Magazine: Australia &World Affairs, Winter, 1995


      By George Phillipov

      The Macedonian Question (MQ), which originated with the Treaty of
      Berlin [sup 1] in 1878, challenges objective analysis because of the
      prejudices developed over time and now often accepted as fact. Political
      myths replace historic facts, and accordingly this 117 year saga lingers
      as an unresolved flash point for Balkan conflict.

      Today's public dispute between the Republic of Macedonia (RoM) and
      Greece is based on Greece's contention that RoM has plagiarized an
      integral part of Greek national history as a first step towards
      ultimately claiming a part of its territory. Greece argues that by using
      the name Macedonia, RoM seeks to transform its meaning from a
      to a nationalistic term and thereby deny Greece a significant part of
      its cultural identity and challenge its sovereignty over this territory.
      A source of constant provocation for Greeks is RoM's flag which features
      the Macedonian Sunburst, a 16 ray golden sun originally located in royal
      tombs unearthed at Vergina, Greece and dating back to the 4th century

      Overlaying these quarrels is the status and rights of a Macedonian
      national minority within Greece's northern provinces. Greece denies that
      any such nationality exists within its borders today.[sup 2] The
      intensity of the nationalistic fervour engendered, particularly amongst
      emigrant communities in Australia and Canada, has led not only to mass
      marches and protests but also to wanton acts of violence, including the
      fire-bombing of churches, clubs and residences.

      The Greek-Macedonian dispute is ground in the past, both recent and
      ancient, and is most readily understood in the context of its historic
      evolution. While the Greekness of Philip II of Macedon (382-336BC) and
      his son, Alexander the Great (356-323BC), is for some equivocal, they
      were certainly not Slavs, a race first noted in European history almost
      a millennium later.[sup 3] That the present day people of RoM are a
      Slavic race, unrelated to the ancient Macedonians is conceded even by
      RoM President, Kiro Gligorov.[sup 4] Moreover contemporary Macedonia is
      much larger geographically than the Ancient Macedonian state of 431BC,
      only a small part of which falls within RoM's borders.

      By the end of the eighteenth century the collapse of the Turkish Empire
      was well advanced and the national awakenings of Serbians, Romanians,
      Greeks and Bulgarians led to the establishment of their respective
      nation-states. However until the Congress of Berlin (13 June 1878)
      revised the terms of the Treaty Of San Stefano (3 March 1878), the
      Macedonian question did not exist, because it was merely part of the
      general Balkan question. The Treaty of San Stefano established the
      ethnographic boundaries of the Bulgarian state based on both the
      recognized diocese of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church[sup 5] and the
      consensus which had been previously minuted at the Constantinople
      Conference of Ambassadors[sup 6] (November 1876). If we review the
      numerous ethnic surveys conducted throughout the area prior to the
      Balkan Wars, the main groups identified were Bulgarian (52 per cent),
      Turkish (22 per cent), Greek (10 per cent), Albanian (6 per cent) and
      Vlach (3.5 per cent).[sup 7-9]

      Towards the end of the nineteenth century a group of Macedonians met in
      Salonika and formed a secret society whose goal was to attain autonomy
      for Macedonia. The society was officially named the Bulgarian-Macedonian
      -Adrianople Revolutionary. Organization. Their statutes restricted
      membership to Bulgarians, but later in 1902 they opened membership to
      all Macedonia's nationalities.[sup 10] Nevertheless the only non-Slavs
      who joined were mainly Vlachs. For their part the Greek and Muslim
      people opposed the revolutionaries and sided with the Turkish
      authorities. The operations of the Macedonian liberation movements
      climaxed with the 1903 insurrection, called the Linden Uprising, an
      extremely one-sided contest in which some 27,000 rebels faced 350,000
      Turkish troops.

      The Balkan Wars of 1912-1913 not only completely destroyed the
      Turkish Empire but also led to a lasting partition of Macedonia. The
      First Balkan War began on 18 October 1912 with Bulgaria, Serbia and
      Greece mobilizing 621,000, 468,000 and 210,000 troops respectively.
      Bulgarian forces, which included the 15,000 strong Macedonian-Adrianople
      regiment, quickly advanced through the Turkish lines and by November 15
      had reached the last defences of Constantinople. The Serbian army,
      together with the Bulgarian 7th Rila division, successfully campaigned
      in Macedonia against much smaller Turkish numbers. The Greek army
      assumed only a secondary role. During the First Balkan War the
      casualties suffered by Bulgaria and Serbia were 87,000 and 23,000
      respectively, while Greek figures were substantially less than the
      Serbians.[sup 7]

