Posts Tagged ‘Macedonians’

Macedonia and Greece: Two Ancient and Separate Nations – John Shea 1997 pp.23-35.

June 1, 2008

“To get to the real Macedonians we need to start a little before the time of Alexander the Great. If we go too far back, say to the seventh century B.C., we find that Macedon was a tiny little piece of land that no one today would really be interested in. It was an area that could be covered on horseback in a day’s ride. Macedon at first included the area immediately east of Lake Kastoria and east and north of the Haliakmon River. Certainly there is little glory to claim from this period of Macedonian history. By the fifth century B.C. the kingdom had been extended eastward to what is now the Struma River, and a century later the Macedonian homeland was extended to include all of the territory West of the Nestos River.’ In the time of Philip II and his son, Alexander the Great, the Macedonian homeland was at its largest, and Macedonian power was at its peak. This seems the obvious era in which to begin our enquiry.

Modern Greeks prefer to think of the ancient Macedonians as Greeks. This was part of their justification for taking a part of Macedonia by conquest earlier in this century, and is still used to justify their present international position. Greek arguments frequently focus on the time of Alexander because of his undoubted influence in spreading Hellenic culture to distant parts of the known world. It is clear, too, that they gain some satisfaction from imagining some family connection with that extraordinary figure. However, the modern Greek ideas would have been rejected by both the ancient Macedonians and the ancient Greeks.

If we start by looking at modern Greek discussions of these ideas we can then consider what historians have to say about their arguments, point by point. We get some of the flavor of Greek attitudes in the Greek publication Macedonia, History and Politics (published by George Christopoulos, John Bastias, printed by Ekdotike Athenon S.A. for the Center for Macedonians Abroad, and the Society for Macedonian Studies, 1991). This is a publication available in Greek embassies and distributed to Greek communities and multi-cultural organizations throughout the English-speaking world. The author of this book considers that the use of the Greek language by Macedonians is proof of their Greekness. In passing we might reflect on the modern use of English by many countries as a convenience for trade or war, and note that this usage proves nothing at all about the ethnicity or culture of the users. However, the author of Macedonia, History and Politics claims that the dissemination of the “Greek language and Greek culture throughout the known world by Alexander the Great and his Macedonians provides the most irrefutable confirmation” of the unity of the Macedonians with the other Greeks.

To explore thoroughly this issue of the proposed Greekness of the Macedonians, we need to consider evidence from a number of quarters. If the early Macedonians were Greek you would expect that (a) there might be clear evidence that the language of the Macedonians was a dialect of Greek, rather than a separate branch of the Indo-European language group; (b) writers of the time would have recognized Macedonians as Greek rather than as foreigners and would have spoken about Macedonia as though it was a part of Hellenism; and (c) historians today would speak of the ancient Macedonians as though they were Greek in ancient times. As we will see, none of these ideas is unequivocally supported.

Linguistic Evidence

In questioning the significance of the use of Greek by the ancient Macedonians we need to sort out some of the linguistic history of the Macedonians. Firstly, the language of the original Macedonians, whatever it was, existed long before Macedonia became a powerful state. This is before the time of the great kings Philip II and Alexander the Great. The name “Macedones” originated many centuries earlier, and probably came from the “real” Macedonian language. If the Macedonian language was recognized as Greek, and understood by Greeks, you would expect that this was the language used by the great Macedonian kings in a formal or legal context. But it was not.

We know with some certainty that Attic Greek, which came from much farther south (around the Athens area) and was being used in other parts of the world as a trade language, was used more and more as the language of state and used also in Alexander’s multi-cultural army. No linguist accepts that this language was the original Macedonian. So we have clear evidence that the Greek used by the Macedonians was a new language. Therefore one cannot argue that the use of this language proves any linguistic associations between the original Macedonians and Greeks.

Many scholars have concluded that the ancient Macedonian language was not a Greek dialect and that it was more or less related to the languages of Macedonia’s northern neighbors, the Illyrians and the Thracians. These scholars include Muller and Mayer, writing in the nineteenth century, and Thumb, Thumb-Kieckers, Vasmer, Kacarov, Beshevljev, Budimir, Pisani, Russu, Baric, Poghirc, Chantraine, Katicic, and Nerosnak, writing in the twentieth. Here attention will be given to sources more readily accessible to those who want to inquire further.

The problem for modern-day linguists is that not a single sentence of the original Macedonian language has been retained. All that is left are records of proper names and isolated words -which, as historian E. Badian of Harvard University points out, is hardly sufficient basis for judgments about linguistic affinities.’ We do know that the Macedonians increasingly came to use a southern form of Greek in their formal dealings. Traian Stoijanovich tells US3 that in the fifth century B.C., the Macedonian rulers abandoned Macedonian and began using Attic Greek for public administration. This did not change the attitudes of the Greeks, who still regarded the Macedonians as barbarians.

However, Stoijanovich says it is not known whether the ancient Macedonian language was an independent language or a Greek dialect into which a non-Hellenic vocabulary and certain other non-Hellenic traits were introduced. Like other historians, he considers it quite possible that Macedonian was the language of the ruling class and that a considerable proportion of the subjects of the Macedonian chiefs spoke other languages.

Peter Hill, author of the section “Macedonians” in the official Australian bicentennial encyclopedia, The Australian People (perhaps 200,000 Macedonians live in Australia), writes:

What is certain is that Alexander’s mother tongue was not Greek. Alexander enjoyed a Greek education and adopted Greek as the language of his empire but to claim that that made him Greek is to suggest that the Irish and the Indians are really British because they have adopted English for administrative purposes.

Like Hill, E. Badian refutes the assumptions that a nation is essentially defined by a language and that a common language implies a common nationhood. He argues that this latter idea is patently untrue for the greater part of human history and to a large extent even today. The formal written language of ancient Macedonians was inevitably Greek, as was the case for various other ancient peoples. There was really no alternative. However, this in no way assures good relations between peoples, nor does it necessarily show any consciousness of a common interest. What is of greater historical interest, Badian says, is the documented evidence that Greeks and Macedonians regarded each other as foreign.

The use of the Macedonian language by Alexander’s infantry. The Macedonian kings, Philip and Alexander, favored Hellenization and encouraged the use of Attic Greek in their administrations, but the use of this foreign tongue was not foisted upon ordinary Macedonians. Although at least some of Alexander’s Greek companions knew the Macedonian language, having come to Macedonia at an early age, Alexander never tried to impose Greek on his Macedonian infantry or to integrate this infantry with Greek units or Greek “foreign” individuals. Alexander’s infantry continued to use the Macedonian tongue even late into his Asian expeditions. Badian describes some convincing cases in which Macedonian troops could not follow commands in Greek. For instance, during his argument with Clitus, which led to his good friend’s death, at the end Alexander is said to have called for his guards in Macedonian when he felt his life threatened. Badian rejects the idea that this was a reversion to a more primitive part of his psyche, under stress. He prefers the simpler explanation that Alexander used the only language in which his guards could be addressed.

