Ethnic or geographic Macedonia, which will it be? There are many Macedonians out there even today who refer to partitioned Macedonia as Aegean, Vardar, Pirin and more recently, Mala Prespa. Are these references a “good thing” or are they “anti-Macedonian” and we don´t even know it?
First, ask yourselves this question: Why does Aegean Macedonia correspond “exactly” to the part of Macedonia occupied by Greece; Vardar Macedonia correspond “exactly” to the part of Macedonia which today is the Republic of Macedonia and Pirin Macedonia correspond “exactly” to the part of Macedonia that is occupied by Bulgaria; all divided by the arbitrarily imposed artificial borders placed on Macedonia in 1913 by Macedonia´s occupiers and enemies?
Second, ask yourselves who would benefit the most from “dividing” Macedonia in this “geographical” manner; we the Macedonians or our enemies?
Third, why are we willingly calling our country what our enemies want us to call it instead of calling it the way we see it? Macedonia was “one” before 1913 and since then it has been “occupied” by Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and later by Albania but it is still “one” Macedonia. So now we have a part of Macedonia occupied by Greece, another part of Macedonia occupied by Bulgaria, a third part of Macedonia occupied by Albania and a fourth part of Macedonia, formerly occupied by Serbia, become an independent country!
So if we are to “correctly” describe what we mean wouldn´t it be more correct, especially if we are asked where we come from, to say that we come from “the Greek occupied part of Macedonia”, the Republic of Macedonia, “the Bulgarian part of occupied Macedonia”, or “the Albanian part of occupied Macedonia”? Instead of calling the divided parts of Macedonia Aegea, Vardar, Pirin and Mala Prespa let us call them Greek occupied Macedonia, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgarian occupied Macedonia and Albanian occupied Macedonia; one Macedonia existing in four pieces, one free and three still occupied. It paints a perfect picture, at least from the Macedonian perspective.
Let us not continue to say and do what benefits our enemies and start saying and doing what benefits us. It is not shameful or embarrassing to “tell it the way we see it” and not cater to “political correctness” to our own detriment!
Imagine if we had been saying “Greek occupied Macedonia” since 1913. There would have been no doubt in anyone´s mind as to whom Macedonia belonged; but no we had to do what our enemies wanted us to do, not only refer to our Macedonia by “geographical qualifiers” that “exactly” correspond to Macedonia´s partition, but over time we came to believe that we are different people and we began to discriminate against each other! And who exactly benefits from that? Certainly not us!
I have to confess that the original idea of calling the “still” occupied parts of our Macedonia “occupied” was not mine; it was given to me by an NGO political analyst who worked in the Middle East and who was the architect of the term “occupied territories” in the Middle East. It took him years and a lot of effort to get the media to start using the term “occupied territories”; a reference commonly used today by the media to refer to parts of the Middle East.
The political analyst said that we Macedonians have made a big mistake by using the term “Aegean Macedonia” and not “Greek occupied Macedonia” to refer to that region because for one, nobody knows what “Aegean Macedonia” is and second, we missed the opportunity to let the world know that “Macedonia is still occupied”. So I say to you it is never too late to start using the terms “Greek occupied Macedonia”, “Bulgarian occupied Macedonia” and “Albanian occupied Macedonia”, especially when dealing with outsiders and let the world know the truth on where our Macedonia stands today in this so-called “democratic” world!
Closer to home, let us not make our enemies happy by thinking and believing that after being “divided” for only a century that we have now somehow become a different people. Macedonia was divided into four parts by the Romans for over five centuries and Macedonians were not allowed to travel outside of those barriers. But even after five centuries of division we are still the same Macedonians. Unlike Roman times however, our more recent occupiers have tried to change our identity and assimilate us but still that should not have any bearing on who we are. Like our not so distant ancestors used to say “a sheep will remain a sheep no matter how hard it or someone else wishes it to become a goat”.
For years the Greeks have insisted that Macedonians do not exist and have claimed that the people living in Macedonia were allegedly Greeks who had forgotten that they were Greeks. But since the Republic of Macedonia declared its independence in 1991, the Greeks have changed their story and now insist that Macedonians do exist but geographically and not ethnically. In other words the Macedonians living in Greek occupied Macedonia are still Greeks but can be called “Macedonians” because they live in their so-called province “Macedonia”. They are “provincial Macedonians” but somehow have evolved to be the descendents of the Ancient Macedonians”, especially the million or so Turkish settlers Greece imported from Asia Minor in the 1920´s.
While claiming all this about itself, Greece is quick to falsely claim that the people living in the Republic of Macedonia, on the other side of the 1913 artificially imposed border, are not Macedonians but “Slavs”.
Why do you suppose Greece is so afraid to admit that the people on both sides of the artificial border are one and the same; Macedonians? More importantly, why have we fallen into their trap and begun seeing ourselves as “Egeitsi”, “Vardartsi” and “Pirintsi”? Can we not see what is happening here? Can we not see that this is not to our benefit and only serves our enemies?
Besides that, it is incorrect to refer to only the Greek occupied part of Macedonia as Aegea and not parts of Vardar that once also belonged to Aegea. I am sure that there are parts of the original Vardar that are now called Aegea.
It should be acceptable for Macedonians among themselves to refer to Aegea, Vardar, Pirin and Mala Prespa as regions of “one Macedonia” but when dealing with outsiders we should always refer to the “occupied territories” as in “the Greek occupied part of Macedonia”, “the Bulgarian part of occupied Macedonia” and the “Albanian part of occupied Macedonia”. One Macedonia, four parts, three still occupied! It paints an exact picture!
Macedonia is a country in every Macedonian person´s mind, heart and soul. It is the homeland of the Macedonian people and has been so for many millenniums. As long as Macedonians exist so will Macedonia exist as a country! It is only the wish of our enemies that Macedonia exists as a region; the same enemies that occupied and divided our country and for years have been trying to destroy us. They claim Macedonia is a geographical and historic region on which Macedonians once lived, but no more. This is precisely why they are desperately trying to imply that the people living in the Greek occupied part of Macedonia are “different” from the people living in the Republic of Macedonia. But we all know that these are lies concocted by the Greeks and the truth is we are the same people! We were the same people before 1913 and we are the same people today!
We don´t have to go too far back to not only show that we are the same people but to show that we are Macedonians and we together have fought to liberate ourselves and live free in our own country. I am sure our enemies know that very well and know that united we will become a force to be reckoned with and that this is precisely why they are trying so desperately to divide us.
When Macedonians rule themselves, Macedonia is a country. It was so when the Ancient Macedonians ruled it and it is so again when Modern Macedonians took their destiny into their own hands in 1991 and declared a part of Macedonia free and independent. The inevitable has already happened, a Macedonian country has been reborn and that must scare the wits out of our occupiers. If the Serbian part of occupied Macedonia can become free and independent what´s to stop the Greek occupied part or the Bulgarian occupied part of Macedonia from also becoming free and independent?
No one knows what the future will bring but as Macedonians we have to prepare for it and that is why it is very important for us to look far ahead as we look behind. Let us take some steps forward and tell our story the way we see it and the way we know it and let us avoid the traps our enemies have set for us.
Other articles by Risto Stefov:
You can contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org