      As it became clear that the Balkan Alliance had defeated Turkey, both
      participants and observers were unwilling to honour treaties ratified
      before hostilities commenced. Romania demanded acquisition of Bulgarian
      territory in the Dobrudja region as compensation for her neutrality.
      Serbia wanted revision of the treaty signed with Bulgaria with respect
      to Macedonian lands. The Greeks, through Venizelos, told Bulgaria they
      would remain neutral in any future Serbian-Bulgarian conflict if they
      were granted Salonika and sufficient territory to link it to Greece
      proper. The Bulgarians refused to re-negotiate any signed treaty.[sup
      11] Therefore in January 1913 when the Bulgarian army was still battling
      the Turks, Serbia and Greece concluded a secret military alliance and
      came to a mutual accord with Romania and Turkey.
      Taking advantage of Bulgaria's continuing engagement with the Turkish
      army, the Serbians and Greeks fortified their positions in the captured
      territories and began cleansing them of Bulgarians. Responding to the
      Serbian and Greek actions, the Bulgarian army under General Savov
      attacked their emplacements on 29 June 1913. In the diplomatic furore
      that followed, the Bulgarian government accused Savov of acting without
      authority and ordered a cease fire. The Serbians however refused to
      abide by this armistice counter-attacking the Bulgarians during the
      confusion and inflicting heavy losses. After several weeks the
      Bulgarians had regained the initiative and were manoeuvring to cut-off
      Serbian forces in Macedonia, and had encircled the Greek army in the
      Kresna Valley.[sup 12,13]At this stage, when defeat of the Serbian-Greek
      alliance appeared likely, Romanian forces, with Russia's approval,
      crossed into Bulgaria and advanced unopposed towards Sofia; the Turks
      reneged on their international treaty signed in London and recaptured
      Adrianople. Bulgaria had no option but to capitulate.

      By the Treaty of Bucharest (10 August 1913) Bulgaria had to cede to
      Romania all of southern Dobrudja, a region of 290,000 individuals of
      whom just 2.2 per cent were Romanian; Macedonia was divided between
      Greece (50 per cent) and Serbia (40 per cent), and only a small part was
      allotted to Bulgaria (10 per cent). Of the 1 million Bulgarians in
      Macedonia, some 900,000 were now left in areas controlled by Serbia and
      Greece and all their 1375 Bulgarian schools, 1331 Bulgarian Orthodox
      Churches, 275 monasteries and 294 chapels were closed.[sup14]

      In World War I (WW1) Bulgaria insisted on renegotiation of the Treaty of
      Bucharest as a condition for her support of the Allies. Greece appeared
      willing but Serbia steadfastly refused. This later prompted Winston
      Churchill in 1915 to write "that she (Serbia) should cede, and if
      necessary be made to surrender, the uncontested zone in Macedonia to the
      Bulgarians, to whom it belonged by race, by history, by treaty."[sup 15]
      Ultimately Bulgaria, after being promised sovereignty to all of her lost
      Macedonian lands, joined the Central Powers. Although the Bulgarian
      armies promptly reoccupied the territory, in the aftermath of WW I she
      not only lost all these regions but even more of her native lands. In
      effect 16 per cent of the Bulgarian population now remained outside the
      borders of the 1919 Bulgarian state.

      At the end of WW1, in light of Woodrow Wilson's famous fourteen point
      plan (8 January 1918), specifically point eleven, Freedom, restoration
      and adjustment according to nationality for the Balkan States, the
      Macedonians were optimistic their political status would be resolved.
      Indeed at the peace conference the American, Italian and Japanese
      delegations, with the agreement of Bulgaria, tabled a proposal for an
      autonomous Macedonia as a League of Nations protectorate.[sup 16] France,
      a strong patron of Serbia, opposed the proposal and prevented its

      In addition to the Treaty of Neuilly signed with Greece on 27 November
      1919, Bulgaria also entered into a Convention for a voluntary exchange
      of population. Greece saw the Convention as a means to rid herself of
      the Bulgarian minority, while Bulgaria felt she had no option but to
      agree. Under Article 46 of the Treaty, and the Treaty of Sevres (10
      August 1920) for The Protection of Minorities Greece was bound to honour
      the right of self-identity for all her minorities.[sup 17] When by June
      1923 only 197 Greek families and 166 Bulgarian had agreed to emigrate,
      the Greek military forcibly deported several thousand Bulgarian families
      from Thrace and installed Greek refugees from Anatolia in their homes.

      This caused panic amongst the Bulgarians and thousands fled Greece for
      Bulgaria. On reaching Bulgaria they seized Greek homes and land, causing
      a reciprocal flood of refugees from Bulgaria to Greece. Before calm was
      restored some 50,000 Bulgarians and 25,000 Greeks had emigrated under
      the Convention. The League of Nations estimated that 102,000 Bulgarians
      and 53,000 Greeks were declared as emigrants, but that only a minute
      number of these were actually voluntary. [sup 17] The effect of the
      Convention was almost the total emigration of Greeks from Bulgaria,
      while in Greece, West Thrace was cleared of Bulgarians. But in western
      Macedonia a substantial Bulgarian population remained. In 1928 Greek
      statistics placed their number at 82,000, while Bulgaria claimed 300,
      000. It is generally accepted that both figures represent extremes.