To establish his case, Badian quotes a surviving papyrus fragment that seems to be the only good source to reveal the facts of the infantry use of Macedonian. This fragment tells of a battle, early in 321 B.C., in which the Greek commander Ambiance faced the Macedonian Neoptolemus with his Macedonian phalanx. Wanting to have the Macedonians join him rather than fight him, Ambiance needed to convince them of his superior position. The story continues:

When Eumenues saw the close-locked formation of the Macedonian phalanx … he sent Xennias once more, a man whose speech was Macedonian, bidding him declare that he would not fight them frontally but would follow them with his cavalry and units of light troops and bar them from provisions.

Badian tells us that Xennias’ name reveals him to be a Macedonian. Since he was with Ambiance he was probably a Macedonian of superior status who spoke both standard Greek and his native language. Ambiance needed this interpreter to transmit his message. This means that the phalanx had to be addressed in Macedonian if they were going to understand. Ambiance did not address them himself, although this was the common way for leaders of the time, nor did he send a Greek. Badian concludes that Greek was a foreign tongue to the Macedonians. Similarly, Alexander used Macedonian to address his guards because it was their normal language, and he had to be sure he would be understood. It also seems clear that educated Greeks did not speak the Macedonian language unless (presumably) they had grown up with Macedonians and learned it from their childhood friends, as some of Alexander’s Greek companions must have.

Other facts are consistent with this argument. Philip II seems not to have used any Greek commanders for his Macedonian troops. Presumably, the first generation Greek immigrants into his cities had not learned the language. It is also a fact that Ambiance, the commander in the story above, was notorious for the trouble he repeatedly had in getting Macedonian infantry to fight for him, even though he was an able leader. His problem was probably not simply his troops’ antagonism to the fact that he was Greek. His problem was that he could not directly communicate with Macedonian soldiers. In the end this defect cost him his life.

Political reasons for the use of the Greek language. Considering the use of Greek as the language of command in Alexander’s armies, R.A. Crossland concludes that this development was a matter of administrative efficiency. Although it was the Macedonians who had to learn Greek at first, the same requirement was made of at least some of his Persian troops after many conquests. For a long while Alexander thought that Greek was the best language to use as the common medium of communication among the peoples of his empire, “and not because Macedonian was similar to it.” Nevertheless, as we have already noted, even by the latter part of his Asian campaigns, Alexander’s infantry still did not speak a Greek language.

In other words, a very important reason for Hellenization of the Macedonians was their new role of political power-broker. The Greek language was available in written form and was widely used throughout the Macedonian sphere of influence. It was a very convenient vehicle for use in creating an international empire, something that both Philip and Alexander hoped to do. Its use may have also have led to some appeasement of Greek hostility towards the dominating Macedonians. All of these are sound reasons for choosing to use the Greek language as the tongue of administration throughout the expanding empire. However, after a time the value of Greek culture to the Macedonians’ cause began to fade. Eventually Alexander began to think in terms of a blending of the diverse cultures of his great empire. Perhaps in order to appease his new Persian subjects, it was now the blending of Macedonian and Persian that mattered, rather than the blending of Macedonian and Greek.

Macedonian attitudes to the Greek language. For the most part we have little information on Macedonian attitudes to the Greeks or their language. Badian reminds us that no Macedonian oratory survives, since the language was never a literary one. However, he concludes that the existence on both sides of a feeling that they were “peoples of non-kindred race” is very probable. The language barrier would keep this awareness alive, even though the literary language of educated Macedonians could only be Greek. That fact was as irrelevant to ordinary people, and perhaps even to those of higher status, as was the Hellenization of the Macedonian upper class. Badian gives a more recent example of a similar phenomenon. In eighteenth-century Europe, French language and culture prevailed amongst people of education. In fact, during the early part of the eighteenth century the language and culture of the German royal courts, including that of Frederick the Great in Prussia, were French. Most of the books published in Germany in the first half of the century were in Latin and French! Thus upper-class German ladies might write only in French, yet this did not mean that they were French or even Francophile. Badian suggests that Clitus’ anger toward Alexander was representative of a persisting antagonism to Greeks and their ways seen among all classes of Macedonians. He says that these feelings are most clearly evident where the historical record deals with ordinary people, like the Macedonian infantrymen referred to above.

The linguistic character of ancient Macedonia. Arnold Toynbee asserts that the Macedonians of all ancient historical periods spoke Greek. He argues firstly that “they (the Makedones) were already Greek speaking 150 years to 200 years earlier than Augustus’ time.” This observation would seem to be of little weight in the present discussion since we have already noted the increasing, and deliberately chosen, use of Attic Greek by the Macedonian nobility. The use of a language from a distant location by a limited number of noble families tells us nothing about the native tongue of the Macedonians of the fourth century B.C., the Anglo-Saxons of thirteenth century England, or the Prussians of early eighteenth century Germany.

Nevertheless it is worth looking at Toynbee’s point a little further to uncover its internal inconsistencies. Toynbee describes an occasion in 167 B.C. when L. Aemilius Paulus announced in a public speech at Amphipolis the Roman government’s decisions for the settlement of continental European Greece. This speech was delivered in Latin, but there was a Greek translation of the speech “for the benefit of Paulus’ audience which was drawn from all parts of Greece.” From this Toynbee concludes that at this stage the Macedonians were Greek-speaking, since in the public meeting place at Amphipolis, the majority of the listeners must have been Macedonians. Yet Toynbee himself states that the Greek translation was provided because the audience “was drawn from all parts of Greece.” However, if we follow Toynbee’s line that we are dealing with a diverse group of native Greek speakers, many of whom were Macedonian and who, according to Toynbee, spoke a dialect of Greek that no other Greeks could understand, it is asking a bit much to expect us to believe that these representatives suddenly all understood the same “Greek”- that is, unless the “Greele’ that was used was the koine, the international version of Greek developed from Attic, that was widely spoken in this area of the empire at the time. The audience was made up largely of leaders of one kind or another, people who were most likely to speak such a language. It is likely that virtually any trader, businessman, administrator, or political leader of the time would have spoken this language (or would have been in the company of an interpreter who could), as well as his own vernacular and perhaps other trade or administrative languages as well. Thus the translation of Paulus’ speech into Greek tells us absolutely nothing about the native language of the Macedonians or of anyone else.

Toynbee presents other arguments based on linguistic analysis to support his contention that the Macedonians were native Greek speakers. He asserts that Macedonian is Greek based on the “Greekness” of the word “Makedones” and its variant “Makednoi,” Macedonian place names, the names of the members of the Argead house, all recorded Macedonian personal names, the names of Macedonian from Upper Macedonia, the names of the Upper Macedonian cantons, the names of the Macedonian months, the majority of which he claims as Greek. Though at first glance this kind of analysis seems weighty, the counter-arguments are at least as powerful.

