Reuniting Europe

Not me, although I can read the language. In case you don’t know the background, please click here.

Obviously Macedonia will not join the EU by exacerbating existing and creating inexistent problems with almost all its neighbours. I’m personally sorry about that, because I wish to see the citizens of this landlocked country enjoying the benefits of EU membership, instead of aggravating their isolation. I think ordinary Macedonians should hold their government responsible, but I’m also aware that there is a lot of apathy there.

We all have the leaders we deserve.

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  1. Since when “Albanians are widely recognised as the descendants of ancient Illiryan tribes, who settled in those lands in approximately 1,000 BC”?

    This myth systemically cultivated from known Albanian centres that promote the historical revisionism and extreme nationalism in the Balkans. Albanians are not universally acknowledged as the descendants of the Illyrians. This confirms from several studies and works such as “Illyrians” by John Wilkes, several works from the expert of the Albanian history Mrs Miranda Vickers, Albanian identities: myth and history by Stephanie Schwandner-Sievers and Bernd Jürgen Fischer, global wide collectively works such as the ancient, modern and medieval history of the Cambridge and Oxford Universities e.t.c.

    There is not any historical record as regards the connection of the Illyrians (that were last mentioned in 7th century AD, during the Slavic migration to the Balkans) and Albanians. Also there is not any linguistic connection of the unkonwn Illyrian language with the Albanian language that initial recorded in 208-page parchment mansuscript written by Theodor of Shkodra, dating 600 years after.

    Second the usage of the Macedonian term as stand-alone term in the article. Since the 2.6 million Greeks of Macedonia have a cultural Macedonian identity, they cannot forgot their own identity just because half as many Slavs north of their land decided to usurp the name Macedonian and try to make it an “ethnic” name. This needs to be understood. I will repeat it. When there is a shared name, a shared geographic identity, you cannot have one of them claim that THEY are the ones, the REAL ones, the TRUE ones and that the others now have to change into something else. Nothing aggravated a Macedonian Greek more than someone telling him “…so are you a Greek or a Macedonian?”.

  2. The Macedonian Encyclopedia is not worth the paper it is written on. This is historical revisionism, nationalist propaganda, and the rehabilitation of communist ideology at its worst. How is it possible for a national institute of science and arts, of a democratic country, to ignore all historical data and scientific findings and invent responses to suit its propaganda and to insult all of its neighbours? This is not the behaviour of a progressive society, looking forward to joining the EU, but rather an aggresive and regressive policy to enhance the nationalist sentiment of its people in order to garner more votes for the ruling party. This is right out of the NAZI handbook!

  3. If it successfully managed to upset all of Macedonia’s neighbours, there must be some valid truths in the book that are coming to air.

    Where can I buy an original version? I’m sure it will be a hot commodity soon!

  4. akritas,

    How sad that you get your information from a propagandist article found at ‘ http://www.americanchronicle.com/articles/view/122210 ‘.

    There is absolute and undeniable proof that Illyrians were the earliest inhabitants of the Balkans.

    There is undeniable proof that Albanians are the direct descendants of Illyrians and speak the same language.

    If you speak Serbo-Croatian you should pick up ‘Albanci pricaju Ilirski, Ilirci pricaju Albanski’.
    The proof is on black and white and dates back to 2nd century B.C.

    Stop spreading hatred and propaganda.
    The communist days are long gone. You should accept this fact and move on.

    Based on your reply to the author’s post, you come across as a plagiarist, uninformed and full of hate.

    If you want to be taken seriously you should at least accredited work published outside of the former Yugoslavia.

    Read, read, and keep an open mind. Don’t hate your neighbors because of your feelings of inferiority. Maybe, in the end, there will be hope for you, too!

  5. I want it. And got it. It’s much better than BAN propaganda. At least for me.

    And, akritas, really, who cares what are you and if you are pissed or not by ignorant people asking you stupid questions? You are self-declared Greek and I am Macedonian.

  6. Albanians are not the descendants of Illyrian tribes. This is a true falsification of history. Of the Illyrian “language”, we know nothing. There are few personal names that are being used to prove the linkage to Albanian. However, the personal names, with Albanian roots, are no proof of the language itself, nor is it a proof that they are connected with anything “Illyrian”. We know for a fact that Albanians settled in various areas of Balkans. Due to the lack of liguistic linkages with Greek, it is considered or rather recent origin. It has been more influenced by the Balkan indoeuropean variety, which may testify more to the cohabitation, especially during the Roman empire vast use of Via Appia, and the import of labor force to the both sides of Adriatic. The linguistic roots need to be looked furhter West, perhaps as far as Corsica.

