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Old 08-10-2010, 06:11 PM   #11
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Default Macedonian Struggle for Independence

Macedonian Struggle for Independence - Part 32 - Prelude to the Balkan Wars‏

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Macedonian Struggle for Independence

Part 32 – Prelude to the Balkan Wars

By Risto Stefov

[email protected]

August 2010

The Ilinden Macedonian National Uprising was the Macedonian peoples’ conclusion to a long struggle for freedom from the oppressive Ottoman Empire and for the creation of a free and independent Macedonian state. The Macedonian peoples’ hopes and aspirations unfortunately were not only dashed, when the Ottomans violently crushed the Uprising, but their hopes for liberty in the future were also destroyed as a Macedonian defeat signaled to Macedonia’s neighbours that Macedonia was now ripe for the picking.

Despair and helplessness overcame the Macedonian population as it lost its strength to struggle not only against the Ottomans but also against foreign influence and alien propaganda. Disappointed in their leadership’s ability to lead them to liberty and under the influence of neighbouring propaganda, Macedonians began to believe that the only way they could liberate themselves was if Bulgaria, Serbia, or Greece helped them. The hopes of the majority were pinned mostly on Bulgaria because its propaganda, delivered by the Exarchate Church and the Vrhovists (Bulgarian supremacists), was very convincing. Bulgarian propaganda was so strong that Macedonians began to trust Sofia to become their liberator.

In terms of numbers, just before the First Balkan War broke out, there were 2,360,000 people living within Macedonia’s ethnic and geographical borders in an area encompassing 67,741.2 square kilometers.

Of the total population living in Macedonia, 52.4 percent, or 1,182,000 people were Christian Macedonians, 22 percent, or 500,000 were Ottomans, 10 percent, or 230,000 were Greeks, 5.7 percent, or 123,000 were Albanians, 3.6 percent, or 80,000 were Vlachs, 3 percent, or 70,000 were Jews, and 2.4 percent, or 54,000 were Roma (Gypsies). Ottomans lived mainly in the Vardar River valley and on the Aegean Coast. Greeks lived on the southern fringe of Macedonia and Jews lived mostly in Solun. In 1912 Solun had a population of 125,000 people, 60,000 of whom were Jews, 25,000 were Ottomans, 14,000 were Macedonians and 14,000 were Greeks. (Vanche Stojchev. “Military History of Macedonia”. Military academy. Skopje, 2004. Page 397)

Even though the Macedonian Odrin Revolutionary Organization (MORO) had much influence over the entire Macedonian territory, it was unable to entrench itself everywhere. There were peripheral areas still out of its control where Macedonians were only a minority. MORO attempted to pull these areas under Macedonian control and grant them political autonomy. But just before the Balkan Wars, Bulgaria and Serbia signed a secret treaty which put an end to Macedonian autonomy altogether. The name “Macedonian” was also deleted from various official documents including the “Greek-Bulgarian Defense Alliance” map created in early October 1912 and the military convention of the Bulgarian and Greek army Major Headquarters.

Nineteenth and twentieth century Serbian aspirations towards Macedonia were based on a Serbian national program created by IIija Garashanin in 1844. Serbian writers, poets and scientists contributed much to the creation and development of the Serbian national ideology, especially during the romantic period towards the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. Garashanin’s idea called for the creation of a strong Serbian state capable of opposing Austria-Hungary and Russia who had intentions of partitioning the Balkans along the Vidin-Solun line. Garashanin wanted the Serbian state to be based on historical rights going back to the 13th and 14th century Serbian Empire. Serbia, Garashanin believed, would be a factor of stability in the region and would hold the balance of power after the Ottoman Empire was removed. He based this belief on the certainty that the Western Great Powers, led by France and Britain, were opposed to the Austrian and Russian expansion in the Balkans.

Garashanin’s idea of a Greater Serbia was to include Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and northern Albania, territories under Ottoman rule, as well as Srem, Banat, Bachka, Slavonija and Croatia. Even though Garashanin never mentioned Macedonia by name he clearly meant it to be incorporated into Greater Serbia as per Dushan's empire of which Macedonia was part.

Later, after Austria-Hungary annexed Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia lost its chance to access the Adriatic Sea, it came to rely on Russian help to achieve its objectives. This prompted Serbia to look south to Albania and Macedonia to obtain access to a seaport, which clearly proved that Serbian aspirations were nothing more than imperial land grabs of other peoples’ lands. This was also proven by the fact that Serbian authorities told their own people to prepare to fight at any cost in order to obtain access to the sea. While preparing to drive out the Ottomans, Serbia had to also confront its Balkan partners Bulgaria, Greece and Montenegro who had similar ambitions and were preparing to also occupy and annex Ottoman territories in the Balkans.

While Serbia directed its attention southward towards Macedonia and Albania, Bulgaria was hard at work looking for ways to annex all of Macedonia and Thrace (Odrin Region). Due to the outcome of the 1876 Istanbul Conference and the 1878 Treaty of San Stefano, Bulgaria believed it had legal rights to annex Macedonia. Bulgaria also believed that it was the only state entitled to annex Solun even though Solun was never included in any of the aforementioned agreements. Greater Bulgarian propaganda was constantly emphasizing that the Macedonian people were Bulgarians and had Bulgarian national consciousness and that Bulgaria had a moral right to look after them. These assumptions were taken as the basis upon which Bulgaria carried out its international affairs regarding the Macedonian Question.

Greece also had similar expansionist ambitions to enlarge its own territory at the expense of the Ottomans. The most important of Greece’s goals was to liberate the so-called “Greeks” who at the time were under Ottoman rule. But as this idea was popularized, a dispute arose between various factions of Greeks as to the definition of who exactly was Greek. Influenced by many factors such as the idea of creating a new Greek national state, various ideologies, economics, religion and other factors, which surfaced in the first half of the 19th century, resulted in two political and spiritual centres to emerge; Athens and Istanbul. Rivalry between the two became an obstacle for building a unique Greek national ideology but was later overcome in the second half of the 19th century by the adaptation of Hellenism. Modern Hellenism connected the ideas of an ancient Greek civilization and a Byzantine Greece, thus linking together all Greek factions.

