The Balkan ghosts of Irredentism

Dr. George Voskopoulos
July 01, 2008

World politics have been characterised by contending trends. Change and continuity have been the two poles of analysing the world state-centric system. In regional terms we also witness similar trends, yet in the Balkan aspects of continuity and the peoples´ inability to adapt to a new era this is more than an inherent systemic deficiency. It is a structural and national raison d´être.

The dispute between Greece and FYROM is an indicative sign of trends concerning change and continuity. Greece has revised its policy vis-à-vis the name issue and is ready to meet the other side half way. This is a tangible sign of change and realisation that there is no common future in a world where states operate as billiard balls.

The Slav Macedonian side appears to operate on a zero sum framework. The issue has always been a security challenge to the territorial status. Domestic politics and the role of diaspora have always been at the kernel of the issue and orchestrated revisionism from abroad. As noted by H. Poulton “the Slav-Macedonian diaspora tends to be more nationalistic than those in the home country”.[1]

It seems that time has had no healing effect on those who still envisage a greater country. Indicative of this are the two excerpts from the Slav Macedonian diaspora and their aim for a united Macedonia. The semantics, in terms of aims, logic, attitudes and irrationality depicts the realities of the Balkan microcosm of madness. At a time politically advanced societies look into the merits of the post-modern world the argumentation presented in the following lines portrays a pre-modern, politically primitive way of thinking.

In 1970 the advertised aim of the Slav Macedonian diaspora was to establish a united Macedonia. As noted “Brothers Macedonians, we have to learn to judge people not by what they say, but by what they do. This principle should apply to our organization also. We must judge our members not by what they say but by what they do to pro-mote the unity of all Macedonians. We say this because unfortunately a very small group of our members are confused with the principles of the United Macedonians Organization and the Macedonian national organization. As Macedonians we like to see all of Macedonia free and independent…The responsibility of doing the job and bringing about a complete and fully independent Macedonia belongs to the Macedo-nian people who now live in Aegean, Pirin, and especially of the people of the Peo-ple´s Republic of Macedonia”.[2]

Thirty years later (2000) the same aim sets the continuity axis of propaganda and revi-sionism against neigboring states, namely Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Albania. Eventually the speech made by a leading figure of Slav Macedonian diaspora brings us back to the Byzantine era.

As he underpins, “we are coming at the end of this millennium. With it, our Organization is concluding the year in which we celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the United Macedonians. As this millennium concludes, our Macedonian nation finds itself at the same stage as the last millennium.

Namely, we left the last millennium with a free Macedonian state, King Samuel’s Macedonian kingdom (although, a lot bigger state than the present one). At the same time, the Macedonian state under King Samuel found itself under a permanent attack from the Visantians and the internal enemies. The present Republic of Macedonia finds itself under similar constant pressure of the neighbouring countries and the internal enemies of the Macedonian people and state. It is obvious that we will also enter the new millennium as we did the last one – with a Macedonian state under permanent attack or pressure from outside and inside forces. We have to be very vigilant in order to secure a long lasting existence for the present Macedonian state, as opposed to the state at the beginning of the present millennium, which was crashed in 1018. We have to be especially vigilant here, in Canada and the United States of America,…we have the responsibility to be the conscience and backbone of the Macedonians everywhere, especially the Macedonians in the free Republic of Macedonia and in the occupied territories under Albania (Mala -Little- Prespa and Golo Brdo), Bul-garia (Pirin part of Macedonia), Greece (Aegean part of Macedonia) and Yugoslavia – Serbia (Gora in Kosovo and St. Prohor Pchinski monastery complex with the sur-rounding forests)”.[3]

Evidently the text “borrows” parts of Bulgarian history thus eliminating important chapters of Bulgarian past. Bulgarians are fully aware of that, including young Bulgarians of today. Their constructive attitudes towards grievances and wrongdoings of the past constitute a promise for a better future. By contrast some others find it handy to construct their history a la carte. They choose whatever serves their outdated purpose. They justify today´s policies on historical events that took place centuries ago under circumstances none of us should be proud of. This is what constitutes the politics of madness and the major hurdle to the rehabilitation of the region in the eyes of outsiders.

1] Hugh Poulton, Who are the Macedonians?, Hurst & Company, London, 1995, p.16

2] 1st UM Convention in Review – Toronto, 1970,…c99/first.html

3]…president.html, Janu-ary 2000

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