The Birth of a Clone State
By Georgios Gialtouridis
The term clone is derived from κλών (klon), the Greek word for twig or branch, referring to the process whereby a new plant can be created from a twig.
On February 19, 1878, in the small Macedonian village of Litochoro on the lower slopes of Mt. Olympus overlooking the Aegean Sea, a group of brave Macedonian Greeks signed a Proclamation whereby “…the representatives of the various communities in Macedonia, overthrew the Sultan’s tyrannical authority, declared the union of Macedonia with mother Greece…Therefore, we were forced to seek our arms so that we may die as men as Greeks if we are not allowed to live like logical and free men.” The Declaration of the Greek-inspired Provisional Government of Macedonia by it’s President Evangelos Korovangos requested protection from the ‘Christian Super Powers’ through their respective consulates in Ottoman-occupied Thessaloniki ‘for the justification of their fight and the unification with mother Greece.’ Unfortunately, the British Consulate quickly disclosed these plans to the Ottomans, and within two weeks the rebellion was crushed. Those ‘Christian Super Powers,’ through the subsequent Treaties of San Stefano and Berlin later that year, further ignored these pleas for freedom from Ottoman tyranny and have either borne witness to or even incited the savagery which was to follow.
Following the Treaty of Berlin, Pan-Slavists began a coordinated effort for Bulgaria to regain the region of Macedonia. Unwilling to simply overtake the region as that would seem too San Stefano-like and may again provoke the Great Powers, in 1893 ethnic Bulgarians formed the VMRO, or the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization. The role of the VMRO, through a combination of predatory impulses of the Komitadji death squads on one hand and a Pan-Slavist educational mechanism using Russian agents disguised as clerics under the auspices of the Bulgarian Exarchate on the other, was to conduct a systematic inhumane ethno-catharsis through intimidation, terror and murder thereby eradicating from the Macedonian region the Greek element who were unwilling to succumb to Slavism. Using their motto “Macedonia for the Macedonians” this was a deceptive attempt to initially create an autonomous Macedonia which would later unite with Bulgaria.
The Serbs, not to be out-done by the Bulgarians, knew that directly suppressing the Bulgarian idea was impossible to achieve. Politician Stojan Novakovic conceived an active ethnogenesis process as a transitional stage in assimilating the regional element formulated upon the principle of Macedonia as a separate nation with it’s own language and history. He thought this ‘blueprint’ could attract the people and their feelings and thus sever them from Bulgarianism. This same doctrine of an ideological homogeneity was later adopted and meticulously implemented by Tito.
Today’s ruling party in FYROM is the VMRO-DPMNE (Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity), headed by Nikola Gruevski. Article 2 of the party’s Statute breaks down the acronym name. It states: “The first part of the name, VMRO, expresses the traditions of the Macedonian people from which the ideological and political struggle was subsequently integrated into the objectives and aims of the party.” This is inspired by the Pan-Slavist Bulgarian aspect of the Macedonism doctrine devised by the original founders of the VMRO.
Page one of the party’s current five-year program reads: “We particularly advocate the respect for the national and minority rights of Macedonians living in neighboring countries.” This relates to the Pan-Slavist Serb aspect of the irredentist ideology based on alleged homogeneity.
As the Russians, Bulgarians and Serbs were scheming their way to the Aegean Sea, Greece was fighting it’s own battles. The Greco-Turkish War of 1897 exposed Greece’s inability to liberate Macedonia at the time. With battle fronts in Crete, Macedonia, Epirus and the Aegean, Greece was understandably unable to militarily prevail in all simultaneously. The precipitous Ottoman demise was indeed additional incentive for Greeks in occupied territories to fight for their freedom. But the waters of the Aegean and the eastern Mediterranean were hostile to mother Greece and her oppressed sons. Great Britain’s desperate support for Ottoman sovereignty in order to keep Russian influence away from the Straits and Suez Canal was not only on display in the Congress of Berlin but also in the Mediterranean waters at Greece’s expense. In Martin Gilbert’s Churchill, 22-year old Brigade Major Winston Churchill writes to his mother questioning Lord Salisbury’s foreign policy strategy: “We are doing a very wicked thing in firing on the Cretan insurgents & in blockading Greece so that she cannot succour them…I look on this question from the point of view of right & wrong: Lord Salisbury from that of profit and loss.” (p. 68)
Today, in the center of Litochoro in the Pieria prefecture of Greece’s Macedonia province, a Heroes’ Memorial adorns the sloped landscape. The busts of Evangelos Korovangos and two other brave men honor those who died in 1878. They were the Crispus Attucks, Samuel Gray et al. of the true, Greek-inspired Macedonian Liberation Struggle. They were the first to fall for Macedonia. In recognition of these men who gave the ultimate sacrifice, I would like to cite Thucydides from The History of the Peloponnesian War as Pericles in his Funeral Oration so eloquently honors those who had first fallen in the war: “ανδρων γάρ επιφανων πασα γη τάφος” (2.43.3) meaning “for heroes have the whole earth for their tomb.” How fitting.
(*) Published in this weekend’s English edition of the New York-based publication The National Herald (Εθνικός Κήρυξ).
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