The Istanbul Patriarchate also played an important role, not only with its spiritual and secular power over the Ottoman Orthodox Christians but also with its political, economic and cultural influence. The Byzantine Church language, later termed “Greek”, being the language of business and commerce among the Christians in the Ottoman Empire was widespread among the educated non-Greek population, which supported the idea of creating a Christian ruled state similar to the Byzantine Empire.

But by mid-19th century, Hellenism became the adopted compromise for the Greek national formula which united the ancient and the Byzantine heritage thus ending the lengthy dispute between the Greek autocephalous church created in 1833 and the Istanbul Patriarchate. The Istanbul Patriarchate recognized the independence of the Greek Church in 1850 and the Greek Church in turn recognized the supreme power of the Patriarchate. The Russian Church was instrumental in playing the intermediary from its traditional attitude that Russia was responsible for the preservation of Orthodoxy in the Balkans.

The desire for a Greater Greece was first publicly expressed in 1844 in a statement to the Greek national assembly by Ioannis Kolettis, the president of the Greek government. Kolettis called for the liberation of all Christians in the spirit of the “Megali Idea” (Great Idea), which was to decide not only the destiny of Greece but also the destiny of Greeks in the European part of Ottoman Turkey and in Asia. He added that “all those who believe in Christ are Greek”, an idea supported by Greek intellectuals.

Greeks initiated the “Megali Idea” in 1830 immediately after the creation of the Greek state, which at the time consisted of the Peloponnesus and surrounding territory. Then in 1881 Thessaly became a Greek territory and after the Balkan War in 1913, Greek territories expanded to include 51% of Macedonia, Epirus and almost all the islands in the Aegean Sea, approaching the Turkish coast, including Crete. Then by the Treaty of Versailles in 1920, Greek territories expanded to include southern Thrace and parts of Asia Minor (Izmir and its surrounding Region extending 20 km from Kushadasi). But after Ataturk’s victory over the Greeks in 1922, Greece retreated from the Turkish mainland but retained the islands. In 1932, by the Treaty of Sevres, Greece was again expanded to include the southwestern islands near the Turkish coast and in 1947 Greece was given the Dodecanese and surrounding islands.

By any measure the “Megali Idea”, supported by the Great Powers, especially by Great Britain, was a great success for Greece which expanded its territory by several times.

The Ottomans on the other hand, as the Young Turk Uprising came to a close, found themselves in a deep political and economic crisis. Their neighbours were continuously exerting pressure and openly showing aspirations to annex more of their territories.

Foreseeing their own demise, the Ottomans decided to use foreign loans allocated for modernization to reinforce their armed forces. They hired German officers and military advisers to modernize their land forces and British seamen to restructure their navy. The Empire’s General Staff evaluated and militarily reinforced the various strategic places in the Balkans. Then in the fall of 1910 the Ottoman army carried out military exercises near the Bulgarian border, which revealed to its Balkan neighbours that the Ottoman Empire could not be easily defeated. Given the situation, the Balkan neighbours realized that each state individually could not successfully defeat the Ottoman army. A defeat was only possible if all states put their efforts together. This could only be done if the once bitter enemies became friends; a friendship of convenience. So their way of becoming friends began in July 1910 with the reconciliation between the Bulgarian Exarchate and the Greek Patriarchate Churches.

Another set of players besides the Greeks, Serbians and Bulgarians vying for establishing a “Greater State” inside the Ottoman Empire were the Albanians. The idea of establishing a Greater Albania appeared during the Eastern Crisis, when an Albanian National Movement was formed and demanded autonomy and unification of all territories inhabited by Albanians. Some Albanian intellectuals were in support of cooperation between the Balkan nations in their struggle against the Ottoman Empire. Most, however, were of the opinion that once the Ottomans were thrown out of the Balkans other people would take over their territories. So they supported autonomy for the Albanians but within the Ottoman Empire.

Influenced by rich Albanians, Husein Pasha, from Shkoder together with some Albanians from Istanbul, on June 10th, 1878 formed the Prizren League, a political organization with objectives to struggle for the unification of all territories populated by Albanians and for Albanian autonomy within the Ottoman Empire. Its ideological leader was Abdul Bey Frasheri who initiated the idea of a “Greater Albania” and from the beginning opposed all others who inspired similar ideas such as “Greater Serbia”, “Greater Greece”, “Greater Bulgaria” and so on. Greater Albania was to encompass Shkoder Region, Kosovo Region with Skopje as its centre, and the Ioannina vilayet as a single Ottoman province under the Sultan's sovereignty, with an Ottoman governor and a council of 10 Albanians.

With the Berlin Congress canceling the Treaty of San Stefano, the Ottomans were given back their lost territories at which point the Ottoman government disbanded the Prizren League and crushed the Albanian national movement. At the same time however, Austria-Hungary escalated its interests in Albania offering its protection for the Catholic population, living there and in the greater area, and financing Catholic priests and schools. Austria-Hungary also established permanent ports in Albanian harbours. This was done right after Austria-Hungary invaded and occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina, and after it began its penetration into Novi Pazar sanjak, Kosovo and Macedonia. Austrian-Hungarian presence in the region also reaffirmed the Prizren League Program.

The Ottomans on the other hand continued to reject Albanian requests for autonomy. Divided into Entente and the Central Powers, the Great Powers of Europe were against not only Albanian autonomy but any kind of alliances and conflict against the Ottomans.

Victory during the First Balkan War came quickly thus preventing the creation of a Macedonian or Albanian autonomous state within the Ottoman Empire, as promised by the Young Turks. Ottoman defeat and the occupation of Albanian territory by Serbia, Montenegro and Greece had significant consequences for the Albanian people who now had to give up the idea of autonomy within the Ottoman Empire and begin their fight for independence. Austria-Hungary and Italy, which in 1901 had agreed that if there was an Ottoman defeat would guarantee the status quo in Albania, now became very much involved in preventing neighbouring countries from dividing Albania. This in fact ruined Serbia’s chances for accessing the sea through Albania and encouraged Serbian aspirations for Macedonia.

Led by Ishmail Kemal, the Albanian Peoples’ National Congress in Valona, on November 28th, 1912 proclaimed Albanian independence. The Great Powers, in December 1912, however only recognized Albania’s autonomy under Ottoman sovereignty. But with the Ottomans out of the way Albania became a Great Power protectorate. The Balkan countries who wanted to annex Albanian territories now had no choice but to accept the new situation.