An issue that we have to deal with here is what constitutes a “Greek name.” It is generally accepted that Indo-European Greeks, Illyrians, Thracians and others settled in the Balkan Peninsula in the fourth, third, and second millennium B.C. As we will see later in more detail, it has been argued that only 40 to 50 percent of the vocabulary of Greek is Indo-European in origin and that 80 percent of its proper names cannot be explained as Indo-European.9 At least two possibilities might explain the presence of such linguistic forms in ancient Greek. One is that pre-Hellenic cultures were non-Indo-European and that the Greek newcomers adopted many proper names and other words from those peoples. Alternatively, the words might have been introduced by conquerors and settlers from the Levant and from Egypt in the second millennium B.C. In either case it is quite possible that such words came into Macedonian and other Balkan languages in the very same way. Thus both languages might have borrowed from others. If we favor the modern view that the pre-Hellenic influences in Greek are non-Indo-European, and we take into account the observed fact that place names often tend to last through conquest and assimilation, its would be reasonable to assume that some of the supposed “Greek” place names found in the “Macedonian” language are in fact pre-Hellenic names.

It is easy to find modern examples of the same phenomenon. Both France and Germany have many Celtic place names yet do not speak a Celtic language, or even the same language. The people of England are “British,” a name based on a Latin word formerly applied to a Celtic-speaking people and now referring to an Anglo-Saxon people. A study of the word “British” does not help us to determine what language the British speak. It is certainly not Latin, yet there is historical evidence about the use of Latin in Britain, the same kind of evidence that is trotted out to prove that the Macedonians were Greek. For instance, since English coins have Latin on them, we might conclude that the British speak Latin, following the argument that it would not make sense to use a language no one could read on such common items. Similarly, many English parish churches have collections of epitaphs in Latin, dating from the Middle Ages. Classicist Andy Fear points out that most of the population of medieval England could not even read English, let alone Latin. Obviously, the significance of surviving Greek texts from Macedonia must be treated with caution. Fear notes, too, that Greek inscriptions from ancient Macedonia are in a mixture of Greek dialects. It is much easier to believe that this could occur if Greek was alien to Macedonia, instead of the common language. If the latter were the case, we might expect to see a consistent form employed.

If we study the month names used in England and France, we can see that they resemble each other. This is not a basis for concluding that French and English are the same language. All one can reasonably conclude is that there has been similar heavy influence across these two languages. To say, for such superficial reasons, that Greek and Macedonian are the same language is to make far too much of a little thing. We must remember also that much of the history about ancient Macedonians that is passed on to us comes through Greek sources, and names are likely to have been shaped into Greek forms for a myriad of reasons, including the likelihood that Greek writers may not have been able to pronounce other tongues. A modern analogy would be to think that France is a German-speaking country because when reading a German textbook one comes across the name “Frankreich” ruled by, say, Karl rather than Charles. It is easy enough to find English forms of foreign place names that look far removed from their native form; Florence for Firenze, and so on.

In his essay “Linguistic Problems of the Balkan Area in Late Prehistoric and Early Classical Periods,”o R.A. Crossland directly addresses the issue of the linguistic character of ancient Macedonian. Crossland points out that the principal languages of the Balkan region in question* appear to have been Illyrian or an Illyrian language group; Thracian or Thraco-Dacian; and Macedonian. When it comes to the language of the Macedonians, Crossland takes a position very different from modern Greek writers. He rejects the idea that the Macedonians and their language were of Mycenaean origin. Then he goes on to consider linguistic and archeological evidence about the possible origins of Macedonian and in so doing directly contradicts Toynbee.

Crossland points out that the territory of the Macedones at the beginning of the fifth century B.C. seems to have lain between Tymphaea in the west, Pelagonia in the north and the river Axius in the east, but so far no category of place-names that we can identify as “Macedonian” has been identified in this area, and no inscription in Greek earlier than the late fourth century B.C. has been found in any part of Macedonia. Thus we have no substantial evidence about the nature of the Macedonian language in the time that it was most exclusively used (before the fifth century B.C.), but neither do we have evidence of any Greek language being in use at that point in history. The use of Greek came later.

Crossland says that the names of Macedonians mentioned in fifth- and fourth-century sources are almost all either certainly or possibly Greek, but he argues that this is not significant, since members of one people often borrow names from another whom they regard as culturally superior. Certainly the Macedonian craze for things Greek, including Greek education for the children of the upper classes, suggests such an attitude.

Next, Crossland points out that the ancient writers of the time gave imprecise information about the language of the Macedonians. None of the ancient Greek writers gives a detailed statement about the language that the Macedones spoke. The limited evidence that remains consists of words preserved by Greek lexicographers, especially Hesychius, from about the fifth century A.D. According to Crossland, these words were listed as “used by the Macedonians” or “used in Macedonia” without any indication of the origins of the words. Crossland also cites several other authorities who confirm his conclusions.

Regarding the ancient writers’ capacity to recognize significant linguistic features, Crossland agrees with Toynbee in pointing out that when language and speech seemed very different the ancient writers might have had difficulty in making correct classifications. We do not have an understanding of the details of their systems for classifying language. However, we need to remember that only in very recent times have linguists recognized the many languages that make up the Indo-European group. Crossland says that it is difficult to know whether one group of Greek speakers, say the Athenians, would have been able to recognize really different dialects of Greek, or whether they would have been influenced by differences of culture to classify such dialects as barbarian.

Crossland says that the evidence available is too sparse and unsatisfactory to tell us conclusively whether Macedonian was a dialect of Greek or a distinct language. He notes that another authority, N. Hammond, has actually concluded that Macedonian was a dialect of Greek, based on interpretations of information in ancient sources about the status and use of Macedonian under Alexander the Great and his successors. However, Crossland is skeptical of Hammond’s reasoning and says that better evidence would come from comparative linguistic study.

Crossland says that two kinds of evidence would help us to conclude that Macedonian was a dialect of Greek. Firstly, we would have to be able to observe or reconstruct its sound system and morphology in a way that would reveal any similarities to recognized ancient Greek dialects, and any contrasts to other Indo-European languages. Secondly, we would have to know whether speakers of most of those Greek dialects could understand and be understood by Macedonians. But none of the necessary evidence is available. The lexical items thought to be Macedonian are too few and uncertain for any useful reconstructions of the language’s sound system or morphology, and no Greek writer of the fifth or fourth century B.C. states explicitly whether Greek speakers such as the Athenians could understand the native speech of the Macedonians. Crossland says that these Greeks seemed to have had no difficulty in communicating with the Macedonian court, but this is probably because the royal family of Macedonia, and perhaps most of the nobility, spoke Attic Greek fluently. At home with their families or with their own clansmen they probably used their native tongue, Crossland believes.

