Saturday, October 28, 2006


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By George Phillipov

The Macedonian Question (MQ), which originated with the Treaty of
Berlin [sup 1] in 1878, challenges objective analysis because of the
prejudices developed over time and now often accepted as fact. Political
myths replace historic facts, and accordingly this 117 year saga lingers
as an unresolved flash point for Balkan conflict.

Today's public dispute between the Republic of Macedonia (RoM) and
Greece is based on Greece's contention that RoM has plagiarized an
integral part of Greek national history as a first step towards
ultimately claiming a part of its territory. Greece argues that by using
the name Macedonia, RoM seeks to transform its meaning from a
to a nationalistic term and thereby deny Greece a significant part of
its cultural identity and challenge its sovereignty over this territory.
A source of constant provocation for Greeks is RoM's flag which features
the Macedonian Sunburst, a 16 ray golden sun originally located in royal
tombs unearthed at Vergina, Greece and dating back to the 4th century

Overlaying these quarrels is the status and rights of a Macedonian
national minority within Greece's northern provinces. Greece denies that
any such nationality exists within its borders today.[sup 2] The
intensity of the nationalistic fervour engendered, particularly amongst
emigrant communities in Australia and Canada, has led not only to mass
marches and protests but also to wanton acts of violence, including the
fire-bombing of churches, clubs and residences.

The Greek-Macedonian dispute is ground in the past, both recent and
ancient, and is most readily understood in the context of its historic
evolution. While the Greekness of Philip II of Macedon (382-336BC) and
his son, Alexander the Great (356-323BC), is for some equivocal, they
were certainly not Slavs, a race first noted in European history almost
a millennium later.[sup 3] That the present day people of RoM are a
Slavic race, unrelated to the ancient Macedonians is conceded even by
RoM President, Kiro Gligorov.[sup 4] Moreover contemporary Macedonia is
much larger geographically than the Ancient Macedonian state of 431BC,
only a small part of which falls within RoM's borders.

By the end of the eighteenth century the collapse of the Turkish Empire
was well advanced and the national awakenings of Serbians, Romanians,
Greeks and Bulgarians led to the establishment of their respective
nation-states. However until the Congress of Berlin (13 June 1878)
revised the terms of the Treaty Of San Stefano (3 March 1878), the
Macedonian question did not exist, because it was merely part of the
general Balkan question. The Treaty of San Stefano established the
ethnographic boundaries of the Bulgarian state based on both the
recognized diocese of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church[sup 5] and the
consensus which had been previously minuted at the Constantinople
Conference of Ambassadors[sup 6] (November 1876). If we review the
numerous ethnic surveys conducted throughout the area prior to the
Balkan Wars, the main groups identified were Bulgarian (52 per cent),
Turkish (22 per cent), Greek (10 per cent), Albanian (6 per cent) and
Vlach (3.5 per cent).[sup 7-9]

Towards the end of the nineteenth century a group of Macedonians met in
Salonika and formed a secret society whose goal was to attain autonomy
for Macedonia. The society was officially named the Bulgarian-Macedonian
-Adrianople Revolutionary. Organization. Their statutes restricted
membership to Bulgarians, but later in 1902 they opened membership to
all Macedonia's nationalities.[sup 10] Nevertheless the only non-Slavs
who joined were mainly Vlachs. For their part the Greek and Muslim
people opposed the revolutionaries and sided with the Turkish
authorities. The operations of the Macedonian liberation movements
climaxed with the 1903 insurrection, called the Linden Uprising, an
extremely one-sided contest in which some 27,000 rebels faced 350,000
Turkish troops.

The Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 not only completely destroyed the
Turkish Empire but also led to a lasting partition of Macedonia. The
First Balkan War began on 18 October 1912 with Bulgaria, Serbia and
Greece mobilizing 621,000, 468,000 and 210,000 troops respectively.
Bulgarian forces, which included the 15,000 strong Macedonian-Adrianople
regiment, quickly advanced through the Turkish lines and by November 15
had reached the last defences of Constantinople. The Serbian army,
together with the Bulgarian 7th Rila division, successfully campaigned
in Macedonia against much smaller Turkish numbers. The Greek army
assumed only a secondary role. During the First Balkan War the
casualties suffered by Bulgaria and Serbia were 87,000 and 23,000
respectively, while Greek figures were substantially less than the
Serbians.[sup 7]

