THE DIFFERENCE OVER THE NAME SREPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA 

The U.N. Security Council, by its resolution 817/1993, specifically noted that Sa difference has arisen over the name of the State (i.e., of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) which needs to be resolved in the interest of the maintenance of peaceful and good-neighbourly relations in the region . In less diplomatic terms, this means that the Security Council reached the conclusion that the name SRepublic of Macedonia  could prove a threat to peace and to good neighbourly relations in the Balkans. It was in this spirit that the UN admitted the applicant state to membership under the provisional name SFormer Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia  (FYROM), while at the same time asked the Co-Chairman of the Steering Committee of the International Conference of Former Yugoslavia Mr. Cyrus Vance and Lord Owen to offer their good offices to settle the difference and to promote confidence-building measures.

Nevertheless, despite long negotiations under the Co-Chairmen in New York, last year, President Gligorov refused categorically to co-operate toward a settlement of the difference over the name. Indeed, in his letter to Secretary General Boutros-Ghali, on 29 May 1993, he registered his opposition to the Security Council√s resolution concerning the name by stating his Sfirm conviction that our constitutional name (SRepublic of Macedonia ) does not imply territorial or other aspirations whatsoever  and, consequently no change in the name was warranted.

Under the circumstances it is important to set the record straight.

The name adopted by the new independent state not only implies territorial aspirations, but, inherently, it perpetuates such claims to future generations. Thus, the Macedonian name, appropriated by a multi-ethnic, but mainly Slavonic state, has become a harbinger of friction and instability in the Balkans and threatens to remain so for the years and the decades to come.

In the last years the European Union has in several instances recognized that the denomination SMacedonia  by FYROM implies territorial claims, that FYROM should adopt constitutional and political guarantees ensuring that it has no territorial claims against Greece, and that state propaganda against Greece should not be conducted.

That the Sdifference over the name  and its wider ramifications constitute a very serious matter is further supported by the recent (April 4, 1994) report the U.N. Secretary General Mr. Boutros-Ghali has conveyed to the Security Council of Mr. Vance√s assessment, that Sif a mutually agreeable settlement could not be reached by the parties, peace in the region might be put at risk .

Accordingly, it is worth the time examine in depth the substance of an issue that, in the view of the Security Council and the Secretary General of the U.N., could pose a threat to peace in the Balkan region.

There are certain facts that one needs to bear in mind.

Macedonia is a geographical region in the Balkans, transcending the international boundaries of four Balkan countries (Greece, FYROM, Bulgaria, Albania). Macedonia, however, is also a province in Greece. Moreover, a province — i.e. a “socialist federative republic” — had been named Macedonia in the former Yugoslav federation. More important, yet, from a historical perspective, the name Macedonia described a Hellenic region in antiquity, geographically identified today with the present Greek Macedonian province.

Therefore, it becomes clear that if a new independent state in this part of the Balkans assumes arbitrarily the Macedonian name, then that state would implicitly acquire full rights to represent — and, indeed, to claim — the whole of Macedonia, both in its historical and geographical dimensions. Everything and anything “Macedonian” (i.e. derived from, or pertaining to Macedonia) would be claimed as its own “property”. That would include the land, the people the history, the monuments, the symbols, the culture, and, indeed, the heritage of all peoples who have lived in this part of the world through the centuries.

Of the region of “historic Macedonia” — i.e. of the Macedonian Kingdom of the 4th century B.C. — approximately 90% lies within present day Greece. Of the “geographic Macedonia” — as it has come to be known arbitrarily in our times — 52 percent consists of the Greek Macedonian province, 37 percent of the FYROM, 9.5 percent of the Pirin district of Bulgaria and 1.5 percent of a strip of land in Eastern Albania.

For almost two millennia the lands of the former ancient Macedonian Kingdom had become parts of multi-ethnic empires: the Roman, the Byzantine, and the Ottoman Empires. During five centuries of Ottoman rule the memories of ancient Macedonia and the legacy of Alexander the Great had nurtured a feeling of pride among the subject of Macedonia and a sense of historical, cultural, and linguistic connection with their ancient ancestors. These Greeks called themselves Makedones (Macedonians), using, as Greeks, the Macedonian name in its geographical and historical context.

The Ottoman rule ended with the Balkan wars of 1912-1913. Macedonia was liberated. The part that joined the Greek state, become a Greek province by the name Macedonia (“Geniki Dioikisi Makeonias” “Administration General of Macedonia”). This was the only district in the Balkans bearing the Macedonian name as an administrative denomination. Much later, in 1945, the Yugoslav communist leader Tito gave the same administrative name (“People’s Republic of Macedonia”) to the southern province of Yugoslavia, which until that time has known as “Vardarska Banovina” (District of Vardar). Simultaneously, its Slavonic inhabitants—known until that time as ethnic Bulgarians or ethnic Serbs—were recognized by government decree as ethnic Makedontsi (Macedonians).

