Macedonia is a young state that became independent in 1991 and its roots run deep in the history. The name "Macedonia" is in fact the oldest surviving name of a country, in the continent of Europe. Archaeological evidence shows that old European civilization flourished in Macedonia, between 7000 and 3500 BC.
Macedonia is located in the centre of the Southern Balkans, north of ancient Greece, east of Illyria, and west of Thrace. The ancient Macedonians were a distinct nation, ethnically, linguistically, and culturally different from their neighbours. The origins of the Macedonians are in the ancient Brygian substratum (a language which influences another language), which occupied the whole of Macedonian territory, and in Indo-European super stratum, which settled here at the end of the second millennium.
The names "Macedonia" and "Macedonians" have been in existence, survived throughout the history, and at the same time negated. The struggle concerning the legitimacy over the territory of Macedonia is in close connection with these names.
The Macedonian people have been formed, within the frames of geographic and historical ground of Macedonia, in a continuity of developing process (tribe, people, nation). It has acquired the legitimacy over the territory of Macedonia and became the inheritor of all historical and cultural traditions and values. The region has carrying out the name of Macedonia through centuries, as its ethnic and historically legitimate name.
The struggle for national liberty
The existence of the Macedonian nation was permanently disturbing the neighbouring countries (Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and Albania). The common attitude in their policy was the unrecognizing of the existence of the Macedonian nation, language and state. These states, especially after the partition of Macedonia in 1913 and 1919, were endeavouring to denationalize the Macedonian people.
This denationalization was opposed by the Macedonian people from all parts of Macedonia under the foreign authorities, leading the struggle for national liberty and its own state. Led by the national organizations and the Communist Party, the Macedonian people were struggling for the Macedonian national and official name.
Greece alleges that:
The Macedonians should not be recognized as Macedonians, because the Macedonians have been of Greek nationality since 2000 BC.
Those Macedonians whose language belongs to the Slavic family of languages, must not call themselves Macedonians because 4000 years ago, the Macedonians spoke Greek and still speak nothing but Greek.
Macedonia has no right to call itself by this name because Macedonia has always been and still is a region of Greece.
The people of Macedonia affirm that:
On October 8, 1912, the First Balkan War begun. Montenegro,Serbia, Bulgaria, and Greece, attacked the European positions of the Ottoman Empire. More than 100,000 Macedonians also took active part and contributed in driving the Turks out of Macedonia. Turkey capitulated soon, but Macedonia did not free itself. The victorious Balkan kingdoms, convened in Bucharest in August 1913 to divide the spoils.
Greece was awarded Aegean Macedonia and renamed it to "Northern Greece". Bulgaria annexed Pirin Macedonia and abolished the Macedonian name. Serbia took over Vardar Macedonia and renamed it to "Southern Serbia". The same year, N. Pasich of Serbia and E. Venizelos of Greece agreed on the newly formed Greek-Serbian (later Yugoslavian) border. They decided there would be "only Serbs to the North and only Greeks to the South", and no "Macedonians" on either side. Thus, the politics to assimilate the Macedonians of Aegean Macedonia had already begun.
Since 1913, official Greece has been trying to banish native Macedonian names of villages, towns, cities, rivers, and lakes in Aegean Macedonia. For example, the little stream which issues from Mount Olympus and flows into the Aegean Sea is labelled Mavroneri ("black water") on the maps, made by Greek cartographers after 1913. However, the same river appears as Crna Reka, a native Macedonian name meaning "black river" on the maps, made before 1913. Kukush has been dropped for Kilkis and Serres for Serai, together with at least 300 other places all over Macedonia.
The Macedonians were also forced to renounce their native family names and use only new "Greek-sounding" names. During the dictatorship of General Metaxis between 1935 and 1941, the Macedonians were exposed to brutal oppression. The Macedonian language was forbidden, despite the fact under the supervision of the League of Nations.
Greece recognized for the first time Macedonian existence as distinct language, when it published the primer "Abecedar" for the needs of the Macedonian children in 1924. A stormy and violent reaction followed in the Greek press of the three monarchies and the Greek government decided not to introduce the primer, which was already published into Macedonian schools.
Punish for speaking
In the 1930's, the Macedonians in Greece were punished for speaking of their native language and were persecuted for expressing of their national identity. Yet, despite the persecution the Macedonians never abandoned their nationality.
In 1995, Human Rights Watch - Helsinki/ Finland was a witness, that even today the Macedonians are forbidden to carry their first and last Macedonian names.
During the Greek Civil War (1946-1949) that followed World War II, the Macedonians of Aegean Macedonia fought on the side of the Greek Communist Party (KKE) simply because it promised them their rights after the war. Out of the 35,000 soldiers of DAG (Democratic Army of Greece), about half were Macedonians. The liberated territory, covering mainly the territory of Aegean Macedonia. Eighty-seven Macedonian schools were opened for 100,000 pupils, the newspapers in Macedonian were published ("Nepokoren", "Zora", "Edinstvo", "Borec"), and cultural and artistic associations were created.
The defeat of DAG
A after two years of KKE's success in the civil war, the United States decided to side up against them, afraid that Greece would become another communist country. With the military support that came from the United States and Great Britain, the communists lost the war, and the Macedonians once again were stripped of their human rights.
