Truths and lies about Macedonia – Part 1

Australian Macedonian Advisory Council
April 22, 2009

I´ve been watching in many articles the desperate attempts of Risto Stefov, Gandeto and Alexandra Aleksovska to prove that their people are the direct descendants of Alexander the Great´s Macedonians. Furthermore, they also try to “prove” that modern Greeks are actually descendants of various ethnicities that settled in Greek soil during the medieval time like Albanians, Vlachs, Slavs e.t.c. who now claim “racial purity” and “pure Hellenic ancestry». Additionally the aforementioned posters are constantly mentioning some deliberately deceitful terms like “United Macedonia” or “the partition of Macedonia in the Balkan wars”.

Their aim is to distort historical reality and create a false impression to all those readers not familiar with Balkan history. Particularly that before the Balkan wars (1912-13) a sovereign state entity with the name Macedonia existed, inhabited by an alleged “Macedonian” ethnicity, that was attacked, defeated and consequently partitioned by the allied Greeks, Serbs and Bulgarians. However, the three areas which compose this imaginary unity, that is modern FYROM, Greek (Aegean) Macedonia and Bulgarian (Pirin) Macedonia didn´t constitute ever an ethnological, historical, cultural and linguistical united territory. Even the name Macedonia itself was not applied to the whole area (especially the greater part of today´s FYROM that lies northern of the Prilep-Strumica line) until 1850-60.

Only after that date and the increasing rivalry between Serbs and Bulgarians for supremacy over the specific area that was still under Ottoman rule, some Serb politicians and scholars labeled it as “Macedonia”. Their purpose was actually to neutralize its Slavic population which was Bulgarian, rather than Serbian, although Skopje, the capital of FYROM which played an important role in medieval Serbian history: It was the capital of the empire of the Serb king Stephan Dushan who was crowned there in 1346 as “Emperor of Serbs, Greeks, Albanians and Bulgars” (The title reveals the ethnicities he found dwelling in the lands he conquered, including the three parts of Macedonia, yet ethnic “Macedonians” were nowhere to be found)

“1346: Dushan set up his capital in Skopje and proclaimed himself Emperor (Tsar) of the Serbs, Greeks, Bulgars and Albanians.”

“The Encyclopedia of World history” by Peter Stearns,2001, pg 272…l=el#PPA272,M1

Although he was already proclaimed as “Emperor of Serbs and Greeks” a year before in Serres (a city in today´s Greek Macedonia) after conquering almost the whole of Macedonia except Salonica. Again no surprise that he found Greeks instead ethnic “Macedonians” in Macedonia.

“The occupation of Serres in 1345 consolidated Serbian control over Macedonia except Salonica and Stephen assumed the title «Tsar of the Serbs and Greeks»”

“Macedonia and the Macedonians” by Andrew Rossos (a historian of FYROMacedonian origin),2008,pg 40…hl=el#PPA40,M1

The result of that neutralization (´De-Bulgarization´ would be the proper term) was obvious: this disputed territory could be annexed easier to an extended in the future greater Serbia. If we take a look in some old geography dictionaries of 19th and 18th century, we will discover that Skopje was at that time of period considered as a city of Serbia or Bulgaria, instead of Macedonia.

For instance, in page 210 of “Geographie historique,ecclesiastique et civile”,1755, we read:

“The Turks divided Serbia in 4 sandjacs which took the names of their capitals:Belgrade,Sementria,Scopia and Kratovo”.(Les Turcs divisent la Serbie en quatre sangiacats qui prennent le nom de leurs capitales;scavoir Belgrade,Semendria,Scopia & Cratovo)…#PRA2-PA110,M1

While in page 176 of the same book we will find :

“The archbishop of Ochrida (today´s Ohrid in southwestern FYROM) was self-proclaimed in 1721 archbishop of all Bulgaria”.(L´ archeveque d´ Ocrida se disoir en 1721 archeveque de toute la Bulgarie).…#PRA2-PA176,M1

In page 6 of “Histoire modern”,1762 we read:

“Skopje is in the southernmost part of Serbia”.(Scopia,que les Turcs nomment Uscup,est une ville fort ancienne,situe sur le Vardar,dans la partie la plus meridionale de la Servie).…6&dq=scopia&lr

Also according to the author of “Dictionnaire Geographique”,1749, “Skopje is in Serbia”.