As it became clear that the Balkan Alliance had defeated Turkey, both
participants and observers were unwilling to honour treaties ratified
before hostilities commenced. Romania demanded acquisition of Bulgarian
territory in the Dobrudja region as compensation for her neutrality.
Serbia wanted revision of the treaty signed with Bulgaria with respect
to Macedonian lands. The Greeks, through Venizelos, told Bulgaria they
would remain neutral in any future Serbian-Bulgarian conflict if they
were granted Salonika and sufficient territory to link it to Greece
proper. The Bulgarians refused to re-negotiate any signed treaty.[sup
11] Therefore in January 1913 when the Bulgarian army was still battling
the Turks, Serbia and Greece concluded a secret military alliance and
came to a mutual accord with Romania and Turkey.
Taking advantage of Bulgaria's continuing engagement with the Turkish
army, the Serbians and Greeks fortified their positions in the captured
territories and began cleansing them of Bulgarians. Responding to the
Serbian and Greek actions, the Bulgarian army under General Savov
attacked their emplacements on 29 June 1913. In the diplomatic furore
that followed, the Bulgarian government accused Savov of acting without
authority and ordered a cease fire. The Serbians however refused to
abide by this armistice counter-attacking the Bulgarians during the
confusion and inflicting heavy losses. After several weeks the
Bulgarians had regained the initiative and were manoeuvring to cut-off
Serbian forces in Macedonia, and had encircled the Greek army in the
Kresna Valley.[sup 12,13]At this stage, when defeat of the Serbian-Greek
alliance appeared likely, Romanian forces, with Russia's approval,
crossed into Bulgaria and advanced unopposed towards Sofia; the Turks
reneged on their international treaty signed in London and recaptured
Adrianople. Bulgaria had no option but to capitulate.

By the Treaty of Bucharest (10 August 1913) Bulgaria had to cede to
Romania all of southern Dobrudja, a region of 290,000 individuals of
whom just 2.2 per cent were Romanian; Macedonia was divided between
Greece (50 per cent) and Serbia (40 per cent), and only a small part was
allotted to Bulgaria (10 per cent). Of the 1 million Bulgarians in
Macedonia, some 900,000 were now left in areas controlled by Serbia and
Greece and all their 1375 Bulgarian schools, 1331 Bulgarian Orthodox
Churches, 275 monasteries and 294 chapels were closed.[sup14]

In World War I (WW1) Bulgaria insisted on renegotiation of the Treaty of
Bucharest as a condition for her support of the Allies. Greece appeared
willing but Serbia steadfastly refused. This later prompted Winston
Churchill in 1915 to write "that she (Serbia) should cede, and if
necessary be made to surrender, the uncontested zone in Macedonia to the
Bulgarians, to whom it belonged by race, by history, by treaty."[sup 15]
Ultimately Bulgaria, after being promised sovereignty to all of her lost
Macedonian lands, joined the Central Powers. Although the Bulgarian
armies promptly reoccupied the territory, in the aftermath of WW I she
not only lost all these regions but even more of her native lands. In
effect 16 per cent of the Bulgarian population now remained outside the
borders of the 1919 Bulgarian state.

At the end of WW1, in light of Woodrow Wilson's famous fourteen point
plan (8 January 1918), specifically point eleven, Freedom, restoration
and adjustment according to nationality for the Balkan States, the
Macedonians were optimistic their political status would be resolved.
Indeed at the peace conference the American, Italian and Japanese
delegations, with the agreement of Bulgaria, tabled a proposal for an
autonomous Macedonia as a League of Nations protectorate.[sup 16] France,
a strong patron of Serbia, opposed the proposal and prevented its

In addition to the Treaty of Neuilly signed with Greece on 27 November
1919, Bulgaria also entered into a Convention for a voluntary exchange
of population. Greece saw the Convention as a means to rid herself of
the Bulgarian minority, while Bulgaria felt she had no option but to
agree. Under Article 46 of the Treaty, and the Treaty of Sevres (10
August 1920) for The Protection of Minorities Greece was bound to honour
the right of self-identity for all her minorities.[sup 17] When by June
1923 only 197 Greek families and 166 Bulgarian had agreed to emigrate,
the Greek military forcibly deported several thousand Bulgarian families
from Thrace and installed Greek refugees from Anatolia in their homes.

This caused panic amongst the Bulgarians and thousands fled Greece for
Bulgaria. On reaching Bulgaria they seized Greek homes and land, causing
a reciprocal flood of refugees from Bulgaria to Greece. Before calm was
restored some 50,000 Bulgarians and 25,000 Greeks had emigrated under
the Convention. The League of Nations estimated that 102,000 Bulgarians
and 53,000 Greeks were declared as emigrants, but that only a minute
number of these were actually voluntary. [sup 17] The effect of the
Convention was almost the total emigration of Greeks from Bulgaria,
while in Greece, West Thrace was cleared of Bulgarians. But in western
Macedonia a substantial Bulgarian population remained. In 1928 Greek
statistics placed their number at 82,000, while Bulgaria claimed 300,
000. It is generally accepted that both figures represent extremes.

