will always be problems here but lets hope that they stay among the words because I would hate to see things get out of hand which believe me could happen in an instant.

  17. Nice to see Nick in favor of ethnic cleansing for people who “feel they are being oppressed”. Do you think that was the right track for Greeks in Turkey in the 20th century, Nick? How about the vast, uncounted hordes that are the touted Greek minority in Albania? Should they just all go to Greece if they feel they are being oppressed?

    The problem here is the conception of Greece as an ethnic state where citizens who are not culturally Greek are unwelcome. They are committing “treasonable acts” and somehow territorial claims become sacriligious. I wasn’t aware that Macedonia was a religious issue, particularly since Alexander the Great wasn’t a Christian, and Greece makes sure to list everyone’s religion on their identity cards. Since he wasn’t Orthodox, presumably he wouldn’t qualify as a true Greek.

  18. 1) “Slavophone Greek” is your term, not theirs. These people call themselves Macedonians.

    So do the greek Macedonians. Why should they give this up. And I can call myself Swedish, does that make me so?

    2) The “self proclaimed Macedonian party” was just that — a party that announced itself without any connection to the actual Slavs living in Greek Macedonia. So, not surprising it didn’t get many votes.

    You are joking, right? According to what you said they would be calling themselves “macedonians”, not slavs

    Again, there were 41,000 Slavs living up there in 1951. Did they all just go away?

    As I pointed out, Slav-speaking does not necessarily mean Slav. Plus assimilation. My father is from the north of greece, my mother from the south. What does this make me?

    3) “Greece has no problem accepting Armenian or Jewish minorities” — that’s true. And it’s true because those minorities are very small and not particularly difficult politically. Greece also accepts its small Turkish minority, because it’s required to be treaty.

    But Greece is less accepting of its Slav, Romanian, Roma, and Albanian minorities. Also of its Greek Catholic minority — the Greek government got called before the European Court three times in the 1990s for actions against the Catholics, and John Paul II had to mention it more than once.

    One by one:
    Slav- where is it?
    Romanian- where is it?
    Roma: Are you joking? They are everywhere and do not integrate. The only problems with them is when drugs are circulating in their settlements, some consider it discriminatory if the police enters to search for drugs.
    Albanian: Again, legal or illegal immigrants are NOT a minority. In order to qualify as minority, you must be citizen. Can we clear this?

    Again, the standard Greek reaction is to first deny that some of these minorities even exist. So.

    Well, nobody is really asking you what minority you come from. If you take two boys, one greek, the other maybe from parents who emigrated from pakistan, the Philipinnes, FYROM(yes, there are) ,Albania or whatever, they have the same rights(school, medical treatment etc) except that the greek boy will have to do military service. So much for discrimination

    4) “Population exchanges never happened” — I’m not sure where you get this from. Quite the opposite; the population exchanges are the reason Greeks are an overwhelming majority of the population in Greek Macedonia.

    … and slavs in Bulgaria and FYROM

    Before 1913, they weren’t.

    So how come they won the fight against the comitadji back in 1897?

    It took the post-1923 exchange with Asia Minor, followed by the Holocaust, followed by two brisk bouts of ethnic cleansing (one in 1944, which got rid of the Albanians,

    are you talking about fighting nazi collaborators(Greece was still occupied in 1944, in case you missed it)? And are you talking about Macedonia or Epir?

    and another in 1948, which pushed out most of the Slavs

    you mean Bulgarians who were allied by the axis and had annexed Macedonia?

    ) to do that.

    5) “The problem would be if that Slav minority would identify themselves as Macedonians”

    Right, because people who have lived in Macedonia for centuries should call themselves, I don’t know, Swedes or something.

    No, because they would imply that greeks who lived there even longer are not macedonian

    6) “FYROM is denying that and is clear on having irredentist claims.”

    Actually, FYROM has amended its constitution (15 years ago!) and has formally rejected any irredentist claims. Repeatedly.