We do not know either what form of “international” Greek speech might have been used in Macedonia since there are no substantial inscriptions in Greek from Macedonia earlier than the third century. The Greek speech used might have been Attic or an early form of the koine deriving from it that was already spoken even more widely in the Balkans before Alexander’s conquest of the Persian Empire.

The information about supposedly Macedonian words given by ancient lexicographers may not be very reliable. Along with words that were a part of the real Macedonian tongue in the fourth century B.C., they might have listed words and usages typical of the variety of Greek that was used in Macedonia from the third century onwards. They may also have included words that were special to the Macedonian armies. Some Greeks in the early Hellenistic period may even have regarded as Macedonian words that belonged to the koine as a whole, but not to Attic. We have no way of knowing the underlying basis for classifying words as belonging to one language or another.

Crossland is very critical of Kalleris, a Greek writer who tries to make a case from a linguistics standpoint for Macedonian being a Greek dialect. It is worth looking at this material in detail because of its apparent thoroughness, and because of its relevance to Toynbee’s arguments.

In an examination of the 153 words that are described as Macedonian in ancient sources, Kalleris considers that well over three-quarters of these words are Greek. Crossland finds this quite unconvincing. First, he says, a third of these words have no satisfactory etymology. Second, he says that a further 44 items should be disregarded as being false forms in the sources from which they came. They are simply adjectives of Greek formation based on place-names. Although these words seem to be Indo-European, they could belong to an Indo-European language other than Greek. Some of them might be military or technical terms which are Attic in form and were borrowed from Attic Greek in the fifth or fourth century.

Third, Crossland argues, if Macedonian was a dialect of Greek it is extremely unlikely that it would have been similar to Attic Greek. The original Macedonians did not come from the area of Athens and share no history with the Athenians. This means that the Attic words are a false lead, just late borrowings from Greek. It would be much more convincing, perhaps crucial, to find Macedonian words that were not specifically Attic but which occurred either in a considerable number of Greek dialects or in some of the dialects that were spoken in areas adjacent to Macedonia. Kalleris gives fifty-one words of this kind. Many of these words occur in Doric or other West Greek dialects or resemble words in these dialects. However, it is quite possible that these words were borrowed from West Greek dialects or from Thessalian, particularly since all except eighteen of them are the sort of words which the Macedonians might well have borrowed from their neighbors. They include titles of gods, names of festivals and months of the year, military terms, and names of objects that they might have learnt from neighbors to make and use. Such words are often borrowed from neighboring groups, so their existence in Macedonia is not convincing evidence that they were originally Macedonian.

Fourth, the remaining eighteen words, none of which corresponds exactly in meaning or form with Greek words, seem insufficient to make a case for classifying Macedonian as Greek. Once again there is the possibility that the words were borrowed from neighbors. At the western and southern borders of Macedonia were tribes speaking different Greek dialects, and we know that the Macedonians were in contact with these peoples. The Thessalians to the south are particularly likely to have been influential since they were culturally and politically more advanced than the Macedonians before the fifth century. They are likely to have influenced the Macedonians particularly strongly until the growth of Athenian influence. Herodotus reports on traditions in the same period of close contact between the Macedonians and the Dorians before the latter were supposed to have migrated southward.

Finally, though again it is hardly sufficient basis for any conclusion, there is one language feature evident in the surviving “Macedonian” words that points to the idea of a separate language. Macedonian seems to have had a phonological feature that marks it as different from Greek dialects. This is the correspondence of a sound written with B, to Ph in Greek. For instance, this would appear as something like Bilippos in Macedonian, and Philippos in Greek. Crossland says that this change puts Macedonian closer in phonology to Illyrian and Thracian than to Greek, but it does not mean that Macedonian was a dialect of either language.

Crossland is not convinced by claims that comments from writers such as Arrian and Plutarch in the first to second centuries A.D. (e.g. Plutarch, Ant. 27) show that Macedonians spoke a dialect of Greek as their native tongue. He says they are inconclusive since the expressions used are vague and might be referring to a “Macedonian style” rather than a “Macedonian language” or “dialect.” These descriptions would be just as likely if Macedonian was a distinct language as they would be if it was a dialect of Greek. Crossland points out that it is possible that Macedonian kings and their courts, soldiers and colonists might have continued to speak a second language in their homes and among themselves for some generations even though they spoke Greek for most practical purposes. After all, it is easy to think of examples of this kind of thing in more modern times. Crossland notes that Gaelic was used alongside English for generations by Scots who emigrated to America. It is still used in this way in some small communities in North America. Similarly, although English was used as the language of command and administration in British army regiments recruited predominantly in Wales, the Welsh language was still used privately.

Like historians who have examined this question, Crossland suggests that Alexander may have required Macedonians in his armies to use Greek as the language of command, just as he required many Persians to learn it (Plut. Alex. 43.7), because it was efficient, and because he thought it the language best suited to serve as the common medium of communication among the peoples of his empire. This kind of strategic decision does not require that Macedonian should have been similar to the new “international” language.

In summing up, Crossland says again that the evidence does not indicate convincingly that Macedonian was a dialect of Greek rather than a separate Indo-European language. Even Toynbee, who is persuaded in the opposite direction by the very flimsy evidence we have considered above emphasizes that the evidence is “fragmentary, … confused and self-contradictory.” In practical terms this suggests that modern Greeks may have to look elsewhere for convincing evidence that ancient Macedonians were Greek.”

Regards to the Macedonians all around the world

November 18, 2007

Listen to beautiful Macedonian music

Вакви песни и ваков мелос нема никаде во светот, ова е наше богатство!

Да живее Македонија и Македонците!

YOUTUBE Playlist | YOUTUBE плејлиста

Macedonian protest at Canberra, Australia

October 30, 2007

Go Macedonians! Let the worlds hear your voice!

Цел свет да знае кои сме и чие име носиме! Сонцето Филипово, нека ве грее и нека ви го осветли патот кон светлината. Вистината е на наша страна! Македонија засекогаш!

Macedonians of Bulgaria

September 28, 2007


Read to find out more about the ethnic Macedonians living in Bulgaria.

Manifesto of the temporary Government of Macedonia 1881

September 16, 2007

The USA Immigration commission from 1909 recognizes Macedonian people

September 16, 2007

Evangelos Kofos the Greek historian, writing about the Republic of Macedonia

September 16, 2007

Documents about Macedonia – various artist, even the Greek

September 16, 2007

The cry from Macedonia:

“…Population statistics for Macedonia are virtually meaningless. Turkish authorities rarely bothered with a census, and whe they did, the returns were based on the basis of a religious affiliation rather than language or nationality. A 1905 census of the three Macedonian vilayets produced the following figures concerning the non-Muslim peoples:

Greeks (Rum Millet) – 648,962
Bulgars (Bulgar Millet) – 557,734
Serbs (Serb Millet) – 167,601
Miscelaneous (Jews and others) – 77,386

These figures are meaningfull only for religious affiliation. Under the heading “Greeks” were included all those that attended Patriarchist schools and churches, regardless of whether their language was Greek, Slav, Albanian, or Vlach. Similarly, the “Bulgars” comprised all those that attended Bulgarian churches and schools, and the same held for the “Serbs”.

