Macedonian minority in Greece. December 20, 2009Posted by Yilan in Human rights abuses, Macedonia.
Tags: Macedonia, Macedonians in Greece
“The Macedonian minority in Greece does not exist”, “the Macedonian nation does not exist at all”, – are the claims of the official Greek government. The following will prove the total apsurdity of these claims, in the eyes of the history.
MACEDONIA IN THE XX CENTURY
Biased Balkan Statistics on the Population of Macedonia
In 1870’s, while Macedonia was still under the Turkish Empire, the new independent Balkan states started to propagate how the Macedonians do not exist, and how Macedonia was populated only by Greeks, Bulgarians, and Serbs. This is the beginning of the so-called “Macedonian Question”. Ethnographers, historians, and writers begun writing books in favor of this or that propaganda. Many of them did not even visit Macedonia, while those who did already had a written scenario. Their presence there was only a simple formality. Table 1 gives an excellent proof of those Balkan speculations surrounding Macedonia:
balkan views Greek C. Nikolaides 1899 Bulgarian Kenchov 1900 Serbian Gopchevich 1886
Turks and others
Table 1. Greek, Bulgarian, and Serbian Statistics of Macedonia’s population
It is more than obvious that all the views coming from the Macedonia’s neighbors are biased. They all claim their people in Macedonia to justify their well-planned aspirations. It is important to note that both the Bulgarian and Serbian views agree that the Greeks in Macedonia represent only a small minority of 10%. The Greek ethnographer Nikolaides, on the other hand, claims three times bigger number than his colleagues in Belgrade and Sofia. However, the most important about Nikolaides is that he recognizes the Macedonian Slavs as a separate nation, and not the Bulgarians nor the Serbs, to be part of population of Macedonia at all. And although he tries hard to lower the numbers of those Macedonian Slavs, he still comes up with a convincing proof of their existence.
Neutral Statistics on the Population of Macedonia
This is the time when many European slavists, ethnographers, and historians, are also attracted to visit Macedonia and conduct their own investigations. Therefore, to find the real unbiased population numbers in Macedonia, we have to rely on neutral and independent statistics:
neutral views German Dr. K. Ostreich 1905 Austrian K. Gersin 1903 English Andrew Rousos
Turks and others
Table 2. Independent and Neutral European Statistics of Macedonia’s Population
To summarize, the number of Greeks in Macedonia according to the neutral authors, aligns with the numbers given by the Serb and Bulgarian authors. This is a proof that the Greeks before the partition of Macedonia, were indeed only a small minority of about 10% from the total population. This fact certainly does not give them the copyright of the name Macedonia. Dr. Ostreich, Gersin, and Roussos, are only a few of the many neutral authors to prove the groundless speculations of the Balkan counties. They proved that Macedonia belongs to a separate nation, the Macedonian Slavs. This proves that the Bulgarians and the Serbs have than simply substituted the numbers of the Macedonians for theirs. Another Austrian, Karl Hron proved why that is unjustified:
“According to my own studies on the Serb-Bulgarian conflict I came to the conclusion that the Macedonians looking at their history and language are a separate nation, which means they are not Serbs nor Bulgarians, but the descendants of those Slavs who populated the Balkan peninsula long before the Serb and Bulgarian invasions, and who later did not mix with any of those other two nations…” and: “… the Macedonian language according to its own laws in the development of the voices, and its own grammatical rules, forms one separate language”.
There were even Greek and Bulgarian writers to support what Karl Hron has written. One such example is the Bulgarian slavist and ethnographer P. Draganov, who in his studies of 1887-1894 and 1903, proved the existence of the Macedonians and the Macedonian language as a distinct language.
THE PARTITION OF MACEDONIA IN 1913 AND ITS CONSEQUENCES
On October 8, 1912, the First Balkan War begun. Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Greece attacked the European positions of the Ottoman Empire. Macedonians also took active part and contributed in driving the Turks out of Macedonia. Turkey capitulated soon, but Macedonia did not free itself. The victorious Balkan kingdoms convened in Bucharest in August 1913 to divide the spoils. The partition of Macedonia is best illustrated with the following maps:
Greece was awarded Aegean Macedonia and renamed it to “Northern Greece”; Bulgaria annexed Pirin Macedonia and abolished the Macedonian name, and Serbia took over Vardar Macedonia and renamed it to “Southern Serbia”. The same year, N. Pasich of Serbia and E. Venizelos of Greece agreed on the newly formed Greek-Serbian (later Yugoslavian) border, so that there would be “only Serbs to the North and only Greeks to the South”, and no “Macedonians” on either side. Thus, the politics to assimilate the Macedonians of Aegean Macedonia had already begun.