    In words. In practice their defence minitry publishes maps including greek Macedonia, their prime minister pays tribute to similar maps and they cannot accept that greek macedonians are macedonias, yet distinct from them. Just look at what they are bringing up ther people to think
    -the posts in the internet, just see truth in the boing blog.

    7) “So, who is the nationalist here?”

    The guy who’s making stuff up? Just a guess.

    You mean VMRO and those who make up a fake identity and deny that there is a greek macedonia with a population which is at least as much macedonian as they are and has nothing to do with them? We agree.

  19. BTW, I left out the European court. The same court who awarded a hefty sum of money to our ex-king
    because his property(for which he had worked hard with his bare hands when he was not planning military coups or putting his hand in the state treasury for the dowry of his sister?) was taken
    ?
    I should remind you that we had a catholic minister in the government (Elisabeth Papazoi , from Siros), so
    if that is discrimination, discriminate me too!

  20. Yes Hektor Bim,

    I do feel that way and if you tell me where it is that you live then I can compare it for you since unless the pickle is up your arse you can’t really feel the significance of it can you now.

    And when I used the term sac religious
    I meant that it has such importance to Greeks that we see it as sacred. Belittling something that someone finds important is wrong. Tell it the Danish when they get bombed by frenzied muslims for having their religion used as a means to have a laugh.
    Why is it that Greeks all over the world can live harmoniously with others in other foreign lands and not cause problems but all of a sudden Greece has a minority problem. If you feel like you belong somewhere else then go there. But don’t expect the borders to change any time soon. That’s a line in the sand. You get my drift.

  21. Do you know how many votes did the Rainbow party(slavophones in Greece) took during the 1996 elections?

    1300 votes.

    Is this the minority you are talking about. Ok I give 1.500 more.

    I live for many years in Macedonia, north Greece and I saw or heard as many Slavophones as none.

    Greece never said that its population is of 100% Greeks. Officialy its around 96%.

    Population exchanges did happen and they cleaned the populations.

    Every book of the early 1900 you open, you will not find not even once the word Macedonians as fyromians mean it. Even in Britanica you can find many things about The Balkan wars. There is no reference about the “Macedonians” It talks about Serbs, Greeks, Romanians and Bulgarians living in the region. It also talks about the population exchanges. You are the only who talk about ethic cleansing and minorities…

    Is this accidental? No…

    Keep on with your lives guys.
    It s not Greece creating the problem.
    It’s some posters, photographs and maps along with some propagandistic texts and books that do not talk only abvout a name…

    The amount of slavophones reaches the increadible number of less than 0.2%

    lol…

    Greeks in Macedonia are more than 2.500.000. More than 95% of the population.

  22. I’m still missing arguments for why, precisely, the government of Greece should have any say in what the republic whose capital is Skopje should call itself.

    There was a claim of irredentism, which Doug Muir says was addressed 15 years ago. If there are actual, contemporary designs on Greek territory, we need to see some evidence.

    There seems to be a claim that the use of the name Macedonia constitutes prima facie irredentism. I don’t think that holds water, any more than Mexico’s use of the term United States constitutes a claim to the territories Mexico lost in 1848.

    Otherwise, it looks like Greece’s logic is “because we can,” which is not the smartest position for a smallish, medium-income country to be taking in international forums.

  23. For the record Greece acted in good faith, took it on the chin and accepted a name with a geographical reference and still FYROM played hard ball. Who was saying ‘because we can’ Doug (not Muir)?
    If you asked me FYROM lost a great chance to settle this because in the long run the name in practice will get withered down to Macedonia anyway. Just goes to show you how macho those in FYROM feel and how confident those who are backing them feel. In any case, they have proven that on the international scene they have much to learn about negotiating.

  24. Doug (not Muir) and Doug Muir: now it is my turn to be stupidly insulted!

    OK, not really. But hey, I’m sensitive. Gimme some props, at least.