After the Greek army debacle in Asia Minor (1922), over one million
Greeks fled Turkey and some 640,000 of these settled throughout the
Macedonian region, while 348,000 Turks left Greek Macedonia.[sup 18]
This placed even greater pressure on the indigenous Bulgarian population
as the Greek refugees appropriated their land and livestock with
impunity. The only choice the Bulgarians had was to accept the situation
or leave. In July 1924 however, the League of Nations investigated an
incident in Tarlis, where 27 Bulgarians were arrested and ten
subsequently killed.[sup 14] Greece was found guilty of mistreating her
minorities, in breech of undertakings given at Neuilly and Sevres. As a
result, and under League of Nations auspices, Bulgarian and Greek
delegates met at Geneva (29 September 1924) and signed two identical
protocols for the protection of minorities in the two countries. Hence
Greece now had formally recognized the presence of a Bulgarian minority
entitled to cultural, linguistic and educational rights.

Although Serbia had been compelled to sign the Minorities Treaties, she
argued that the population in Vardar Macedonia, now renamed Southern
Serbia, were Serbian not Bulgarian, and that the treaty was irrelevant.
Accordingly the Greek action in signing the protocol with Bulgaria,
seriously compromised her alliance with Serbia, who stated her position
as follows:"the dogma that the Slav inhabitants of Macedonia are Serbs
is the basis of our policy. We cannot possibly accept that north of the
frontier the Slavs are Serbs while beyond that frontier these same
people are Bulgarians."[sup 19] Under Serbian military threats and major
divisions amongst Greek political parties, the Greek parliament met on 3
February 1925 and refused to ratify the Geneva protocol. The League of
Nations demanded an explanation but subsequently acquiesced in the Greek

As part of the Geneva Protocol, the Greek government also embarked on a
plan to declare the slav-speaking population, which it had just
recognized as Bulgarian as Macedono-Slavs - a national minority entitled
to schools in its own language. It printed a 40 page primer entitled
ABECEDAR, written in Latin script (Bulgarians use the cyrillic alphabet),
and compiled in the local Macedonian dialect.[sup 20] Greece claims the
initiative failed due to Serbian and Bulgarian objections. Nevertheless
a more realistic interpretation has been suggested: "The aim of the A.
was clear: the Slavs in Greece were to forget their own traditions and
develop a distinct, autonomist or Greek-Slav national consciousness. The
selection of the dialect forms used north of the border suggests that
the A. may have been aimed at the Macedonians in Yugoslavia as well. It
was thus designed to counteract separatist sentiments in Greece and
foster an irredentist movement in Yugoslavia."[sup 21] Possibly this
explains the nature of Serbia's blunt warnings to Greece. It is ironic
that only 20 years later in 1944, under the aegis of the Yugoslav
Communist Party (YCP), the Macedonian literary language was issued by
decree. Over time a strong Macedonian national consciousness developed
which fostered elements of an irredentist movement in Greece and even

Subsequently Greece redefined its Bulgarian minority as slavophones
(Slav-speaking Greek citizens) and the minority question no longer
existed. Later in the 1930s during the Metaxas dictatorship these
slavophones were forbidden to speak their Slavic dialect, old people
were forced to attend night classes to learn Greek, Bulgarian texts or
literature were banned, names were changed, for example -opov to --
opoulos (or-opovich in Yugoslavia), and deportations to the Greek island
prisons became widespread.

Whatever problems Macedono -Bulgarians faced in Greece the situation
them in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Yugoslavia) was far
worse. The oppression and barbarity of the Serbian regime is graphically
detailed by Frenchman, Henri Pozzi, in his recently reprinted 1935 text
Black Hand over Europe.[sup 22] However the Serbians met fierce armed
resistance from the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization
, which had reformed under the leadership of Todor Alexandrov[sup 23]
and operated out of Bulgaria proper.

IMRO sought an autonomous Macedonian state, but as a minimum
for the Macedono-Bulgarians rights equivalent to those granted the
Serbians, Croats and Slovenes. Helped by a powerful emigrant lobby in
America, IMRO was able to focus international media attention on the
unsettled MQ, and highlight both the appalling situation within
Yugoslavia and the League of Nations' unwillingness to intervene. It was
later revealed that the League of Nations after 1925 had adopted a tacit
policy to ignore all petitions concerning the MQ or associated human
rights violations.[sup 17]