Soon after achieving autonomy the Albanian government, through the Prizren League, requested of the Great Powers to allow Kosovo, Macedonia with Skopje, Bitola and Prespa and the territory as far south as Ioannina and the Ionian Sea to become part of the Albanian territories. Serbia and Montenegro, however, also made similar requests including acquiring almost half of current Albania, and Greece wanted Epirus and Korcha. Despite these requests Albania’s borders were determined by the London Conference Protocol of the ambassadors in April and August 1913. After that the Great Powers granted Albanian independence reserving their right to rule the country in the future. In September 1913 the Great Powers appointed German prince Wilhelm von Wied ruler of Albania. But after arriving in Durres on March 6th, 1914, the Albanian people demonstrated against him and soon afterwards he was expelled. On March 14th, 1914 the Albanian people established their own government and elected Turhan Pasha Permeti as their president.

The Prizren League reappeared again during World War II and was led by Xhafer Deva, Ibrahim Bey Bichaku, Mithat Frasheri and others. Supported by Hermann Neubacher, a German diplomat, the Prizren League created a new Albanian government, the “National Board”, and in 1943 proclaimed Albanian independence.

To connect itself to the 1878 Prizren League and the idea of a “Greater Albania”, Xhafer Deva and Albanian representatives from Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia and Novi Pazar sanjak established the “Second Prizren League” during an assembly in September 16-19, 1943. A Central Committee of the League was also elected with Rexhep Mitrovitsa as leader. As their first act, the League proclaimed unification of Albania with Kosovo, western Macedonia, parts of Serbia and Montenegro. To achieve this, the League created its own military forces including the “SS Skanderbeg Division”. But due to Nazi Germany’s capitulation the Prizren League’s plans for a Greater Albania failed.

Those Balkan states which wanted to annex parts of the Ottoman Empire for themselves, having realized that individually they could not do the job on their own, decided to start forming alliances. The formation of the first Balkan alliance began in phases spanning from 1866 to 1868 involving Serbia, Greece and Montenegro in two bilateral treaties.

In 1866 a secret alliance between Serbia and Montenegro was created involving both nations in the preparation of an uprising to liberate and unify their respective people. Montenegro promised to participate in any Serbian led war provided Serbia did the same. Another alliance was formed between Serbia and Greece and a Treaty was signed in 1867 in Veslau near Vienna.

After the failed Macedonian Uprising in 1903, Macedonia became the apple of discord between the various immediate Balkan States who in 1912 formed another Balkan Alliance, this time involving Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria and Greece. This Alliance was based on previous bilateral treaties.

Negotiations between Serbia and Greece were held as early as 1892 and 1899, while negotiations between Serbia and Bulgaria were held in 1889, 1897, 1904 and 1909 .These negotiations did not result in any firm treaties but built a foundation for future negotiations, particularly during the Young Turk Uprising when the various Balkan countries were encouraged to cooperate.

A more serious phase of negotiation was entered after the Young Turks capitulated and terror and anarchy returned in the Balkans. Fearing the possibility of Great Power intervention and the Ottoman Empire being divided between the Great Powers, the small Balkan states realized that they could achieve their objectives only if they cooperated. Russia was in support of the creation of a Balkan Alliance as a bulwark against Austrian and German penetration into the Balkans.

Negotiations for the creation of a Balkan Alliance began in the fall of 1911with the first serious negotiations taking place between Serbia and Bulgaria, which involved the division of Macedonia. Refereed by Russia, Bulgaria was forced to give up on the San Stefano Treaty in order for Serbia to get parts of Macedonia.

The real motive for the creation of the Balkan Alliance, as it turned out, was the division of Macedonia which was accelerated by the 1911 Italian-Ottoman war. Bulgaria was unhappy about having to give up the San Stefano Treaty but would have found itself at a disadvantage if it did not participate in the Alliance. Fearing being attacked by the Ottomans, Bulgaria decided to join the Balkan Alliance.

The Serbian government had its own reasons for rushing the signing of the treaty with Bulgaria. After the Italian-Ottoman war started, Serbia sent classified information to St. Petersburg, London and Paris warning the Triple Entente of possible consequences if a war broke out in the Balkans. According to the Serbian view, the best way to protect Balkan interests was through the creation of a Balkan Alliance.

The Greek government had no expectations that the Great Powers would resolve the Macedonian Question. That is why it also put in a bid to annex Macedonian territories, a bid supported by Great Britain. For that reason Greece was in support of a Balkan Alliance. With its support behind Serbia, Montenegro too was in support of a Balkan Alliance, particularly since it had ambitions of annexing Shkoder and other parts of Albanian territories.

Supported by Russian delegates Hartvig and Nekludoff in Belgrade and Sofia, the treaty initiated by Serbia and Bulgaria provided the basis for a Balkan Alliance and negotiations began in September 1911.

On March 13, 1912 the Treaty of friendship and alliance between Serbia and Bulgaria was signed and on June 2, 1912 a secret appendix was added detailing military agreements. Among other things these agreements provided guarantees for each state’s independence and territorial integrity and support in case of attack by a third party. They also committed to mutual support if any of the Great Powers tried to occupy or take by force any part of the Balkan territory under Ottoman rule, which might threaten their interests.

The secret appendix spoke of a war against the Ottomans with prior permission from Russia where the “liberated” Ottoman territory would be treated as mutual to be divided among the participants three months after the war ended. The only debatable part of territory was the Shar Planina Mountain, Rodopi Mountains, the Archipelago and Lake Ohrid, which if not divided by the allies could be given autonomy.

So according to the March 13th, 1912 Serbian-Bulgarian Treaty of friendship, the debatable part of Macedonia’s territory was to be given autonomy. This was added to the Treaty, at the request of Ivan Geshov, to deceive the Macedonian people; especially the Macedonian immigrants in Bulgaria.

Believing that Bulgaria had abandoned the Treaty of San Stefano and the decision to give Macedonia autonomy after ejecting the Ottoman army out of the Balkans were the sole reasons why the Macedonian people joined the allies during the Balkan Wars.

But as it turned out neither Serbia nor Bulgaria were prepared to give Macedonia autonomy. How could they? They did not even recognize the existence of the Macedonian nation. Their plans were to divide Macedonia among themselves without considering the consequences for the Macedonian people.

