Progressive Politics Research and Commentary by Janette Rainwater
 
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MACEDONIA or What I Did on My Summer Vacation, 1999 by Janette Rainwater

August 1999                                                     1 2 3 5        p.4

Bulgaria owned all of Macedonia for a few months in 1878. Russia, after its victory over the Turks, had forged a huge vassal state of Bulgaria from territory of the crumbling Ottoman Empire. The British and the Austro-Hungarians didn’t fancy such a strong new state that might threaten their interests in the Middle East and the Balkans, so Bismarck forced a revision of the Treaty of San Stefano. In his Treaty of Berlin, Bulgaria was considerably shrunk in size and most of Macedonia was returned to the Turks. This was the beginning of the Bulgarian presumption that Macedonians were really Bulgarians and that there was no such thing as a separate Macedonian language. When Bulgaria recognized Macedonia in 1991, it used a “two country- one nation” formulation.

In the First Balkan War of 1912 the three Orthodox Christian nations of Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece joined forces to rescue their fellow Orthodox Macedonians from the Turks. The next year Bulgaria made a pre-emptive strike against Serbia to “re-take” Macedonia— big mistake: Greece joined Serbia to make mincemeat of the Bulgarian army and carve up Macedonia. In the settlement following this Second Balkan War Serbia got the largest part— Vardar Macedonia (basically present-day Macedonia). The Greeks took Aegean Macedonia including the vital port of Thessaloniki. Bulgaria had to be content with the much smaller portion of Pirin Macedonia.

During these two wars there was major devastation of the territory of Macedonia and “ethnic cleansing” carried out by Serbs, Albanians, Greeks , Turks and Bulgarians that was more gruesome and more extensive than the crimes committed in Bosnia and Kosovo in the current decade.

Serbia attempted to absorb Macedonia, calling it “South Serbia” and ignored any ethnic or linguistic differences. The Versailles Treaty confirmed their possession of Vardar Macedonia. It was only Tito who was willing to acknowledge a separate identity for Macedonians. His recognition of Macedonia as one of the six republics of the new federation of Yugoslavia and the detachment of its territory from Serbia were part of Tito’s plan to curb the power of Serbia within the new postwar state. Certain revanchist elements within Serbia have remained unhappy about the “loss” of Macedonia. New Serbian maps show the Prohor Pcinski monastery as lying within Serbia. Yet in the former Yugoslavia the monastery was definitely within Macedonia. It was also the site at which the future Macedonian republic was declared in 1944. The Macedonian government has chosen not to make an issue of this usurpation of territory, not wishing to give Milosevic an excuse to “come to the rescue” of the minority Serb population of northern Macedonia.

Greece, also, has attempted to deny a separate identity to the Macedonians in its north, referring to them as “slavophone Greeks” and treating them as second-class citizens. In the Greek civil war that followed World War II, many Greek Macedonians were encouraged by Tito to support the insurgents. (Tito had visions of a larger Balkan federation that would include all the lost Macedonian territories including the prize port of Thessaloniki on the Aegean Sea.) The insurgents lost, and the victors persecuted the rebels. Many Greek Macedonians fled to Macedonia, Bulgaria and Uzbekistan.

When Macedonia declared its independence, Greece refused to recognize the new country, declaring that its name not only was the historical property of Greece (Philip of Macedon and all that) but also revealed Macedonia’s designs against Greek territory. Macedonia’s admission to the United Nations was delayed until 1993 due to this Greek hysteria and then only under the cumbersome name of “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (FYROM). In 1995 Greece and the FYROM signed a treaty of recognition which ended Greece’s two-year embargo and re-established trade routes (probably at the insistence of Northern Greek businesses who had been losing money).

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This site was last changed November 28, 2001. It was created on March 20, 1997.

© Janette Rainwater 1997-2001

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