Because IMRO had major support amongst the population,[sup 24] Serbia
had to maintain a massive military presence in the region. Placed on the
defensive by IMRO's success, Serbia began to agitate through diplomatic
channels that either the Bulgarian government curtail IMRO's activities,
or she would mount a military offensive into Bulgaria. In time this
Serbian strategy was successful, as successive Bulgarian government
actions, responding to international pressure, undermined IMRO's focus
and military capability to send armed bands into Yugoslavia. Finally in
1934 the Bulgarian government outlawed the organization. Because the
Serbians took such brutal steps to suppress the national liberation
movement the response amongst the Bulgarians was to establish the
Macedonian Youth Secret Revolutionary Organization (MYSRO) in
in cities throughout Vardar and Aegean Macedonia, as well as in Belgrade,
Zagreb and Ljubljana.[sup 25] In a short time its influence had spread
amongst all the student youth in the occupied regions. When the Serbians
finally uncovered the existence of MYSRO in June 1927, they realized
their assimilatory policies had failed and they unilaterally closed all
schools in Vardar, depriving some one million people of any education
opportunities. After the Skopje trials of MYSRO followers, the Bulgarian
intelligentsia devolved the organizational structure even further.
Having minimal success at exposing MYSRO leaders, the Serbians resorted
to a policy of assassinating suspected members hundreds of MYSRO's
outstanding emissaries were killed in this way. In Greece the government
exiled scores of suspects to the Aegean Islands - most never returned.
During the period 1919-1941 some 22,000 Bulgarians, half aged 18 to 30
years, were either killed or declared missing in Vardar and Aegean

The MQ is also intrinsically associated with the communist movement,
especially after WWl[sup .26,27] The start of the 1920s saw the
Comintern struggling to expand its class struggle into Europe. Therefore
its attention turned to the Balkans where strong manifestations of
social and national sentiments were held in rigid political states. The
local communist parties however were not strong and a better prospect
was to use the national liberation movements to precipitate a major
incident leading to war or intervention by the Great Powers. The
resulting social dislocation would allow tensions to be progressively
shifted west towards Europe.

A critical part of this intrigue was to 'hijack' IMRO and make it
subservient to the Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP); however IMRO by its
own charter was a nationalistic organization and a political. The plight
of the Macedono-Bulgarians and the constant threat of rapprochement
between the Yugoslavian and Bulgarian governments convinced some of
IMRO hierarchy, in particular the IMRO external committee, that the MQ
was best solved within the overall context of the Comintern's proposed
Balkan Federation. Following a number of key incidents within Bulgaria,
including the overthrow of the Stamboliiski Agrarian government and the
crushing of the BCP 1923 September Uprising, Todor Alexandrov was
assassinated, and IMRO's single-minded goal irreversibly
compromised.[sup 28]

The start of World War II saw significant changes for the Macedono -
Bulgarians. After Yugoslavia and Greece were militarily defeated in 1941,
all members of the national liberation organizations, irrespective of
political or ideological persuasion returned to their birthplace, and
under the leadership of the Bulgarian Action Committees the populace
organised and established national rule. This national renaissance was
most evident in Vardar Macedonia. Accordingly, when Tito directed
Methodi Shatarov, leader of the Macedonian Communist Party (MCP), to
resist the 'fascist' Bulgarian National Army (BNA), Shatarov refused and
instead labelled Tito and the YCP as enemies of the Macedonian people.29
Meanwhile the BNA, which predominantly comprised former Macedonian
refugees, received a tumultuous welcome throughout the Vardar and

Macedonians expelled during the Balkan Wars and WWI were allowed to
return and resettle while churches and schools closed from 1913 were re-
opened. However the population and returning refugees also sought
retribution for past atrocities against their families[sup 7] and years
of suffering and persecution. The Serbian, and in particular Greek,
populations received harsh treatment and thousands were forced from
their lands or worse. Consequently this period left an indelible mark on
the memories of many Greeks.

Tito saw the promotion of an unified Macedonia as a way to ensure the
spread of communist influence and to provide a leading role for the YCP
amongst the communist Balkan states. As the military fortunes of
declined and Bulgaria was ready to switch allegiance to the Allies; the
YCP began to exert pressure on the BCP and the Greek Communist Party
(GCP) to accept separation and joining of their Macedonian regions to
the now established People's Republic of Macedonia (PRM) within
Yugoslavia. The BCP and GCP never accepted the concept as Tito
however each found itself under different but severe pressures.[sup 30,
31] The BCP was seeking potential territorial concessions (West Thrace)
as well as Tito's support at the Peace Conference. The GCP found itself
increasingly dependent on YCP's military and logistic backing during the
Greek civil war.

After Bulgaria's capitulation and her agreement to withdraw all its
forces from Greece, many BNA soldiers joined the Macedonian partisan
forces to continue the fight for an united Macedonia. However the
original liberators of Vardar Macedonia, the Bulgarian Action Committees,
IMRO and individuals like Shatarov, as well as a large segment of the
population, opposed the YCP concept of a Macedonian state. These
were slowly but methodically eliminated during the late 1940s by a BCP-
YCP coalition. After the break between Tito and Stalin in 1948 the YCP
realized that a greater Macedonia was no longer possible and instead it
began to consolidate its control of PRM.

