Marcus A. Templar
(Balkan expert and holds a Master of Science Degree in Strategic Intelligence)
Copyright: Marcus A. Templar on line
In a speech to the Macedonian Diaspora from the Province of Florina, recently published in the newspaper Ethnos in Athens, the Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyanni, referring to the name dispute between Athens and Skopje, stated among other things that “it is not a matter of winning or losing,” but a matter of solving the problem without victors or losers.
It is not surprising that many Greek politicians do not understand the importance derivatives of the word “Macedonia” will play after an agreement on the name is signed between Greece and FYROM. A composite name with geographic significance may be agreed upon, but the issue of the use of the adjectives will continue for along time. It is not a secret that politicians perceive the whole matter as a political one. It has its roots in the distortion of political events that neither the Greek politicians nor the Greek Academic world has effectively dealt with; at the beginning because of lack of social understanding of the Balkan people, later because of their political affiliation with the Left that willfully confuses nationalism (Fascism or Nazism?) with patriotism. The political Left behaved so badly at the beginning of WWII with its pro-fascist and pro-Nazi stance that very correctly its actions were identified as treason by the truly democratic forces of Greece.
Allow me to address this issue from the Slavic point of view, assuming I am a Slav Macedonian born in Stip, North Macedonia: Since Greece is not going to consider seriously the importance and use of the derivatives from the word “Macedonia,” and since I know that my country, North Macedonia, will do everything possible to promote the use of the derivatives, I will do my best to promote my ethnicity as Macedonian, speaking my Macedonian language, attending my Macedonian Church, serving in the Macedonian Army, buying Macedonian products from a Macedonian shop.
I am certain that my government will succeed inserting derivatives from the word “Macedonia” in the UN General Assembly Report. In this manner, the term “Macedonian” will be legally established as the ethnic term for all the Macedonians. The Greeks will say nothing about this because they have the habit not to check details and long-term effects and they do not use attorneys with expertise in international law to comprehend the weight and validity of such reports. An example of their sloppy handling of such serious matters is the Interim Accord, which was signed in 1995 by the then Foreign minister Karolos Papoulias. No attorney with expertise in international law would have accepted an accord that gives only benefits to my Macedonia and only obligations without any return to Greece. To assist my country today, the American Department of State employs full-time attorneys, experts in international law.
I greatly enjoy seeing Greek Macedonians not being able to establish and use derivatives of the word “Macedonia” because anything they say or do, their derivatives will be Greek, not Macedonian. Their websites are Greek, their products are Greek, their language is Greek, their Church is Greek, their army is Greek, etc. Their communications company EOT hardly ever advertises their Macedonia, referring to that as Northern Greece. The Greek press mentions Greek Macedonian cities as Solun, Voden, Lerin, Sorovits, Koshtur, German, Vigla, Negotsani, etc. as being in Northern Greece, not in Macedonia. If people who live in Northern Greece say they come from Macedonia, foreigners would think they come from my country, since we have already established our Macedonia as an independent country.
The President of the “World Macedonian Congress,” Todor Petrov, very correctly sent a letter to Greek Prime Minister, in response to Mr. Karamanlis’ letter to Mr. Gruevski, stating: “Do not forget your mother tongue, the Macedonian language. Do not forget you were breastfed by a Macedonian mother from Solun. Do not forget that the whole basis of Greece is Macedonia, the mentors of dividing Macedonia are far, but we have to live together because we are brothers and orthodox.” http://macedoniaonline.eu/content/view/2399/45/ Is he crazy? Not at all. Mr. Karamanlis declared that he is a Macedonian and Mr. Petrov simply demonstrated that since Mr. Karamanlis is a Macedonian, he is then our man. In other words, if Mr. Karamanlis does not want to be perceived as one of us, then he should not say that he is a Macedonian.
Allow me now to continue addressing the issue as a Greek Macedonian born in Thessaloniki. For as long as the academic world, the media, the politicians, the websites, etc. of Greece continue not to ask penetrating questions as to how were the Slavs transformed into Macedonians, demanding scientific answers based on primary sources of the specific time of the said transformations, Skopje will continue to monopolize the term --- agreement or no agreement on a synthetic name. For as long as the Greeks do not show to the world that the so-called Slav Macedonians were Bulgarians from 1860-1945, the world will continue to call them Macedonians.
From the beginning, the Slavs have put the Greeks on the defensive with strictly trivial and unhistorical arguments, offering not a single scientific proof to show why they consider themselves Macedonians. Whether the ancient Macedonians were ethnically Greek or not makes no difference to anyone. It is simply a trivial matter. The fact is they spoke a Greek dialect, had Greek culture, and they were part of the Greek world. The fact that a Macedonian King was responsible for establishing the koinē Greek dialect is enough to tell the world he was Greek. He had the absolute power to impose any language he wanted without any objections.
All these things happened because the Greeks fell into a trap. Instead of discarding the Slavic arguments as trivial, attacking in unison, demanding proof of the Slav Macedonian ancestry and of the reasons for their transformation from Bulgarians to Macedonians, Greeks began defending what is already theirs. Greeks left the propaganda battlefield into the hands of a patiently planned, well organized, and brilliantly executed strategic objective: the sustainment of the Slavs’ “Macedonian” identity, language, heritage, culture, etc. if the argument is that the Slavs should be called “Macedonians” because they inhabit a small section of geographic Macedonia, the same is true for everyone inhabiting geographic Macedonia. The same is true for the derivatives of the term Macedonia. We cannot set aside the fact that everyone who lives in Macedonia is a Macedonian, as very correctly the Krushevo Manifesto declared in 1903, “regardless of faith, nationality, sex or conviction.” [http://www.culture.in.mk/story.asp?id=7622].
Since persons who live in geographic Macedonia require a qualifying epithet to denote their ethnic origin (e.g., Bulgarian Macedonian, Albanian Macedonian, Roma Macedonian, Greek Macedonian, etc.), then the final treaty between Athens and Skopje must include explicitly the ethnic group of the Slav Macedonians in their own language, un-translated to any other language: e.g., Slavomakedonci (singular, Slavomakedonec, Slavomakedonka), speaking Slavomakedonski, -ska with no dashes.
I recognize Skopje’s resistance to such a solution, but this is the moment of truth and for a unified, firm solution by the Greek diplomacy under the leadership of Dora Bakoyanni, and the support of the Greek Parliament. Mrs Bakoyanni was correct when she stated that “it is not a matter of winning or losing,” but a matter for restoring Greece’s ethnic pride. Mrs. Bakoyannis is very correct when she states: “We are not seeking victory, but a substantial settlement on the name issue of FYROM. However, I would change it a little adding “not anymore.” It is a well-known fact that she dreams one day to become the prime minister of Greece. It is nothing wrong with such a dream; however, I want to see whom she and her naïve advisors will blame when she gets the premiership and the issue of the adjective Macedonian will tangle over her head as if it were the Sword of Damocles. One always harvests what one sows. Mr. Karolos Papoulias knows this adage very well.