The defeat of DAG resulted in terrible consequences for the Macedonians. 28,000 Aegean Macedonian children, known as 'child refugees', were separated from their families and settled in eastern Europe and Soviet Union in an attempt to save them from the terror that followed. Thousands of Macedonians lost their lives for the liberty of their people and a great number of the Macedonian villages were burned to the ground just like the Greek army burned Kukush and the surrounding villages in the Balkan Wars.
In the late 1950's, the inhabitantsof several villages in the districts of Florina (Lerin), Kastoria (Kostur), and Edessa (Voden) were forced to take oaths in which they swore never again to speak "the local Slavic but to speak only Greek instead. Yet, the policy on denationalization continued to meet resistance among the Macedonians. The Macedonian language continued to be spoken in everyday communication and folklore as an expression of the Macedonian national affiliation.
"The Macedonian Movement for Balkan Prosperity"with its main office in Salonica was founded. "Rainbow" and some other organizations have been asking the international factors and the Greek government for legalization of the national and political rights of the Macedonians in Greece.
As federal Yugoslavia was disintegrating at the beginning of 1990's, on September 8, 1991 in a referendum, 95% of eligible voters approved the independence and sovereignty of the Republic of Macedonia. Kiro Gligorov was elected the first president of independent Macedonia.
The new constitution determined the Republic of Macedonia a sovereign, independent, civil, and democratic state, and it recognized the complete equality of the Macedonians and the ethnic minorities. In addition, permanent mutual living of the Macedonian people with the Albanians, Turks, Vlachs, Roma and the other nationalities, living in the Republic of Macedonia. Greece immediately demanded from the international community not to recognize the country under its name Macedonia.
The Macedonian name and language has been permanently negated by the Bulgarian government. Although, in 1991 it recognized the independence of the Republic of Macedonia. Since 1991, Greece has put in dispute the name of the Republic of Macedonia, tending to negate the historical identity. Moreover, the Greeks negate the legitimacy of the Macedonian nation and language, although they recognized Macedonia as a state within the frames of SFR Yugoslavia (Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia).
Macedonia fulfil the requirements
The European Community acknowledged that Macedonia had fulfilled the requirements for official recognition, due to the opposition of Greece, which was already a member of the community. The EU decided to postpone the recognition. Greece, afraid that Macedonia might put forward a historical, cultural, and linguistic claim over Aegean Macedonia, insisted that the new nation has no right to use of the name "Macedonia". Neither uses the emblem of ancient Macedonia on its flag.
The Macedonian flag
In July of 1992, there were demonstrations by 100,000 Macedonians, in the capital Skopje over the failure to receive recognition. Despite Greek objections, Macedonia was admitted to the United Nations, under the temporary reference (not an official name) FYROM, "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" in 1993. Full diplomatic relations with several EU nations followed. While Russia, China, Turkey, Bulgaria and most nations, ignored Greece's objections and recognized Macedonia, under its constitutional name "Republic of Macedonia".
1995 Macedonia becomes a member of the Council of Europe. The Human Rights Watch condemns Greece for the oppression of its large ethnic Macedonian minority, which Greece denies it exists. Both Amnesty International and the European Parliament also urge Greece, to recognize the existence of the Macedonian language and stop the oppression of the ethnic Macedonians, on the Macedonian territory it appropriated in 1913.
On 13 Sep 1995, by mediation of US-negotiator Richard Holbrooke, Greece's Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou and Macedonia's President Kiro Gligorov drafted a first settlement agreement. After the Greek Minister Karolos Papoulias and the Macedonian Minister Stevo Crvenkovsky had sign the agreement (Interim Accord) on 13 Oct, Greece lifted the trade blockade and the ban on Macedonian passport-holders and stopped vetoing EU aid for Macedonia.
Macedonia will redesign its flag, omitting the starburst symbol of Alexander the Great, king of ancient Macedonia and to include provisions in its constitution, that prevent it from making any territorial claims against neighbouring countries. Macedonia agreed to replace the temporary international name of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, with a permanent name acceptable to both parties.
USA, Russia, China and 109 other countries, have recognised Macedonia under its chosen name; the Republic of Macedonia. It signifies the affirmation of the historical legitimacy and the continuity, of the Macedonian nation and state.
See this article by Boris Georgievski in Skopje (BCR No 552, 15-Apr-05) The Macedonian government has rejected a United Nations proposal that the country be renamed “Republika Makedonija – Skopje”, as a compromise solution to a 14-year-old dispute with neighbouring Greece.
The Bible New International Version - UK, Acts 16: 9-15 in the years AD 51-57
9 During the night, Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, come over to Macedonia and help us. 10 After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.
Lydia's Conversion in Philippi
11 From Troas, we put out to sea and sailed straight for Samothrace, and the next day on to Neapolis. 12 From there, we travelled to Philippi, a Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia. And we stayed there several days. 13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there.
14 One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshipper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message. 15 When she and the members of her household were baptised, she invited us to her home. If you consider me a believer in the Lord, she said, come and stay at my house. And she persuaded us.
<Apostle Paul and his disciples preach the Gospel for the first time on European soil. Lydia was the first person who was converted.>
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