- This article is about the term "Aegean Macedonia". For the region in Greece, see Macedonia (Greece).
"Aegean Macedonia" (Bulgarian: Егейска Македония, Macedonian: Егејска Македонија) is a term that refers to the Greek region of Macedonia in Northern Greece. It is currently mainly used in the Republic of Macedonia, including in the irredentist context of a United Macedonia. The term is also used in Bulgaria as the more common synonym for Greek Macedonia, without the connotations it has in the Republic of Macedonia. The term has no circulation in Greece, since Aegean usually refers to the Greek islands or to strictly Greek coastal areas with direct access to the Aegean Sea. Although Greek Macedonia does indeed have its coastline along the northern Aegean, the province is more than anything else dominated by its high mountain ranges and broad, grassy plains, rather than by its coastline (with the exception of the Chalkidiki peninsula, which of course is a very popular holiday destination in eastern Macedonia noted for its beaches).
Origins of the term
The origins of the term seem to be rooted in the 1910s, most of its early appearances were in the writings of Bulgarian authors. Since the mid-1940s the term has appeared on maps circulated first in Yugoslavia and especially after 1991 in the independent Republic of Macedonia, which envisioned Greek Macedonia (referred to as "Aegean Macedonia") as part of a "Greater Macedonia", and is regarded in Greece as a non-recognition of current European borders, including the legitimacy of Greek sovereignty over the area.
During the Greek Civil War, the Greek government referred to the usage as a "new term" only recently introduced by Josip Broz Tito in Yugoslavia, implying that it considered it part of the Yugoslav campaign of laying claim to Greek Macedonia.
Tito's war-time representative to Yugoslav Macedonia, Svetozar Vukmanović-Tempo, is credited with promoting the usage of the regional names of the Macedonian region for irredentist purposes. In 1946, the Belgrade newspaper Borba (August 26, 1946) published an article under the title "Aegean Macedonia", it was also published in Skopje’s Nova Makedonija with a map of Yugoslav territorial claims against Greece. A month later, on September 22, the Premier of the People's Republic of Macedonia, Dimitar Vlahov (speech in Nova Makedonija, on September 26, 1946), announced, "We openly declare that Greece has no rights whatsoever over Aegean Macedonia...". Vlahov then went on to publish, "The Problems of Aegean Macedonia", Belgrade, June 1947.
By 1950, the term 'Aegean Macedonians' had been officially adopted by the Macedonian refugees in Skopje who began publishing the newspaper The Voice of the Aegeans; it is later found amongst diaspora communities.
In Greece, the Slavic speakers of Greek Macedonia, a minority of less than 2% of the population, seemed relieved to be acknowledged as Slavomacedonians. A native of the region, former exile communist, teacher of Greek in Tashkent and local historian, Pavlos Koufis, says in Laografika Florinas kai Kastorias (Folklore of Florina and Kastoria), that,
“[During its Panhellenic Meeting in September 1942, the KKE mentioned that it recognises the equality of the ethnic minorities in Greece] the KKE (Communist Party of Greece) recognised that the Slavophone population was ethnic minority of Slavomacedonians]. This was a term, which the inhabitants of the region accepted with relief. [Because] Slavomacedonians = Slavs+Macedoninas. The first section of the term determined their origin and classified them in the great family of the Slavic peoples.”
The name "Aegean Macedonia" is considered by the vast majority of Greeks as, at best, ambiguous. On the one hand it contains a reference to a geographical area which, since Homeric times, is historically associated with the Greeks (the Aegean), but, as expressed above, there is also the experience that it is used by irredentist organizations in the Republic of Macedonia and beyond who support a United Macedonia, contrary to the desires of the people living in the area.
Writing in 1953, Lazar Mojsov seems surprised that the Greeks find the term "Aegean Macedonia" insulting, and uses it frequently, noting that "...Politis (former Greek minister of external affairs) didn't miss the opportunity to attack even the very term "Aegean Macedonia", stating that it was "coined by the communist propagandists".
The term is currently used by some scholars, mostly contextualised, along with the sister terms Vardar Macedonia (describing the part of Macedonia region in which the Republic of Macedonia inhabits) and Pirin Macedonia (describing the part of Macedonia region in which the Blagoevgrad province of Bulgaria inhabits). The area of the Macedonian region that is part of Albania and Kosovo is often excluded. The term is used more frequently by Ethnic Macedonians and has irredentist connotations.
- Loring M. Danforth (March 1997). The Macedonian Conflict: Ethnic Nationalism in a Transnational World. Princeton University Press. pp. 37–. ISBN 978-0-691-04356-2. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
...that includes all of Greek Macedonia, which they insist on calling "Aegean Macedonia," a name which itself constitutes a challenge to the legitimacy of Greek sovereignty over the area. In addition ..
- Boston Daily Globe; 30 July 1913; "Prince to rule new Albania"
- Balgarete v Makedoniya, 1915, Yordan Ivanov, p.9, in Bulgarian, using the synonymous "Belomorska Makedoniya"
- The question of Thrace, Konstantin Stefanov, 1919 p.42
- Greek Ministry of Press and Information, I enandion tis Ellados epivoulis ["Designs against Greece"], Athens 1947; citing a speech by Tito from 11 October 1945 (GFM A/24581/G2/1945).
- (Some of this material is quoted from E. Kofos, Nationalism and Communism in Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Institute of Balkan Studies, 1964)
- "Rizospastis memorials of KKE members". Rizospastis. Retrieved 13 October 2014.
- 'Laografika Florinas kai Kastorias', Athens, 1996, probably published by the author
- (Лазо Мојсов, Околу прашањето на македонското национално малцинство во Грција, ИНИ, Скопје, 1954)
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