    This is much ado over nothing. Everybody is trying to please Albanian interests, while shortchanging Macedonian history. Even Greeks are newcomers to Balkans. What bothers everyone about Macedonia, is the hole it punches into the neat Western theory about “…when Slavs came to Balkans”. As if the place was empty before, or some other people conveniently disappeared, along with their place names. Every theory, including riduculous Illyrian, is tried on for size, jus to avoid the obvious: Balkans are still inhabited by the indigenous indoeuropean population, in spite of numerous central and east European migrations. The more slavicized regions, such as Slovenia and parts of Croatia, then give way to more native populace, from Croatian Krajina, through Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia, Bulgaria. Romanian language, influenced by the Roman immigrants, still carries the common old indoeuropean roots with the rest of Balkans.

    The problem with knowledge is that it cannot be kept in a bottle. No matter what the politically correct pronouncements come from whatever embassies. These cultures survived many and empire, and will surely survive few more.

  7. Bianca,

    The most ridiculous thing I’ve heard in a while is a Slav claiming to be an a descendant of ancient Macedonians. The whole world must have it wrong except for the Greeks and Macedonislavs.

    Bianca, if you are familiar with history, which based on your reply you don’t seem to be, is that Greeks nor modern day Macedonians have legitimate claim to ancient Macedonians.

    I know, it’s tempting to want to claim the likes of Philip II and Alexander the Great.
    I mean, you live in the same general area, and perhaps your country is called Macedonia. But, seriously, get real.

    oh, and as far as ancient Macedonia being Greek, well, the greatest orator of all time, Demosthenes of Greece spoke against Phillip II.

    “… not only no Greek, nor related to the Greeks, but not even a barbarian from any place that can be named with honors, but a pestilent knave from Macedonia, whence it was never yet possible to buy a decent slave” – Demosthenes

    Modern day Macedonians are not descendants of the ancient Macedonians. To claim such is absurd and only makes you look ignorant.
    But, hey, if you have no culture and history, why not try to assume someone else’s?!

  8. I would like to express the disappointment I feel when I see your newsletters referring to FYROM as ‘Macedonia’. I suppose you are also aware of the EU’s line on this matter and that the official name to use is FYROM. I agree with the EU’s line and there are historical events which prove that FYROM cannot be called ‘Macedonia’ and its people are definetely not descendants of the Macedonians. Please read below a letter send to Archaelogy magazine, written by Dr Stephen Miller, Professor at the University of California.