That political act by Tito served a double purpose: to secure for Yugoslavia a people and land, which was coveted by the Bulgarians, and to acquire a nucleus (a “Piedmont”) for annexing — in the name of united Macedonia — the neighbouring provinces of Greece and Bulgaria. His plans, initially supported by Stalin, failed for two reasons: first because Stalin became suspicious of the hegemonist aspirations of his former Balkan prot?g?, and second, because the Greek Government succeeded in putting down a communist uprising in the which country Tito was supporting materially and politically in anticipation of getting in return a substantial chunk of Greek Macedonia.

By a twist of fate, the seeds of discord planted by Tito√s regime gave birth to new and lasting conflicts. The Yugoslav communist regime, taking advantage of its absolute authority over the people in the southern republic of the federation, launched a massive SMacedonization  process. A SMacedonian  ethnicity was cultivated based on the usurpation of the Greek Macedonian name, on the appropriation of the Greek Macedonian history and culture and on a vision of a future united Macedonian state, under Yugoslav communist domination.

The Greeks strongly objected to this policy. It is no exaggeration to say that since 1950 for 40 years, Greek-Yugoslav relations have suffered in al spheres — economic, political, cultural — on account of Yugoslav “Macedonian” policies. The conflict, however, remained basically a bilateral issue and it did not assume international dimensions, as the federal government in Belgrade would occasionally intervene to contain extremists in Skopje.

Today, there are no restraints to keep Skopje nationalists in check. A fully independent state has taken over the denomination SRepublic of Macedonia . Along with it, it has inherited the expansionist appetites of its predecessor.

In the course of what can be described as a feat of grand scale “political adventurism” and “cultural aggression”, the new leadership, that led the former Yugoslav province (“republic”) to independent statehood, took a series of irritating and dangerous measures: it has passed a Constitution that clearly contains references to territorial expansionism; it adopted as the denomination of the state the name of a much wider region extended over three neighbouring countries; it tolerates and, in fact, it has become captive of the most extremist nationalist forces in FYROM and abroad, which publicly demand the annexation of Thessaloniki; it has usurped Greek symbols (the “Sun of Vergina”) as the emblem of the national flag; and it has launched an educational program for the youth in “free” Macedonia, whereby the landmarks of history, the cultural achievements, the symbols, the monuments and personalities belonging to the Greek heritage — as well as the heritage of other nationalities which had inhabited the Macedon

Such policies stirred spontaneous popular reaction in Greece as well as among the millions of the Greek diaspora. Over a million Greeks went to the streets of Thessaloniki twice, in February 1992 and once again in March 1994. Another million demonstrated in Athens in November 1992. Similar mass demonstrations were organized in most major European, American and Australian cities. In Ottawa approximately 30,000 Greeks gathered from all over Canada to voice their views in -28 C temperatures. The gatherings in Sydney and Melbourne were estimated as the largest since the Vietnam anti-war demonstrations.

The message of these manifestations was clear: the Greeks had become aware of the fact that the usurpation and monopolization of the Macedonian name by FYROM has violated their fundamental human right: the right of a people to its own cultural heritage and national identity.

Under the communist regime, SMacedonism  had endeavoured, with questionable success, to appropriate elements of the Greek heritage. Now, the use of the Macedonian name by an internationally recognized independent state can give the rise to a situation whereby that state could eventually claim full Scopyright  to the Macedonian name and seek titles to anything derived from, or pertaining to the wider geographical Macedonian region.

This would be intolerable to the Greeks. It would have been unacceptable to any people faced with similar provocations. In the space of only a few years from now, the Greeks sense that some of the most cherished elements of their history and culture would be paraded to the world as the heritage of a different people; the Greeks of Macedonia would be pressed to abandon their name Makedones in order to avoid identification with FYROM√s Makedontsi, as both would be internationally identified by the same appellation Macedonians; hundreds, if not thousands of Greek business firms, professional and cultural institutions, bearing the Macedonian name (SMakedonikos, SMakedoniki , SMakedoniko ) would risk being involved in complex and prolonged legal controversies accused for appropriation (sic) of the Macedonian name (indeed similar attempts have already been reported including a court case in Germany). Worse yet, any attempt on the part of the Greeks to resist such encroachment upon their national identity and their name might well trigger chauvinistic reactions in Skopje. In such a climate even the best intentions on the part of any Greek government to establish and develop good neighbourly relations and cooperation in all fields are doomed to failure.

This is why the Greek Government and the Greek people all over the world have made it abundantly clear that the former SYugoslav Socialist Republic of Macedonia , as an independent state, is in no way justified to bear the denomination SMacedonia . This is unacceptable for historical, cultural, geographic and above all for political reasons.

Thus, the true meaning of resolution 817/1993 of the Security Council signifies that:

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