Aleksovska’s False Claims

Aleksovska’s False Claims

Chris Philipou
June 25, 2009
Alexandra Aleksovska’s American Chronicle piece published on June 1st 2009 is fraught with historical inaccuracies (
In her article Aleksovska attempted to lambaste Prof. Stephen G. Miller over a letter that he wrote to President Obama. In the letter Prof. Miller outlined several historical inaccuracies being perpetuated by The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (F.Y.R.O.M) in order to lay claim to the legacy of the Macedonian region, including Alexander the Great. By attacking Miller’s position with regards to F.Y.R.O.M’s state sponsored historiography Aleksovska is effectually defending the notion that the Slavic population of F.Y.R.O.M is linked to Alexander the Great and the ancient Macedonians. Unfortuately for Aleksovska no credible and objective authority in the fields of Antrhopology, Sociology or Balkan History will lend any credence to a relationship between F.Y.R.O.M and ancient Macedonia. This is further bolstered by the fact that over 300 world class international Classical Scholars (Historians and Archaeologists), to date, have signed Miller’s letter. (See for more details)

There are numerous points in Aleksovska’s American Chronicle piece that perplex me. To begin with, I find it astounding that nationalists from F.Y.R.O.M and her diaspora insist on citing the historians Ernst Badian and Eugene Borza as being “supportive” of their “cause”. In this case Aleksovska asks why “the most respected” scholars of ancient Macedonia, Badian and Borza, haven’t signed Miller’s letter with the implication that Borza and Badian somehow support her nationalist historiography:

“….Where on the list are respected scholars like Eugene Borza, Ernst Badian or Peter Green, who have written the most respected books on Ancient Macedonia….”

Evidently Aleksovska is not familiar with the published views of Badian and Borza. If she was familiar with their work she would know that much of what they have published is far more devastating to her cause than any statements in Prof. Miller’s letter. As a matter of fact Borza made a point of stating that modern “ethnic Macedonians” have no relationship to ancient Macedonia. It seems that the misinformed nationalists from F.Y.R.O.M and her diaspora cannot see beyond Badian’s and Borza’s views of 4th century BC Macedonia and have taken to blindly citing them ad infinitum in any situation that they think suits their cause.

The following are some of the published positions of Badian and Borza. Perhaps Aleksovska should familiarize herself with their work instead of blindly promoting them as substantiators of her cause:

1. Borza claimed that the Royal house was regarded as Greek and regarded itself as Greek:

“There is NO DOUBT that this tradition of a superimposed Greek house was WIDELY BELIEVED by the Macedonians.”- E. Borza, In the Shadow of Olympus. pg 80

“There was a PERSISTENT, WELL ATTESTED tradition in antiquity that told of a group of Greeks from Argos-descendants of Temenus, kinsman of Heracles-who came to Macedonia and established their rule over the Makedones, unifying them and providing a royal house.”- E. Borza, In the Shadow of Olympus. pg 80

“There is NO reason to deny the Macedonians’ own traditions about their early kings and the migration of the Macedones. [..] The basic story as provided by Herodotus and Thucydides, minus the interpoloation of the Temenid connections, UNDOUBTEDLY relfects the Macedonians’ own traditions about their early history.” – E.Borza, In the Shadow of Olympus. pg 84

2. Badian concluded that the Macedonians were regarded as Northern Greeks by Roman times. If we are to use Badian as an ultimate authority, as “Aleksovska” suggests, then we must conclude that regardless of what the perceptions of the Macedonians were in the 4th century BC the Macedonians were regarded as Greeks by other Greeks by Roman times:

“We have now become accustomed to regarding MACEDONIANS as northern GREEKS and, in extreme cases, to hearing Alexander’s conquests described as in essence GREEK CONQUESTS. The former CERTAINLY became TRUE, in Greek consciousness in the course of the Hellenistic age; the latter may be argued to be true`ex post facto’.” But it is an important question whether these assertions should properly be made in a fourth century B.C context.” – E.Badian, Greeks and Macedonians (Studies in the History of Art)

Aleksovska should also acquaint herself with Borza’s positions regarding F.Y.R.O.M’s modern history before she implicitly associates Borza as a defender of her nationalist historiography. These are Borza’s published views on F.Y.R.O.M’s modern history and they are far more damaging to Aleksovska’s political agenda and nationalist historiography than Prof. Miller’s letter!