It is apparent that so far as national allegiance was concerned, these figures are of little use. In practce they obscured the issue because each party jugled the figures to support its case. The Greeks, for example, claimed all those listed uner “Rum Millet”, but this was strenously contested by other Balkan peoples, who argued that an Albanian, Slav or Vlach did not necessarily become Greek simply because he attended a particular school or church.

Only a few general conclusions can be drawn from the available evidence. Those inhabitants ofo Macedonia that lived close to teh Greek, Bulgarian, and Serbian frontiers could be classified ads being mostly Greek, Bulgarian, and Serbian respetivelly.

The remainder of the population, with the exception of few distinct minorities as Turks, Vlachs, Jews, and Albainians may be considered as being distinctly Macedonian. These Macedonians had a dialect and certain cultural characteristics which justify their being classified as a distinct South Slav group. ……..”

(L.S. Stavrianos, “History of the Balkans Since 1453”, New York University Press, 2000, pg. 517-518)

Who are you kidding?!

August 8, 2007

After everything that the blind greek chauvinists were trying to lie the world about the name of Macedonia, creating lobby groups everywhere and were putting out their ridiculous propaganda, it is time for them to lean back, shut their mouths and start apologizing to the Macedonians!

I am going to show you greek geographical maps in their geographical atlases and history books when they refer to the Republic of Macedonia, simly as MACEDONIA(MAKEDONIA)…




