United Macedonia

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A map distributed by ethnic Macedonian nationalists circa 1993. Shows the geographical region of Macedonia split with barbed wire between the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria and Greece.
The region of Macedonia as perceived by ethnic Macedonian irredentists. Some Macedonian nationalists, including at official level have expressed irredentist claims to what they refer to as "Aegean Macedonia" (Greece), "Pirin Macedonia" (Bulgaria), "Mala Prespa and Golo Brdo" (Albania), and "Gora and Prohor Pchinski" (Serbia) despite the fact that ethnic Greeks, Bulgarians, Albanians and Serbs form the majority of the population of each region respectively. These fringe groups have received no official encouragement from the government of the Republic of Macedonia since 1995 when they agreed to remove all territorial claims to neighbouring countries' territories from their constitution, but the United Macedonia concept is still found among official sources in the Republic, and taught in schools through school textbooks and other government-sponsored publications.
Map of the whole geographical region of Macedonia as seen by F. Bianconi, 1885.

United Macedonia (Macedonian: Обединета Македонија, Obedineta Makedonija) is an irredentist concept among ethnic Macedonian nationalists that aims to unify the transnational region of Macedonia in southeastern Europe (which they claim as their homeland and which they assert was wrongfully divided under the Treaty of Bucharest in 1913), into a single state under Slavic Macedonian domination, with Greek Macedonians and Albanian Macedonians in a subordinate role politically and culturally. The proposed capital of such a United Macedonia is the city of Thessaloniki or Salonika (Solun in the Slavic languages) in Greek Macedonia, which Slavic Macedonians and the Yugoslav leader Tito had always dreamed of incorporating - along with the hinterland of Greek Macedonia which they came to call Aegean Macedonia - into their own states.[1][2]

History of the concept[edit]

The concept of a united Macedonian region appeared initially in the late 19th century as variant called authonomous Macedonia in the documents of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization. The organization was founded in 1893 in Ottoman Thessaloniki by a small band of anti-Ottoman Macedono-Bulgarian revolutionaries,[3] which considered Macedonia an indivisible territory and claimed all of its inhabitants "Macedonians", no matter their religion or ethnicity. The idea then was strictly political and did not imply a secession from Bulgarian ethnicity, but unity of all nationalities in the area.[4] The term "United Macedonia" has been in use since the early 1900s, notably in connection with the Balkan Socialist Federation. After undergoing various transformations, the original organization was suppressed in the 1930s, at which time the territory of the current Republic of Macedonia was part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. The current leading political party in the Government of the Republic of Macedonia, VMRO–DPMNE claims ideological descent from the old IMRO.

According to Tito's personal representative in the 1940s in the then Yugoslav Macedonia, Svetozar Vukmanović, "The slogan about a united Macedonia first appeared in the manifesto of the HQ of the National Liberation of Army Macedonia, at the beginning of October 1943. There had been no mention of it earlier in any document either in Yugoslavia or in Macedonia." [5]

In modern era, ethnic Macedonian nationalists call for a "United Macedonia" since 1989, reading "Solun (Thessaloniki) is ours" and "We fight for a United Macedonia".[6][7] Several maps depicting "United Macedonia" as an independent country which constitute clear evidence of irredentist claims of Macedonian nationalists against both Greek and Bulgarian territory circulated since late 1980s and the beginning of 1990s. In one of those maps all of Mount Olympus was incorporated in the territory of "United Macedonia".[8] The Macedonian nationalists[9] break down the region of Macedonia as follows:

