Macedonia, Greece: FYROM

Edward Lucas shares his piece on Greece's problems with a neighboring country also known as FYROM.


  • Damov


    What geographical region are you talking about – the part of Macedonia that falls under Greece only?

    If you were correct, then how can Greece refer to its part as Macedonia since it doesn’t occupy the full region of Macedonia?

    There are Macedonians in all parts of the geographical region of Macedonia with different ethnic backgrounds, Macedonians, Greek, Bulgarian, Albanian, Turk etc. I don’t have anything against them calling themselves Macedonians as we have been allowed to call ourselves Americans, Australians etc in the western countries.

  • Vlatko

    As Macedonian from Republic of Macedonia, I would like to share my, and I belive overvelming view with the fellow Greek chatters:
    1) Myself and huge majority of people in Macedonia, like very much Greece and Greek people, culture, music, food, mentality…everything. There is not a single genuine distaste of the Greek heritage – if an incident happens in Skopje, it is mainly as a reaction of small group of dumbasses to some Greek provocation or insult. All what I/we want is to have a normal, cordial relation with Greece and not this hummiliation like we have it today: special visas, special extra long treatment at the border, constant provocation and monitoring when we are in Greece…

    2) I/we have respect to Greek heritage and I/we understand Greek pride and feelings. I think that the goverment was extremely stupid to rename the airport , put the statues or display the old maps. It is a stupid move, and I really think that someone in the goverment is working for the Russians and is doing everything that he/she can to undermine the Macedonian NATO candidacy .

    BUT, people, the truth is very simple – the regio has been called Macedonia forever, not just during the alexander period, but also in the Roman, Bysanine, Ottoman…etc. The Slavic tribes came there in the 7th century, they mixed with the local population. Since the region was called Macedonia, they started to call themselves Macedonians. Their Slavic dialect was different from the Eastern (Bulgarian) or Norther (Serbian) slavic dialects and they started to call their language: Macedonian. With this , there is nothing against the Greek identity or heritage.

    3) We do not ask for an exlusive copyright of the Ancient Macedonian heritage. It is Greece who is insisting into this, and it is extremelly difficult to the rest of the world to understand the Greek view. It is as if Italy asks for an exlusive copyright to the Roman legacy, or Israel to ask for the exclusive rights for the Christianity.

    How to get forward? Does the Greek people really expect form MAcedonians to remane their culture, language, coutry, identity…overnight?

  • Paul

    Vlatko is more moderate and sensible then the other post by Makedonec for instance, but I do not think he has the whole picture.

    What he is missing is this…Greece accepted a name of “upper macedonia” for their country.
    Skopje rejeceted.

    Vlatko-the ancient macedonians spread greek language and culture not a slavic or some other langauge and culture with their what then gives you the exclusive right based on being slavs to the name macedonia or macedonian? Why not Slav-Macedonians..why is this objectionable? You are Slavs, genetically, linguistically and otherwise.???

  • Filip

    Paul, you are referring to the posts written by Macedonians only without commenting on the Greeks’ posts.

    There is a greater number of Greeks who are making false statements and you are one of them!

    Greece has never accepted a name of “Upper Macedonia” – they have always rejected the inclusion of Macedonia. They are currently at talks about the name with Nimetz. Greece changed Northern Greece to “Macedonia”. Now would they go further and change it to “Lower Macedonia”? I wouldn’t think so as there would be a huge uproar by the Greeks. (Greece also has the upper hand when it comes to NATO, EU & US).

    The ancient Macedonians were and never became Greek, so what gives the Greeks more rights to call themselves Macedonians than the Slavs who migrated to Macedonia.
    It has been proven genetically that today’s Greeks originate from North Africa and migrated to Greece/Macedonia later on. Why not call yourselves African Macedonians?

  • Anonymous Hellene

    Filip – Your “contribution” is lacking in substance, is incoherent, and downright insulting that it does not deserve any further attention… I would normally tell you where to go, but I best stop my commentary here!


    Thank you for your moderate stance and for distancing yourself from other views which frankly do not deserve the time of day!

    Like Paul, I will have to agree that Greece is demonstrating its willingness to reach a mutually acceptable settlement over the issue, nevertheless the government in Skopje is being intransigent.

    Of course, as Paul mentions, the name and historical legacy of Macedonia is inextricably linked with the Ancient Greeks. The Slavic people one the other hand, are known to have come to the region eons later.

    I think any arguments to the contrary are futile and do not deserve any serious attention!

    Vlatko, as for Greeks’ expectations of your people to change “their” name overnight… My response is that the term “Macedonian” was applied to them overnight also! There is no sound argument to be made here in terms of what is done is done and let’s move ahead with it… Says who? If there is a historical/cultural injustice it ought to be rectified at once!