Greek Evidence on the Authenticity of the Macedonians

August 7, 2007

The Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Greece had good diplomatic and neighborly relations in the past, although certain Greek people regarded the Macedonian state a thorn in their flesh and occasionally some extreme blabbermouth could be heard uttering epithets like the State of Skopje or the Skopje Cancer. However, ever since the Republic of Macedonia requested international recognition, Greece has been flooded with an unprecedented powerful campaign, in which, regretfully; science has also been involved. Scientists with a nationalistic inclination have been engaged and politicians with extreme nationalistic views have been competing in displaying their ‘unique’ patriotism and at the same time casting aspersions on the country which they have chosen to call Skopje or the Republic invented by the Comintern. There are even some who demand that guns should be turned towards and used against ‘the little state’ – as they mockingly call the Republic of Macedonia. Their aim is to prove that the name of Macedonia is an exclusive Greek property, that there has never existed a Macedonian nation, that the recognition of Macedonia will destabilize the Balkans, etc.
The purpose of this article, therefore, is to try and show the world community the absurdity of the Greek campaign against our country, bringing to light at least a fragment of the historical truth about Macedonia and the Macedonians, both those living in the Republic of Macedonia and those in Greece.
As a start let us look at the name of Macedonia. Modern Greece constantly turns to ancient Greek mythology to justify their theory. According to one source, the land was named Macedonia after Macedon, the son of Zeus and Thia; a second version claims that the name was derived from Macedon, one of the ten sons of the god Aeolus; a third version says that Macedon was the son of someone called Likaon, and according to a fourth one, Macedon was the son of the Egyptian god Osiris. Which of these four versions can we trust? Ulrich Wilken, a German historian, states that the Greek adherence to old myths is an attempt to justify their present views, i.e. lacking proofs of the Greek thesis, they resort to mythology, legends and tradition.
Furthermore, since the Greek people do not really believe in the mythical origin of the name of Macedonia, a new explanation is being forced; namely that the root of the name, mak- is of Doric origin and means ‘long’ or ‘tall’ and its derivatives, Makednos or Makedanos, mean ‘tall people’. These interpretation have been attributed to Herodotus, the Father of History, as Greek scholars cal him. The aim here is to link the Macedonian with the Dorian people, the latter being claimed to be one of the Macedonian tribes. However, when it comes to proving the Doric origin of the Macedonians, or vice versa, Herodotus has no arguments to offer and therefore turns to traditions. This view is also supported by Prof D. Pantermalis, an archeologist, who wrote the following in the Greek newspaper Neos kosmos of 14th November 1988, published in Melbourne, Australia: “We have mentioned earlier a tradition which claims the Dorians to have been descended from the Makedons or Makednos. Herodotus must have come by this information either through evidence he himself had collected in some of the Doric towns or through the story of an ancient epic by Aegimius…”
Furthermore, Prof. D. Pantermalis also gave an interview published in Neos kosmos of 28th February 1991. Asked why foreign scholars were reserved over the question, the archeologist answered: “There are certain matters which require further clarification, and unfortunately certain interpretations in the past well as today have been wrongly based on such unclarified matters. Thus, for example, ancient texts often speak about the Macedonians and the Greeks, as two separate nations and we ought to differentiate between them. I would also add a more recent example: we speak of the Greeks and the Cypriots.” Needless to say, this is only a superficial example, since, when we speak a Macedonian we do not mean a Greek from Macedonia, but one descended from Macedonia by origin and by nationality.
The Greek historian, D. Kanatsulis, disagrees with the interpretations given by Prof. Pantermalis. In his History of Macedonia until Constantine the Great published in Salonica in 1964, on page 67 D. Kanatsulis writes that the Dorian and the Macedonian were two different peoples, although both appear on territory of Macedonia at almost the same time. On page 12 of this publication we read: “On the descent of the Illyrians and some other peoples in the 12th and 11th centuries BC, the Dorians were forced to move further south and majority of them settled on the Pelloponnesos whereas the Macedonians stayed in Western Macedonia.”
D. Kanatsulis emphasizes that the Macedonians had a strong feeling of constituting a separate ethnic group not only during the time of the independent Macedonian state, but also during the Roman era. “The Macedonians,” he says, were primarily citizens of the state and only after that members of the municipality where they were born or where they lived. Thus, in the official documents in which all names were entered, the personal name was followed by the nationality – Macedonian, and then came the birthplace or the place of residence, for example: a Macedonian from Aegea, a Macedonian from Edessa, etc.” (page 82).
Similarly ancient Macedonian historians and writers, though writing in the common language (a blend of ancient Greek and the local Macedonian when signing their names always added that they were Macedonian language); as, for example: Chrisogonis from Edessa, a Macedonian; Adaios the Macedonian; Antipatris the Macedonian. (Prof Photis Petsas: A Journey in Northern Greece, Elinikos voras, February 1976). Not one of them wrote that he was a Hellene.
Now, back to the name of Macedonia. Looking at Ilios, a Greek encyclopedia periodical, on page 801 we find the chapter entitled ‘The History of Macedonia’. Its third Paragraph begins with the words: “The Macedonians or Macedons inhabited this territory and called it Macedonia…,” which confirms that before the arrival of the Macedonians the territory had had other names (Imatia, Aeordea, Almopia and perhaps others) and that the Macedonian newcomers named it Macedonia. Another archeologist, Prof Photis Petsas, gives even a more detailed account: “Macedonia was so named after the Macedonian People in the year 700 BC, who used to inhabit the territory to the west of the Vermion Mountain…What interests us today;” says Prof Petsas, “is that the Macedonians gave their own name to the land, calling it Macedonia, and expanded it in the south to Mount Olympus, in the west to the Pindus Mountain, in the east to the river Nestos (the Mesta) and to the Erigon in the north.” (Prof Photis Petsas: Macedonia and the Macedonians…, Elinikos voras, 12th February 1978).
The ancient Greek man of letters, Isocrates, claims that there were no grounds for the identification of Ancient Macedonia with Ancient Greece, nor the Ancient Macedonians with the Ancient Greeks. In his book Filip (pp l07-108), Isocrates places Macedonia outside the boundaries of Greece and considers the Macedonians non~Greek tribesmen. Both ancient and contemporary geographers and historians, such as Eforos, Pseudoskilaks, Dionisios Kalifondas, Dikearhos, Athineos and others, state that the northern boundaries of Greece begin at the Amvrakis Bay in the west and go to the Peneos River in the east (Makedonia, an anthology, Athens, 1982, p.50). In this connection, the modern Greek scholar J. Kaleris writes: “In the middle of the 5th century BC, the name Macedonia was given to the land spreading from Lake Lychnida in the west, the Strymon River in the east and to the Erigon and Vardar Rivers in the north (The Language of the Macedonians, an anthology, Athens, 1992). According to historians and geographers mentioned above, the territories north of a line Amvrakis Bay to the River Peneos were inhabited by the Macedonian people (same Anthology, p. 122). The ancient geographer, Ptolemy, gives an even more precise description of the boundaries of Macedonia, saying that in the north they reached the Sar (Skardos) Mountains, in the north-east the Pirin (Orbilos) Mountains and in the south the Peneos River.
If these are the recognized boundaries of Macedonia, how could the encompassed by the Mountains of Kajmakcalan, Kozuf, Belasica and Sar be denied the name Macedonia, even though, under the Treaty of Bucharest, a part of Macedonia was allotted to Greece? Referring to this problem, the Honorary President of the Communist Party of Greece, Harilaos Florianis, says in an interview: “Are we trying to say that 39% of the geographical territory of Macedonia is ‘Skopje’? Isn’t that, in fact, a section of the territory of Macedonia?” (Rizospastis, 2nd September, 1992).
Certain Greek scholars lacking a critical eye and disregarding historical arguments, consider the ancient Macedonians as Greeks and their language a Greek dialect. However, anyone looking at the facts with an open mind will realize that this is far from being true. Authentic evidence shows that the ancient Greeks regarded the Macedonian people as barbarians and Macedonia a barbaric land. This is also what the two coryphaei of Greek history, Thucydides and Demosthenes thought of ancient Macedonians. As a matter of fact, the ancient Greeks considered all non-Greek people barbarian and their land barbaric. Thus in his third Philippic, Demosthenes states: “… Ay, and you know this also, that the wrongs which the Greeks suffered from the Lacedaemonians or from us, they suffered at all events at the hands of true-born sons of Greece, and they might have been regarded as the acts of a legitimate son, born to great possessions, who should be guilty of some fault or error in the management of his estate: so far he would deserve blame and reproach, yet it could not be said that it was not one of the blood, not the lawful heir who was acting thus. But if some slave or superstitious bastard had wasted and squandered what he had no right to, heavens! How much more monstrous and exasperating all would have called it! Yet they have no such qualms about Philip and his present conduct, though he is not only no Greek, nor related to the Greeks, but not even a barbarian from any place that can be named with honor, but a pestilent knave from Macedonia, whence it was never yet possible to buy a decent slave …” (Demosthene Crationes, IX, p.26, and Istorija diplomatije, vol.1, p.49).