According to Article 2 of the Secret Appendix, Serbia and Bulgaria had drawn their mutual border right over the debatable territory, which extends from the Golem Vrv near Kriva Palanka to the Gubavets monastery at Lake Ohrid. Serbia was obliged not to request more territories and Bulgaria was obliged to recognize the border if the Russian Tsar supported the said division. This meant that Serbia and Bulgaria had already divided Macedonia even before the First Balkan War began and the Russian Tsar’s role was only a formality.

According to Article 4 of the same Treaty, Russia was given unlimited power regarding the solution of the Macedonian Question.

After the Treaty was signed both Bulgaria and Serbia began missions to separate the Macedonian Revolutionary Organization from the people in order to manipulate them more easily.

The June 2nd, 1912 Military Convention, appended to the Treaty, included plans for a military offensive against the Ottoman Empire which required Bulgaria to commit no less than 200,000 troops and Serbia to commit to no less that 150,000 troops. In case of Austrian-Hungarian attack, Bulgaria was to assist Serbia with no less than 200,000 troops. If Romania or the Ottomans attacked Bulgaria, Serbia would assist with at least 100,000 troops. If the Ottomans attacked Serbia, Bulgaria would send no less than 100,000 troops. If both Serbia and Bulgaria were attacked by the Ottomans, they would engage 100,000 troops each.

But then, due to some disagreements about their role in their engagements in the battlefields, another treaty was signed in September 1912, according to which the obligations of the Bulgarian army were reduced.

King Ferdinand opposed Article 2 of the Treaty and Article 3 of the Military Convention directed against Austria-Hungary but, under Russian pressure, he finally agreed to sign it.

Bulgarian-Greek negotiations also began in 1911 but were interrupted due to their dispute regarding how to divide Macedonia. Negotiations resumed again in March 1912 and the Treaty was finally signed in May 1912. As it turned out the treaty was actually a defense alliance for mutual support against the Ottomans and the Great Powers. They also signed a declaration of neutrality for Bulgaria if Greece fought the Ottomans to gain Crete.

In terms of troop commitments, Bulgaria was to commit no less than 300,000 troops and Greece was to commit no less than 120,000 troops. The Greek fleet was also to be engaged in order to block traffic in the Aegean Sea traveling between Asia Minor and the European part of the Ottoman Empire.

The last phase of the formation of the Alliance was for Montenegro to sign a treaty with Bulgaria which was done in July 1912. Montenegro was also committed to be the first to declare war on the Ottoman Empire in order to engage as much of its forces as possible.

There were no treaties signed between Serbia and Greece and between Montenegro and Greece.

To be continued.
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Old 08-10-2010, 07:53 PM   #12
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The Ilinden Macedonian National Uprising was the Macedonian peoples’ conclusion to a long struggle for freedom from the oppressive Ottoman Empire and for the creation of a free and independent Macedonian state. The Macedonian peoples’ hopes and aspirations unfortunately were not only dashed, when the Ottomans violently crushed the Uprising, but their hopes for liberty in the future were also destroyed as a Macedonian defeat signaled to Macedonia’s neighbours that Macedonia was now ripe for the picking.

I cant agree to this part of the article. The author draws a portray like the Macedonians could have form an united Macedonia for themselves if they would defeat the Turks at Ilinden uprising and he says that the destruction of the uprising by the Turks leaded Macedonians to loose hope and their territories became as ripe for picking by the Bulgars, Greeks and the Serbs.

It`s always pointless to analyze the history with the theories and questions like "what if" but the assumption of the author cant be the truth. It was pretty obvious that as soon as Macedonia to be separated from Turkey, it was going to be split to the pieces by the Russian backed Bulgars, Serbians and western powers supported Greeks. They were already doing negotiations of how they were going to share Macedonia between themselves for like ~30 years `till 1912.

Also, Aegean Macedonia was so crucial for the British for the upcoming WW-1 and even if Macedonia would be liberated as united at the uprising of 1903, i am pretty sure that British would annex Aegean Macedonia anyway since Salonika and then Cyprus was the one and only port and the center of the British army for all their WW-1 campaign at middle east between 1914 to 1918. They were using Salonika as a base to transport military equipment and soldier units to the Palestine while preventing any Turkish or Russian fleet to set sail in both Aegean and Mediterranean sea at the same time and enjoying total control of the area.

Without having to control Aegean Macedonia, none of these would be possible for the British and they wouldn't have a chance to land Palestine without the total control of Aegean and Mediterranean sea. So they couldn't even have a chance to win the war vs the Turks at middle-east. So, all the oil sources of middle-east would be under the control of the Turks today. Can you imagine this? No way!. So, at least the Aegean side of Macedonia HAD TO BE under Greek control(British), neither the Turks nor the Bulgars(Russians). By controlling Aegean Macedonia, British created a perfect base for themselves and they were able to prevent Russians to reach the Aegean sea at the same time.

Macedonia`s partition was not about the failure of the Ilinden uprising or anything else. It`s was about the geopolitical importance of it`s place and the big plans of western powers upon the middle-eastern energy sources which have been discovered after the second half of 19th century.

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Old 08-10-2010, 10:32 PM   #13
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Onur, I do not believe you fully understand the second economy that existed within Macedonia at the time. The Macedonians ran it. Your suggestion that Serbia/Bulgaria/Greece were already drawing maps is no different to maps being drawn today. The difference is that there was more to fight for then and less chance of Macedonians losing. I would say the Macedonians are far more vulnerable in a number of ways right now than they were at the peak of their revolution in the early 1900's.
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Old 08-11-2010, 02:42 AM   #14
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Risto, I believe TMRO headed by President Vanco Shehtanski are pushing for the Bucharest Agreement to be implemented and they believe the current document is in Paris. There is a 99 year lease which will be up by 2012, just like the British returned Hong Kong to China they want the same to happen to our country.
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Old 08-11-2010, 06:22 AM   #15
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If they can return agean macedonia to the macedonians that would be really good.Something topling similar to the berlin Wall & the fall of communism.
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Old 08-11-2010, 05:24 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Risto the Great View Post
Onur, I do not believe you fully understand the second economy that existed within Macedonia at the time. The Macedonians ran it. Your suggestion that Serbia/Bulgaria/Greece were already drawing maps is no different to maps being drawn today. The difference is that there was more to fight for then and less chance of Macedonians losing. I would say the Macedonians are far more vulnerable in a number of ways right now than they were at the peak of their revolution in the early 1900's.
Yes, some idiot neo-nazi Serbs, Greeks and Bulgars still draws maps today but in 1900s, their governments was drawing maps under the supervision of western powers and Russians. So, the situation is kinda different right now. For example Greeks, Armenians, Kurds and some others draws new maps of Turkey for ages too and even the western powers supports them but we don't care much about this since neither of them doesn't have power to realize it.

