Comments:Negotiations between Athens and Skopje lead to deadlock
This page is for commentary on the news. If you wish to point out a problem in the article (e.g. factual error, etc), please use its regular collaboration page instead. Comments on this page do not need to adhere to the Neutral Point of View policy. You should sign your comments by adding ~~~~ to the end of your message. Please remain on topic. Though there are very few rules governing what can be said here, civil discussion and polite sparring make our comments pages a fun and friendly place. Please think of this when posting.
Quick hints for new commentators:
- Use colons to indent a response to someone else's remarks
- Always sign your comments by putting --~~~~ at the end
- You can edit a section by using the edit link to the right of the section heading
About Skopje (F.Y.R.O.M.) propaganda
There have been certain fallacies circulating for the past few years due to ignorance on the “Macedonian Issue”. It is exacerbated by systematic propaganda emanating from F.Y.R.O.M (Former Yugoslavic Republic of Makedonia), and their intransigent ultra-nationalist Diaspora.
HERE ARE SOME FACTS ABOUT MAKEDONIA AND THE ANCIENT MAKEDONIAN HISTORY
The inhabitants of "F.Y.R.O.M." (Former Yugoslavic Republic of Makedonia), are mostly SLAVS, BULGARIANS and ALBANIANS. They have nothing in common with the ancient Macedonians.
Here are some testimonies from The FYROM’s officials:
- former President of F.Y.R.O.M., Kiro Gligorov said:
"We are Slavs who came to this area in the sixth century...we are not descendants of the ancient Macedonians."
(Foreign Information Service Daily Report, Eastern Europe, February 26, 1992, p. 35)
- Gyordan Veselinov, F.Y.R.O.M's Ambassador to Canada, said:
"We are not related to the northern Greeks who produced leaders like Philip and Alexander the Great. We are a Slav people and our language is closely related to Bulgarian."
(24 February 1999)
- Ambassador of the F.Y.R.O.M. to USA, Ljubica Achevska said:
"we are Slavs and we speak a Slav language."
(22 January 1999)
The Macedonian Greeks are NOT of the same ethnic group as the Macedonian Slavs of The F.Y.R.O.M.
The Macedonian Greeks are just that, GREEKS who live in or originate from the geographic area of Macedonia. They are the only people, that by inheritance, can be really called Macedonians.
Ancient Macedonians were one of more than the 230 Hellenic (Greek) tribes, sub-tribes, and families of the Hellenic Nation that spoke more than 200 dialects. For more information see Herodotus, Thucydides, Titus Livius, Strabo, Nevi'im, Ketuvim, Apocrypha (Macabees I, 1-2). It was not until 1945 that their Hellenism has been challenged by certain Slavs for expansionistic reasons.
ANCIENT MAKEDONIANS SPOKE GREEK.
Linguistically, there is no real distinction between a dialect and a language without a specific factor. People usually consider the political factor to determine whether a certain kind of speech is a language or a dialect. Since the Pan-Hellenic area consisted of many small city- states (Attica, Lacedaemon, Corinth, etc.), and larger states (Molossia, Thesprotia, Macedonia, Acarnania, Aetolia, etc.), it was common knowledge at the time that the people of all those states were speaking different languages, when in fact they were all variations of the same language, Hellenic or Greek. The most advanced of all Hellenic dialects was the dialect of Attica (Athens) or Attic. When people state “ancient Greek language” they mean the Attic dialect and any comparison of the Macedonian dialect to ancient Greek is actually a comparison to the Attic dialect. The difference between Macedonian and Attic was like the difference between Low and High German. Nobody doubts that both are Germanic languages, although they differ from one another. Another good example of a multi-dialectal linguistic regime is present-day Italy. The official language of Italy is the Florentine, but common people still speak their own dialects. Two people from different areas of Italy cannot communicate if both speak their respective dialect, and yet they both speak Italian. Why should the Hellenic language be treated differently?
THE MAKEDONIAN LANGUAGE WAS AN AETOLIC DIALECT OF THE WESTERN GREEK LANGUAGE GROUP (Hammond, The Macedonian State, p. 193).
Before Phillip II, Macedonia was divided into small typical city-states having adopted the same concept of internal civic structure as the southern Greek city-states. Each Macedonian city-state or area had its own main city and government. Philip II united the Macedonian city-states by instituting and establishing a Homeric style of a Kingdom, maintaining the infrastructure of the smaller city-states with the various kings paying tribute to the king of all Macedonia. We know this from the fact that at one time the king of Lyncestis (present day Bitola - Florina) was Alexander. The point that has to be made clear is that a man’s first loyalty was to his city, not to the King of Macedonia (Hammond, The Macedonian State, p. 9).
The king of Macedonia, Alexander I, was named Philhellene by the Theban poet Pindaros for the same reason Jason of Pherrai and Euagoras of Cyprus were called Philhellenes (Isocrates 107A, 199A). The title Philhellene in ancient times meant Philopatris (lover of the homeland) or simply put “a patriot” (Plato, Politics, 470E; Xenophon, Agesilaus, 7, 4), which is why Alexander the Great did not touch the traditional house of Pindaros when he ordered his soldiers to burn Thebes.