Further evidence that the Macedonians were not Hellenes can be of the Manifesto of Polyperchon, regent to the Macedonian throne and envoy to the Greek city-states in the year 319 BC, where we read: “Our ancestors [meaning the Macedonians – author’s note) were always kind to the Hellenes and intend to continue their good ways and give proof of our goodwill towards the Greek people.” (Istorija diplomatije, p. 53, reference taken from Diodorus Siculus Bibliotheka historika, XVIII, p. 55).
The modern Greek scholar, Karagatsis, makes his contribution to the clarification of the question whether the ancient Macedonians were Greek or not. The master work of this respected author, History of the Greek People, 1952, raised a great commotion in the camp of the nationalistically oriented intellec-tuals of Greece. Karagatsis, however, disregarded the burden of tradition and mythology and claimed that reality was different (p. 314). “It is the King of the Macedonians,” he says, “that is the hegemon of the Greeks. The Congress is summoned by the hegemon, but is never chaired by him, because the hegemon is not Greek.” (p. 340).
Many circles in Greece turned against Karagatsis. Thus Stefanos Hrisos, a critic, states the following in his article in the Salonica newspaper Makedonia: “I believe that it is a moral obligation of every Greek, particularly those in Northern Greece, to raise his voice and demand that this book by Karagatsis should not leave the boundaries of Greece or be translated into other languages, and, if possible, be withdrawn from the shops. We might have expected such bad language from our neighbors but never from a Greek writer…”
Last year, during the heavy Greek-wide campaign against the international recognition of the Republic of Macedonia, a collection entitled The Language of the Macedonians was published, which comprised contributions by distinguished university professors, the purpose of which was to boost the Greek thesis that the ancient Macedonians were Greek people and spoke the Greek language. However, even in such a publication one finds concessions that the Macedonians in fact spoke a language different from the Greek.
Ana Panaiotou, for example, in the article ‘The Language of Captions in Macedonia’, says that “the Macedonians communicated among themselves in the Koine (common) language; the use of the Macedonian dialect was shrinking and became limited to conversations within a family or within small tribal circles. The last extant records on the Macedonian dialect,” Panaiotou continues, “date from the first century BC” This author also informs us that the oldest facts on the Macedonian language date from the fifth century BC With the arrival of Alexander the Great that language stopped being the means of communication. “People used this language,” Panaiotou says, “at moments of anger or great excitement and when only Macedonians were present” (p. 187). To support her statement, Ana Panaiotou turns to Plutarch, who claims that while killing Cleitus, at a moment of great distress, Alexander the Great “cried out in the Macedonian language” (Plutarch, Vii parallili, chapter ‘Alexander the Great’ – eighth installment in the periodical Ilios, 20th March 1954).
Ana Panaiotou also draws attention to the example of Eumenes, an officer in Alexander’s army. He himself was not Macedonian, but once, after an illness, when walking among his Macedonian soldiers, he greeted them in the Macedo-nian language. She also mentions that Queen Cleopatra had lessons in Macedo-nian. In the same collected edition, Pro£ J. Kaleris says that “the Macedonian language was often used with the purpose of winning the trust of the Macedonian people.” In the periodical Mesiniaka, J. Kordatos, a historian and sociolog-ist, undeniably declares that the ancient Macedonians spoke a language different from Greek.
Blinded by their fanaticism, the Greek nationalists categorically deny the Macedonians of today the right to bear that name; instead, they suggest names like Dardanians, Sclavins and the like. when the ancient Macedonian people arrived on the Balkan Peninsula, according to accepted sources, they retained their old name. This, however, was not the case with the modern Macedonians; when they settled in Macedonia in the 5th and 6th centuries AD, they still bore their tribal names – Sagudats, Rinhins, Smolyans, Brsyaks, etc. Gradually and spontaneously, these tribes took on the name of the region they had inhabited or, perhaps, of the people living there, who began to become assimilated with the newcomer Slavs, Pechenese, Kumans and others. Many Byzantine chronicle writers, such as Georgios Monahos, Leon the Dean, Ivan the Geometrician, Ana Comnena and Georgios Kedrinos mention the Macedo-nian Slavs. Even Emperor Constantine himself writes about the Macedonian people (Makedones); Leon the Dean refers to them as ta ton Makedonon; Nikiforos Vrionos speaks of one Vasilios Kurtina as the anir Makedon; Ana Comnena says that someone called Tornik is a Makedon, etc. (Stjepan Antoljak, Samoilovata drzava, Skopje, 1969, pp 78-80).
Despite the frequent conquests first by Byzantium, then by the Bulgar and the Serb Kingdoms and finally by the Ottoman Empire, the name Macedonian persisted in use. Thus the European traveler Bertrand de la Brokier wrote in 1432 that the Macedonian people were the predominant population of Macedo-nia, differentiating them from the Greeks, the Bulgars and the Serbs (Jordan Ivanov; Bqlgarite v Makedonia, Sofia 1917, pp. 109-110). Similarly, the Venetian marine officer, Angiolello, who traveled via Macedonia on his way to Constan-tinople, regarded the Macedonians as different from the Greek people. In his diary Angiolello wrote: “On 14th August, the Great Master dropped anchor off the coast of Mount Athos, a mountain on which there are many monasteries and Christian monks, some of them Greek, others Macedonian or Vlach.” He, then, goes on to say: “Both Greek and Macedonian people live there…” (K Merdzhios, Mnimia makedonikis istorias). Furthermore, the Regulations and the Constitution of the Razlog and the Kresna Uprisings in 1876 and 1878, as well as the documents of the interim government of Macedonia of 1880, clearly define the nationality of the Macedonian people. Terms like Macedonian Uprising, Macedonian army, Macedonian people leave no doubt as to the national denomi-nation of the Macedonian people.
Greece manifested territorial aspirations towards Macedonia soon after it became an independent state. Various societies, such as the Association for the Promotion of Greek Literacy and, later, the armed gangs operating in Macedonia and fighting the so-called Macedonian war, had a sole purpose of converting the Macedonian population into Greek and if reeducation did not produce the expected results, they resorted to using arms. In this connection, Joannis Kordatos has written the following: “Bulgaria and Greece, as well as Serbia, sent soldiers to Macedonia in order to change the national affinity of the local population…”
“A large percentage of the farmers in Macedonia,” Kordatos continues, “spoke a Slavonic dialect, using a lot of Greek and Turkish words; however, the essence of the dialect was Slavonic. The Slavo-Macedonian dialect was the dominant language in many areas in Macedonia. In a survey which Blunt, the British consul in Salonica, conducted in 1888 and printed in the following year in the English Blue Book, we find that the Greeks constituted the majority in the coastal belt, in Ber, Lagadin, Ser and Zihnen. But the inland areas of Macedonia were inhabited by Slavophones…”
“The wide masses of Macedonia,” says Kordatos, “were oppressed not only by the pashas, beys and agas, but also by the local rich people and the Greek high church officials. Therefore, the majority of the Slavophone Macedonians decided to rise against the Turkish tyranny and the injustice of the Metropolitans, and in an autonomous and independent Macedonia to build political and national equality…” (loannis Kordatos, Istoria tis neas Ellados, vol.5, Athens 1955, pp. 41A2).
Two other Greeks, whose patriotism cannot be doubted, give evidence of how widely this Slavonic dialect (as Kordatos calls the Macedonian language) was spoken.
The highly respectable periodical Makedonika, the publication of the Society of Macedonian Studies in Salonica, in volume 3 of 1976, pp. 114-145, carries the report of Dimitrios Soros, chief Greek school inspector in the Salonica area in 1906, which contains the names of the villages in this area where Macedonian was the predominant language. Outside the walls of Salonica the population speaks a Slavo-Macedonian language, the ‘so-called Bulgarian dia-lect’.” Using the term ‘so-called Bulgarian dialect’, the inspector undoubtedly points out that this language is distinct from Bulgarian, though people accepted the term without giving its meaning a second thought.
In his longer article ‘The Epopee from 1912 to 1913’, the Greek academician Spiros Melas expresses his astonishment that the Macedonian population did not extend a welcome to the Greek army when it marched through Macedonia, pretending to be ‘the liberator’ during the Balkan Wars. The ‘poor’ people had anticipated the kind of liberty planned for them. This is how S. Melas describes the reception the army met with: “Occasionally, all of a sudden a village woman would step out and start swearing in her own difficult Macedonian language…”