1. Borza asserts that the Slavic populace of F.Y.R.O.M have no relationship to ancient Macedonia:

“If the claim is based on ethnicity, it is an issue of a different order. Modern Slavs, both Bulgarians and Macedonians, CANNOT establish a link with anitquity, as the Slavs entered the Balkans centuries after the demise of the ancient Macedonian kingdom. ONLY THE MOST RADICAL SLAVIC FACTIONS- mostly emigres in the United States, Canada, and Australia- EVEN ATTEMPT TO ESTABLISH A CONNECTION TO ANTIQUITY.” – E. Borza, Macedonian Redux(The Eye Expanded- Life and the Arts in Greco-Roman Antiquity). pg 255.

2. Borza asserts that the Macedonian ethno/national identity is a relatively recent social construct and implies that history is being constructed in order to lend the new “Macedonian” nation a historical legitimacy:

“On the other hand, the Macedonians are a newly emergent people in search of a past to help legitimize their precarious present as they attempt to establish a singular identity in a Slavic world dominated historically by Serbs and Bulgarians.” – E. Borza, Macedonian Redux(The Eye Expanded- Life and the Arts in Greco-Roman Antiquity).

“Their own so-called Macedonian ethnicity had evolved for more than a century, and thus it seemed natural and appropriate for them to call the new nation “Macedonia” and to attempt to provide some cultural references to bolster ethnic survival.” – E. Borza, Macedonian Redux(The Eye Expanded- Life and the Arts in Greco-Roman Antiquity).

Furthermore Aleksovska blatently lied to the readers by stating:

“..The ´elephant in the room´ in this argument has always been the fact that Modern Greece stole Macedonia from the Macedonians in 1913…”

Perhaps Aleksovska can explain how land that formerly belonged to the Ottoman empire for several centuries was stolen from “the Macedonians” by Greece? The geographic region of Macedonia never belonged to a “Macedonian ethnicity”, never was a part of a “Macedonian” country and never was under the political control of a “Macedonian nation”. The geographic name “Macedonia” had no more of an ethnic significance prior to the 20th century than the geographic name “Balkans” does today. The region was incorporated into the Greek state as a result of the Balkan Wars in which Ottoman territory was won by Greece. Perhaps Aleksovska can explain where all of the “ethnic Macedonians” were during this conflict and why the 1914 International Carnegie Commission did not record any “ethnic Macedonian” population in their detailed report.

Aleksovska also made the absurd and unsubstantiated claim that there were no Greeks in Macedonia prior to the Balkan Wars:

“..Prior to this there was not a single part of Macedonia that was Greek – ever..”

This is a very amusing statement in light of the fact that the 1914 Carnegie Commission report on the Balkan wars described Greek populations and made no mention of “ethnic Macedonians”. The 1914 Carnegie Report on the Balkan Wars was authored by a team of investigators who went to the region to examine the conduct of the various combatants. How does Aleksovska propose that an international commission did not record any “ethnic Macedonians” in a region in which she would claim they formed the vast majority?

As a matter of fact a large number of contemporary writers from the 19th century, and before, recorded vast Greek populations in Macedonia while making absolutely no mention of “ethnic Macedonians”. One such writer was George Finlay who spent time in the region during the Greek war of independence. Finlay, unlike Aleksovska, was in the region during the early 19th century. Aside from making no mention of “ethnic Macedonians” in his detailed accounts, he stated that Greeks formed the majority in the Pashalik of Thessalonika.