Ethnic Macedonian nationalists describe the above areas as the unliberated parts of Macedonia and they claim that the majority of the population in those territories are oppressed ethnic Macedonians. In the cases of Bulgaria and Albania, it is said that they are undercounted in the censuses (In Albania, there are officially 5,000 ethnic Macedonians, whereas Macedonians nationalists claim the figures are more like 120,000-350,000.[citation needed] In Bulgaria, there are officially, 1,400 ethnic Macedonians, whereas Macedonian nationalists claim 200,000.[10] In Greece, there is a Slavic-speaking minority with various self-identifications (Macedonian, Greek, Bulgarian), estimated by Ethnologue, and the Greek Helsinki Monitor as being between 100,000-200,000 (according to the Greek Helsinki Monitor only an estimated 10,000-30,000 have an ethnic Macedonian national identity[11]). The Macedonian Government lead by nationalist party VMRO–DPMNE claimed that there is a Macedonian minority numbering up to 750,000.[12]

The roots of the concept can be traced back to 1910. One of the main platforms from the First Balkan Socialist Conference in 1910 was the solution to the Macedonian Question, Georgi Dimitrov, a Bulgarian Communist politician, in 1915 writes that the creation of a "Macedonia, which was split into three parts, was to be reunited into a single state enjoying equal rights within the framework of the Balkan Democratic Federation".[13]

The concept of a united Macedonia was used by revolutionaries from the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) too. In 1920-1934 their leaders - Todor Alexandrov, Aleksandar Protogerov, Ivan Mihailov, etc., accept this concept with the aim to liberate the territories occupied by Serbia and Greece and to create an independent Macedonia, with predominantly Bulgarian population.[14] Bulgarian government of Alexander Malinov in 1918 offered to give Pirin Macedonia to such a united Macedonia after World War I,[15] but the Great Powers did not adopt this idea, because Serbia and Greece opposed. In 1924, the Communist International suggested that all Balkan communist parties adopt a platform of a "united Macedonia" but the suggestion was rejected by the Bulgarian and Greek communists.[16]

The idea of a united Macedonia under communist rule was abandoned in 1948 when the Greek communists lost in the Greek Civil War, and Tito fell out with the Soviet Union and pro-Soviet Bulgaria.

In its first resolution, VMRO–DPMNE, the nationalistic[17][18][19][20][21][22][23] governing party of the Republic of Macedonia, adopted the platform of a "United Macedonia",[24] an act that has annoyed moderate ethnic Macedonian politicians and has also been regarded by Greece as an intolerable irredentist claim against Macedonia, its northern province.[25]

Before and just after the Republic of Macedonia's independence, it was assumed in Greece that the idea of a united Macedonia was still state-sponsored. In the first constitution of the newly independent Republic of Macedonia, adopted on 17 November 1991, Article 49 read as follows:[26]

(1) The Republic cares for the status and rights of those persons belonging to the Macedonian people in neighbouring countries, as well as Macedonian expatriates, assists their cultural development and promotes links with them.
(2) The Republic cares for the cultural, economic and social rights of the citizens of the Republic abroad.

On 13 September 1995, the Republic of Macedonia signed an Interim Accord with Greece [27] in order to end the economic embargo Greece had imposed, amongst other reasons, for the perceived land claims. Amongst its provisions, the Accord specified that Macedonia would renounce all land claims to neighbouring states' territories.

The United Macedonia concept is still found among official sources in the Republic,[10][28][29] and taught in schools through school textbooks and through other governmental publications.[30][31][32]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Greek Macedonia "not a problem", The Times (London), August 5, 1957
  2. ^ A large assembly of people during the inauguration of the Statue of Alexander the Great in Skopje, the players of the national basketball team of the Republic of Macedonia during the European Basketball Championship in Lithuania, and a little girl, singing a nationalistic tune called Izlezi Momče (Излези момче, "Get out boy"). Translation from Macedonian:

    "Get out, boy, straight on the terrace

    And salute Goce's race

    Raise your hands up high

    Ours will be Thessaloniki's area."