Tito's PRM fell far short of what many members of the Macedonian
partisan movement ever imagined. The bureaucracy was controlled by
Serbians, and pro-Serbian Macedonian leaders, such as Lazar Kolishevski,
[sup 32] dictated policy conceived in Belgrade. Consequently during the
late 1940s Macedonian partisan leaders and intellectuals who opposed the
Serbian domination and the systematic uprooting of the Bulgarian culture
and language were either killed or imprisoned.[sup 33] The Bulgarian
language and literature were banned and, under the infamous Macedonian
Honour Code, any parent who attempted to raise their children as
Bulgarian was imprisoned for ten years.[sup 26] Since 1944 it has been
estimated that 16,000 people have been killed in PRM for attempting to
assert their ethnicity and more than 120,000 have been sent to
concentration camps; some 700 trials have been held against pro-
Bulgarian organizations with numerous, resulting executions.[34]

In Greece, the nature of the civil war and the ultimate defeat of the
GCP led to a large exodus of Macedonian refugees across the borders to
PRM, Albania and Bulgaria. During 1948 an evacuation of children from
the regions close to the Yugoslavia border commenced, and by 1949 it is
estimated some 22,000 were resettied in various Eastern European
countries.[35] Incidents like this caused great dislocation amongst
Macedonian families.

When Tito closed the border between Yugoslavia and Greece, many of the
partisan fighters and their families were cut off from their only means
of escape and thousands perished. As the GCP and their fellow Macedonian
allies were mainly Stalinists, Tito's actions poisoned relations between
PRM and the emigrant Aegean Macedonian communities for many years.
situation was further exacerbated in 1952 when, as a show of good faith
to the Greeks, Tito ordered the disbanding of the Aegean Macedonian
Association in Skopje and closed their newspaper, Voice of the Aegeans;
then followed the treaties of friendship and cooperation, and military
alliance with Greece and Turkey in 1953.

The YCP always managed PRM along classical Marxist-Leninist lines,
seeking that final goal of cultural fusion. First, in 1946 a Macedonian
literary language was issued by decree, in which a Serbian bias was
introduced to satisfy long-term requirements for development of a
monolinguistic (Serbian) society.[26,27,36] Second, a process of
historic and cultural revisionism was conducted to provide the
Macedonian nation with its appropriate foundations.[26,27] Third, a
national church, the Macedonian Orthodox Church was formed in 1959[37]
under the jurisdiction of the Serbian Orthodox Church and based on the
Medieval Bulgarian Ohrid Archbishopric,[38] but now revised as
Macedonian. This YCP policy ultimately nurtured future generations which
had both a Macedonian national consciousness and loyalty to Yugoslavia.

In the aftermath of the Tito-Stalin split, Bulgaria remained one of
Russia's most faithful allies, so much so that relations between Sofia
and Belgrade tended to reflect the prevailing mood in Moscow. Following
Stalin's death the April 1956 Plenum saw the BCP re-adjust its 1944
declaration on the existence of a Macedonian ethnicity. However the BCP
did not reveal this decision until 1958, and a further decade elapsed
before the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences was able to publish a position
paper on the matter. The issue has subsequently led to vehement polemics
between RoM and Bulgaria. These reached a crescendo after the 1979
publication of BCP Politburo member Tsola Dragoycheva's memoirs on
Bulgarian-Yugoslav relations in the 1940s.[39] Such exchanges have been
exploited by the YCP to harden Macedonian national resolve and to
engender a deep-seated resentment against everything Bulgarian.

Another success of the YCP policy on the MQ has been its general
acceptance by the emigrant Macedonians, particularly during the last 10
to 20 years. This can be attributed to a single-factor, the Macedonian
Orthodox Church. While a rancour always existed, and still does, between
the Aegean Macedonian refugees and the more recent PRM emigrants,
of the former had little choice but to accept the Macedonian Church and
thus YCP-Macedonian policy if they wished to remain within their social
group. The Church became linked irrevocably to national identity.

The BCP's engrossment with Moscow and its total acquiescence to
internationalism rather than protecting the rights of the Macedono-
Bulgarians, destroyed any role it may have played amongst the
Macedonians overseas. Unchallenged, the YCP was able to implement a
propaganda campaign towards the global, emigrant, Macedonian
the estimated cost of which has been placed at USS1.2 billion. This YCP
program has had a distinct effect, and for many emigrant Macedonians and
their descendants, Macedonian nationalism has become a classical belief
system predicated on myth rather than any freely ascertainable facts.