    Stephen Miller – Letter to Archaeology Magazine
    January 22, 2009
    Editor, Archaeology Magazine
    36-36 33rd Street
    Long Island City, NY 11106
    U.S.A.
    Dear Sir,
    I opened the January/February issue of Archaeology today and eagerly turned to “A Letter from Macedonia” only to discover that it was actually a letter from ancient Paionia – the land north of Mt. Barmous and Mt. Orbelos. Livy’s account of the creation of the Roman province of Macedonia (45.29.7 and 12) makes clear that the Paionians lived north of those mountains (which form today the geographically natural northern limits of Greece) and south of the Dardanians who were in today’s Kosovo. Strabo (7. frag 4) is even more succinct in saying that Paionia was north of Macedonia and the only connection from one to the other was (and is today) through the narrow gorge of the Axios (or Vardar) River. In other words, the land which is described by Matthew Brunwasser in his “Owning Alexander” was Paionia in antiquity.
    While it is true that those people were subdued by Philip II, father of Alexander, in 359 B.C. (Diodorus Siculus 16.4.2), they were never Macedonians and never lived in Macedonia. Indeed, Demosthenes (Olynthian 1.23) tells us that they were “enslaved” by the Macedonian Philip and clearly, therefore, not Macedonians. Isokrates (5.23) makes the same point. Likewise, for example, the Egyptians who were subdued by Alexander may have been ruled by Macedonians, including the famous Cleopatra, but they were never Macedonians themselves, and Egypt was never called Macedonia (and so far as I can tell does not seek that name today).
    Certainly, as Thucydides (2.99) tells us, the Macedonians had taken over “a narrow strip of Paionia extending along the Axios river from the interior to Pella and the sea”. One might therefore understand if the people in the modern republic centered at Skopje called themselves Paionians and claimed as theirs the land described by Thucydides.
    But why, instead, would the modern people of ancient Paionia try to call themselves Macedonians and their land Macedonia? Mr. Brunwasser (p. 55) touches on the Greek claims “that it implies ambitions over Greek territory” and he notes that “the northern province of Greece is also called Macedonia.” Leaving aside the fact that the area of that northern province of modern Greece has been called Macedonia for more than 2,500 years (see, inter alios, Herodotus 5.17; 7.128, et alibi), more recent history shows that the Greek concerns are legitimate. For example, a map produced in Skopje in 1992 (Figure 1) shows clearly the claim that Macedonia extends from there to Mt. Olympus in the south; that is, combining the ancient regions of Paionia and Macedonia into a single entity. The same claim is explicit on a pseudo-bank note of the Republic of Macedonia which shows, as one of its monuments, the White Tower of Thessalonike, in Greece (Figure 2). There are many more examples of calendars, Christmas cards, bumper-stickers, etc., that all make the same claim.
    Further, Mr. Brunwasser has reported with approval (International Herald Tribune 10/1/08) the work of the “Macedonian Institute for Strategic Research 16:9”, the name of which refers “to Acts 16:9, a verse in the New Testament in which a Macedonian man appears to the Apostle Paul begging him: ‘Come over into Macedonia, and help us.’” But where did Paul go in Macedonia? Neapolis (Kavala), Philippi, Amphipolis, Apollonia, Thessaloniki, and Veroia (Acts 16:11-17:10) all of which are in the historic Macedonia, none in Paionia. What claim is being made by an Institute based in Skopje that names itself for a trip through what was Macedonia in antiquity and what is the northern province of Greece today?
    I wonder what we would conclude if a certain large island off the southeast coast of the United States started to call itself Florida, and emblazoned its currency with images of Disney World and distributed maps showing the Greater Florida.
    Certainly there was no doubt of the underlying point of “Macedonia” in the mind of U.S. Secretary of State Edward Stettinius on December 26, 1944, when he wrote:
    “The Department [of State] has noted with considerable apprehension increasing propaganda rumors and semi-official statements in favor of an autonomous Macedonia, emanating principally from Bulgaria, but also from Yugoslav Partisan and other sources, with the implication that Greek territory would be included in the projected state. This government considers talk of Macedonian ”nation”, Macedonian “Fatherland”, or Macedonian “national consciousness” to be unjustified demagoguery representing no ethnic nor political reality, and sees in its present revival a possible cloak for aggressive intentions against Greece.”
    [Source: U.S. State Department, Foreign Relations vol viii,Washington, D.C., Circular Airgram (868.014/26Dec1944)]
    Mr. Brunwasser (a resident of Bulgaria), however, goes on to state, with apparent distain, that Greece claims “Alexander III of Macedon (Alexander the Great) . . . as Greek.”
    This attitude mystifies me. What is there to “claim”? Alexander’s great-great-great grandfather, Alexander I, was certified as Greek at Olympia and, in the words of the father of history “I happen to know that [the forefathers of Alexander] are Greek” (Herodotus 5.22). Alexander’s father, Philip, won several equestrian victories at Olympia and Delphi (Plutarch, Alexander 4.9; Moralia 105A), the two most Hellenic of all the sanctuaries in ancient Greece where non-Greeks were not allowed to compete. If Philip was Greek, wasn’t his son also Greek?
    When Euripides – who died and was buried in Macedonia (Thucydides apud Pal. Anth. 7.45; Pausanias 1.2.2; Diodorus Siculus 13.103) – wrote his play Archelaos in honor of the great-uncle of Alexander, did he write it in Slavic? When he wrote the Bacchai while at the court of Archelaos did he not write it in Greek even as it has survived to us? Or should we imagine that Euripides was a “Macedonian” who wrote in Slavic (at a date when that language is not attested) which was translated into Greek?
    What was the language of instruction when Aristotle taught Alexander? What language was carried by Alexander with him on his expedition to the East? Why do we have ancient inscriptions in Greek in settlements established by Alexander as far away as Afghanistan, and none in Slavic? Why did Greek become the lingua franca in Alexander’s empire if he was actually a “Macedonian”? Why was the New Testament written in Greek rather than Slavic?
    On page 57 of the so-called “Letter from Macedonia” there is a photograph of the author standing “before a bronze statue of Alexander the Great in the city of Prilep.” The statue is patently modern, but the question is whether the real historic Alexander could have read the Slavic inscription beneath his feet. Given the known historic posterity of Slavic to Greek, the answer is obvious.
    While Mr. Brunwasser’s reporting of the archaeological work in Paionia is welcome, his adoption and promotion of the modern political stance of its people about the use of the name Macedonia is not only unwelcome, it is a disservice to the readers of Archaeology who are, I imagine, interested in historic fact. But then, the decision to propagate this historical nonsense by Archaeology – a publication of the Archaeological Institute of America – is a disservice to its own reputation.
    Let it be said once more: the region of ancient Paionia was a part of the Macedonian empire. So were Ephesos and Tyre and Palestine and Memphis and Babylon and Taxila and dozens more. They may thus have become “Macedonian” temporarily, but none was ever “Macedonia”.
    Allow me to end this exegesis by making a suggestion to resolve the question of the modern use of the name “Macedonia.” Greece should annex Paionia – that is what Philip II did in 359 B.C. And that would appear to be acceptable to the modern residents of that area since they claim to be Greek by appropriating the name Macedonia and its most famous man. Then the modern people of this new Greek province could work on learning to speak and read and write Greek, hopefully even as well as Alexander did.
    Sincerely,
    Stephen G. Miller
    Professor Emeritus,
    University of California,
    Berkeley
    PS: For a more complete examination of the ancient evidence regarding Paionia, see I. L. Merker, “The Ancient Kingdom of Paionia,” Balkan Studies 6 (1965) 35-54
    cc: C. Brian Rose, President, Archaeological Institute of America
    Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State of the United States of America
    Dora Bakoyiannis, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece
    Antonis Samaras, Minister of Culture of Greece
    Olli Rehn, European Commissioner for Enlargement
    Erik Meijer, Member, European Parliament