The Greek Atrocities in Aegean Macedonia
1. On June 21, 22, and 23, 1913, the Greek army completely burned to the ground the city of Kukush (today Kilkis), known for its resistance against Hellenism in the XIX century.
2. Between June 29 and 25, 39 villages in the Kukush area were also burned down.
3. On June 23 and 24, the city of Serres (today Serrai) was set on fire where 4000 houses perished. In the Serres gymnasium the Greeks murdered about 200 people.
4. During these days the larger portion of Strumica was also destroyed by the Greek army.
5. Between June 23 and 30, many villages in the Drama and Serres districts were burned down.
6. From June 27 to July 6, all Macedonian quarts in Salonika were set on fire.
The Carnegie Commission composed of members from USA, Germany, Russia, France, Austria, and England, witnessed these Greek atrocities when visited Aegean Macedonia. Their final conclusion was that the Greek army has burned to the ground 170 Macedonian and Turkish villages, with over 17,000 houses.
Since 1913, official Greece has been trying to banish native Macedonian names of villages, towns, cities, rivers, and lakes in Aegean Macedonia. For example, the little stream which issues from Mount Olympus and flows into the Aegean Sea is labeled Mavroneri (“black water”) on the maps made by Greek cartographers after 1913. However, the same river appears as Crna Reka, a native Macedonian name meaning “black river” on the maps made before 1913. Kukush has been dropped for Kilkis and Serres for Serai, together with at least 300 other places all over Macedonia.
Forced Change of the Ethnic Structure of Aegean Macedonia
The presence of the Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia could not allow Greece to claim that land to be Greek and only Greek. Since it was proven that they resisted the Hellenization, Greece decided to drive them out of Macedonia. Greece made agreements with Bulgaria (signed 10/27/19), and Turkey (1/30/23 in Lausanne), for exchange of population. This provided for the Macedonians of Aegean to leave for Bulgaria, while the Greeks in Bulgaria and Turkey settled in the Aegean part of Macedonia. These measures changed the ethnic character of the Aegean. According to the “Great Greek Encyclopedia”, there were 1,221,849 newcomers against 80,000 “slavophones”. The “Ethnic Map of Greek Macedonia Showing the Ratio Between Various Ethnic Elements in 1912 and 1926,” claims there were 119,000 “bulgarisants” in 1912, and 77,000 in 1926. The Greek ethnic map of Aegean Macedonia was submitted to the League of Nations by the Greek government. The League of Nations had not visited Aegean Macedonia and did not participate at all in conducting these statistics. Greece here refers to the Macedonians as “bulgarisants”, which means “those who pretend to be Bulgarians” and obviously non-Bulgarians. However, Greece uses many other names in falsificating the identity of the Macedonians. Slavophones, Slav Macedonians, Makedoslavs, Slav Greeks, and Bulgarisants, are only some of the names that prove Greece’s non-preparedness in this mean falsification of the Macedonian people and language. There are also other Greek sources that contradict the previous numbers of the Macedonians in Greece. The Athenian newspaper, “Message d’ Aten” wrote on February 15, 1913, that the number of “Bulgar-echarhists” was 199,590 contradicting with those 119,000 of the “Ethnic Map of Greek Macedonia”.
When the Bulgarian and Serbian views are added, the confusion gets only bigger. According to the Bulgarian Rumenov, in 1928 there were total of 206,435 “Bulgarians”, while the Serb Bora Milojevich claimed 250,000 “Slavs” in Aegean Macedonia. The speculations with the real number of Macedonians is obvious again. Their true number remains disputable in the Balkan documents, same as it was the case before the partition of 1912. On the other hand, the Greek government would not allow anybody, including neutral observers to conduct statistical studies.
Recognition of the Macedonian Language by Greece
Greece signed the agreement to provide education in the languages of the minorities that remained within her borders, obligated under the international law. As a result, Sakerlarou Press in Athens printed a primer in the Macedonian language called “Abecedar” in 1924. It was intended for the Macedonian children in soon to be opened new schools in Aegean Macedonia. This was a clear recognition of the existence of the Macedonians in Greece. The Greek government, however, later changed its position and the primer never reached the schools.
The Macedonian Language Forbidden in Greece
The Englishmen B. Hild who traveled through Aegean Macedonia in 1928 has recorded that the Greeks are chasing not only the alive Macedonians, to whom they sometimes refer to as “bulgarophones” and sometimes as “slavophones”, but also the graves of dead Macedonians, by destroying all non-Greek signs on the crosses. The use of the Macedonian language was forbidden and punishable when dictator Metaxis gained power in Greece. It is believed that between 1936 and 1940, some 5,250 Macedonians were persecuted for only speaking their native language. Here is an official order of the National Garde in Nered (Polipotamos):
“All residents from two to fifty years of age are forbidden to use any other language but Greek. I direct special attention to the youth. Anyone to break this law will be punished.”
