“Encyclopedia? Macedonia Was Unknown in the 15th Century” by Alma Mile.
Take from Panorama (Tirana 20 Sep 09 p 5). “
“This sort of encyclopedia is an expression of deep despair.” This is the view of Dritan Egro, a historian of Albania under Ottoman occupation, who also explains the motives that make the Slavomacedonians embark on this onslaught against the Albanians.
Egro calls it “an expression of despair,” for the Academy of Sciences of FYRMacedonia is not an ordinary institution, a kind of a non-profit organization, but a state institution.
For historian Ferid Dirka it is just about the re-launching of a nationalist thesis of the 19th century. “It is just a new version of Serb and Slav historiography, which takes its inspiration from a nationalist doctrine of the 19th century that is devoid of all scientific foundation,” says Dirka, who goes on to add that “studies of the period of the Ottoman occupation made it clear that the Albanians are the early inhabitants of those territories, not newcomers, as Serb, Slav, or Slavomacedonian academic circles try to make out. I think that the re-launching of this thesis on the part of Macedonian academic circles is very harmful, as it is a distortion of history for political aims, which is also harmful for FYRMacedonia at these moments. These theses affect coexistence among the ethnic components of FYRMacedonia in which the Albanians are known to be an extremely important factor.”
For historian Egro, all academies in the Balkans have had as their main mission the building of the identity of their nations, and they have been carrying out studies in social sciences, history, language, literature, and culture geared to justifying the existence of their states. “FYRMacedonia is the least stable state and also the most artificial one in the Balkans. As a student of the period of the Ottoman occupation I can say that from the 15th century to the last decades of the 19th century the Ottomans never used the name Macedonian. It was a name that had remained only in the European memory, while the Ottomans registered the inhabitants of what is now called Macedonia according to their religion and language, recognizing only some of the peoples that populated the Balkans — the Greeks, the Albanians, and the Slavs, with the Serbs and the Bulgarians belonging to the latter. FYRMacedonia is an artificial creation of the great powers. The process started in 1870, with the setting up of Bulgaria’s Orthodox exarchate, which led to the establishment of the Bulgarian state and, later on, the signing of the Treaty of Santo Stefano, which paved the way for such an extension of the Bulgarian state as to threaten the existence of its neighbors. That was remedied at the Berlin Congress which limited its expansion by creating a buffer state [FYRMacedonia] in the Balkans,” Egro explains.
Egro says that the project of a state for the southern Slavs started in the first decade of the 19th century, when Karadjordjevic, the leader of the Serbs at that time, presented two projects, one to Czar Alexander in Russia and the other to Napoleon in France, which envisioned the creation of a state for the southern Slavs, with the predomination of the Serbs. Nothing was done at that time, but the project would be revived later on. Egro says that the motives that led to the founding of the Macedonian state were both to curb Russian ambitions in the Balkans and to establish some sort of balance in this troubled region while at the same time separating from one another the Muslim communities that had remained there after the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. “So, [in FYRMacedonia] there is a structure of different ethnicities that have gone through different historical developments. It is not surprising that this state tried to create legitimacy by attacking its neighbors, something that was not unusual in the 19th century,” Egro continues, adding that the ‘Macedonian’ encyclopedia is a political, not historical, document in a country that has yet to find its identity and name.
Meta: Evidence of an Immature Nation
The director of the Institute of History, Beqir Meta: I believe it is a sheer gaffe. Instead of using their work as an opportunity to tell the truth and, by doing so, contribute to the affirmation of the Slavomacedonians as a nation, they [the Slavomacedonian academicians] distort the history of not only the SlavoMacedonians but also of the Albanians. They get into the dark corners of nationalism to humiliate one nation in order to promote another nation. Nationalism, however, is very dangerous for science. Their encyclopedia is evidence of an immature nation laboring under internal problems and unable to find its identity, it is also an expression of naive and vulgar nationalism. This is a moment for reflection and a call for the Albanian institutions and, not least, the Albanian government to contribute more to the science studying the autochthony of the Albanians on their territories. We must not allow ourselves to fall for the trap of a cheap propaganda but must respond to it with the publication of a comprehensive encyclopedia, which should be a major scientific project, not a propaganda exercise.
Bicoku: Old Chauvinist Line
The director of the Museum of National History, Kasem Bicoku: This is a line crystallized long ago. I have come up against these theses ever since the 2005 Symposium on Skanderbeg. These are chauvinist Slav theses, which the SlavoMacedonian academicians, who suffer from certain complexes about their history, have borrowed [from their Serb counterparts]. As a historian, I have had the opportunity to deal with these problems and can say that the allegations made by the SlavoMacedonian academicians in their encyclopedia are devoid of any scientific basis. In my book “The Kastriots in Dardania” I have made an economic and demographical study of the Albanian villages in the 15th century on the basis of the Ottoman registers of that time. From these registers it emerges that the population of the mountain regions from which, according to the SlavoMacedonians, the Albanian expansion starts is many times smaller than that of the plains. In the case in point, we are dealing with an anti-Albanian work that has little that is scientific about it. Albanian historiography must prepare young specialists with a mastery of old languages in order for it to be able to respond to these allegations.
Beqiraj: A Mathematical Contradiction
Chairman of the Albanian Academy of Sciences Gudar Beqiraj: As chairman of the Albanian Academy of Sciences I can say that it will not allow itself to fall to the level of its SlavoMacedonian counterpart, which has for sure taken political orders for the realization of its encyclopedia.. Its authors have not taken into consideration the facts provided by the Albanian encyclopedia, both its new edition published a few months ago or the its edition of the year 1985, in which personalities of great reputation such as Aleks Buda, Neritan Ceka, or Myzafer Korkuti provide facts about the origin of the Albanian nation, the Illyrians or Pelasgians, facts that nobody has contested until now. As a man of exact sciences, I should say that here we are seeing a mathematical contradiction, as the SlavoMacedonian academicians fail to take into consideration facts that go back to the 15th century, that is, the registrations carried out under the Ottoman Empire for the purpose of tax collection. More than that, they have the temerity to allege that Skanderbeg was a Slav at a time when nobody has ever contested the Albanian origin of our national hero.
[The Terms “SlavoMacedonian”, “FYRMacedonia” and its derivatives are used solely by the Blog and not by the original article]
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