The traditional “Macedonian Question” has undergone drastic changes in our days, mainly as a result of the dissolution of the former S.F.R. of Yugoslavia and the emergence of an independent Macedonian state under the provisional international name of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Whereas political disputes involving territories do persist (most notably in connection with an emerging Albanian irredenta over the western regions of FYROM, fanned also by the crisis in neighboring Kosovo), it is true that the core of the debate has shifted to issues of cultural heritage and identifies in the wider Macedonian region.
Such issues involve the origins and development of the national identity of the Slavs living in FYROM and the wider Macedonian geographical region; the relationship—or lack of it—of the [Slav]Macedonian language with the Bulgarian; the existence, identification and self-assertion of various ethnic and religious groups in FYROM, the Macedonian province of Greece, and the Macedonian districts of Bulgaria and Albania; claims of identification with, and/or monopolization of historical and cultural events, monuments, cultural works, symbols and personalities; the making of national “myths” and their transmission over to new generations and to the Diaspora; and last, but not least, the dispute over the definition and the contents of the Macedonian name.
Samuel Huntingtons well known theory about the future clash of civilizations—though critically contested—perceives in cultural difference and heritage the harbingers of future potential political crises. If that is the case, then it is worth studying and analysing such differences in the wider Balkan sub-region, and Macedonia in particular. Could this region become a testing ground for Huntingtons controversial theory?
In the past five years, the Internet has hosted dozens of sites dealing with Macedonia and Macedonian issues. Undoubtedly, most of them were stirred by the international debate over the emergence and the recognition of an independent Macedonian state and its official state denomination. As such, they poured hundreds of pages of historical, political and cultural data, not always of the highest academic standards and scholarly accuracy.
As the dust raised by the recent diplomatic Armageddon appears to subside, a group of scholars, have taken it upon themselves to contribute to the dialogue. These scholars, mainly from the academic institutions of Thessaloniki, but also from other universities and institutes in Greece and the Diaspora, represent a variety of disciples: historians, anthropologists, political scientists, theologians, archaeologists, linguists, art and architecture specialists etc. They expect their site to be the first of its kind to originate from Greek Macedonia.
The aim of the editorial group is not to reproduce well known historical and political arguments—although historical and political issues will be discussed—but to endeavor to analyse the roots and the causes of issues; to explain the forces shaping identities and attitudes of peoples, groups and states; and to make available and disseminate the findings of new research and trends in various disciplines (history, anthropology, archaeology, the arts, international relations etc) dealing with Macedonia at large.
It is generally accepted, that the Greek perspective over the recognition of FYROM failed to reach international audiences in a convincing way. There were valid reasons for this. On the one hand, the international actors were hard at work to put down the flames of war in the northern part of ex-Yugoslavia and to prevent it from spreading to other regions. They were hardly in a mood to discuss, or be receptive of, arguments dealing with intangible issues of less urgency, such as heritage, identities, national symbols and names. On the other hand, the Greeks—government spokesmen, non-governmental institutions and personalities, the media in Greece and the Diaspora—produced such a variety of theses that confused international recipients. Indeed, they managed to send mixed signals as to the views and desiderata of Greece and the Greeks.
In an attempt to remedy the situation, this group of independent scholars has sought to codify, as best as they could, what they consider to be the mainstream, or rather the essence of the Greek point of view on certain basic points. These will be found in the FAQ section. Certainly, even this “codification” and appraisal of issues, will be open to debate.
This site has been appropriately named “Macedonian Heritage”. It aims to focus on the cardinal issue of cultural heritage, and not to be stranded on endless debates about the debatable origins and continuity of ethnic groups. Naturally, the emphasis will be on the Greek Macedonian cultural identity and heritage. Nevertheless, it will discuss its connection and interaction with those of other Greek regions, as well as of neighboring countries and peoples.
The site aspires to develop also as an electronic reference library of various data: documents of foreign policy, historical maps, annotated bibliography, unpublished academic literature, an inventory for cultural and scientific institutions, a timeline of recent events and studies on Macedonian issues and topics of interest to a variety of users. Among them will be texts dealing with recent archaeological discoveries (of the Classical, Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine periods); reports on academic conferences, exhibits and publications; tourism, international relations; economy etc. Its contents will be regularly updated and enriched.