    A.Dimitriou writes, “It is as if one European country would rename itself republic of Europe, say they are the european nation and expect others to recognize it.”

    Hey, Dimitriou! Yeah, you! Didja know that there is in fact an American country that has named itself united states of America, says that its the American nation, and expects others to recognize it?

    You might not know that people in the rest of this hemisphere over here call themselves Americanos and refer to the continent of América, but they do. And nobody gives a rat’s ass.

    You’re not being very convincing, see, not to a resident of the American hemisphere.

    Then you get worse! Check this out:

    “Or Mexico breaking up and one breakup republic wishing to go by the name of Republic of California.”

    Considering that Mexico has not one but two states calling themselves “Lower California,” this could happen. And you know how many Californians would care if the new republic dropped the “Lower” from the name? Like, three wingnuts.

    And you know why? Because your fictional “republic of California” would pose no threat to the United States, especially if it, like, went so far as to amend its constitution to declare that it posed no threat.

    Give me a fuckin’ break, Dimitriou. You’re emotions are very real, but your analogies disprove the point you’re trying to make.

    (Props to Doug-not-Muir, of course, but you don’t even need to go to the “United States” analogy to show that Dimitriou’s analogies don’t hold up. His own use of “Europe” and “California” makes the point.)

    Over to Nick Chrisopoulos. Nick, the vast majority of Mexican-Americans are Americans first and Mexican a distant second. But if you dig, you can certainly find a few wack-jobs who believe in established Aztlán or whatever.

    Doesn’t bother me at all … except inasmuch as there are un-American types who might react to the existence of a fringe of Mexican nationalists in American the same way that you have reacted to the existence of a fringe of Macedonian nationalists in Greece.

    To end, I refer y’all back to:

    http://hdtd.typepad.com/hdtd/2008/03/sabidura-del-oc.html#comments

    It all seems pretty silly from here.

  25. Wow. The grammar in the above post is seriously screwed up.

    Seriously, English is my first language. Inasmuch as I /have/ a first language. Caray.

  26. Noel Maurer, you can’t compare 500 years of history (if talking just about the California area more like 300 years) with more than 2000 years of history. Ye the comparisons by Dimitriou where not too good.

    Here’s one example that nobody mentioned yet and it happens to be exactely the same situation as the one discussed here.

    Moldova is both a country and a large region of Romania. Language spoken in teh country Moldova is “moldovian” which is 99% romanian, 1 % slavic. 76% of population declared themselves “moldovian” therefore they have to speak the “moldovian” language which in fact is the romanian language spoken in the region of Moldova (from RO).

    I don’t want to go any further altough I could fill pages here, but that is not my point. My point is this part of the world is the most fucked up and everybody can literaly claim a piece of everybody. We should just let things be and live our times and stop refferencing to the past which is very blurry. Nowadays with the EU extension there will be no more borders, there will be no more east and west europe, we (or better put our children) are all going to be one big brainwashed and we can’t do a thing about it (just as we couldn’t do a thing about it when our countries got chopped up after WWI and WWII)

    PS: Please ignore american opinions on the Balkans, even if they claim they lived in our countries it is still almost impossible for them to understand anything that is going on arround them. they are already at the next level, waitting for us to get there.

  27. “Romanian- where is it?”

    Dude. You have over 100,000 Romanian-speakers — you know, “Romanophone Greeks” — living up around the Pindus.

    They’re not called “Romanians”, but they speak a language that Romanians can understand, and they’re not ethnic Greeks. And, oh yeah, they’ve been there forever — at least as far back as the Dark Ages.

    (What are they called? I know… and you should, too; it’s your country. But you probably don’t, because Greek schools somehow fail to mention that these people exist.)

    “Roma: Are you joking?”

    If only!

    “Albanian: Again, legal or illegal immigrants are NOT a minority.”

    Oh no? Since when?