      After the Greek army debacle in Asia Minor (1922), over one million
      Greeks fled Turkey and some 640,000 of these settled throughout the
      Macedonian region, while 348,000 Turks left Greek Macedonia.[sup 18]
      This placed even greater pressure on the indigenous Bulgarian population
      as the Greek refugees appropriated their land and livestock with
      impunity. The only choice the Bulgarians had was to accept the situation
      or leave. In July 1924 however, the League of Nations investigated an
      incident in Tarlis, where 27 Bulgarians were arrested and ten
      subsequently killed.[sup 14] Greece was found guilty of mistreating her
      minorities, in breech of undertakings given at Neuilly and Sevres. As a
      result, and under League of Nations auspices, Bulgarian and Greek
      delegates met at Geneva (29 September 1924) and signed two identical
      protocols for the protection of minorities in the two countries. Hence
      Greece now had formally recognized the presence of a Bulgarian minority
      entitled to cultural, linguistic and educational rights.

      Although Serbia had been compelled to sign the Minorities Treaties, she
      argued that the population in Vardar Macedonia, now renamed Southern
      Serbia, were Serbian not Bulgarian, and that the treaty was irrelevant.
      Accordingly the Greek action in signing the protocol with Bulgaria,
      seriously compromised her alliance with Serbia, who stated her position
      as follows:"the dogma that the Slav inhabitants of Macedonia are Serbs
      is the basis of our policy. We cannot possibly accept that north of the
      frontier the Slavs are Serbs while beyond that frontier these same
      people are Bulgarians."[sup 19] Under Serbian military threats and major
      divisions amongst Greek political parties, the Greek parliament met on 3
      February 1925 and refused to ratify the Geneva protocol. The League of
      Nations demanded an explanation but subsequently acquiesced in the Greek

      As part of the Geneva Protocol, the Greek government also embarked on a
      plan to declare the slav-speaking population, which it had just
      recognized as Bulgarian as Macedono-Slavs - a national minority entitled
      to schools in its own language. It printed a 40 page primer entitled
      ABECEDAR, written in Latin script (Bulgarians use the cyrillic alphabet),
      and compiled in the local Macedonian dialect.[sup 20] Greece claims the
      initiative failed due to Serbian and Bulgarian objections. Nevertheless
      a more realistic interpretation has been suggested: "The aim of the A.
      was clear: the Slavs in Greece were to forget their own traditions and
      develop a distinct, autonomist or Greek-Slav national consciousness. The
      selection of the dialect forms used north of the border suggests that
      the A. may have been aimed at the Macedonians in Yugoslavia as well. It
      was thus designed to counteract separatist sentiments in Greece and
      foster an irredentist movement in Yugoslavia."[sup 21] Possibly this
      explains the nature of Serbia's blunt warnings to Greece. It is ironic
      that only 20 years later in 1944, under the aegis of the Yugoslav
      Communist Party (YCP), the Macedonian literary language was issued by
      decree. Over time a strong Macedonian national consciousness developed
      which fostered elements of an irredentist movement in Greece and even

      Subsequently Greece redefined its Bulgarian minority as slavophones
      (Slav-speaking Greek citizens) and the minority question no longer
      existed. Later in the 1930s during the Metaxas dictatorship these
      slavophones were forbidden to speak their Slavic dialect, old people
      were forced to attend night classes to learn Greek, Bulgarian texts or
      literature were banned, names were changed, for example -opov to --
      opoulos (or-opovich in Yugoslavia), and deportations to the Greek island
      prisons became widespread.

Whatever problems Macedono -Bulgarians faced in Greece the situation
      them in the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (Yugoslavia) was far
      worse. The oppression and barbarity of the Serbian regime is graphically
      detailed by Frenchman, Henri Pozzi, in his recently reprinted 1935 text
      Black Hand over Europe.[sup 22] However the Serbians met fierce armed
      resistance from the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization
      , which had reformed under the leadership of Todor Alexandrov[sup 23]
      and operated out of Bulgaria proper.

      IMRO sought an autonomous Macedonian state, but as a minimum
      for the Macedono-Bulgarians rights equivalent to those granted the
      Serbians, Croats and Slovenes. Helped by a powerful emigrant lobby in
      America, IMRO was able to focus international media attention on the
      unsettled MQ, and highlight both the appalling situation within
      Yugoslavia and the League of Nations' unwillingness to intervene. It was
      later revealed that the League of Nations after 1925 had adopted a tacit
      policy to ignore all petitions concerning the MQ or associated human
      rights violations.[sup 17]