  9. Leo, go study because you seem to be ignorant of history or “ανιστόρητος” as we Greeks say.

  10. The Athenian orator Dimosthenis was Phillip’s greatest opponant. He would have said anything in order to diminish him; and he did exactly that. Read Vassiliki’s comment and stop saying nonsense…

  11. It would be politically correct, to refer to ‘Macedonia’ as FYRoM,
    until an agreement is found.

    As a Macedonian Greek, I do not want to be mistaken for what I am not!

  12. Ladies and Gentlemen,

    All that has been written above presents a clear picture of the problem at hand – the lack of dialogue. There are only monologues, each with their own historical sources, when history is not the problem.

    I recently returned from an international set of seminars in Macedonia/FYROM. I traveled all around the country with representatives of VMRO-DPMNE, the current governing party. I carried out several conversations with them on the matter of Macedonia/FYROM’s view of it’s own history. I also conversed with some locals. The outcome was the same as what I have seen in this forum – a monologue. That is to say, if I were to give a different opinion, my arguments were not countered. I was answered with a repetition of what they had just said, with silence, laughter or insult, followed by the need for Macedonians to defend themselves from their neighbors constantly attacking them. I was happy that day I was not Greek, for my physical safety. I also have Macedonian roots which I mentioned as often as possible, again thinking of my personal security.

    Couple this experience with visiting the national history museum at Bitola, where the displays lack historical continuity (there are 4 sets of displays, from the Bronze age 30-6c. BC, to Alexander the Great 4BCc., to Tsar Samuel 11c. AD, to Gotse Delchev and other revolutionaries 19-20c. AD).

    Add to the above with seeing glorious 7-8 meter statues of revolutionaries and the building of a 20 meter statue of Alexander the Great in Skopje – all part of a plan costing this small country 200 million euros in a time of global economic crisis.

    Modern Macedonians need to realize that the first impression visitors get is frightening; that their new monuments resemble Ceauşescu’s megalomania; that their nationalism resembles Slobodan Milosevic’s; that even if they are descendants of Alexander’s Macedonians, their claim as such resembles that of Saddam Hussein’s claim to descend from Muhamed; that in all of the above-mentioned cases the rulers isolated their countries and brought them and their people to ruin. In short, the problem is not with history, it is in politics.

    I for one am currently convinced that Macedonian politicians are propagandizing a glorious history to feed an identity complex, to manipulate voters. For proof of this I have the following question:

    Instead of spending millions on 20 meter statues, why not fund a group of independent historians and archeologists of international stature and acclaim, and of unaffected parties (meaning they cannot be Greek, of ex-Yugoslav states, Albanian or Bulgarian), to fill in all of the gaps in Macedonia’s history and prove to the world once and for all who Macedonians really are?

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