    This deserves a post of its own, BTW. Greece has a large and growing body of Albanian immigrants — several hundred thousand of them, many legal, many not. The Greeks generally treat them very badly indeed. Once Albania joins the EU, the Greeks might not be able to do this any more.

    Doug M.

  28. A question:
    How come that more than 200000 people in so-called “Greece” Macedonia speak Macedonian that is spoken in Skopje?

    Question Two:
    Is this really about the name and the legacy of Alexander The Great, or about the properties that the Greece should return the Macedonians that were ethnically cleansed in 1944-48?

  29. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Macedonia, Greece: Name Dispute and NATO

  30. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Macedonia, Greece: Name Dispute and NATO

  31. Fidel, Douglas, Dimitriou and others here who support Greece and history of Balkans.
    First of all I want to ask you:
    1. Who in Greece, has been calling Macedonian ?
    Still we don’t have heard that Macedonian People are living in Greece.
    2. Remember for the civil war in Greece, that you removed all ethnic real Macedonians from north part of greece, and waiting under their house’s windows, to wait if somebody talk on Macedonian to fight him ?
    – That’s fact. But because Macedonian people has been quiet, you’ve done that perfectly and assimilate them, as well as to discriminate. Today they don’t have education on Macedonian language.
    3. Tell me official Macedonian language is Greek ??????????
    Dawm it, you are so stupid. How can Macedonians speak Greek ??? explain please… Macedonian talk Macedonian language, and Greeks, talk Greek.
    4. Bulgarians, yes … they are vocalize ethnic Macedonian songs, with one aim: to Get this part of Macedonia with them.
    5. Albanians: Albanians were terrorists in Macedonia, who were fighting with us, but why ?
    To Get Big Albania…
    6. Serbia … why serbia doesn’t respect Macedonian Church ? As I know, Greeks, Macedonians, Serbians, Bulgarians … all are cristian ortodox crowd … but !!! they do the most biggest vice of the world, what God has said: do not subjugate other people, be peaceful and live in peace. what Macedonia do that, never wanted something from nobody, never do somebody wrong or evil, and … evil still want to get the aim: Disapear Macedonia !!!
    Macedonia will never desapear …
    7. Greece, such a big country ! Why is affraid of Macedonia to get name Republic of Macedonia ???
    – Because whole history was builded on Alexander the Great, or I will call him Alexander Macedonian, but what is so important about history ? … we just want to be what we are, and we are Macedonians. There isn’t Macedonians in Greece, because they speak Greek, not Macedonian language. That is against all indicators that Macedonia is Greek or whatever. You Greeks, are fighting against yourself. You want something what nobody can imagine. you want to change the world, you want one nation to die, … no will not… we were 500 years under Turks, but there were always Macedonians and will be. Macedonian people and race will never die, no matter how big is your wish …
    and final:
    Greece, thank you for everything, but you will always be loosers, and for your information (sad but true), MACEDONIA WILL LIVE FOREVER !

  32. Doug(not Muir) says:
    “There was a claim of irredentism, which Doug Muir says was addressed 15 years ago. If there are actual, contemporary designs on Greek territory, we need to see some evidence.”
    Take it from a pro-fyrom source(BBC):
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7326017.stm
    “And the Greeks feel insulted by recent images of their neighbour’s prime minister laying a wreath by a flag showing a map of Greater Macedonia, which includes parts of Northern Greece.”

    Also: can you name one village or town in Pindus
    where Romanian is spoken?
    According to sensus
    http://www.epirus.gov.gr/index_en.html

    “According to the census of 2001 Epirus has a population of 353.820 inhabitants, which represents the 3,3% of the total population of Greece. The population density is 38-inhabitants/ square km, which corresponds to less than a half of the average population density in Greece.
    Ioannina built by a lake, is the biggest city of the Region (61.629 inhabitants), its administrative center and a peripheral development, pole.
    The towns Igoumenitsa (8.722 inhabitants), Preveza (16.321 inhabitants) and Arta (19.435 inhabitants), are the capitals of the corresponding prefectures.”
    so, by your estimates, one out of 3 people in Epirus would speak Romanian, which would hardly make them invisible. If you mean Vlachs, why do not ask them what they think they are -even Dejan’s link(which is normally not to be taken seriously) says they consider themselves greek.