I also believe neither the poor Serbs, Bulgars nor the bankrupt Greeks cannot do serious harm to ROM today, ofc unless the people of ROM decides to self destruct themselves in some way(same equals for Turkish people too). I mean, none of your foreign neighbors doesn't have the ability nor power to harm your country at 2010 but if you talk about internal problems of your country while you say "far more vulnerable", then i cant really comment for that since i don't know much about it.

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Old 08-15-2010, 11:45 PM   #17
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Default How to End the “Name Game”

How to End the “Name Game”

By Risto Stefov

[email protected]

August 15, 2010

Almost two decades have passed and there is still no sign of a resolution being reached in the so-called “name negotiations” between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia.

In this article I will attempt to define what Greece is asking for and the compromises that the Republic of Macedonia has already made.

Greece’s opposition to international recognition of the Republic of Macedonia is based on the following;

1. The name “Macedonia” is, was and will always be Greek.

2. The 16 ray sunburst, symbol of the Macedonian royal family, is also Greek on account of “Macedonia” being Greek.

3. Possessing the name “Macedonia” and the 16 ray sunburst constitutes reason that “Skopje” harbours irredentist claims on Greek territory. As evidence of this Greek governments have cited passages from the 1944 ASNOM resolution calling for the “unification of the entire Macedonian nation” which was to be achieved by “the liberation of Greek and Bulgarian occupied Macedonia”.

4. International recognition of the Republic of Macedonia would lead to destabilization of the Balkans.

5. Article 3 of the Macedonian constitution which stated “the borders of the Republic of Macedonia may be changed only in accordance with the constitution” Greece interprets as legitimizing efforts to “break off and annex Greek territories”.

6. Article 49 of the Macedonian constitution which stated that the Republic of Macedonia “cares for the status and rights of Macedonians living in neighbouring countries”, Greece interprets as legitimizing efforts to “liberate enslaved Macedonians living in Greece”.

7. Greek governments deny the existence of Macedonians living in Greece.

8. Using the name “Macedonia” by the Republic of Macedonia may cause confusion internationally because Greece’s “northern province” is also called “Macedonia”, therefore the Republic of Macedonia cannot use the name “Macedonia”.

Now let us have a look at what the Republic of Macedonia has done to alleviate Greek concerns;

a. In response to a European Commission request made on December 16, 1991 by the Council of EC Ministers, the Macedonian parliament, on January 6, 1992, adopted two amendments to the Macedonian constitution. Amendment 1 stated that the Republic of Macedonia had no territorial claims against its neighbouring state and that the boundaries of the Republic of Macedonia could be changed only in accordance with “generally accepted international norms”. Amendment 2 stated that the Republic of Macedonia would not interfere in the internal affairs of other states.

b. The Republic of Macedonia, on many occasions, offered to sign a bilateral agreement with Greece affirming the permanence of the borders between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia.

c. The Republic of Macedonia changed its flag and removed the 16 ray sunburst from circulation.

d. An EC arbitration commission, after its investigation, ruled that the use of the name “Macedonia” did not imply territorial claims towards any of the Republic of Macedonia’s neighbouring states.

At this point the Republic of Macedonia made it clear that bargaining over the name of a state as a condition of its recognition was contrary to the principles of international law, citing that such precedence does not exist.

Now let us review what has been done and what, if any, remains to be done to address Greek concerns.

Item 1 of the so-called “Greek concerns” can be removed from the list because (1) Modern Greece has nothing to do with Ancient Macedonia, its territory, or symbols and (2) the Republic of Macedonia, being located inside geographic and historic Macedonian territory, has the right to that name and the territory it currently occupies.

Item 2 is no longer a concern for Greece since the Republic of Macedonia abandoned that symbol when it changed its flag as per item “c” above.

Item 3 is no longer a concern because the Republic of Macedonia amended its constitution as shown in parts “a” and “b” above. Also as stated in “d” above, the EC arbitration commission, after its investigation, ruled that the use of the name “Macedonia” did not imply territorial claims towards Greece.

Item 4 above should not be a concern for Greece because the Republic of Macedonia has over the years (1) proven to be a peaceful state and (2) does not have the economic or military resources to be a threat to any of its more powerful neighbours.

Items 5 and 6 above have been taken care of with the Republic of Macedonia’s constitutional amendments mentioned in item “a” above and should not be of concern to Greece.

Item 7 above is an internal Greek problem which Greece has to deal with on its own. It has nothing to do with the Republic of Macedonia. This item is also covered by the second constitutional amendment in part (a) above; Amendment 2 stated that the Republic of Macedonia would not interfere in the internal affairs of other states. This includes Greece.

Item 8 above can be addressed by Greece using the name “Province of Macedonia” for its northern province while the Republic of Macedonia uses “Republic of Macedonia” to denote the Macedonian state. A state always takes precedence over a province or territory. Clearly, anyone can tell the difference between “Province of Macedonia” and “Republic of Macedonia”. Even if they can’t, what harm will it do?

In reality all of Greece’s concerns, as stated up to this point, have been addressed by the Republic of Macedonia.

Since the Republic of Macedonia has made no demands of its own from Greece, the so-called “name negotiations” are now and have been for the last decade a non-issue.

If Greece, however, continues to make further demands of the Republic of Macedonia to “change” its name without producing “legitimate” reasons as to why, then either Greece has not made it “perfectly clear” as to what it wants from the Republic of Macedonia, or Greece has secretly widened its original scope.

If that is the case then this opens the door for the Republic of Macedonia to (1) withdraw the compromises it has already made, (2) walk away from the talks, and (3) make demands of its own. For example, the Republic of Macedonia can make a case for examining history and determining the legitimacy of Greece’s historic claims to Macedonian territories. The Republic of Macedonia can also sue Greece for compensation for the damages that the unfair February 1994 Greek imposed embargo caused to the Republic of Macedonia’s economy.