There is nothing in common between The F.Y.R.O.M’s lion symbol and the lion's skin that Alexander the Great of Ancient Makedonia wears in some coins. The F.Y.R.O.M’s lion is actually the Bulgarian lion, which is depicted in the Bulgarian Coat of Arms.
Alexander’s lion is the lion's skin that Heracles killed in Nemea, which is one of the 12 deeds executed by the mythological hero. The lion skin that Alexander the Great wears signifies his ancestral relationship to Heracles (Hercules). There is an unpublished inscription from Xanthos dating from the third century BC (cf. Robert, Amyzon, 1,162, n 31) where the Ptolemies refer to their Ancestors as “Herakleidas Argeadas” (Errington, A History of Macedonia, p 265, n 6).
Greece is an area which lacking geographic continuity fostered alienation of individual tribes not only in the general sense, but also in a narrower sense. That explains why the ancient Greeks did not have a common national conscience which is why they were warring against each other. The Macedonians destroyed or burned cities belonging to other Greek City States for the same reason the Athenians, the Thebans, and the Spartans battled one another.
They knew that somehow they were related, but local conscience was much stronger than a Pan- Hellenic one. Ancient Greeks, of the Hellenic mainland, were united before an enemy attack that could endanger the common freedom and welfare. This fact was displayed anytime the Persians attacked the Hellenic lands. Greeks from Ionia and Aeolia (present day Aegean shores of Turkey), however, were mostly Persian allies in opposition to the Mainland Greeks.
It was common practice for various Hellenic states to form political/military alliances with each other and against each other, but they did not develop ethnic partnerships. There are plenty of such alliances in the ancient Hellenic world.
A few centuries went by until the Greeks began developing a national conscience. The Greeks definitely achieved the completion of a national conscience by the time Justinian was crowned the Emperor of Byzantium. Very few ancient Greeks, such as Pericles, Demosthenes and Phillip II of Macedonia had the vision of a united country, but each one wanted to see his own state as the leading force of such a union. Pericles dreamed of it, Demosthenes advocated it, but Phillip II materialized it. Also, the Macedonians had common religious practices and customs as the Spartans.
It is very true that a good number of the Greeks living in the Greek Macedonia area in North Greece are refugees from various Middle Eastern countries. However, it is also true that these Greeks are descendants of those ancient Greeks, including ancient Macedonians, who either colonized various areas of what presently are Russia, Ukraine, Georgia, Bulgaria, Turkey, the Middle East, or followed the greatest General of all times, Alexander the Great. These Greeks simply came home after at least two and one half millennia of spreading the Greek spirit, culture, language and civilization. Mother Greece made her lands available to her returning and thought to be lost offspring. It was the least she could do. After all they had every right to come home, just as the Jews did and they are still going home to Israel.
N. G. L. Hammond states about Ancient Makedonia: "What language did these `Macedones' speak? The name itself is Greek in root and in ethnic termination. It probably means `highlanders', and it is comparable to Greek tribal names such as `Orestai' and `Oreitai', meaning 'mountain-men'. A reputedly earlier variant, `Maketai', has the same root, which means `high', as in the Greek adjective makednos or the noun mekos. The genealogy of eponymous ancestors which Hesiod recorded […] has a bearing on the question of Greek speech. First, Hesiod made Macedon a brother of Magnes; as we know from inscriptions that the Magnetes spoke the Aeolic dialect of the Greek language, we have a predisposition to suppose that the Macedones spoke the Aeolic dialect. Secondly, Hesiod made Macedon and Magnes first cousins of Hellen's three sons - Dorus, Xouthus, and Aeolus-who were the founders of three dialects of Greek speech, namely Doric, Ionic, and Aeolic. Hesiod would not have recorded this relationship, unless he had believed, probably in the seventh century, that the Macedones were a Greek speaking people. The next evidence comes from Persia. At the turn of the sixth century the Persians described the tribute-paying peoples of their province in Europe, and one of them was the `yauna takabara', which meant `Greeks wearing the hat'. There were Greeks in Greek city-states here and there in the province, but they were of various origins and not distinguished by a common hat. However, the Macedonians wore a distinctive hat, the kausia. We conclude that the Persians believed the Macedonians to be speakers of Greek. Finally, in the latter part of the fifth century a Greek historian, Hellanicus, visited Macedonia and modified Hesiod's genealogy by making Macedon not a cousin, but a son of Aeolus, thus bringing Macedon and his descendants firmly into the Aeolic branch of the Greek-speaking family. Hesiod, Persia, and Hellanicus had no motive for making a false statement about the language of the Macedonians, who were then an obscure and not a powerful people. Their independent testimonies should be accepted as conclusive (N.G.L. Hammond, The Macedonian State, p.12-13)."
The evidence above shows that the ancient Macedonians were one of the Hellenic groups of tribes speaking a Greek dialect and having the same institutions as the Spartans and especially the Greeks of the Western group of nations. Thus, the fallacies emanated from the F.Y.R.O.M and its diaspora are strongly repudiated.