    As for immigrants we have a different definition of what minority means. If I go and work in
    a country without being a citizen, then I am not a minority. Armenians ,jews, roma etc are a minority in that they have all rights and obligations of every other greek citizen(such as voting and military service). Minorities participate in decision-making by means of voting and being eligible for all jobs; immigrants do not. Immigrants do not have the same right to vote or obligation to serve. I know of no country in the world where non-citizens vote. The vast majority of Albanians are doing quite well and have settled in greece- hardly a sign of bad treatment, as have some people from fyrom.
    Dejan’s 200000 people speaking Macedonian is wrong: there are some 2500000 people (25%) of the population who CAN speak (in addition to official greek), macedonian dialect which is greek, and has NO relation to bulgarian (the fyrom language). But he is right, this is not about the legacy of Alexander, it is very clear that you have to be delusional to say he was fyromian. This is NOT about history, it is about
    fyrom denying this 2500000 people the right to be macedonian(having nothing to do with them) and greek at the same time. These are the people living in greek Macedonia, Thessalonki for example who is the second major city in greece.
    Nobody from FYROM had the guts to come out and admit that these people are no less macdonian than they claim to be, yet distinct from them.
    Why? Has something to do with nationalism and irrdentism. We will not be able to even communicate until fyrom recognizes this fact because when they say macedonian they mean fyromian and we understand greek macedonians.
    What Petar calls “facts” is as much “fact” as that Alexander was fyromian… But I must admit Tito did a great brainwashing job.
    How come macedonians speak greek? The same way Cretans speak greek. They can also speak dialect, but they also speak the official language of their country, which is greek, of course(the language in which Macedonia itself has a meaning).

    If you are not convinced about the republic of Europe example, just try it: have FYROM try to enter the EU as “Republic of Europe” and see whether people care or not.
    As for the republic of Europe or California example, the exact analogy with the US is Stalin calling Siberia Soviet Socialist republic of Alaska. Tell me the US would accept that.
    In any case I understand Greece would not be too concerned about a republic of Alaska as the US does not care about a republic of Macedonia, but
    the point is we simply cannot accept that a small part of a region can claim the entire region. Petar and every post from fyrom I have seen denies that greek macedonians are macedonians. To recognize this would mean to deny the identity of 1/4 of our population. This is NOT going to happen. Greece has no territorial claims over fyrom or anyone else,
    our wish is for them to do well, but whether it will survive or not is their problem, not ours.
    They have much more serious internal problems than their hate and vitriolic propaganda against greece. Denying that 25% of the greek population is Macedonian, yet distinct from them is not a way to make good neighbors or friends. bringing up their new generation under the lies that they have somehow been wronged by greece and had part of their country stolen is also not going to make for good neighbors or friends.

  33. Dejan listen to Dimitriou how funny is he. He is telling us that Macedonian Language is – some Gree dialect wooooooooooooooooooow. ha ha ha … First of all, read about the languages in the world then talk. According to this Greeks ARE WORST than Hitler !!! (no matter you like that or not, you are). Dawm it, how you can say that this Macedonian Nation on Macedonian Teritory doesn’t exist ? Dimitriou how would you like tomorrow I will come to your home and tell you from tomorrow you will be callen: Alexander, or A.P.S. Dimitriou ???