It is now time for Greece to come to its senses and recognize the Republic of Macedonia by its constitutional name. I believe this is Greece’s last chance where conditions are most favourable for Greece to end the “name negotiations” and Recognize the Republic of Macedonia. This is the time where Greece has most to gain by exiting the negotiations. Putting more demands, using blackmail and delay tactics clearly show that Greece is not interested in a “fair resolution” and therefore is working under a hidden agenda, which in time will become obvious to everyone who will then side with the Republic of Macedonia.

Other articles by Risto Stefov:

Free electronic books by Risto Stefov available at:
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Old 09-26-2010, 06:14 AM   #18
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Default Are Greeks for Real?

Are Greeks for Real?

By Risto Stefov

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September 26, 2010

Despite the numerous articles I have written expressing my understanding of the Modern Greeks, there are Greeks out there, defying logic and common sense, who still believe or pretend to believe that they are descendents of the so-called “ancient Greeks”! How do I know this? They send me e-mails to let me know and say they want to “educate” me about their glorious heritage. Unfortunately their attempts to “educate” me don’t end there; some Greeks cannot pass up the opportunity to take a jab, to grind some salt, to let me know how “Slavic” I am and how I have nothing to do with being Macedonian!

I have two choices here, I can ignore the e-mails and say nothing or I can take the offensive and respond to these Greeks with facts not on questions about my identity but on the questions about theirs. I say to them there is no such thing as pure Greeks, descendents of the ancient Greeks, there are only mongrel Greeks, another Balkan people, just like the rest of the Balkan people. This is not because “I say so” myself but because it is a proven fact. It is outright ignorant to believe that you are pure Greeks descended from a people that went extinct two millenniums ago in a country that thinks it is ethnically homogeneous. Not only is this “not right” but you make it very easy to prove it wrong!

By your own Greek admission you claim that only pure Greeks live in Greece and among those Greeks you include the Macedonians and other people that your state acquired by force of arms during the 1912, 1913 Balkan Wars. At the same time you claim that the Macedonians north of the Greek border are “Slavs”, Albanians, Vlachs, Roma, etc.; a totally different people than the Greeks!

Do you not realize that the Greek border that divides today’s Greece from the Republic of Macedonia was arbitrarily placed there in 1913? Do you not realize that there was no border between Macedonia and Greece since Philip II demolished the Ancient City States at the Battle of Chaeronea in 338 BC? No border for 2,251 years. I would say that’s a long time wouldn’t you?

Do you also not realize that the entire borderless Balkan region was invaded and occupied by various conquerors and settlers since 338 BC? This includes the Romans, Eastern Romans, Ottomans, etc., to name a few. Do you not think that these people left their mark in Greece as they have in other regions in the Balkans?

Do you not realize that a “Greek State” never existed before 1829? The ancient City States were conquered by Philip II and were never united into a single “Greek” nation until the creation of the Greek Kingdom in 1832 and this was done artificially by the Philhellenes. Do you not realize that ethnically, the people that make up Greece today are no different than the people that make up the rest of the southern Balkans? No borders for 2,251 years, remember?

If you think “Slavs”, Albanians, Vlachs, Turks and Roma live in the Republic of Macedonia, what makes you think that these same people don’t live in Greece? Are we expected to believe that only pure Greeks, descendents of the ancient Greeks live in Greece, a region that existed for 2,251 years borderless, because you say so? Where is your proof? How can you even consider such a ridiculous claim?

Aside from using “common sense” to disprove your claim that you are “Greeks”, descendents of the so-called “ancient Greeks” let us have a look at what others, or what you Greeks call “unbiased sources” have to say;

In the book “Athens and Southern Greece” by Dana Facaros and Linda Theodorou, on page 129 we read “…- much of Attica is mountainous, ‘a fleshless skeleton’ as Plato called it. The mountains do what they can to keep Greater Athens from becoming greater, although developers inch a bit further up the slopes every year. It is hard to believe now, but under the Turks Attica was so sparsely populated that Albanians were transplanted here wholesale to till the land and fish the seas; in many villages you can still hear the old men chanting Albanian.”

Albanians in Athens, they can hardly be “pure” Greeks, descendents of the ancient Greeks!

In the same book “Athens and Southern Greece” by Dana Facaros and Linda Theodorou, on page 175 speaking about Angistri (Hook Island) near Aegina we read “Most of the inhabitants are descendents from Albanian refugees and still keep up some Albanian customs.”

In the book “Balkan Background” by Bernard Newman, on page 263 we read “…the Orthodox Albanians are more fervently pro-Greek than the Greeks themselves. At the same time however, there over 100,000 people of Albanian stock in Greece proper…”

“In its short course as a Republic Greece had only three presidents – Coundouriotis, Zaimis and Pangalos. All three were of Albanian stock.”

Albanians were Greek Presidents? For God’s sake even your presidents were not “pure” Greeks, descendents of the ancient Greeks!

In the book “Turkey in Europe” by Sir Charles Elliot, on page 299 we read “It must be confessed that, though in the beginning of this century the Greeks showed more energy than any other Christian race, those who now remain in Turkey (except the islanders) are not remarkable for physical vigour or military capacity. This is, no doubt, partly due to the fact that the people who revolted against Mahmud were largely Hellenized Vlachs and Albanians, who under the modern system, would not be regarded as Greeks.”

In the book “Greece Old and New”, edited by Tom Winnifrith and Penelope Murray, there is an article written by Nicholas Hammond which on page 39 reads “The migrations of Albanians is the best attested and in many ways the most instructive in Greece. I first met Albanians in 1930… We had difficulty staying because they were rather suspicious of us, but we stayed with a man who talked Greek in his main language, although he talked to his wife in Albanian.

The ancestors of these people probably came to Epidaurus in the fourteenth or fifteenth century [AD], but they are still talking Albanian as their mother tongue in 1930.”

This is Hammond, your favourite historian saying these things. How can that even be possible?

Hammond, on page 40, went on to say “Albanian was the language they talked among themselves, but they also could talk Greek. This was their second language although they lived in Greece.

The problem I hope to deal with is how did the Albanians get from this remote part of the Kurvelesh down to all parts of the Greek peninsula, and indeed the Islands…”

What? More Albanians living all over Greece? How can that be in homogeneous Greece where only pure Greeks, descendents of the ancient Greeks, live?