      Because IMRO had major support amongst the population,[sup 24] Serbia
      had to maintain a massive military presence in the region. Placed on the
      defensive by IMRO's success, Serbia began to agitate through diplomatic
      channels that either the Bulgarian government curtail IMRO's activities,
      or she would mount a military offensive into Bulgaria. In time this
      Serbian strategy was successful, as successive Bulgarian government
      actions, responding to international pressure, undermined IMRO's focus
      and military capability to send armed bands into Yugoslavia. Finally in
      1934 the Bulgarian government outlawed the organization. Because the
      Serbians took such brutal steps to suppress the national liberation
      movement the response amongst the Bulgarians was to establish the
      Macedonian Youth Secret Revolutionary Organization (MYSRO) in
      in cities throughout Vardar and Aegean Macedonia, as well as in Belgrade,
      Zagreb and Ljubljana.[sup 25] In a short time its influence had spread
      amongst all the student youth in the occupied regions. When the Serbians
      finally uncovered the existence of MYSRO in June 1927, they realized
      their assimilatory policies had failed and they unilaterally closed all
      schools in Vardar, depriving some one million people of any education
      opportunities. After the Skopje trials of MYSRO followers, the Bulgarian
      intelligentsia devolved the organizational structure even further.
      Having minimal success at exposing MYSRO leaders, the Serbians resorted
      to a policy of assassinating suspected members hundreds of MYSRO's
      outstanding emissaries were killed in this way. In Greece the government
      exiled scores of suspects to the Aegean Islands - most never returned.
      During the period 1919-1941 some 22,000 Bulgarians, half aged 18 to 30
      years, were either killed or declared missing in Vardar and Aegean

      The MQ is also intrinsically associated with the communist movement,
      especially after WWl[sup .26,27] The start of the 1920s saw the
      Comintern struggling to expand its class struggle into Europe. Therefore
      its attention turned to the Balkans where strong manifestations of
      social and national sentiments were held in rigid political states. The
      local communist parties however were not strong and a better prospect
      was to use the national liberation movements to precipitate a major
      incident leading to war or intervention by the Great Powers. The
      resulting social dislocation would allow tensions to be progressively
      shifted west towards Europe.

      A critical part of this intrigue was to 'hijack' IMRO and make it
      subservient to the Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP); however IMRO by its
      own charter was a nationalistic organization and a political. The plight
      of the Macedono-Bulgarians and the constant threat of rapprochement
      between the Yugoslavian and Bulgarian governments convinced some of
      IMRO hierarchy, in particular the IMRO external committee, that the MQ
      was best solved within the overall context of the Comintern's proposed
      Balkan Federation. Following a number of key incidents within Bulgaria,
      including the overthrow of the Stamboliiski Agrarian government and the
      crushing of the BCP 1923 September Uprising, Todor Alexandrov was
      assassinated, and IMRO's single-minded goal irreversibly
      compromised.[sup 28]

      The start of World War II saw significant changes for the Macedono -
      Bulgarians. After Yugoslavia and Greece were militarily defeated in 1941,
      all members of the national liberation organizations, irrespective of
      political or ideological persuasion returned to their birthplace, and
      under the leadership of the Bulgarian Action Committees the populace
      organised and established national rule. This national renaissance was
      most evident in Vardar Macedonia. Accordingly, when Tito directed
      Methodi Shatarov, leader of the Macedonian Communist Party (MCP), to
      resist the 'fascist' Bulgarian National Army (BNA), Shatarov refused and
      instead labelled Tito and the YCP as enemies of the Macedonian people.29
      Meanwhile the BNA, which predominantly comprised former Macedonian
      refugees, received a tumultuous welcome throughout the Vardar and

      Macedonians expelled during the Balkan Wars and WWI were allowed to
      return and resettle while churches and schools closed from 1913 were re-
      opened. However the population and returning refugees also sought
      retribution for past atrocities against their families[sup 7] and years
      of suffering and persecution. The Serbian, and in particular Greek,
      populations received harsh treatment and thousands were forced from
      their lands or worse. Consequently this period left an indelible mark on
      the memories of many Greeks.

      Tito saw the promotion of an unified Macedonia as a way to ensure the
      spread of communist influence and to provide a leading role for the YCP
      amongst the communist Balkan states. As the military fortunes of
      declined and Bulgaria was ready to switch allegiance to the Allies; the
      YCP began to exert pressure on the BCP and the Greek Communist Party
      (GCP) to accept separation and joining of their Macedonian regions to
      the now established People's Republic of Macedonia (PRM) within
      Yugoslavia. The BCP and GCP never accepted the concept as Tito
      however each found itself under different but severe pressures.[sup 30,
      31] The BCP was seeking potential territorial concessions (West Thrace)
      as well as Tito's support at the Peace Conference. The GCP found itself
      increasingly dependent on YCP's military and logistic backing during the
      Greek civil war.

After Bulgaria's capitulation and her agreement to withdraw all its
      forces from Greece, many BNA soldiers joined the Macedonian partisan
      forces to continue the fight for an united Macedonia. However the
      original liberators of Vardar Macedonia, the Bulgarian Action Committees,
      IMRO and individuals like Shatarov, as well as a large segment of the
      population, opposed the YCP concept of a Macedonian state. These
      were slowly but methodically eliminated during the late 1940s by a BCP-
      YCP coalition. After the break between Tito and Stalin in 1948 the YCP
      realized that a greater Macedonia was no longer possible and instead it
      began to consolidate its control of PRM.