    Dimitriou, we don’t want something special, we want to call by our name, Republic of Macedonia. And don’t tell me that there is Macedonian people in Greece, because before 1991, you were speaking that there is no 1 Macedonian in Greece, and when Yugoslavia has parted … ups there are Macedonians in Greece. You are so contraticted yourself I don’t know why you are affraid of Macedonia. Just realease the veto, and breaked agreement in 1995 by greece, release the UN palliative aggrement and let us call by our name Republic of Macedonia, then will see Greece how good neibors we are. How this both countries will live …
    But that will not happend and why ? Because Greeks want Macedonia to be out of this world, to disapear, because if Republic of Macedonia – we are, whole history about Alexander the Great – which is Macedonian – will fall in water 🙂

    After lot of clever and wise people (Sokrat, Pitagora, etc etc etc…)what had Greece, now Greece it’s making one big mistake. Stealing the hitory of Macedonia. I believe that wise people didn’t want to steal, they want from you to be wise, not to steal. Everything what is stealen … you have to get back 😀

  34. also stop with that FYROM, that is temporal name of Republic of Macedonia, because Greece wasn’t agree at all with it in 1991. Even then you were trying to block us. Greek politics 17 years is killing us because Alexander the Great – Macedonian or whatever. When Alexander the great was alive, greece wasn’t, there were city-states in greece, which Alexander acquire.

  35. Petar and others, you need to find a common laguage with the greeks. Until you do, you will not be able to communicate and you will also get no support for NATO or ( I think more importantly) EU membership. Greeks are not disputing that you are a nation distinct from them or that you have a language distinct from them and they have no territorial claims. But to them “Macedonia” is their northern province. “Macedonians” to them are the people living there. They have been greek since antiquity and will continue calling themselves macedonian and be proud to be greek. They do not think you are macedonians, because after all your country has a small part of what was ancient macedonia and can claim no connection to antiquity, despite some ultranationalistic propaganda regrettably from your side. I understand that there was a war between greeks and slavs in macedonia and your country is not the only one with bitter memories: greeks have very bitter memories of attrocities by what the call the comitadji. But they want to look ahead, not 100 years back or more. France and Germany had much fresher bitter memories, but we look to the future, not to the past.

    And, Greece has not tried to impose any name on you. They do not think you are Macedonians(they think this name if for the people in northern Greece -and yes, they do speak a greek dialect that is characteristic of the region and has nothing to do with slavic, I have lived in Thessaloniki for a number of years. ) and your propaganda has not helped good relations, such as your maps showing all of macedonian as yours,
    or the fact that no politician in your country can make the statement that he understands that greeks in northern greece are also macedonian, but not what you call macedonian.
    But greece’s position is very moderate: Find a compromise name that will accept that you are both macedonian, but not the same thing.
    So we can be specific what we are talking about. Otherwise, you will have misunderstanings as above, for example to a greek, macedonian language is the language of macedonians, i.e. the inhabitants of northern greece. This is indeed just a greek dialect. To you it is the language in your country.
    Imagine the following dialog: “What part of greece are you from?” -“Macedonia”. “So you speak macedonian?” “-Sure”, then one means greek the other means your language.

    What greece is asking for is a very fair and reasonable compromise.
    The first thing the interim agreement calls for is work to resolve the name issue. A position like “this is our name and resolving the issue means you accepting it” is not a position to resolve the issue.
    Certainly many people in other countries do not care about the name, but they would have no problem if you had any other name; but you cannot blaim greeks for caring. After all if problems arise in their neighborhood, they will be affected. Luxemburg will not be affected.

    So my advice is to get a solution accepting that you are both macedonian, but not the same macedonian, you have equal right to being where you are, and get along fine. Trust me, it is much better to have Greece as a neighbor than many other balkan countries. Just stop pretending that 1/4 of their population is not what it thinks it is, i.e. macedonian, but distinct from you.

  36. There’s also a state in America called New Mexico, and nobody cares.

    This thread has largely proved Doug’s original point.

  37. A.D., I’d be interested in more details. There’s not really enough there to check what’s going on.

    This later paragraph from the Beeb (same story) —

    “[Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis] says the government in Skopje regards the Greek province of Macedonia as occupied territory and has refused to remove such claims from textbooks speeches, maps and national documents.” — is just repeating what she claims. Again, I’d be interested in details.

