Around the same time as the Greek uprising against the Ottoman Turks in Macedonia, the Turks were signing a peace treaty (Treaty of San Stefano; March 3, 1878) with Russia after the Ottoman Empire lost the Russo-Turkish War. The Treaty of San Stefano forced Turkey to give all of Macedonia to Bulgaria and create ‘Great Bulgaria’. This allowed Russia to have a ‘slav’ satellite in the Balkans where her influence could extend down to the Aegean Sea. This Russian attempt was later cancelled by the European Powers (The British Empire and France) and the treaty was never allowed to take effect. Instead the Treaty of Berlin was signed and no Great Bulgaria was created.
Ethnicity in the Balkans was defined by church affiliation. Russia and Bulgaria had created the Bulgarian Exarchate Church for political reasons on February 28, 1870. It split from the Greek Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarchate in Constantinople. Anyone pledging allegiance to the Exarchy was Bulgarian and anyone pledging allegiance to the Patriarchate was Greek. Thousands of people living in Macedonia never wanted anything with the Exarchate and said they were Greek EVEN IF THEY SPOKE BULGARIAN and its dialects. They were considered peculiar to the Bulgarians who did not understand this. They were called discriminatorily ‘Grecomans’ by the Bulgarians. Today’s Skopjeans call these Greeks ‘Grkomans’. WHY? Because the Skopjeans were really BULGARIANS once even if they don’t want to admit it now.
The Greeks in Macedonia were in an uproar when they heard that they would suddenly go from Turkish rule to Bulgarian rule. Therefore, many letters of complaint were written to Athens protesting the Exarchy and asking for help from ‘Free Greece’. Below is an example of an original letter written by the Greek Consulate in Bitolia (Monastiri) and contained 14 000 signatures. The letter also mentions that similar protests had already taken place in Skopje, Florina, and Kastoria! These people were Greek and they pledged their allegiance to the ‘Patriarcheion’ as is evident in the letter written in Greek!!!
One last note: The town of Monastiri was known by various names through time: MONASTIRI in Greek; BITOLIA (pronounced Vitolia) in Greek; from the Bulgarian name BITOLIA (БИТОЛЯ); MANASTIR in Turkish from the Greek Monastiri. Notice in the letter of 1878, it is written Bitolia in Greek because in the region of Macedonia lived Greeks, Bulgarians, Serbs, Albanians, and Turks: NEVER ‘ethnic-Macedonians’. The name BITOLA was changed after 1944 when the current Serbo-Bulgarian dialect of Skopje was created and many previous Greek and Bulgarian influences and grammar were removed from the Bulgarian dialect spoken in Monastiri!!! The Skopjeans now call this language: ‘Macedonian’!!!
The letter is found on page 80 of the book by Konstantinos Douflias: ‘Macedonia, The Macedonian Conflict, Greece-Macedonia 4000 Years; Copyright 1992 by Aegean Publications’.
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