Greek Acts against the Macedonians
(1912 – 1994)
By Peter Medichkov
The following chronicles the methods employed by Greece in its effort to eradicate the centuries old Macedonian ethnic presence in Aegean Macedonia (Greek Macedonia) in the name of Greek territorial expansion. Specific laws and decrees are presented against the backdrop of relevant historical events affecting Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia.
The chronology begins in 1912 when Greece, for the first time ever, came into possession of Macedonian territory and this by force of arms, almost a decade after the 1903 Ilinden (St. Iliya Day) Uprising lead by the IMRO (Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization) in a failed effort to free Macedonia from the Ottoman yoke.
The ominous prophecy of Harilaos Trikoupis, Greek Prime Minister from 1882 to 1895, foretold what the neighboring Greek state had in mind for Macedonia and its people:
“When the Great War comes, Macedonia will become Greek or Bulgarian, according to who wins. If it is taken by the Bulgarians, they will make the population Slavs. If we take it, we will make all of them Greeks”.
1912 Balkan Wars
Irredentist Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and Montenegro drive a crumbling Ottoman Empire out of the Balkans and pursue territorial expansion into Macedonia. Greek army enters Aegean Macedonia ostensibly to “liberate” Macedonia from the Ottoman.
The Greek, Serbian, Bulgarian alliance breaks down over competing claims for Macedonia. Bulgaria miscalculates and attacks Serbia and Greek armies. Ottoman forces rejoin the war against Bulgaria. Bulgaria defeated, loses territorial gains in Macedonia.
From “liberation to tyranny”, Greek army commences savage and bloody “ethnic cleansing” of the towns of Kukush, Doiran, Demir-Hisar and Serres in the Aegean Macedonia.
160 Macedonian villages burned, and atrocities committed. Mass exodus of refugees.
Treaty of Bucharest (Aug. 10, 1913), ends the War and partitions Macedonia.
Greece refers to conquered Macedonian lands as the “new territories” under “military administration”. Not yet officially incorporated into the Kingdom of Greece.
Military occupation augmented by influx of administrators, educators; police brought from Greece.
Professor R.A. Reiss reports to the Greek government: “Those whom you would call Bulgarian speakers I would simply call Macedonians…Macedonian is not the language they speak in Sofia…I repeat the mass of inhabitants there (Macedonia) remain simply Macedonians.”
LAW 1051 Greece inaugurates new administrative jurisdictions for governing newly acquired lands in Aegean Macedonia.
1919 Treaty of Versailles (Paris)
England and France ratify the principles of the Bucharest Treaty and endorse the partition of Macedonia.
Greece pursues the forced expulsion and denationalization of Macedonians and begins colonization by transfering “Greeks” into Aegean Macedonia.
Article 51 of Treaty of Versailles espouses equality of civil rights, education, language, and religion for all national minorities which Greece violates and ignores.
Neuilly Convention and forced exchange of populations. About 70,000 Macedonians expelled from Aegean Macedonia to Bulgaria and 25,000 Greeks transfered from Bulgaria to Aegean Macedonia.
Greek Commission on Toponyms issues instructions for choosing Hellenized names for Macedonian places in Aegean Macedonia.
Greek Ministry of Internal Affairs publishes booklet: “Advice on the change of the names of municipalities and villages” in Aegean Macedonia.
76 names of Macedonian villages and towns in Aegean Macedonia Greekized since 1918 by Greek authorities.
League of Nations pressures on Greece to extend rights to Macedonian minority.
ABECEDAR Primer printed in Athens for use by Macedonian school children in Aegean Macedonia. Written in Latin alphabet and reflects the Macedonian language spoken in Bitola-Lerin (Florina) district in Western Aegean Macedonia.
Serbs and Bulgarians protest to League of Nations. Primer undermines their claim that Macedonians are Serbs and Bulgarians respectively.
Greece counters with last minute cable to League: “the population…..knows neither the Serbian nor the Bulgarian language and speaks nothing but a Slav-Macedonian idiom.”
Greece “retreats” so as to preserve Balkan alliances. Primer is destroyed after League of Nations delegates leave Salonika (Solun).
Thereafter, Greece denies existence of Macedonians. Refers to Macedonians as “Slavophone Greeks”, “Old Bulgarians” and many other appellations but not as Macedonians.
Legislative Orders in Government Gazette #331 orders Macedonian names of towns, villages, mountains changed to Greek names.
Cyrillic inscriptions ( Macedonian alphabet) in churches, tombstones and icons rewritten or destroyed. Church services in the Macedonian language are outlawed.
Macedonians ordered to abandon personal names and under Duress adopt Greek names assigned to them by the Greek state.
1, 497 Macedonian place names in Aegean Macedonia Greekized since 1926.
English Journalist V. Hild reveals, “The Greeks do not only persecute living Macedonians., but they even persecute dead ones. They do not leave them in peace even in the graves. They erase the Macedonian inscriptions on the headstones, remove the bones and burn them.”
Greek Government enacts law where any demands for national rights for Macedonians are regarded as high treason.
LAW 4096 directive on renaming Macedonian place names.
Reign of terror by fascist dictator General Metaxas, (1936-40). Macedonians suffer state terrorism and pogroms.
Thousands of Macedonians jailed, sent to internal exile (EXORIA) on arid, inhospitable Greek islands, where many perish. Their crime? Being ethnic Macedonian by birth.
LAW 6429 reinforces Law 4096 on Greekization of toponyms (place names).
DECREE 87 accelerates denationalization of Macedonians.
