Which Macedonia Plays Up Past Glory?

Miltiades Elia Bolaris
In his "Macedonia Plays Up Past Glory" (NYT, June 23, 2011), Mathhew Brunwasser has disappointed the better informed among his readership by chopping up the truth to the point of no recognition. (1).

To begin with, the title itself is misleading. It implies that there is a Macedonia that has a glorious past, which is obviously true but then blunders by identifying historic Macedonia (of Northern Greece and of the glorious past) with the wrong geographic entity, a former Yugoslav republic of the assumed name.

"Bulgarians see its people as Bulgarians with accents", is how the article begins. This is the first half truth we encounter. A more precise statement would be that a large percentage (probably more than 60%) of the citizens of FYROM are seen by the Bulgarians as their linguistic brethren. FYROM is a multi-ethnic entity where Slavs and Albanians, Turks and Gypsies, Serbs and Greeks live under one umbrella with a forced assumed name: Makedonci; a name that was imposed on them by Yugoslavia's resistance hero turned dictator Tito, after he took power in 1944.

The Bulgarians do have a point on linguistics, on the majority of the Slavonic part of the population. The so called Macedonian language is as distinct from Standard Bulgarian as Australian English is from the English spoken, say, in Texas. If you want to call this "Texan" and the other "Australian", in a linguistic sense, who is there to stop you? If ever the Australian parliament decides to call its dialect of English the "Australian language", linguists the world over will congregate and find the distinct linguistic patterns that make Australian a "distinct" language. Bosnian, has been proclaimed a separate language, after all, though it differs not an iota from standard Serbocroatian...pardon my sin, standard Serbian and/or standard Croatian, I meant to say. Language often takes the back seat in modern Balkan identities, after all.

"Serbia", the article continues "used to consider the land Southern Serbia and refuses to recognize its church". The writer of the article could have also informed the reader that the area in question was indeed Southern Serbia in several eras of its history, starting from the 13th-14th century and as recently as post-1912, when the Serbian army pushed the ottoman conquerors out of it. It was Southern Serbia until Marshall Tito cut it off from Serbia and renamed it "Makedonija", post WWII. As for "Serbia's...refusal to recognize its church", it is not Serbia, but the Orthodox Church world wide that refuses to recognize the non-canonical splinter. Hile I can wake up next Monday morning and go register on my name the Church of the American Chronicle, for lack of a better name, I cannot simply call it a catholic church and hope that the vatican will accept my creation as a legitimate part of the body of the Catholic Church. Likewise, the Patriarchs of the Orthodox Church do not have to accept the random ruling of the Communist Party of Yugoslavija's central Plenum when it decided to split off Skopje from the Patriarchate of Serbia and call it the Makedonska Pravoslavna Crkva, the "Macedonian orthodox Church". For good or for bad, the patriarchates of Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria, Moscow, Romania, Bulgaria and Serbia, among other Orthodox Churches, have refused to go along with that POLITICALLY motivated decision of the Union of Yugoslav Communists.

"Greece accuses the country of nothing less than stealing its name, history and national symbols", continues Mathhew Brunwasser, yet he fails to quantify that "nothing less". Truth be told, any quick internet search, will convince even the best intentioned and most impartial researcher that this is indeed what is happening. On May 18th, 2009, two hundred Classics and History professors from academic institutions around the world sent a "Letter to President Barack Obama" (the number of the signatories has now grown to 371) protesting the unleashing of "a dangerous epidemic of historical revisionism, of which the most obvious symptom is the misappropriation by the government in Skopje of the most famous of Macedonians, Alexander the Great." 2

So, then, if scholars from Berkeley and Stanford, Yale, Harvard, Sorbonne, Moscow and Berlin "believe that this silliness has gone too far", why is then Greece not fully justified to "accuse the country of nothing less than stealing its name, history and national symbols"?

"Macedonia wants to advance the thesis that it is a cornerstone of Western civilization." is what a New York based Greek anthropologist being interviewed by Mathhew Brunwasser said. She was very timid indeed. Had she known what God himself said, in that state - sponsored propaganda video, aired on state TV in Skopje (sacrilegiously mis-named "Makedonska Molitva - Macedonian Prayer"), she would have heard the following divine truths which their state wants its citizens to absorb:

"Divine blessing for you, my Macedonians. I have waited for thousands of years to be called by you. From always with you, from eternity I am coming, I am already among you because here neither time nor space exists. Here, at my place, (He means: Heaven) the time is still. But at your place (i.e. Skopje), the time is now, for me to explain. Your mother Earth I have inhabited with three races: the White-Macedonoids, the Yellow-Mongoloids and the Black-Negroids. The rest-all are mulattoes (if "God" and the Skopje State TV said it, it must be true! I wonder what Obama would think of it...). From you, Macedonians, the descendants of Macedon, I have impregnated the White race and everything began from you, to the Sea of Japan (a subtle reference to the "Makedonoid" Russians, obviously). All White people are your brothers because they carry Macedonian gene. And all the migrations started from your place towards the north...wherever you dig you shall find the truth who you are, why you are and from where are you. Evil diabolic souls (Classical Scholars, Greeks, Bulgarians, etc) obscured the truth for thousands of years and lied to the world." Joseph Goebbels would have been pleasantly impressed by such faithful adherents to state sanctioned white power Skopjan "Makedonoid" Naziism (3)

"If it can´t have riches, Macedonia, a country of two million with 31 percent unemployment, wants recognition. Playing up ties to an ancient global celebrity resonates with people who feel they have been marginalized for centuries. "

Enter Clark Rockefeller, the man pictured above, a German national who was born the son of a painter in Bavaria as Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter but made a career as an impostor (supposedly of aristocratic roots) in the US, assuming such names as Christopher Gerharts Reiter and Chris Kenneth Gerhart. He also convinced people that he was an English aristocrat under the names of Christopher Chichester and better yet Christopher Chichester, XIII Bt, and Christopher Crowe. He became most infamous by assuming the Clark Rockefeller persona, a super-wealthy scion of the famous Rockefeller family. He is now serving time in a California prison but until he abducted his own child and committed murder, he had convinced half the New York high society, plus Hollywood, that he was indeed the real thing. This is what impostors are good at.