  3. ^ The Balkans. From Constantinople to Communism. Dennis P Hupchik, page 299
  4. ^ The Macedoine, "The National Question in Yugoslavia. Origins, History, Politics", by Ivo Banac, Cornell University Press, 1984.
  5. ^ Svetozar Vukmanovic, Struggle for the Balkans. London, Merlin Press 1980, 1990. Page 213
  6. ^ John Phillips, Macedonia: warlords and rebels in the Balkans, I B Tauris Academic, 2002, p.53
  7. ^ Robert Bideleux, Ian Jeffries, The Balkans: a post-communist history, Routledge, 2006, p. 410
  8. ^ Loring M. Danforth, The Macedonian conflict: ethnic nationalism in a transnational world, Princeton University Press, 1997, pp. 178, 182
  9. ^ Janusz Bugajski, Ethnic Politics in Eastern Europe: A Guide to Nationality Policies, Organizations and Parties, Sharpe, M. E. Inc., 1994, p. 114
  10. ^ a b "Minorities in Southeast Europe: Macedonians of Bulgaria". Center for Documentation and Information on Minorities in Europe - Southeast Europe (CEDIME-SE). 
  11. ^ "Report about Compliance with the Principles of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (along guidelines for state reports according to Article 25.1 of the Convention)". Greek Helsinki Monitor. 18 September 1999. 
  12. ^ "Mhttp://www.euractiv.com/enlargement/macedonia-erases-irredentist-cla-news-519167". euroactiv. 
  13. ^ Dimitrov, Georgi. "The Significance of the Second Balkan Conference". Retrieved 2009-05-21. 
  14. ^ Balkan Strongmen: Dictators and Authoritarian Rulers of South Eastern Europe, Central Europe Studies, Professor Bernd J Fischer, Purdue University Press, 2007, ISBN 1557534551, p. 127.
  15. ^ Gerginov, Kr., Bilyarski, Ts. Unpublished documents for Todor Alexandrov's activities 1910-1919, magazine VIS, book 2, 1987, p.214 - Гергинов, Кр. Билярски, Ц. Непубликувани документи за дейността на Тодор Александров 1910-1919, сп. ВИС, кн. 2 от 1987, с. 214.
  16. ^ Victor Roudometof, Collective Memory, National Identity, and Ethnic Conflict: Greece, Bulgaria, and the Macedonian Question, Praeger, 2002 p.100
  17. ^ Alan John Day, Political parties of the world, 2002
  18. ^ Hugh Poulton, Who are the Macedonians?, Hurst & Company, 2000
  19. ^ Loring M. Danforth, The Macedonian conflict: ethnic nationalism in a transnational world, Princeton University Press, 1997
  20. ^ Christopher K. Lamont, International Criminal Justice and the Politics of Compliance, Ashgate, 2010
  21. ^ Human Rights Watch World Report, 1999
  22. ^ Imogen Bell, Central and South-Eastern Europe 2004, Routledge
  23. ^ Keith Brown, The past in question: modern Macedonia and the uncertainties of nation, Princeton University Press, 2003
  24. ^ Michael E. Brown, Richard N. Rosecrance, The costs of conflict: prevention and cure in the global arena, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1999, p.133
  25. ^ Alice Ackermann, Making peace prevail: preventing violent conflict in Macedonia, Syracuse University Press, 2000, p.96
  26. ^ Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, adopted 17 November 1991, amended on 6 January 1992.
  27. ^ "Interim Accord between the Hellenic Republic and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", United Nations, 13 September 1995.
  28. ^ Simons, Marlise (February 3, 1992). "As Republic Flexes, Greeks Tense Up". New York Times. 
  29. ^ Danforth, Loring M. "How can a woman give birth to one Greek and one Macedonian?". The construction of national identity among immigrants to Australia from Northern Greece. Retrieved 2006-12-26. 
  30. ^ Facts About the Republic of Macedonia - annual booklets since 1992, Skopje, Republic of Macedonia Secretariat of Information, Second edition, 1997, ISBN 9989-42-044-0. p.14. 2 August 1944.
  31. ^ "Official site of the Embassy of the Republic of Macedonia in London". An outline of Macedonian history from Ancient times to 1991. Retrieved 2006-12-26. 
  32. ^ Macedonianism: Macedonia's expansionist designs against Greece after the Interim Accord (1995), Society for Macedonian Studies, Ephesus Publishing, 2007