      Tito's PRM fell far short of what many members of the Macedonian
      partisan movement ever imagined. The bureaucracy was controlled by
      Serbians, and pro-Serbian Macedonian leaders, such as Lazar Kolishevski,
      [sup 32] dictated policy conceived in Belgrade. Consequently during the
      late 1940s Macedonian partisan leaders and intellectuals who opposed the
      Serbian domination and the systematic uprooting of the Bulgarian culture
      and language were either killed or imprisoned.[sup 33] The Bulgarian
      language and literature were banned and, under the infamous Macedonian
      Honour Code, any parent who attempted to raise their children as
      Bulgarian was imprisoned for ten years.[sup 26] Since 1944 it has been
      estimated that 16,000 people have been killed in PRM for attempting to
      assert their ethnicity and more than 120,000 have been sent to
      concentration camps; some 700 trials have been held against pro-
      Bulgarian organizations with numerous, resulting executions.[34]

      In Greece, the nature of the civil war and the ultimate defeat of the
      GCP led to a large exodus of Macedonian refugees across the borders to
      PRM, Albania and Bulgaria. During 1948 an evacuation of children from
      the regions close to the Yugoslavia border commenced, and by 1949 it is
      estimated some 22,000 were resettied in various Eastern European
      countries.[35] Incidents like this caused great dislocation amongst
      Macedonian families.

      When Tito closed the border between Yugoslavia and Greece, many of the
      partisan fighters and their families were cut off from their only means
      of escape and thousands perished. As the GCP and their fellow Macedonian
      allies were mainly Stalinists, Tito's actions poisoned relations between
      PRM and the emigrant Aegean Macedonian communities for many years.
      situation was further exacerbated in 1952 when, as a show of good faith
      to the Greeks, Tito ordered the disbanding of the Aegean Macedonian
      Association in Skopje and closed their newspaper, Voice of the Aegeans;
      then followed the treaties of friendship and cooperation, and military
      alliance with Greece and Turkey in 1953.

      The YCP always managed PRM along classical Marxist-Leninist lines,
      seeking that final goal of cultural fusion. First, in 1946 a Macedonian
      literary language was issued by decree, in which a Serbian bias was
      introduced to satisfy long-term requirements for development of a
      monolinguistic (Serbian) society.[26,27,36] Second, a process of
      historic and cultural revisionism was conducted to provide the
      Macedonian nation with its appropriate foundations.[26,27] Third, a
      national church, the Macedonian Orthodox Church was formed in 1959[37]
      under the jurisdiction of the Serbian Orthodox Church and based on the
      Medieval Bulgarian Ohrid Archbishopric,[38] but now revised as
      Macedonian. This YCP policy ultimately nurtured future generations which
      had both a Macedonian national consciousness and loyalty to Yugoslavia.

      In the aftermath of the Tito-Stalin split, Bulgaria remained one of
      Russia's most faithful allies, so much so that relations between Sofia
      and Belgrade tended to reflect the prevailing mood in Moscow. Following
      Stalin's death the April 1956 Plenum saw the BCP re-adjust its 1944
      declaration on the existence of a Macedonian ethnicity. However the BCP
      did not reveal this decision until 1958, and a further decade elapsed
      before the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences was able to publish a position
      paper on the matter. The issue has subsequently led to vehement polemics
      between RoM and Bulgaria. These reached a crescendo after the 1979
      publication of BCP Politburo member Tsola Dragoycheva's memoirs on
      Bulgarian-Yugoslav relations in the 1940s.[39] Such exchanges have been
      exploited by the YCP to harden Macedonian national resolve and to
      engender a deep-seated resentment against everything Bulgarian.

      Another success of the YCP policy on the MQ has been its general
      acceptance by the emigrant Macedonians, particularly during the last 10
      to 20 years. This can be attributed to a single-factor, the Macedonian
      Orthodox Church. While a rancour always existed, and still does, between
      the Aegean Macedonian refugees and the more recent PRM emigrants,
      of the former had little choice but to accept the Macedonian Church and
      thus YCP-Macedonian policy if they wished to remain within their social
      group. The Church became linked irrevocably to national identity.

      The BCP's engrossment with Moscow and its total acquiescence to
      internationalism rather than protecting the rights of the Macedono-
      Bulgarians, destroyed any role it may have played amongst the
      Macedonians overseas. Unchallenged, the YCP was able to implement a
      propaganda campaign towards the global, emigrant, Macedonian
      the estimated cost of which has been placed at USS1.2 billion. This YCP
      program has had a distinct effect, and for many emigrant Macedonians and
      their descendants, Macedonian nationalism has become a classical belief
      system predicated on myth rather than any freely ascertainable facts.