One barrier that thwarts reduction of present day Balkan tensions is the
lack of democracy within RoM, allowing Gligorov's government a free hand
to perpetuate past YCP expansionist policies relating to the issue of
unique Macedonian minorities in Bulgaria and Greece. The realization of
human rights for all individuals in a state, especially when they
constitute a minority, should always be a priority. However the RoM-YCP
paradigm seeks to categorize individuals independently of their own
choice. For example in Bulgaria it is estimated that there live between
one and half to two million Macedonian refugees and their descendants
from Vardar and Aegean Macedonia. That is as many as in the whole of
RoM. They have their own organizations, both cultural and political, and
are steadfastly opposed to the YCP's notion of Macedonian nationality.
In a recent census the number of Bulgarian citizens that declared
themselves Macedonian nationals, in the heart of the Macedonian region,
was less than 0.2 per The trauma and anger of the Macedonian
Bulgarians at RoM efforts to once again impose the past oppressive Tito-
Dimitrov policies has been poignantly captured in recent articles.[41]

Although Bulgaria was the first country to recognize RoM, this received
an indifferent response from RoM, while the media questioned Bulgarian
motives, insisting that Bulgaria had recognized RoM but had not
explicitly recognized the Macedonian nation.[42] At the height of the
Greek embargo against RoM, Bulgarian parliamentarians presented a
proposal to RoM that the border between them be declared open, with no
restrictions.[43] The RoM government immediately rejected this
initiative, although open borders immediately resolve the question of
human rights for minorities in the most appropriate manner - freedom of
individual choice.

The RoM human rights agenda is coordinated through the emigrant
Macedonian communities,[44] where genuineanimosity exists towards
and is induced towards Bulgaria.In most cases there are justifiable
reasons why these people harbour such sentiments, and continual Greek
harassment of the emigrant Macedonian communities during the last 40
years is one example.[45] In spite of the ten or more years that these
groups have been operating they have only had limited success in
arousing popular movements in the countries concerned. It is disquieting
that these same human right activists in Bulgaria and Greece
consistently praise Gligorov's ministry and criticize the RoM opposition
parties. More so than at any time in the past, the present Macedonian-
Greek dispute has facilitated support for the human rights of
Macedonians in Bulgaria and Greece.

While pursuit of human rights is a worthy cause, in some instances it
has the potential to also be exploited as a guise for underlying
expansionist aims. It is also perplexing why international human rights
groups continually focus on infractions concerning Macedonians in
Bulgaria and Greece, but never raise the status of Bulgarians in RoM and
Greece. No doubt the unwillingness of the Bulgaria government to pursue
human rights for its nationals in Greece and RoM, because of political
repercussions, is the main reason.[46] This in turn has led to acrid
criticism by Bulgarian groups in RoM who claim Bulgarian foreign policy
abandons its own people.[47]

A major disappointment has been RoM adopting a system of constitutional
nationalism which privileges the major ethnic group, rather than the
individual citizens of the State.48 This is a particularly divisive
issue for RoM's Albanian citizens who comprise some 25-40 per cent of
the population and have a historic presence in the region, even longer
than that of the Macedonians. But the PRM leaders have always supported
the Serbian policy with respect to the Albanians, and that accord is
still very evident today.[49]

Finally, if we review the path Gligorov's political party has followed
towards RoM independence, then commitment to that goal is
questionable.[50] In 1991 Ljupcho Georgievski (VMRO-DPMNE political
party) resigned as vice-president of RoM to protest the government's
willingness to negotiate with Serbia to include RoM in a new Yugoslav
polity. The independence referendum presented to RoM's citizens (8
September 1991), Are you in favour of a sovereign and independent state
with a right to enter into a future union of the sovereign states of
Yugoslavia?, is an oxymoron. During the months prior to the crucial EC
meeting on 15 January 1992 all Gligorov's efforts were directed at
creating a new Yugoslav confederation, rather than lobbying for RoM's
international recognition. In this same period Gligorov held clandestine
meetings with Serbian President, Slobodan Milosevic, the nature of which
he refused to explain to the RoM parliament. A recent article by
Pettifer[51] clearly outlines the major irregularities with the
elections and the strong pro-Serbian influence on the RoM government and
bureaucracy. Such claims have been made numerous times by political
parties and individuals within RoM and are in stark contrast to normal
impressions that RoM is a democratic state. Even the benevolent George
Soros, an ally of RoM who lent the government 25 million dollars, has
discovered the difficulty in criticizing pro-Serbian policies within

In conclusion, resolution of the MQ does not necessitate any changes in
Balkan State borders, but rather the opening of those same borders
within the region. Then we would surely see the final chapter of the
Macedonian saga, and with it the just resolution of the accompanying
economic, political and ethnic issues. But above all else this becomes
an individual matter for the people who have actually chosen to live


1. Marriott J.A.R., The Eastern Question: an Historic Study in European
Diplomacy (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1940).

2. Greece. Annual Report on Human Rights (Washington DC, US State

3. Vana Z., The World of the Ancient Slavs (London, Orbis Publishing,

4. For example: (a) Christopher Hitchens writes in Minority Report (The
Nation, 1994, 18 April, 511) :- he (Gligorov) was booed at a rally when
he admitted that his chiefly Slavic republic did not descend from
Alexander the Great. (b) Marlise Simons states in Edgy Greeks Fear an
Expansionist Macedonia (International Herald Tribune, 1992, 5 February,
2) :- He (Gligorov) maintains that his people are descendants from Slavs
who have been therefor 14 centuries.

5. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church, was re-established on 11th March
by a Firman (Royal Decree of the Sultan) authorized by the Sublime
(Government of the Ottoman Empire).

6. Anastasoff C., The Bulgarians: from their arrival in the Balkans to
Modern Times (New York, Exposition Press, 1977).

7. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Report of the
International Commission: to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the
Balkan Wars (Washington DC, Publication No. 4, 1914).

8. Wilkinson H.R., Maps and Politics: a Review of the Ethnographic
Cartography of Macedonia (Liverpool, University Press, 1951).

9. Statistical data concerning the population of Macedonia? In The Case
for an Autonomous Macedonia (St Louis, Pearlstone Printing Co, 1945),
(C. Anastanoff (ed).

10. Perry D.M., The Politics of Terror; The Macedonian Liberation
Movements 1893-1903 (Duke University Press, Durham, 1988).

11. Gueshoff I.E., The Balkan League (London, John Murray, 1915).

12. Logio G.C., Bulgaria: Past and Present (Manchester, Sherratt and
Hughes, 1936).

13. Young G., Nationalism and War in the Far East (Oxford, Clarendon
Press, 1915).

14. Anastasoff C., The Tragic Peninsula (Blackwell Wielandy Co., St
Louis, 1938).

15. Churchill W.S., The Worm Crisis (New York, Charles Scribner Sons,

16. Pantev A., U.S. Projects for Determining the Borders of Bulgaria
1918-1919 (Ohio,MacGahan, 1993).

17. Macartney C.A., National States and National Minorities (London,
Oxford Univ Press, 1934).

18. Pentzopoulos D., The Balkan Exchange of Minorities and Its Impact
Upon Greece (Paris, Mouton &Co., 1962).

19. Kofos E., Nationalism and Communism in Macedonia (Thessaloniki,
Institute for Balkan Studies, 1964).

20. Macedonian dialects have been traditionally classified as Bulgarian -
see Prof. Gustav Weigand, Ethnographie von Makedonien (Ges chichtlich-
nationaler, sprachlich-statistischer Teil von Leipzig, Friedrich
Brandstetter, 1924).

21. Hill P., Different codifications of a language in: Girke W. (ed),
Slavistiche Linguistik (Munich, 1981, 48-63).

22. Pozzi H., Black Hand over Europe (London, Francis Mott Co., 1935).

23. MCA, Alexandrov, Todor (1882-1924) Encyclopaedia Britannica 1961

24. In 1920 IMRO asked the Vardar Macedonianpeople to vote for the
Communists as a protest against the Paris Treaty and at their
classification as Serbs. The election verified IMRO's popular support.
Although the Vardar population was only I million, compared to 15
million for the whole of Yugoslavia, Vardar returned 17 of the 50
elected Communists in a Parliament of 238 delegates. Thus the
vote in Vardar was 5.1 times the national average, a fact reported by
many foreign journalists.

25. Gotsev D.G., Youth National-Liberation Organizations of the
Macedonian Bulgarians (1919-1941) (Sofia, Bulgarian Academy of

26. Palmer Jr. S.E., King R.R., Yugoslav Communism and the Macedonian
Question (Hamden, The Shoe String Press, 1971).

27. Connor W., The National Question in Marxist-Leninist Theory and
Strategy (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1986).

28. Dobrinov D., IMRO and the 1923 Uprising, Macedonian Review 1991,
(No.3), 61-9.

29. Clissod S., Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union 1939-1973: a
Survey (London, Oxford University Press, 1975).

30. To promote a Balkan Federation, including a Macedonian state, the
BCP agreed to accept the notion of Macedonian ethnicity. Subsequently
the BCP conducted a census in 1946 in which residents in the Pirene
region were ordered to declare their nationality as Macedonian and not
Bulgarian; thousands who refused were imprisoned for up to five years.
Later in 1956, because the policy had not been rescinded, the same
compulsion was used (see ref 42).

31. This culminated with the purported announcement on the communist
radio station Free Greece (1 March 1949) of the declaration of an
independent Macedonia.

32. Lazar Kolishevski was born in Sveti Nikola but raised in Kragujevac,
Serbia. In 1935 he joined the Serbian Communist Party and attended the
Fifth Conference of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia as a delegate
Kragujevac. When Tito sent him to replace Shatarov as head of the
they had him gaoled by the BNA for the war's duration.

33. Metodi Chendo, first chairman of PRM was sentenced in 1946 to 11
years hard labour for being a member of IMRO and pro-Bulgarian. He died
immediately after his release. Bogoja Fotev, Chendo's replacement, shot
himself rather than assume his duties in Belgrade. Venko Markovski,
proclaimed as Macedonia's leading poet, wrote a play describing
Belgrade's hold on Macedonia as darker than Sofia's. He was accused of
being pro-Bulgarian, expelled from the YCP, and spent 5 years in the
Goli-Otok prison before fleeing to Bulgaria. Other prominent PRM figures,
amongst many, to meet a similar fate include Andrejev, Chkatrov and

34. Information contained in Memorandum of the Party for Human Rights
Macedonia presented by Union of Macedonian Cultural and Educational
Societies at Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe held at
Geneva 1-19 July 1991 to discuss problems of national minorities.

