By Alexander Stoinis
It is interesting that in 1988 when it became certain that a new Macedonian State was about to be declared, from the collapse of the Yugoslav Federation, the name “Macedonia” became very popular in Greece.
Greece failed in its attempts to extinguish the name of Macedonia for seventy-six years, the Greek State reversed its policy and made ‘Macedonia’ a very popular word in the Greek vocabulary. It even renamed its northern province (Greek occupied Macedonia) to Macedonia, claiming for historical reasons that it was the only authentic Macedonia which belonged to Greece.
Also after all the years of claiming that only Greeks lived in Macedonia, Greek authorities almost overnight “invented” a new ethnicity called “Greek Macedonians”. This new ethnicity, it appears, is Macedonian but of Greek origin, descendants from the ancient Macedonians and rightful heirs to the Macedonian heritage.
The present-day population of Greek occupied Macedonia is roughly 2 million people. Approximately 1 million are of direct Macedonian descent. After nearly a century of systematic effort to assimilate the Macedonians, many have succumbed and developed a Greek consciousness and refer to themselves as Greeks or “Greek Macedonians”. But this only happened after the Republic of Macedonia became an independent state.
The Greek state has always depicted the Greek identity as being more cultured and superior. The Macedonian identity has always been portrayed as an uncivilised, barbaric and having a dirty presence within Greek society.
The psychological aim was to make people abandon their use of the Macedonian language. It has gotten to the point where one is looked down upon for speaking Macedonian and therefore language is referred to as the “local idiom.”
It is interesting to note that the Macedonian language is recognised internationally but it is forbidden in Greece. After three generations of policies of forced assimilation by the Greek state, the Macedonian consciousness among the population has been badly damaged to the point where those who retain their Macedonian consciousness fear to declare it openly.
This fear is difficult to comprehend by those who grew up in free and open societies. You have to experience it to understand it. Among the older generation of Macedonians, the fear is pervasive and ingrained. It is as if the person is always on guard for his actions and words for fear that he will be betrayed or heard by Greek authorities.
When one Macedonian was pressed further on this issue he blurted out in exasperation, “It (fear) has gotten become imbedded in the genes!” The other 1 million of the 2 million people, who live in Greek occupied Macedonia, are non-Greek colonists and settlers who were brought to Greek occupied Macedonia over the years, predominantly from Asia Minor, as late as the 1920’s.
In fact, according to the same Greeks who yesterday were yelling and screaming that “there is no such thing as a Macedonian”, a sentence that has been yelled in my face many times, are now claiming that there are Macedonians. They were saying that Asia Minor Christian Turk colonists are the “real” Macedonians and we, the rightful heirs to the Macedonian heritage, are “Slavs”, “Skopjans”, “Bulgarians”, “Old Bulgarians” and many other derogatory words that they discovered in their vocabulary.
The Greeks need to be reminded how Macedonia and Macedonians were forced to become Greek. Below are 5 Key points that contributed to the Greek nation-building policies in Greek occupied Macedonia.
- It is a well-documented fact that Greece, in 1912, 1913 during the two Balkan wars, entered and forcibly occupied Macedonian territory illegally without the consent of the Macedonian people. It then, along with its partners Bulgaria and Serbia, went on a rampage bombing Macedonian villages and indiscriminately killing and murdering entire populations (first genocide).
- It is a well-documented fact that as soon as Greece consolidated its hold on Greek Occupied Macedonia, it murdered or forcibly exiled all Macedonians who refused to accept its conditions (second genocide).
- It is a well-documented fact that after ethnically cleansing the Macedonian population, Greece brought Greek settlers from Asia Minor, Epirus and other regions and settled them on Macedonian territory, mostly on the lands of the exiled Macedonians, without their consent.
- It is a well-documented fact that during the early 1920’s Greece began a campaign of denationalization by banning the Macedonian language and making it illegal to speak Macedonian in Macedonia. It then proceeded to forcibly change all peoples’ names and toponyms.
- It is also a well-documented fact that during the Greek Civil War, Greece exiled a large part of the Macedonian population, including the refugee children, illegally expropriated properties and issued them to new settlers (third genocide).
The territory which Greece today calls “Greek Macedonia” is in fact “Greek Occupied Macedonia” and has been occupied since 1912.
The so-called “Greek Macedonians” are not really Macedonians at all, in fact, the majority of them are Christian Turks and other settlers and colonists who Greece has been depositing on Macedonian lands since the Balkan Wars (1912, 1913).
During 1989 to 1993 the Greek Foreign Ministry, headed by Andonis Samaras, used a secret fund to pay Greek journalists $130 million dollars (US) to promote the “Greek-ness” of Macedonia!
Although these funds were originally intended for external promotion, according to the testimony of former Prime Minister Constantinos Mitsotakis, they ended up in the pockets of Greek journalists.
For those who are interested in modern Balkan history, here is a video you can view on Youtube in relation to the ‘Creation of Modern Greece’. Don’t be fooled by propaganda, paid for the Greek Government, look for the facts… they do exist. VIEW IT HERE
Alexander Stoinis is a regular writer for the World Macedonian Congress – Australia and other Human Rights Watch Organisations.