(Uscopia ou Scopia,Scupi,gr.ville,bien peuplee de la Turquie Eur. dans la Servie).…um=2&ct=result

This is also the Jewish view, from “The chronicles of Rabbi Joseph Ben Joshua Ben Meir”,1835, footnotes of page 260 :

“Scopia,or Ascopia a town of Serbia on the river Veratazer”…0&dq=scopia&lr

Furthermore a different view,by “The Edinburgh Gazetteer or geographical dictionary”,1822, page 489:

“Scopia,a considerable town of European Turkey in Bulgaria, situated on the river Vardar (the ancient Axius),near the borders of Macedon”…opia&lr=&hl=el

I, being a Macedonian Greek myself, descending from a village in the region of Serres which was “purely Greek” at the time of its conquest by Stephan Dushan. According to the prominent Russian Byzantinologist Alexander Vasiliev:

“Stephen conquered all of Macedonia except Thessalonica without difficulty and after a siege took Seres, an important fortified place in eastern Macedonia, lying on the way from Thessalonica to Constantinople.The surrender of Seres was of great importance;Dushan gained a fortified and purely Greek city..”

“History of the Byzantine Empire” by Alexander Vasiliev,1958,page 617…l=el#PPA617,M1

Therefore it remained Greek after 550 years, most of them under Ottoman rule,

“The whole country south of Serres,with the exception of the Mohammedan settlements is pure Hellenic”.

“The tale of a tour in Macedonia” by G.F. Abbot,1903,pg 217.

It also happens to be the birthplace of Emmanouel Papas,the leader of the Greek revolution of 1821 in Macedonia:

“While in the curse of a few subsequent days, all the Christians of Chalcidice, encouraged by the appearance on their coast of some Greek cruisers, rose in a body ,and electing for their general a merchant of Serres,named Manoli Papas, made incursions to the gates of Salonica”.

“History of the Greek revolution,1844”,by Thomas Gordon,pg 177…l=el#PPA177,M1

It makes anyone wonder what my ancestors shared in common with those of Stefov, Gandeto and the rest of the people from FYROM so that they could be considered as belonging to the same fictitious “Macedonian” ethnicity? Besides the fact that perhaps they were born in the geographic region called Macedonia nothing else!! (Here I use perhaps because only a small part of the FYROM actually descends from regions that were included within the limits of the historical Macedonian kingdom)
My ancestors were Greeks, spoke Greek and attended Greek school:

“The inhabitants of the villages near the mouth of the Struma (a river in both the Greek and the Bulgarian provinces of Macedonia) told me how a short time ago Russian naval officers engaged in surveying that part of the coast expressed their astonishment at hearing Greek spoken in a district which the Panslavist pamphleteers had taught them to regard as Bulgarian”

“The tale of a tour in Macedonia” by G.F. Abbot,1903,pg 278

On the other hand, the ancestors of mr. Stefov and mr. Gandeto spoke Bulgarian and attended the Bulgarian school:

“In Macedonia quite a number of languages are in common use-Bulgarian, Greek Wallachian, Serbian, etc.(I have seen an advertisement here in Monastir (today´s Bitola in FYROM) printed in seven languages), but of all the most generally understood is Bulgarian. Bulgarian,accordingly, is the language of us Macedonian missionaries; our pastor here preaches in his native language, Bulgarian,and all understand him, though there are in the church membership and audience other nationalities also”.

“Recent Christian progress”,1909,by L.B.Paton,pg 536

“When a great London daily, as recently happened, speaks gravely of the «Macedonian language,» it may not be out of place to utter a word of reproach. If the writer meant the language spoken in the Turkish province of Macedonia, his statement is equivalent to such a phrase as the «Brittish language» or the «African language». At least six languages are spoken in Macedonia, where the official idiom is Turkish, to which he could not have referred, for he places the tongue in question in juxtaposition to Turkish.If he meant the language of the Macedonian rebels, he is equally wrong, for those speak Bulgarian. With the exception of a few slight corruptions and some provincialisms, the language of the «Macedonians» of the newspapers,i.e. of the fighting rebels, is identical with Bulgarian. Therefore,in the latter meaning,the «Macedonian language» is on par with,for instance, the «Isle of Wight language». Is it not time to utter a protest against journalistic ignorance?and can one wonder that the Brittish public is so ill informed?”