Etnic Maps of Macedonia
As the facts point out, the Macedonians were not wiped out from Aegean Macedonia in spite of the many assimilation attempts of the Greek government. One such fact is the ethnic map of Europe in The Times Atlas of World History, where the Macedonians presented as separate nationality cover the territory of complete Macedonia, including Aegean Macedonia in Greece.
Here is another map, part of a larger Balkan map and made by German slavists and ethnographers, first published after World War I, which proves that that the ethnic Macedonians are the majority in Aegean Macedonia while the Greeks consist only a small minority.
To see this map in larger format, click here.
The Macedonians on this map (Mazedonier in German, and presented in green with stripes), populate large area of Aegean Macedonia as the largest ethnic group, including the districts of Kostur (Kastoria), Lerin (Florina), Voden (Edessa), Ber (Veroia), and Salonika (Thessaloniki), the largest Macedonian city. This map is yet another clear proof that the Macedonians do exist as large minority in Greece. It is also very important to note, that southernmost river in Macedonia which many ethnographers consider to be at the border with Greece, is labeled on this map with the native Macedonian name Wistritza (Bistrica). However, Greek maps that date after the partition of Macedonia, have changed this centuries-old Macedonian name with the Greek Aliakmon. Another examples on wiping off the native Macedonian names from this map, would also be the second largest city in Aegean Macedonia, Serres which Greece changed to Serrai later, Wodena (Voden) was changed to Edessa, the river Mesta which was changed to Nestos, or the lake Beschik which today appears as Volvi.
Today, the CIA Ethnic Map of Balkans and Macedonia is yet another proof that the ethnic Macedonians today represent a big national minority in northern Greece or Aegean Macedonia. According to this CIA source, the Macedonians live in all parts of Macedonia: Vardar (today Republic of Macedonia), Pirin Macedonia in Bulgaria, and Aegean Macedonia in Greece.
Macedonians Oppressed in Greece
Following are several documents regarding the oppression of the Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia before World War II. They appeared in “Rizospastis”, a newspaper published by the Greek Communist Party (KKE).
April 15, 1934
* Serres (Serrai). The town square was covered with leaflets with revolutionary proclamations calling upon the soldiers to straggle for a solution to their problems and against the beastly reign of terror. Officers imprisoned the soldiers who read the leaflets… The most barbarous methods were used against us Macedonians, soldiers of the 6th Heavy Artillery Regiment. The majority of us are illiterate, we do not know Greek and therefore we frequently do not understand their orders. The officers tried to teach us to read and write, but their efforts were abandoned too soon and were performed so improperly than none of us learned anything.
June 6, 1934
* Voden (Edessa). Here, in Voden, and in our whole district, in the heart of Macedonia, here where we Macedonians do not know any other language but our own Macedonian, various agents of the Greek capitalism force us to speak Greek. Consequently, they threaten us constantly with expulsion to Bulgaria, they call us Komitajis, expropriate our fields which we have drenched with our sweet just to produce a piece of bread. In addition, they deprive us of the freedom which our fathers won after many years of struggle in which they gave their lives for the liberation of Macedonia. We live under the yoke of Greek capitalism, literally as slaves. In the elementary schools, the young children who speak their own language are beaten every day. Particularly here in Voden, the henchman and fascist Georgiadis beats the children if they speak their Macedonian tongue.
June 8, 1934
* Lerin (Florina). It has been some time now that the whole bourgeois press launched a campaign against the Macedonian people. It represents a part of the fascist and military measures which the Government of Tsaldaris carries out in its orientation towards an increasingly brutal oppression of the people’s masses in Macedonia. The Chief of the Security Forces here, Karamaunas, whenever he meets us on the streets threatens us with the words: “You are Bulgarians and if by any chance I discover any sort of organized movement, I will beat you without mercy and than I will deport you.” We Macedonians should rise with greater courage and by means of increased activities should reject this campaign because it brings us an even more brutal oppression, starvation, misery, and war.
MACEDONIA AND GREECE AFTER WORLD WAR II
The end of World War II brought both joy and sadness to the Macedonian people. Joy because the Macedonians were finally recognized as a distinct people with their own nationality, language, and culture in Yugoslavia. The Republic of Macedonia was not anymore “Southern Serbia” but another integral part of new federal Yugoslavia.