Greek Ministry of Education sends “Specially trained” instructors to accelerate conversion to Greek language.
LAW 23666 bans the use of the Macedonian language and strives to erase every trace of the Macedonian identity.
Macedonians fined, beaten or jailed for speaking Macedonian. Adults and school children further humiliated by being forced to drink castor oil when caught speaking Macedonian.
LAW 1418 reinforces previous laws on renaming.
39 more place-names Greekized since 1929.
LAW 697 more regulations on renaming toponyms in Aegean Macedonia.
LAW L-2 citizens suspected of opposing Greek government in Civil War stripped of their citizenship, including relatives, arbitrarily and without due process.
LAW M properties confiscated from citizens who fought against government and those accused of assisting.
28,000 child refugees, mostly Macedonians, from areas of heavy fighting evacuated to Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania. Greece denies their right of return to this day.
RESOLUTION 193C (III) United Nations Resolution calls for repatriation to Greece of child refugees.
U.N. UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS ARTICLE 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive an impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
DECREE 504 continues property confiscations of exiles and colonization of Aegean Macedonia with people from Turkey, Egypt and other parts of Greece. Parcels of land given to the colonists along with financial incentives.
LAW 3958 allows confiscation of property of those who left Greece and did not return within five years.
Several villages in Aegean Macedonia forced to swear “Language Oaths” to speak only Greek and renounce their mother Macedonian tongue.
DECREE 4234 reinforces past laws regarding confiscated properties of political exiles and denies them right to return.
EUROPEAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS accuses Greece of human rights abuses.
Council of Europe declares Greece “undemocratic, illiberal, authoritarian, and oppressive”. Greece forced to resign from Council of Europe under threat of expulsion.
Military Junta continues the policy of colonizing the confiscated lands in Aegean Macedonia. Land handled over to persons with a “proven patriotism” for Greece.
European Convention For the Protection of Human Rights and Freedoms signed by Greece states: ARTICLE 10(1) “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers”.
DECREE 233 suspends about 150 past decrees, government decisions and laws since 1913. Regulations for the confiscation of properties belonging to Macedonian political exiles not affected.
135 places renamed in Aegean Macedonia since 1940. The Greek vigil regarding names is an indicator of the Macedonian ethnic identity in Aegean Macedonia.
Greek internal security police urges intensive campaign to wipe out remaining Macedonian language and consciousness in Aegean Macedonia.
LAW 106841 political exiles who fled during the Civil War and were stripped of their citizenship are allowed to return providing they are “Greek by ethnic origin”. The same rights are denied to Macedonian political exiles born in the Aegean Macedonia.
U.N. UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS ARTICLE 17, “No one can be deprived of his own property against his will”.
DECREE 1540, Political exiles who fled during Civil War allowed to reclaim confiscated lands provided they are “Greeks by ethnic origin”. Same rights denied to Macedonian exiles born in Aegean Macedonia.
U.N. UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS ARTICLE 13, “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, as well as to return to his own country”.
International writers’ organization, PEN, condemns Greece’s denial of the existence of Macedonians and their language.
Greece escalates climate of fear in Aegean Macedonia.
Greece officially calls the Republic of Macedonia as the “Republic of Skopje”, after the name of its capital city; and Macedonians are called “Skopjans”.
The term “Skopjans” used to label Greek citizens who declare themselves as ethnic Macedonians. “Skopjans” laced with hatred, and racism. It connotes a traitor to Hellenism.
CSCE COPENHAGEN CONFERENCE ON THE HUMAN DIMENSION, to which Greece is a signatory, states in ARTICLE 32: “Persons belonging to national minorities have the right freely to express, preserve, and develop their ethnic, cultural, linguistic, or religious identity and to maintain and develop their culture in all its aspects, free of any attempts as assimilation against their will”. ARTICLE 33: “Participating states will protest the ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity of national minorities…and create conditions for the promotion of that identity”.
GREEK HIGH COURT DECISION 19 refuses registration of “CENTER FOR MACEDONIAN CULTURE” in Florina (Lerin). Appeal is turned down by High Appeals Court in Salonika. Further appeal dismissed by Supreme Administrative Council of Greece in Athens.
CSCE MEETING ON NATIONAL MINORITIES IN GENEVA, in which Greece participated states: “Issues concerning national minorities…are matters of legitimate international concern and consequently do not constitute exclusively an internal affair of the respective State…Participating States reaffirm, and will not hinder the exercise of, the right of persons belonging to national minorities to establish and maintain their own educational, cultural and religious institutions, organizations and associations”.
Belligerent anti-Macedonian propaganda incites Greek population into a state of chauvinistic hysteria.
Translation from Greek: “Hang the Skopje Gypsies”
Greece and Serbia conspire to overthrow and partition the Republic of Macedonia.
Macedonian human rights activists Hristos Sidiropoulos and Tasos Boulis were prosecuted under Greek Panel Code: Article 36, Para 191; disseminating false information; Para 192; inciting citizens to disturb the peace. Their crime? Declaring themselves as Macedonians in an interview for Greek magazine ENA.
Macedonian human rights activist and priest Nikodimos Tsarknias derobed and expelled by Greek Orthodox Church because of his human rights activities. Tsarknias refused a Greek bribe which would have elevated him to bishop in 1989. He received death threats.
Extremists of Australia’s Greek Community burn two Macedonian churches, after Australian recognition of Macedonia.
Greece continues to deny the existence of Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
Greece continues repressive and unrelenting policies against Macedonians in Aegean Macedonia despite objections by international human rights organizations.