  38. Right, like the two Mexican states called California, and nobody cares.

    Or the big American republic called America, and nobody cares.

    Christ almighty. The stupid is truly amazing.

  39. Yes you are right, there is Area in USA (I want to tell Greeks this, and for everybody who didn’t know till now) called MACEDONIA, so who cares ????????

    So Hans, you are telling if I am small to let them blackmail me ?
    Nope Hans, I am proud Macedonian, I will be forever. And nobody will call me other name. Yes we speak Macedonian – slavian Macedonian or cyrilic Macedonian, but there isn’t Greek Macedonian language. Can you get that ???
    I don’t care if You are from Germany, and you are saying that you are German or Deuthch (I think that is the same but imagine that as 2 names), and if you tell me: Petar, call me German; I will tell you ok … no problem … I can’t change your name, I can change my name, but not yours. I am not the right person to change your name. Only your God Father can change your name. And our GodFather is too old, maybe about 13 000 years … so we can not change something that is old about 13 000 years.

    Also I want to tell you about anthic Macedonians. Near Bitola, there is Heraclea anthic city, where has founded money with face of Filip II, Alexander Macedonian, with Karan, what Greeks don’t know who is it. the King Karan was first Macedonian King 825 years b.c.
    We do not want history (even it’s on our side), we want future. And if they respect us they can call us Macedonians and nothing else. BUT can’t they tell to UK to change their name ? they are not GodFather of UK, or USA, ?

    Today Bakojani, has told UK and USA to change their names?
    wtf is that ? uh… so Please people of the world, just Greece knows how the world should be called. Ask them for your name … ha ha ha …

    And I want to tell you one more proof that Macedonia and Greeks are 2 different countries.
    http://www.bible.org/assets/netbible/jp2.jpg
    on this website you can see that there is Greece and Macedonia … watch out that url it’s Bible. So … please do not steal ours, and take that what you’ve found till now, and don’t ask more from us. Just leave us to call us by our name. There is in Bible that St.Jovan comes to Macedonia, and comes to Greece … that are 2 different things …

    We don’t want anything yours Greeks, but leave us ours…

  40. I’m beginning to regret that Admiral Codrington insisted on picking a fight with the Turks at Navarino Bay way back when. He didn’t have to; he exceeded his orders; he got in a lot of trouble with the Foreign Office.

  41. Doug Says:
    “[Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis] says the government in Skopje regards the Greek province of Macedonia as occupied territory and has refused to remove such claims from textbooks speeches, maps and national documents.” — is just repeating what she claims. Again, I’d be interested in details.
    Listen Doug, what it’s done it’s done, they get 51% of the teritory of Macedonia in 1913 in Bucharesht agreement. Bulgaria got 37%. And if you know the bucharest agreement or if you have read it says: to have peace on the Balkan Peninsula, the Aliance will part Macedonia on three parts. The biggest to Greece, (which today they are calling Macedonia), East to Bulgaria, and only with that deal will have peace on the Balkan Peninsula. GREECE NEVER TOLD THAT !!! …

    But, Greece don’t want to tell you that. Because only then you will know that their Macedonia, is our Macedonia. Because of that they are trying to block us not to call Macedonia !!!

    Read more about that agreement on internet you will found out who is telling the truth and who lie.

    The last post of this site http://p085.ezboard.com/fcoldbaconfrm44.showMessageRange?topicID=1.topic&start=61&stop=80 there is explanation about bucharest agreement.

    And here most important think. Greek archeologists, telling the truth !
    See this video. Their own archeologist, is telling that Greece and Macedonia has nothing common, and Greece it’s Greece, and Macedonia is Macedonia !!!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAYIDO5832Q&eurl=http://madeinmacedonia.blogspot.com/

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