Then on page 44, Hammond goes on to say “This was done at the Isthmus of Corinth in about 1338 [AD]. A group of 10,000 Albanians with their families appeared there, and asked if they could be admitted to the Peloponnese. They were accepted by Theodore who was the principle ruler of the Peloponnese, and took them on condition that they would be his soldiers and that they would cultivate the lands he gave them. So they were brought into the Peloponnese and used in that way. Again the Venetians invited them into Euboea and the Catalans invited them into Attica. They came in and settled. That was in the late fourteenth and early fifteenth century [AD], and the descendents of these people were still talking Albanian when I was in Greece in the 1930s.”

On page 45, Hammond continues “They [the Turks] used the Albanians from then on as mercenaries and as settlers of areas which were derelict. So the Albanian incursions in Greece continued under the Turkish system and went on right on into the eighteenth century. It was coupled with a migration of Albanians by sea in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries [AD] to Italy. They also went from the Albanian coast and from Epirus right around the tail of the Peloponnes on to Samos and Cos and Rhodes, where considerable Albanian communities were established. Other Albanians spread, with the help of the Turks, into Hydra and Spetsae and Andros. There are Albanians proved to be excellent seamen, and in the Greek War of Independence, they, above all, drove the Turks out. The most famous to us perhaps are Byron’s Suliotes, who were entirely Albanian. The village called Paleokhori-Botsaris takes its name from the great hero of the resistance of the 1820’s, Botsaris. His village was close to Suli in Epirus. The heroes of the naval war were the seamen of Spetsae and Hydra who were themselves Albanians.”

For God’s sake Hammond, are there no pure Greeks, descendents of the Ancient Greeks in Greece? What are you trying to say?

The above texts written by Hammond I dedicate to those Greeks who “insist” that I read Hammond to “properly educate” myself. I am sure they meant for me to read Hammond’s work on the Ancient Macedonians when they made this suggestion but you know how I am, I took their advice literally and read all of Hammonds works so that I could get “properly educated”! I have the “Greeks” to thank for that and TrueMacedonian for pointing me to these texts!

So, even after what Hammond said about the Modern Greeks, should I still be “busting my head” to explain that “Greeks do not exist”? That they are a figment of the 18th and 19th century Philhellene imagination? The more the Greeks stubbornly “insist” that they are pure Greeks, descendents of the ancient Greeks, the more they expose their lies and deceit!

I know many of you Greeks were taught to believe the myth that you are pure Greeks, descendents of the ancient Greeks. But before you tell me “who I am” you should first find out who you are! Before you tell me “to educate myself” shouldn’t you first “educate” yourselves, especially about your own identity?

Before I end this article, I would like to present you with one more text from the book “The Making of Eastern Europe From the Earliest Times to 1815”, by David Turnock. On page 292 we read “Who were the traders who kept the Ottoman Empire in touch with the wider world?

It was overwhelmingly ‘Greek’ a label that covers not only ethnic Greeks but Hellenized Orthodox people such as Armenians, Bulgarians, Macedonians and Vlachs as well. Even Serbs who initially resisted any identification with Greek culture were being converted at the turn of the century…”

So again, one needs to ask “What exactly is Greek?”! Well you can be sure of one thing, and that is, that “Greek” is not an “ethnic identity”.

Macedonians, is it worth “giving up” our country’s name to please these fake people who themselves don’t know who or what they are? And why are we negotiating our God given historical name with people who don’t even have a real identity!
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Old 09-26-2010, 06:18 AM   #19
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Greece is a fake manufactured by the powers that be.They have tried to destroy our macedonian identity.They have tried to acquire our history & say it's theirs.Despite all this we still exist like a thorn in their sides as we remind them that they are fakes & we are the real macedonians we will not give up the fight to prove who we are real & the greeks are fakes.
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Old 10-16-2010, 07:18 PM   #20
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Default Falsity of Greece vs Reality of Macedonia

Falsity of Greece vs Reality of Macedonia

By Risto Stefov

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October 17, 2010

On many occasions we have looked at Greece from the outside in, the way outsiders and insiders of non-Greek origin perceive it. But we have yet to look at Greece from the inside, the way it sees itself. What makes Greece, Greece and Greeks, Greeks and what makes them claim that they are “pure” and “homogeneous”?

In this article we will examine the conditions under which Greece became or claims to have become “pure” and “homogeneous” and what it has done and is doing to protect its claims.

It seems that somewhere down the line Greeks developed amnesia and forgot their real past, the true roots from which they sprung prior to the formation of their Greek state in the early 1800’s. Somewhere down the line Greeks decided to adopt a fictitious but permanent national identity with a 2,500 year old bloodline. Thus it was decided that Greeks were Greeks because they were “Greeks by birth” and because “Greek blood” flowed through their veins. But that was not all; to be fully “Greeks” and members of the so-called “Greek nation” they also needed to demonstrate their loyalty to the Greek state. Otherwise they could not be full members of the Greek nation and could not be full citizens of the Greek state. In addition to being “born Greek”, being of “Greek blood” and being loyal to the Greek state, “prospective Greeks” needed to also speak the imposed Greek language and be of the Greek Orthodox faith.

If a person did not meet all of the above conditions they could not be “fully” Greek! But that was not all! Besides not being fully Greek, people who lacked even one of the above criteria posed a threat to the Greek concept of a “pure and homogeneous” Greek nation. Anyone lacking any of the above mentioned criteria was treated as a security threat to the Greek state. So to defend the integrity of the Greek nation and of the Greek state, Greece declared that such people did not exist and those not meeting all the above mentioned criteria were either “traitors”, “foreigners” or “agents” working for the interests of a foreign state and enemies of Greece!

To discourage people from openly expressing sentiments other than those prescribed by the Greek state, Greek authorities encourage their loyal citizens and the Greek legal system to publicly identify and vilify such people. So instead of protecting their rights as citizens of Greece, as prescribed by European and International law, Greece, a member of the United Nations and the European Union, continues to practice authoritarian traditions violating peoples’ human rights.

Unfortunately Greek political authorities are not the only culprits involved in abusing people in Greece. Greek judiciary and the Greek Orthodox Church also take the side of the state and instead of protecting the rights and freedoms of individuals they punish those who do not fully conform. As instruments of the Greek state, Greek courts and Greek Churches have always supported repressive regimes and military dictatorships, which promoted the “purity” and “homogeneity” of Greece.