35. Macedonian Cultural Society, Diaspora: The Tragic Exodus of the
Refugee Children from Aegean Macedonia, 1948 (Adelaide, Unity
Publications, 1989).

36. Clarke J.F., Macedonia from S.S. Cyril and Methodius to Horace Lunt
and Blaze Koneski: Language and Nationality in The Pen and the Sword:
Studies in Bulgarian History (NewYork, Columbia University Press, 1988),
D.P. Hupchick (ed).

37. Alexander S., Church and State in Yugoslavia since 1945 (Cambridge,
Cambridge University Press, 1974).

38. (a) St Clement (835-916) created and developed an education
at Ohrid which allowed the rapid and universal acceptance of Byzantine
Christian culture amongst the Slavs. In 907 he became the first
Bulgarian-speaking bishop - et sic Bulgaricae linguae Clemens primus
constituitur episcopus.

(b) Kusseff M., St Clement of Ochrida, Slavonic East European Review
1948, 27:193-215.

39. S G, Moore P., The Macedonian polemic rides again: Tsola
Dragoycheva's memoirs, RFE-RL 1979, No. 26 (31 Jan), 1-10.

41. See Professor TA Meininger's (American University, Bulgaria) paper
The Macedonian Question in Blagoevgrad Today presented at the 5th joint
meeting of Bulgarian and North American scholars (University of
Pittsburgh, May 25-27, 1994); and Carol J Williams's lengthy article
Bound by The Call of Blood, Los Angeles Times, 1994 2 February, 1.

42. In response Bulgarian President Zheiev answered:- There is nothing
odd about that. What you always recognize is the state. According to the
international law, recognizing a state automatically means the
recognized state has a self-declared sovereign people in it. It also
means the state that is recognizing has no territorial aspirations
towards the recognised country. There is just not a special declaration
in the international law that states on recognizing or not a nation. A
nation is either there or not.

43. As reported in No Borders Between Bulgaria and Macedonia, BTA
1994, 22 July.

44. The two main groups are the Australian-Macedonian Human Rights
Committee and the Canadian-Macedonian Human Rights Committee. J
a Canadian financier with close links to the Gligorov ministry, was
instrumental in establishing both organizations.

45. In the post WWII era the Greek government kept emigrant
communities under constant surveillance. Active members were denied re-
entry to Greece as an example to others; those who still had family in
Greece found they were subjected to government harassment. Greek
community officials or consular staff would lobby against the approval
of Macedonian communities as recognized entities within the Australian
or Canadian ethnic framework.

46. Greece is one of Bulgaria's largest investors - see Paris J., Greece
strengthens links with Balkan neighbors, European ,1995 3-9 March, 23.

47. Ilija Ilijevski, chairman for the Party for Human Rights in
Macedonia in RoM, has been imprisoned and victimized. In Jan 1994 the
party was banned by RoM authorities. On Bulgarian policy Ilijevski
states - "There used to exist an unwritten treaty between Sofia and
Skopje that there are no Bulgarians in Macedonia . . I do not think that
this is either good or moral . . It means that the Bulgarians in
Macedonia have a mother who is alive but does not look after them."

48. Hayden R.M., Constitutional nationalism in the formerly Yugoslav
republics, Slavic Review 1992, 51,654-73.

49. Summarized for the Yugoslav era by Branka Magas in The Destruction
of Yugoslavia (London, Verso, 1993). Albanians recent attempts to
establish tertiary education facilities have been prevented by use of
police force. RoM would not support UN Resolution L58 (49th session of
the General Assembly) which accused Serbia of abusing Human Rights in

50. Kiro Gligorov, born 1917, a Law graduate of Belgrade Univ, joined
the League of Communists of Yugoslavia in 1944. From 1945 to 1962 he
senior positions in the Yugoslavian government, became a Federal
Executive Council member, then vice-president, and from 1974-8 .National
Assembly president and professor at Belgrade Univ.

51. Pettiler J., Macedonia: still the apple of discord, The World Today
1995, 51, 55-8.

52. The government controlled daily newspaper Nova Makedonija (19 May
1995) published a stinging criticism of Soros after he questioned RoM's
lack of progress towards democracy and the inept handling of the
Albanian and Greek disputes.

By George Phillipov

George Phillipov MSc. PhD. is a researcher scientist whose parents
emigrated from the Macedonian region in the 1950s and who has been
actively researching Macedonian issues for more than fifteen years.

Australia & World Affairs, Winter95 Issue 25, p39, 15p.

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