      One barrier that thwarts reduction of present day Balkan tensions is the
      lack of democracy within RoM, allowing Gligorov's government a free hand
      to perpetuate past YCP expansionist policies relating to the issue of
      unique Macedonian minorities in Bulgaria and Greece. The realization of
      human rights for all individuals in a state, especially when they
      constitute a minority, should always be a priority. However the RoM-YCP
      paradigm seeks to categorize individuals independently of their own
      choice. For example in Bulgaria it is estimated that there live between
      one and half to two million Macedonian refugees and their descendants
      from Vardar and Aegean Macedonia. That is as many as in the whole of
      RoM. They have their own organizations, both cultural and political, and
      are steadfastly opposed to the YCP's notion of Macedonian nationality.
      In a recent census the number of Bulgarian citizens that declared
      themselves Macedonian nationals, in the heart of the Macedonian region,
      was less than 0.2 per The trauma and anger of the Macedonian
      Bulgarians at RoM efforts to once again impose the past oppressive Tito-
      Dimitrov policies has been poignantly captured in recent articles.[41]

Although Bulgaria was the first country to recognize RoM, this received
      an indifferent response from RoM, while the media questioned Bulgarian
      motives, insisting that Bulgaria had recognized RoM but had not
      explicitly recognized the Macedonian nation.[42] At the height of the
      Greek embargo against RoM, Bulgarian parliamentarians presented a
      proposal to RoM that the border between them be declared open, with no
      restrictions.[43] The RoM government immediately rejected this
      initiative, although open borders immediately resolve the question of
      human rights for minorities in the most appropriate manner - freedom of
      individual choice.

      The RoM human rights agenda is coordinated through the emigrant
      Macedonian communities,[44] where genuineanimosity exists towards
      and is induced towards Bulgaria.In most cases there are justifiable
      reasons why these people harbour such sentiments, and continual Greek
      harassment of the emigrant Macedonian communities during the last 40
      years is one example.[45] In spite of the ten or more years that these
      groups have been operating they have only had limited success in
      arousing popular movements in the countries concerned. It is disquieting
      that these same human right activists in Bulgaria and Greece
      consistently praise Gligorov's ministry and criticize the RoM opposition
      parties. More so than at any time in the past, the present Macedonian-
      Greek dispute has facilitated support for the human rights of
      Macedonians in Bulgaria and Greece.

      While pursuit of human rights is a worthy cause, in some instances it
      has the potential to also be exploited as a guise for underlying
      expansionist aims. It is also perplexing why international human rights
      groups continually focus on infractions concerning Macedonians in
      Bulgaria and Greece, but never raise the status of Bulgarians in RoM and
      Greece. No doubt the unwillingness of the Bulgaria government to pursue
      human rights for its nationals in Greece and RoM, because of political
      repercussions, is the main reason.[46] This in turn has led to acrid
      criticism by Bulgarian groups in RoM who claim Bulgarian foreign policy
      abandons its own people.[47]

      A major disappointment has been RoM adopting a system of constitutional
      nationalism which privileges the major ethnic group, rather than the
      individual citizens of the State.48 This is a particularly divisive
      issue for RoM's Albanian citizens who comprise some 25-40 per cent of
      the population and have a historic presence in the region, even longer
      than that of the Macedonians. But the PRM leaders have always supported
      the Serbian policy with respect to the Albanians, and that accord is
      still very evident today.[49]

      Finally, if we review the path Gligorov's political party has followed
      towards RoM independence, then commitment to that goal is
      questionable.[50] In 1991 Ljupcho Georgievski (VMRO-DPMNE political
      party) resigned as vice-president of RoM to protest the government's
      willingness to negotiate with Serbia to include RoM in a new Yugoslav
      polity. The independence referendum presented to RoM's citizens (8
      September 1991), Are you in favour of a sovereign and independent state
      with a right to enter into a future union of the sovereign states of
      Yugoslavia?, is an oxymoron. During the months prior to the crucial EC
      meeting on 15 January 1992 all Gligorov's efforts were directed at
      creating a new Yugoslav confederation, rather than lobbying for RoM's
      international recognition. In this same period Gligorov held clandestine
      meetings with Serbian President, Slobodan Milosevic, the nature of which
      he refused to explain to the RoM parliament. A recent article by
      Pettifer[51] clearly outlines the major irregularities with the
      elections and the strong pro-Serbian influence on the RoM government and
      bureaucracy. Such claims have been made numerous times by political
      parties and individuals within RoM and are in stark contrast to normal
      impressions that RoM is a democratic state. Even the benevolent George
      Soros, an ally of RoM who lent the government 25 million dollars, has
      discovered the difficulty in criticizing pro-Serbian policies within

      In conclusion, resolution of the MQ does not necessitate any changes in
      Balkan State borders, but rather the opening of those same borders
      within the region. Then we would surely see the final chapter of the
      Macedonian saga, and with it the just resolution of the accompanying
      economic, political and ethnic issues. But above all else this becomes
      an individual matter for the people who have actually chosen to live


      1. Marriott J.A.R., The Eastern Question: an Historic Study in European
      Diplomacy (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1940).

      2. Greece. Annual Report on Human Rights (Washington DC, US State

      3. Vana Z., The World of the Ancient Slavs (London, Orbis Publishing,

      4. For example: (a) Christopher Hitchens writes in Minority Report (The
      Nation, 1994, 18 April, 511) :- he (Gligorov) was booed at a rally when
      he admitted that his chiefly Slavic republic did not descend from
      Alexander the Great. (b) Marlise Simons states in Edgy Greeks Fear an
      Expansionist Macedonia (International Herald Tribune, 1992, 5 February,
      2) :- He (Gligorov) maintains that his people are descendants from Slavs
      who have been therefor 14 centuries.