“Then,” Melas goes on, “our soldiers would surround her and offering her money would demand bread, wine, brandy or oil. But what we invariably got in return was a stereotype word like the one the first Slavophone villager, his head bent down, whom we had met outside the village of Negus, had addressed to us. All the way to the outskirts of Salonica and further on, to the town of Lerin, wherever we went we heard the same melancholic answer to all our demands: No, we don’t have any!” (Spiros Melas, ‘The Epopee from 1912 to 1913’, published in installments in the newspaper Acropolis in 1952).
Similar descriptions can be found in the book The War between Greece and Turkey and the Macedonian Expedition by Stratos Ktenaveas. On pages 145-148 we read: “The farmers from around Salonica locked up their doors. Holding their money in their hands, the soldiers kept asking for bread, salt, flour and onions. ‘No’ was the answer. It sounded like a slogan – ‘No, there’s nothing here’.”
“In vain,” continues Ktenaveas, “did the soldiers of all branches visit the houses all day long; all doors were locked up and the women answered from behind them: ‘We don’t have anything’!”
These poor farmers still remembered the atrocities the Greek armed gangs (the andarti) had committed in Zelenic, Lerin, Zagoricani and Kostur, atrocities which made even the infamous Turkish police force shiver.
Speaking about the composition of the population in the Aegean part of Macedonia prior to its Greek annexation, the Greek expert economist A. Aegidis states: “At the time when Greek sovereignty was established over Macedonia, it was estimated that 57,4% of its population were ‘foreign elements’ and that the Greeks constituted 42.6% of the inhabitants, which is probably exaggerated because in the survey of 1912, for obvious reasons, many inhabitants of Macedonia were entered as Greeks, even though they did not hold themselves as such… It should not be forgotten,” Aegidis continues, “that the minority that ‘weighed the heaviest on the ethnologic scales of Macedonia’ was the Slavophone population.” (A. Aegidis, I Ellas horis prosfIges, Athens 1930, pp. 168-169).
At the Balkan conference in Athens in 1928, in the presence of repre-sentatives from all the Balkan countries, the Greek Prime Minister, Fleutherios Venizelos, was asked by a Bulgarian journalist about the situation of the Slavonic minority in Greece. His answer sounded like mockery: “If that population demands schools in their own language, I’ll be the first in Greece to see to it that they get them.” Similarly, when asked about the rights of the Macedonian minority in Greece, Andreadis, the Greek delegate in the League of Nations, answered: “The Slavonic minority in Greece will be given all rights the moment they ask for them.” How insincere the Prime Minister and the Greek diplomat were can be seen in the case of the Abecedar (Primer).
Pressed by the League of Nations and obliged by the Sevres Treaty of 1920, the Greek government allowed the publication of a Primer for the Macedonian children in Greece. The Primer was reviewed by Nikolaos Zarifis, a Greek Balkanologist, as follows: “Here is a primer for the Slavophones, which has been carefully and conscientiously written by the specialists Papazahariou, Sayaktsis and Lazarou. Despite the difficulties encountered during its preparation, this useful manual has a considerable scientific value… What we have before us,” N. Zarifis says, “is a primer entitled Abecedar, meant for use in the schools that are to be opened in Greek Macedonia and Western Thrace for the needs of the Slavophone population. This primer will be used to teach the children of the Slavophones in Greece. It was written in the Macedonian dialect [underlined by the author] and printed in the Latin alphabet,” (Article by Nikolaos Zarifis in the newspaper Elleutheron vima, of 19th October 1925).
Immediately after its publication, the primer was sent to the western part of Aegean Macedonia. However, it never got into the hands of the people it had been intended for. And it was the police units of F. Venizelos and no one else that saw to that. In the period between the two Wars, the Greek governments implemented a double policy towards the Macedonian people in Greece. On the one hand, pressed by the League of Nations, Greece showed a readiness to recognize the minority rights of the Macedonians, and on the other, through terror and psychological pressure on the Macedonian people, they intended to force them to emigrate from the country. The bloody event in the village of Trlis near Ser in 1929, which was also investigated by the Carnegie Commission, was not an isolated case of terror. In addition, constant attempts were made to assimilate and denationalize the Macedonian population. Leaders in this cam-paign were the newspapers Eleutheros logos (see the issue of 2nd January 1927), Emborikj (see the issue of 25th December 1928), Makedonia and Akropolis. The Parliament also frequently pronounced themselves in favor of psychological and linguistic assimilation of the Macedonian people.
Vasilios Vizas, People’s Deputy from Kozani, wrote the following in the newspaper Eparhiaki foni published in Kajlari on 16th November 1930:
“It has been 18 years since the liberation of Macedonia. In this period we have had many governmens from various parties, but we have not seen a systematic state policy with respect to the national question, so extremely important for the Psychological and linguistic assimilation of those who speak a foreign dialect, particularly the Slavophone inhabitants of Macedonia… In the ‘foreign language’ areas nothing has really changed with respect to the language since the liberation of Macedonia. These areas have remained faithful to their dialect and to customs alien to the Greek. I even dare say that the people of certain Macedonian areas have reinforced their earlier national feeling instead of losing it…”
What Deputy Vasilios Vizas demanded of the Parliament was put into practice by the dictator Ioannis Metaxas, Greek Prime Minister from 1936 to 1941, in whose period about 6,000 Macedonians, together with the communists, were fined, harassed or sent to the islands simply because they spoke the Macedonian language. This genocide of the Macedonian people in Greece was condemned even by some right-wingers, such as Sotirios Kodzhamanis, General D. Zafiropoulos and the journalist Polis Ioannidis. On one occasion, S. Kodzhamanis wrote: “Swearing at old men and women in the street or dragging them through police stations solely because they do not speak Greek can be done only in an unjust regime, which transfers the responsibility for the current situation from the history and the state to innocent individuals.” (Sotirios Kodzhamanis, National questions, Salonica 1954, p.40).
In his longer article The Mystery of Goche, Polis Ioannidis wrote: “These people are stricken by poverty and they have been spurned since the moment they were born…
In the period between the two Wars the only hope the Macedonian people in Greece had for the preservation of their national identity and for the realization of their basic national rights as a minority came from the Greek Communist Party. Between 1924 and 1935, the latter supported the idea of self-determination of the Macedonian people in Greece as well as for the independence and unity of Macedonia and Thrace, which later changed into a demand for “national equality for the minorities within the Greek state”.
Speaking in favor of the demands of the Macedonian people in Greece, the leader of the parliamentary group of the Communist Party, Stelios Sklavenas, declared at the Parliamentary sitting of 25th April 1936: “Another problem which the Government keeps ignoring in its declarations is the question of giving the minorities in Greece rights equal to those of the native Greek population. This refers in the first place to the Macedonian people. Anyone who has traveled through Macedonia must have felt the specific pressure exerted on the Macedo-nians. They have been strictly forbidden to have their own schools, speak their own language or practice their own customs. As a result, the people are getting organized and ready to fight for their rights, in which we can’t but support them. The winning countries in the Great War and the League of Nations sanctioned the right for the self-determination of oppressed nations. And we also grant this right to the Macedonian people…
General Metaxas established his dictatorship on 4th August 1936. One of the first things he did was to retaliate against deputy Stelios Sklavenas for his speech in Parliament in support of the Macedonian cause, by sending him to the dungeons of Manyadakis, chief of the Security police, where he was virtually subjected to inquisition.
As a conclusion to what has so far been said about the Greek denial of the admission of the Republic of Macedonia into the international institutions, the Greek claim to the exclusive right to the name of Macedonia and their non-recognition of the Macedonian minority in Greece, we would like to draw the attention of the reader to the visionary ideas and words of the former leader of the Left Liberals in Greece, Ioannis Sofianopoulos. As early as 1927, when the Greek Parliament debated minority rights in the country; this man of virtue anticipated future events.
“By what means can we tame the spirits and eradicate the hatred?” he wonders and then adds: “There are three essential elements. a real protection of the minorities, which would forbid any forced emigration, education of the new generation in schools, and good traffic connections with all Balkancountries… Everybody should understand,” Sofianopoulos concludes, “that we cannot endlesslychange the family name suffixes -opoulos into -opovich, then into -opov, or in the reverse direction, and that the mind should be free and the will of the individual fully respected.” (Ioannis Sofianopoulos, Pos ida tin Valkaniki, Athens 1927, p.204).