Indeed, if Skopje "can´t have riches"..."it wants (an outright fake!) recognition". Why? Simply because "Playing up ties to an ancient global celebrity resonates with people...": Give people the opium they deserve, in other words! Hence the "30-ton statue of Alexander the Great in Skopje"!

The delirium goes on:

"We are proud of Alexander," said Petko Bozhinovski, 48..."Finally, our Alexander has come back to his homeland" he said.

"His" homeland? A brief browsing through Greek history will inform even the most Geography - ignorant that Skopje was built as the capital of Dardania, home of Bardylis, an Illyrian warlord and nemesis of Macedonia, whom Philip II, the father of Alexander eventually crushed into submission. Alexander's homeland was Pella, the capital of ancient Macedonia, only a few kilometers from Thessaloniki, the second largest city in Greece. Cassandos, the king of Macedonia after Alexander, founded Thessaloniki (meaning "Thessalian victory", in Greek) and gave her the name of his wife, who was Alexander the Great's sister.

Far from being Alexander's "homeland" (Alexander spoke Northwest-Aeolian and Attic Greek, after all, not a Serbo-Bulgarian dialect), the area around Skopje was visited by Alexander but once, when he was coming back from his Balkan expedition, and had to kick the Tribalians (among other Thracian and Illyrian tribesmen) into submission. He littered the place with barbarian corpses and now a statue is being erected in that very place on his honor! Who wouldn´t say that life has its ironic turns and switches...the Greeks spent lifetimes discussing about just that.

"The project", we are told, "is controversial — it cost €9.4 million, or $13 million. But some things, say statue fans, are priceless. "If you lose your identity, you are a nobody," said Alexandar Ristevski, 32, an ethnographer.

An ethnographer must be quite desperate indeed about the future of his ethnos, if he trully believes that a $13 million (it started originally as a $4 million project, but add the under the table corruption and political commissions for the governing VMRO heads and the PM Nikola Gruevski, and now the sky is the limit: "The government estimated the bill for renovation at €80 million in 2009, but the opposition says costs have already risen to €200 million. No official figures are available") statue and the fake ethnic identity it represents is what will help glue this multi-ethnic Balkan conglomerate, this mini Yugoslavia, together...

"Meanwhile, Macedonia has filed suit with the International Court of Justice in The Hague against Greece..."

It reminds me of the thief who sues the owner for refusing to let him peddle the stolen goods in the market...

"This attempt to rebuild the Macedonian nation is definitely destroying the chances for compromise" with Greece, said Vladimir Milcin, executive director of the Open Society Foundation Macedonia. Mr. Milcin noted that the European Union´s enlargement commissioner, Stefan Füle, called the statue a "provocation" and suggested for the first time that Macedonia´s move toward Europe was going backward.

But neither Mr. Milcin nor a Western diplomat who insisted on anonymity thought this would deter the prime minister. "It´s just adding fuel to his power and image that he is the final and only defender of Macedonian name, identity and culture," Mr. Milcin said.

Macedonia´s identity politics are further complicated by the restive 25 percent of its population who are ethnic Albanians. In 2000, the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army fought a six-month war against the majority.

Rafis Aliti, a former fighter with the Albanian rebels, and now deputy speaker of parliament, said the name dispute worried Albanians because "there will be no prospects for the future, no security and foreign investment."

This, in simple Balkanese, means that what PM Nikola Gruevski is doing is:

A. Antagonizing ALL of the small country's neighbors with irredentist talk of "United Macedonia" (meaning "uniting" FYROM with the supposedly "still to be liberated parts of Makedonija" in Greece, Serbia, Albania and Bulgaria that the Skopje ultra-nationalists envision and claim as part of their own).

B. Ignoring and irritating the restive Muslim minorities of the Torbeshi (Muslim Slavs), Turks and especially the numerous Albanians of FYROM, by keeping their communities captive to his party's "Antiquitist" (this is the actual political term being tossed around in Skopje) illusions.

C. Undermining the very survival of FYROM by making a compromise with EVERYONE else (including NATO and the EU) impossible, therefore effectively shutting all avenues to economic development and long term stability of the country he was elected to govern.

That withstanding, "The lure of Macedonian lore has grown in recent years. Alexander has helped buttress the nation against the trauma of the free market, political strife and independence, said Pasko Kuzman, an archaeologist with the Ministry of Culture". Pasko Kuzman is the chief paid state propagandist of Pseudo-Makedonism and a notorious pseudo-scholarly history falsifier.

"Alexander conquered the world," he added. "Would you ever give up something like that? I don´t think so."

As a Greek Macedonian, from historic Macedonia, in northern Greece, the homeland of Macedodians, of Philip II, Aristotle and Alexander the Great, not Yugoslav Dardania, the land of Illyrians, Triballi and Dardanians, I can't help but somehow and wholeheartedly agree with him...

I would 'nt EVER "give up something like that" whatever it takes, whatever the Greek government in Athens decides, I, along with two and a half million other Greek Macedonians - no matter how many statues to our ancestors Skopje erects (we don't give a bronze horse's ass for that) - we will not give up our own Macedonian identity to fake impostors in need of one!


1. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/24/world/europe/24iht-macedonia24.html

2. http://macedonia-evidence.org/obama-letter.html

3. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBRoocbMSEE - Read the translation attached to the You Tube video

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