      5. The Bulgarian Orthodox Church, was re-established on 11th March
      by a Firman (Royal Decree of the Sultan) authorized by the Sublime
      (Government of the Ottoman Empire).

      6. Anastasoff C., The Bulgarians: from their arrival in the Balkans to
      Modern Times (New York, Exposition Press, 1977).

      7. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Report of the
      International Commission: to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the
      Balkan Wars (Washington DC, Publication No. 4, 1914).

      8. Wilkinson H.R., Maps and Politics: a Review of the Ethnographic
      Cartography of Macedonia (Liverpool, University Press, 1951).

      9. Statistical data concerning the population of Macedonia? In The Case
      for an Autonomous Macedonia (St Louis, Pearlstone Printing Co, 1945),
      (C. Anastanoff (ed).

      10. Perry D.M., The Politics of Terror; The Macedonian Liberation
      Movements 1893-1903 (Duke University Press, Durham, 1988).

      11. Gueshoff I.E., The Balkan League (London, John Murray, 1915).

      12. Logio G.C., Bulgaria: Past and Present (Manchester, Sherratt and
      Hughes, 1936).

      13. Young G., Nationalism and War in the Far East (Oxford, Clarendon
      Press, 1915).

      14. Anastasoff C., The Tragic Peninsula (Blackwell Wielandy Co., St
      Louis, 1938).

      15. Churchill W.S., The Worm Crisis (New York, Charles Scribner Sons,

      16. Pantev A., U.S. Projects for Determining the Borders of Bulgaria
      1918-1919 (Ohio,MacGahan, 1993).

      17. Macartney C.A., National States and National Minorities (London,
      Oxford Univ Press, 1934).

      18. Pentzopoulos D., The Balkan Exchange of Minorities and Its Impact
      Upon Greece (Paris, Mouton &Co., 1962).

      19. Kofos E., Nationalism and Communism in Macedonia (Thessaloniki,
      Institute for Balkan Studies, 1964).

      20. Macedonian dialects have been traditionally classified as Bulgarian -
      see Prof. Gustav Weigand, Ethnographie von Makedonien (Ges chichtlich-
      nationaler, sprachlich-statistischer Teil von Leipzig, Friedrich
      Brandstetter, 1924).

      21. Hill P., Different codifications of a language in: Girke W. (ed),
      Slavistiche Linguistik (Munich, 1981, 48-63).

      22. Pozzi H., Black Hand over Europe (London, Francis Mott Co., 1935).

      23. MCA, Alexandrov, Todor (1882-1924) Encyclopaedia Britannica 1961

      24. In 1920 IMRO asked the Vardar Macedonianpeople to vote for the
      Communists as a protest against the Paris Treaty and at their
      classification as Serbs. The election verified IMRO's popular support.
      Although the Vardar population was only I million, compared to 15
      million for the whole of Yugoslavia, Vardar returned 17 of the 50
      elected Communists in a Parliament of 238 delegates. Thus the
      vote in Vardar was 5.1 times the national average, a fact reported by
      many foreign journalists.

      25. Gotsev D.G., Youth National-Liberation Organizations of the
      Macedonian Bulgarians (1919-1941) (Sofia, Bulgarian Academy of

      26. Palmer Jr. S.E., King R.R., Yugoslav Communism and the Macedonian
      Question (Hamden, The Shoe String Press, 1971).

      27. Connor W., The National Question in Marxist-Leninist Theory and
      Strategy (Princeton, Princeton University Press, 1986).

      28. Dobrinov D., IMRO and the 1923 Uprising, Macedonian Review 1991,
      (No.3), 61-9.

      29. Clissod S., Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union 1939-1973: a
      Survey (London, Oxford University Press, 1975).

      30. To promote a Balkan Federation, including a Macedonian state, the
      BCP agreed to accept the notion of Macedonian ethnicity. Subsequently
      the BCP conducted a census in 1946 in which residents in the Pirene
      region were ordered to declare their nationality as Macedonian and not
      Bulgarian; thousands who refused were imprisoned for up to five years.
      Later in 1956, because the policy had not been rescinded, the same
      compulsion was used (see ref 42).

      31. This culminated with the purported announcement on the communist
      radio station Free Greece (1 March 1949) of the declaration of an
      independent Macedonia.

      32. Lazar Kolishevski was born in Sveti Nikola but raised in Kragujevac,
      Serbia. In 1935 he joined the Serbian Communist Party and attended the
      Fifth Conference of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia as a delegate
      Kragujevac. When Tito sent him to replace Shatarov as head of the
      they had him gaoled by the BNA for the war's duration.

      33. Metodi Chendo, first chairman of PRM was sentenced in 1946 to 11
      years hard labour for being a member of IMRO and pro-Bulgarian. He died
      immediately after his release. Bogoja Fotev, Chendo's replacement, shot
      himself rather than assume his duties in Belgrade. Venko Markovski,
      proclaimed as Macedonia's leading poet, wrote a play describing
      Belgrade's hold on Macedonia as darker than Sofia's. He was accused of
      being pro-Bulgarian, expelled from the YCP, and spent 5 years in the
      Goli-Otok prison before fleeing to Bulgaria. Other prominent PRM figures,
      amongst many, to meet a similar fate include Andrejev, Chkatrov and

      34. Information contained in Memorandum of the Party for Human Rights
      Macedonia presented by Union of Macedonian Cultural and Educational
      Societies at Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe held at
      Geneva 1-19 July 1991 to discuss problems of national minorities.