“By-Paths in the Balkans”,1909,by W.V.Herbert,pg 168-169

The biggest dream of my Macedonian ancestors was to see one day their land being free and Greek while they were still living under Ottoman rule and they fought for this, as the ancestors of any other Macedonian Greek:

“The tract of country where this short campaign was carried on,extends betwixt the rivers Axius and Peneus, is washed by the Thermaic Gulf and intersected by the Haliacmon and many smaller streams,falling down from Olympus to the sea. Its population is almost exclusively Greek, while to the north and south of the above mentioned rivers, Turks are numerous;and to the west,at the back of the mountain,is a region inhabited by Bulgarians (he meant actually the ancestors of today´s FYROMacedonians) who although wishing success to the Greeks declined openly to espouse their cause. The plan of the armatoles (Greek irregular military troops) was,to occupy the three points by which alone their territory is accessible,viz. the bridge over the Vardar, the straits of Tempe and the defiles of Castoria:they were commanded by the Captains Kara Tasso and Diamantis, and by Zaphyris,primate of Naousta (a town in today´s Greek province of Macedonia)”

“History of the Greek revolution”,1844,by Thomas Gordon,pg 395…l=el#PPA395,M1

“In no part of Greece were the facilities for commencing the revolution,or for defending the national independence,greater than in the peninsula to the East of the Gulf of Thessalonica,called anciently Chalcidice.The population was almost entirely of the Greek race…”

“History of the Greek revolution” by George Finlay,1861,pg 248…l=el#PPA248,M1

While the ancestors of the FYROMacedonians were known at that time as Bulgarians and didn´t care for the Greek cause:

“The Greek chiefs then marched out to call the Christian population to arms;but the Bulgarians who formed the great bulk of the agriculturists, showed no disposition to join the cause of the Greeks”.

“History of the Greek revolution” by George Finlay,1861,pg 255…l=el#PPA255,M1

Since i mentioned the ethnic name Bulgarians, you should know this word causes a kind of allergy to all the FYROMacedonians. It reminds them their true origins and demolishes two of the fundamental Myths for the existence of their artificial “Macedonian” ethnicity:

(a) Their alleged ancient Macedonian ancestry and

(b) The myth they called themselves “Macedonians” from time immemorable.

Neither (a) nor (b) are true of course. The only truth is that they called themselves Bulgarians from time immemorable.

This is confirmed by the report of the Carnegie Commission (1914), an international commission that inquired into the conduct of the belligerent parties in the Balkan wars:

“From this time on the “exarchist” (the followers of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church) was exclusively Bulgarian and the Macedonian population,called “Boulgari” from time immemorable,began to feel itself at once Bulgarian and Slav”.

“Carnegie endowment for international peace-report of the international commission to inquire into the causes and conduct of the Balkan wars”,1914,pg 26…rnat00inteuoft

Even Krste Petkov Misirkov,the author of “Za Makedonskite raboti” (On Macedonian matters),1903 and one of the first who advocated the existence of a distinct Slav Macedonian ethnicity separate from the Bulgarian one admitted himself:

“Some will ask why I speak of breaking away from the Bulgarians when in the past we have even called ourselves Bulgarians”

“We did indeed call ourselves “Bulgarians” and “Christians” in the national sense”

“We were given, in our common fate, the common name of Bulgarians right up to the liberation of Bulgaria, and even after the liberation of Bulgaria this remained a tradition in Macedonia”.

“And, anyway, what sort of new Macedonian nation can this be when we and our fathers and grandfathers and great-grandfathers have always been called Bulgarians”?

To be continued

Written by Kapetan Doukas from the AMAC forums: Macedonian Forums

Macedonian Forums

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