The Yugoslav – Greek Relations
Yugoslavia urged Greece many times to recognize the Macedonian minority in Aegean Macedonia. The Greek paper “Elefteros Tipos” wrote that in September of 1986 the Prime-Minister Papandreu in the talks with Yugoslav presidency member Stane Dolanc has agreed to recognize the Macedonian language as one of the official languages in Yugoslavia. As a result of those talks, on March 16, 1988, the Greek Prime-Minister Papandreu and the Foreign Affairs’ Karolos Papulias, even agreed to recognize the Macedonian language in Greece. However, the famous bankers affair “Koskotas” emerged, the PASOK government fell down, and the documents were not signed. Greece continued to refer to the Macedonians as “Slavophones” who speak an “idiom”.
THE MACEDONIAN – GREEK RELATIONS
In September of 1991, the Republic of Macedonia succeeded from Yugoslavia. Greece urged the world not to recognize Macedonia under that name because Macedonia’s Constitution “threatens the security and integrity of Greece”. What Greece is referring to is the Article 49 of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia which states:
“The Republic of Macedonia cares for the statue and rights of those persons belonging to the Macedonian people in neighboring countries, as well as Macedonian ex-parties, assists their cultural development and promotes links with them.”
Athens sees Article 49 to be a direct threat for the security of Greece because Macedonia cares for the people in Greece who consider themselves Macedonians? On the other hand, Greece has similar article in her Constitution, as any other country in the world, to care for her minorities in the neighboring countries. Greece demands that Macedonia change its Constitution because there are “no Macedonian people” in Greece. This will be proven to be a lie once again, after the independent and well respected Human Rights Watch / Helsinki, visited Aegean Macedonia in 1994.
VIOLATION OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF THE MACEDONIANS IN GREECE
The 80-page human rights violation report on Greece entitled “Denying Ethnic Identity – Macedonians of Greece” was published in May 1994. After visiting Aegean Macedonia, The Human Rights Watch/Helsinki concluded:
“ALTHOUGH ETHNIC MACEDONIANS IN NORTHERN GREECE MAKE UP LARGE MINORITY WITH THEIR OWN LANGUAGE AND CULTURE, THEIR INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED HUMAN RIGHTS AND EVEN THEIR EXISTENCE ARE VIGOROUSLY DENIED BY THE GREEK GOVERNMENT. FREE EXPRESSI ON IS RESTRICTED; SEVERAL MACEDONIANS HAVE BEEN PERSECUTED AND CONVICTED FOR THEIR PEACEFUL EXPRESSION OF THEIR VIEWS. MOREOVER, ETHNIC MACEDONIANS ARE DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BY THE GOVERNMENT’S FAILURE TO PERMIT THE TEACHING OF THE MACEDONIAN LANGUAGE. AN D ETHNIC MACEDONIANS, PARTICULARLY RIGHTS ACTIVISTS, ARE HARASSED BY THE GOVERNMENT – FOLLOWED AND THREATENED BY THE SECURITY FORCES – AND SUBJECTED TO ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL PRESSURE RESULTING FROM THIS HARASSMENT. ALL OF THESE ACTIONS HAVE LED TO A MARKED CLIMATE OF FEAR IN WHICH A LARGE NUMBER OF ETHNIC MACEDONIANS ARE RELUCTANT TO ASSERT THEIR MACEDONIAN IDENTITY OR TO EXPRESS THEIR VIEWS OPENLY. ULTIMATELY, THE GOVERNMENT IS PURSUING EVERY AVENUE TO DENY THE MACEDONIANS OF GREECE THEIR ETHNIC IDENTITY. ”
The Helsinki Watch has, therefore, just recently proven that there is nothing wrong with the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia since the Macedonians indeed exist in Greece as a large minority. Helsinki Watch found the Greek government guilty for oppressing the Macedonian minority and demanded they be given their basic human rights to which they are entitled to. Another human rights organization, Amnesty International, also urged the Greek government to respect the human rights of the ethnic Macedonians. The European Union has also recognized the Macedonian language as one of the languages spoken within the EU borders. The Republic of Macedonia is not a member of the European Union, but Greece including Aegean Macedonia, is within those borders.
As the historical facts clearly point out, the existence of the Macedonian nation, including the Macedonian minority in Greece, can not be questioned. It is a historical truth. The Greek Prime-Minister Papagos in the statement to the press released on 4th of February 1954 in Hague, has used the term “slav minority” for the Macedonians of Aegean Macedonia. He also added that this “slav minority” has “always been unfriendly towards Greece”. But why is that minority so “unfriendly towards Greece” – that was something that Papagos did not try to explain. Because his explanation would have to contain yet another recognition, that the minority is so “unfriendly” because it lives in a country where its most basic national and human rights are not recognized at all.