      35. Macedonian Cultural Society, Diaspora: The Tragic Exodus of the
      Refugee Children from Aegean Macedonia, 1948 (Adelaide, Unity
      Publications, 1989).

      36. Clarke J.F., Macedonia from S.S. Cyril and Methodius to Horace Lunt
      and Blaze Koneski: Language and Nationality in The Pen and the Sword:
      Studies in Bulgarian History (NewYork, Columbia University Press, 1988),
      D.P. Hupchick (ed).

      37. Alexander S., Church and State in Yugoslavia since 1945 (Cambridge,
      Cambridge University Press, 1974).

      38. (a) St Clement (835-916) created and developed an education
      at Ohrid which allowed the rapid and universal acceptance of Byzantine
      Christian culture amongst the Slavs. In 907 he became the first
      Bulgarian-speaking bishop - et sic Bulgaricae linguae Clemens primus
      constituitur episcopus.

      (b) Kusseff M., St Clement of Ochrida, Slavonic East European Review
      1948, 27:193-215.

      39. S G, Moore P., The Macedonian polemic rides again: Tsola
      Dragoycheva's memoirs, RFE-RL 1979, No. 26 (31 Jan), 1-10.

41. See Professor TA Meininger's (American University, Bulgaria) paper
      The Macedonian Question in Blagoevgrad Today presented at the 5th joint
      meeting of Bulgarian and North American scholars (University of
      Pittsburgh, May 25-27, 1994); and Carol J Williams's lengthy article
      Bound by The Call of Blood, Los Angeles Times, 1994 2 February, 1.

      42. In response Bulgarian President Zheiev answered:- There is nothing
      odd about that. What you always recognize is the state. According to the
      international law, recognizing a state automatically means the
      recognized state has a self-declared sovereign people in it. It also
      means the state that is recognizing has no territorial aspirations
      towards the recognised country. There is just not a special declaration
      in the international law that states on recognizing or not a nation. A
      nation is either there or not.

      43. As reported in No Borders Between Bulgaria and Macedonia, BTA
      1994, 22 July.

      44. The two main groups are the Australian-Macedonian Human Rights
      Committee and the Canadian-Macedonian Human Rights Committee. J
      a Canadian financier with close links to the Gligorov ministry, was
      instrumental in establishing both organizations.

      45. In the post WWII era the Greek government kept emigrant
      communities under constant surveillance. Active members were denied re-
      entry to Greece as an example to others; those who still had family in
      Greece found they were subjected to government harassment. Greek
      community officials or consular staff would lobby against the approval
      of Macedonian communities as recognized entities within the Australian
      or Canadian ethnic framework.

      46. Greece is one of Bulgaria's largest investors - see Paris J., Greece
      strengthens links with Balkan neighbors, European ,1995 3-9 March, 23.

      47. Ilija Ilijevski, chairman for the Party for Human Rights in
      Macedonia in RoM, has been imprisoned and victimized. In Jan 1994 the
      party was banned by RoM authorities. On Bulgarian policy Ilijevski
      states - "There used to exist an unwritten treaty between Sofia and
      Skopje that there are no Bulgarians in Macedonia . . I do not think that
      this is either good or moral . . It means that the Bulgarians in
      Macedonia have a mother who is alive but does not look after them."

      48. Hayden R.M., Constitutional nationalism in the formerly Yugoslav
      republics, Slavic Review 1992, 51,654-73.

      49. Summarized for the Yugoslav era by Branka Magas in The Destruction
      of Yugoslavia (London, Verso, 1993). Albanians recent attempts to
      establish tertiary education facilities have been prevented by use of
      police force. RoM would not support UN Resolution L58 (49th session of
      the General Assembly) which accused Serbia of abusing Human Rights in

      50. Kiro Gligorov, born 1917, a Law graduate of Belgrade Univ, joined
      the League of Communists of Yugoslavia in 1944. From 1945 to 1962 he
      senior positions in the Yugoslavian government, became a Federal
      Executive Council member, then vice-president, and from 1974-8 .National
      Assembly president and professor at Belgrade Univ.

      51. Pettiler J., Macedonia: still the apple of discord, The World Today
      1995, 51, 55-8.

      52. The government controlled daily newspaper Nova Makedonija (19 May
      1995) published a stinging criticism of Soros after he questioned RoM's
      lack of progress towards democracy and the inept handling of the
      Albanian and Greek disputes.

      By George Phillipov

      George Phillipov MSc. PhD. is a researcher scientist whose parents
      emigrated from the Macedonian region in the 1950s and who has been
      actively researching Macedonian issues for more than fifteen years.

      Australia & World Affairs, Winter95 Issue 25, p39, 15p.
      Item Number: 9509100859