I’m writing to you regarding your recent article published on Washington post on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 concerning the Macedonian issue. I’m one of those people that you and others unfortunately have choose to ignore, either because of ignorance or deliberately. I hope in your article we’re talking about the first case. This group of people i include myself into (partially at least), is namely the natives of Macedonia, those who have called, call and will continue to call themselves by their native or tribal name if you prefer, namely “Makedones”.
I understand that you might not have the intention to cause any bad reaction or offence, but your article is offending for the aforementioned group. My cause is not to write an angry letter nor insult your views in any way, but hopefully give you a different perspective and make you verify twice whatever you might write in the future about this issue. Remember mr Whitlock that the Balkans is a very sensitive terretory, difficult to understand by outsiders who have in very few occations been able to approach it with their views. Let me be more specific and quote some points of your letter.
“To the annoyance of next-door Greece, which has long claimed the conqueror as its own, Macedonia has anointed Alexander its national hero. The government has renamed the international airport here in his honor, as well as the main highway to Greece. Soon to come: a 72-foot-tall marble colossus of Alexander astride his favorite warhorse, Bucephalus, which will dominate the skyline of the capital, Skopje. “
Maybe it would be also important to mention that the people of Greece voted Alexander the Great as the greatest Greek of all time, in a petition organized by the local Greek channel of Skai and BBC http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Greeks . Maybe it is worth mentioning that Greeks in their folklore, litterature, songs have been embrassing Alexander for more time than any other nation in this planet we call earth. Maybe it is worth to mention that in the district of Chalkidiki a 250-foot-tall face of Alexander will be carved in his honour (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1568/is_6_34/ai_93090058/). Last but not least, the only official airport called by the alias Alexander the Great is the one of Kavala (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kavala_International_Airport) and has been named so, long before the Skopjes international airport.
“Does Macedonia, a country born out of the rubble of the former Yugoslavia, have the right to call itself what it wants?”
Mr Whitlock anyone has the right of self identification but what happens when the name in issue is already in use? How would a Navajo native feel if Quebec declared independence and renamed itself to Republic of Navajo and its French speaking majority called themselves ethnic Navajos, called their language Navajo and reproduced Navajo epics? Even worse, how would Texans feel if a part of Mexico gained independence and called themselves Texans in the same fashion as i described above?
“The Greek government refuses to recognize its neighbor’s constitutional name, the Republic of Macedonia, which it sees as a thinly veiled bid to lay claim to three of its northern districts, a region known as Greek Macedonia.”
The region is not known as Greek Macedonia, but simply as Makedonia for almost 3000 years now. The region of the neighbouring Republic was historically Paeonia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paeonia_%28kingdom%29) which was letter included in the greater Kingdom with the conquests of Philip II. In other words, with the same logic Macedonia can be called anything from Anatolia, Egypt, central Asia until Pakistan.
“until it changes its name to the Republic of Skopje, the Slavic Republic of Macedonia or something similar”
Mr Whitlock with all respect you’re a journalist, not a blogger. You have not been anything close to the sense of being specific here, especially by using the phrase ” or something similar”. If you would follow strict journalistic rules you should find the specific terms discussed between Mr Nimitz and the representatives of the two countries. Namely, the approach was a composite term including the term Macedonia. Not Republic of Skopje or Slavic Republic of Macedonia. In earlier meetings from the 90s, names like Slavomacedonia and Republic of Skopje-Macedonia were proposed. Those however were not active in the discussions of the last meetings.
“Historically, territory inhabited by ethnic Macedonians has belonged to other nations”
Mr Whitlock the last time the region of the republic of the “ethnic Macedonians” was under Greek control (and not even that since it was the Eastern Roman Empire that actually controlled it) was before the coming of the Slavs. If we want to be more specific the Hellenic Republic had never control of that area. What Greeks have possessed and inhabited is the region of ancient Macedonia, which is what you called “Greek Macedonia”.
After those points I have some other questions. You choose to include quite many comments by groups or people relating to this new Republic, that could only find parallells in the Greek extreme right party of LAOS. Of course mr Whitlock i obviously not want you to include such extremes from the Greek side, but why not making a second thought before including those comments mr Petrov, Voskopoulos and Kuzman made. As a journalist, you know that you can always go back to newspaper archives of the 20th and 19th century and verify events like those proposed by mr Petrov. Just the comment about Aristotle who was from Chalkidiki (previously consisting of independent city states allied to Athens) and not the Macedonian Kingdom shows the level of some scholars in that country. Last but not least, while including those controversial figures in your article, it would be healthy to write about the activist Vasco Gligorievic, an inhabitant of the city of Skopje who was opposing the pseudo-Macedonism and faced forced enclosure into a mental institution, harassment and that is now suspected to be “behind the bars”.
The antiquization happening at the moment in that country is not only criticized from within but also by outsiders that are authorities on the historical issues. A great example is Steven Millers (Professor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley) protest (http://macedonia-evidence.org/) calling scholars worldwide to say no to the historical revisionism of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. From the vast list of scholars signed there are some that are specialized authorities in the history of Macedonia and have made various publications (e.g Malcolm Errington).
Those are my comments about your article mr Whitlock. Before closing this letter I would like to make some last points that i hope you will consider in your next article.
The Kingdom of Alexander stretched from Greece to Egypt to central Asia. Today, you won’t find any people speaking any language close to Makedonski (as the “Ethnic Macedonians” call it) in those countries. However, you will find a large community of Greek speaking people in Alexandria (the largest Greek community worldwide before the 60s) for example. Why did those people after 2000+ years speak Greek?
When the slavs entered the Balkans in the 7th century AD, who were the natives of Macedonia? The group i mentioned in the beginning of this letter or anyone else? Why should we as native Macedonians have to give away our own name to a country that has repeatedly produced historical revisionism against Greece and its neighbouring countries? Remember mr Whitlock, nobody is perfect in this world, but at least Greece did not produce such an uncontrolled mania like the one of it’s neighbouring country nor has the national channels of Greece ever showed a video like the following i’m sending you:
Mr Whitlock, with all respect, i hope you will reconsider my words. In case you ever write a related article in the future, i expect to see a more balanced, deeper and accurate perspective, preferably including more moderate people speaking equally for both sides. Just a tip, it would be nice to see a representative of the Panmacedonian assosiation of the U.S opposing statements like those made by mr Petrov, Voskopoulos and Kuzman. We, the natives of Macedonia in Greece need to be represented as well.
Thanks for your time
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