Violations of human rights of various ethnic groups in Greece are justified by Greece’s need to defend its “purity”, “homogeneity” and territorial integrity. So anyone who disagrees with this “Greek myth” is automatically labeled a non-Greek and therefore a potential enemy of Greece. Such “institutionalized discrimination” can be found in Article 19 of the Greek citizenship code. Here the code is specific about who is Greek and who is not and those who are not will have their Greek citizenship stripped if they leave Greece with no intention of returning. Many Macedonians and Turks have lost their Greek citizenship and properties in this way.

According to Article 25 in the 1975 amendment of the Greek constitution, Greece has the right to ask all its citizens “to fulfill the duty of social and national solidarity”. Why is this clause so important if everyone in Greece is Greek? A clause such as this implies that not only Greek citizens of non-Greek ethnicity exist in Greece but by definition they pose a threat to the “Greek myth”.

Article 25 also says that “abusive exercise of rights is not permitted”. Who decides what the limit of “exercise of rights” is? Apparently this clause was put in the Greek constitution to give the courts power to significantly restrict and limit human rights of individual Greek citizens. This includes freedom of religion, freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of movement. While on one hand the Constitution provides for all these freedoms, at least in theory, on the other hand it takes them away by giving the courts power to act against them.

As I stated earlier, the Greek Orthodox Church is an essential component of the Greek national identity. People who are not Orthodox Christians therefore cannot be fully Greek. Again, even though the Greek constitution officially supports “other religions” in Greece many non-Greek Orthodox Christians are denied their religious rights because they belong to so-called “unrecognized” by Greece churches or religions.

Although Greece, in 1963, ratified the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, it has ignored the convention’s provisions. When the Council of Europe reached a resolution that Greece, while under the junta, was guilty of violating the convention, its military rulers considered the resolution “an infringement on Greece’s sovereignty”.

So looking at Greece from the inside out we see that Greek political authorities, in conjunction with the Greek legal system and the Greek Orthodox Church, have done everything in their power to promulgate the “Greek myth” that only “pure Greeks” live in an ethnically and nationally “homogeneous Greece”. This inflexible and monolithic approach to Greece’s identity, unfortunately, leaves no room for diversity and therefore excludes everyone who does not fully conform. The biggest losers because of this are the Macedonian and Turkish people who live in Greece and who are still not recognized by Greece.

In practical terms then, how does Greece maintain its “pure” and “homogeneous” façade?

To explain the “unconformities” or what the Greek state calls “anomalies” Greek authorities have taken certain precautionary measures. For example, Greece calls the Macedonians “Slavophone Hellenes with a Greek national consciousness”. In other words, Macedonians are “Greeks” who speak a Slavic language. The Turks, Greece calls “Muslim Greeks” or Greeks who are of the Muslim religion. Neither Macedonians not Turks in Greece are allowed to call themselves Macedonians or Turks!

To bring itself to an acceptable state of “pureness” and “homogeneity” Greece, over the years, “Hellenized” everything from place names to peoples’ personal and surnames!

Right after the Greek state was created for the first time in 1829, Greek authorities changed all place names to correspond to ancient names and for those that it had no ancient names it invented new ones. As Greece, over the years, continued to physically grow and annex more territories it continued with its policies of “Hellenization”. After annexing Macedonian and Thracian territories in 1913, Greece continued with its well established assimilation and Hellenization policies; “Hellenizing” everything and everyone. In Macedonia for example, to remove all traces of the existence of Macedonians, it banned the Macedonian language and renamed all Macedonian personal and place names with Greek ones. After that the Greek Orthodox Church became the “Hellenizer” of the Macedonians by making sure that all Macedonian babies were baptized with Greek names.

Afterwards the Greek state continued to implement repressive policies and, through strict laws, punishments and oath taking, made sure that the population conformed and Greece retained its “purity” and “homogeneity”. Those people that Greece did not trust were placed on watch and made sure that their lives were made uncomfortable so that they would one day permanently leave Greece. Their properties and other assets would then be confiscated and awarded to “loyal Greeks”.

To discourage people from feeling “non-Greek” Greece introduced even more repressive measures. The Turks of Thrace, for example, were not allowed to purchase new properties or new machinery to farm their lands. In time as families grew they would not be able to support themselves and would have no choice but to leave Greece. Also many who decided to vacation in Turkey found themselves permanently exiled.

Macedonians on the other hand were equally oppressed by having their properties reduced through land re-distribution acts and through the denial of higher education and good paying jobs. Repressed economically, many Macedonians left Greece and became permanent refugees. Many civilian Macedonians, who left Greece as war refugees during the various wars, including the Greek Civil War, also became permanent refugees. After leaving Greece they were all permanently exiled and their properties were confiscated.

In short, Greek political authorities, with help from the Greek judicial system and the Greek Orthodox Church, have created a very rigid climate in Greece where a person can only be Greek if they fully accept the following conditions;

1. they are born Greek,

2. are of pure Greek blood,

3. are Orthodox Christians,

4. speak the Greek language, and

5. demonstrate their loyalty to the Greek state.

In other words, anyone who fully prescribes to these conditions can be a good Greek. Looking at this another way, anyone who does not meet even one of the above conditions would not be “fully” Greek and would be open to scrutiny at the Greek state’s discretion!

So where does that leave the Macedonians in Greece?

There is no room for Macedonians or for any other ethnicity in Greece for that matter because of the rigidity of the Greek method by which the so-called “Greek identity” has been constructed. In addition to that, the existence of a Macedonian ethnic identity (or any other identity beside the Greek one) in Greece threatens Greek purity and homogeneity and therefore cannot be allowed to exist.

This however does not mean that “Macedonians do not exist” as Greece has claimed at every opportunity. Quite the opposite, unlike the fabricated Greek identity which was created by the Philhellenes and supported by the Greek state and its institutions, the Macedonian ethnic and national identity does exist. It is real and thriving. The fact that no state or institution has come to its aid or has given it its support means that the Macedonian identity is natural, supported by ordinary people at a grass roots level!

How long will Greece continue its charade of pretending to be “pure” and “homogeneous”? For as long as it can! As long as Macedonians and other people around the world continue to give the Greek myth credence then the charade will continue and the “fake” Greeks will continue to pretend to be “pure” Greeks! But worse than that, because of this, the Macedonians and other people living in Greece, including the Turks, are being denied their human rights.
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