    Personally, I could not bring it upon myself to lay claim to an identity that I truly know does not represent me… How is it that you feel comfortable for your country and people to be referred to as simply Macedonia/Macedonians when you know you have no connection to this legacy? Is there shame in laying claim to a true southern Balkan Slavic identity? (I think not!)

    Likewise, I appreciate your good natured manner and we can both agree that we are people from both sides of the fence with a common historical and cultural experience that stems centuries (as distinct from eons reference above). This implies that there are a lot of benefits to be had both at present and into the future.

    A prerequisite for a strong and enduring relationship is mutual respect and good neighbourly relations.

    There is a lot to be done here from the government in Skopje and time is surely running out!

    Best of luck

    Anonymous Hellene

  • Vlatko

    Thanks for your comments.

    In all these 20 years of our dispute, I have been amazed by the fact that Greeks deeply beleive that we have been brainwashed by Tito and by some miracle the “Macedonia” chip has been somehow implanted in the brains of 2 million people.

    I’m honestly curious, how do the Greek interpret the name “Makedonia”? In Macedonian language it means: “Make”=mother + “Don”=home. Makedonia = “Mother Land”. What is the meaning of the word “Makedonia” in Greek?

    You guys are keep on skipping the fact that centuries have passed between Alexander and today. Civilizations came and dissapear in this region. The Slavs came there and they married and mixed with the natives. Their language mixed into a new language. Were the natives Greeks? If yes, then we are cousins. The new kings used the ancient symbols: The Alexander Star and the Lyon as the symbols of their kingdomes. Example: King Samouil, X century AD used the Star and the Lyon. Our association with the Star and the Lyon are more related to Samoil than to Alexander. Not only the Slavs used these symbols. The crussaders were putting the Star and the Lyon massively when they were passing through this region. Sir Richard the Lyon-heart has put the Alexander Lyon (Bukefal) on his armor. Later on, the Alexander symbols with some modifications ended up as national symbols of half of the European nations. Example: the Dutch and Belgian Lyons, The three lyons of England. There was another guy from a recent history who used a powerful Alexander symbol in hope that he will regain the Alexander’s glory – Adolf Hitler and the infamous Swastika. When you visit me in Macedonia, I will take to an ancient ruin from the Philip II the Macedonian era – the place is full with swastika’s.

    The population identified with the name Macedonia and adopted it. That is why I’m saying, an attempt to localize the Alexander’s legacy in the border or one state and one modern contemporary nation is ridiculous.

    You are so loud in your claims in the exclusivity and copyrights on the terms Macedonia and Macedonian, while there is a wide dispute about the topic was Ancient Macedonia Greek or not. I am not a professional historian. I have occasioanly read some pros and cons from worlds sources. But I have read the bible,and Apostle Paul qualifies the region as Acts 20v1-3 which is as follows……

    ” 1)When the uproar had ended, Paul sent for the disciples and, after encouraging them, said good-by and set out for Macedonia.
    2) He travelled through that area, speaking many words of encouragement to the people, and finally arrived in Greece,
    3) where he stayed three months. Because the Jews made a plot against him just as he was about to sail for Syria, he decided to go back through Macedonia.”

    Your recent ethnical and political connection to Macedonia is also shaky. According to the latest Ottoman census from 1905, the population in the Macedonia region was composed of 68% of “Kaurs” – Slavic Speaking Orthodox Christians. The remaining population was consisted of Greeks, Jews, Vlachs and Turks.
    Constitutionally, the Greek part of Macedonia has become part of Greece in 1913, and it was not even called Macedonia for quite some time after that. In the period between 1915 -1950, Greece made a massive Hellenization of this region, by changing all the names of the cities and ethnically cleansing almost all Slavic-Macedonians from that region. They were all shipped from the Salonika port to America, Australia, Argentina… during 1915-40, and to Yugoslavia, Russia and Ukraine in 1948-1950. Just check the US immigration registers from 1920s, more than 250 000 slavic macedonians came from Greek Macedonia ( born in Solun, Voden, Lerin, Kostur, Kukush – or what you called today Thessaloniki, florina, Odessa…) These people, as well as their new generations are even today not allowed to enter Greece and at least see the bith places of their grandfathers.

    In all these 20 years, the Greek side has done nothing else but brutal force and arrogance. We have seen from the Greek side nothing more than: blocades, embargos, threats, vetos, insults, negations, denials… Every single statement from a Greek official contains an insult and a threat to us. I personally, haven’t seen any genuine attempt from Greece to understaind why were call ourselves Macedonians and what does it means for us.

    I can tell to you, we have studied about Alexander not more than 2-3 classes in schools, and that was in the section “World Ancient History”. You have put Alexander in our mouth and many Macedonians started to chew it.

    Our side also reacted terrybly in this dispute. We took a position based on the good old Balkan, Donkey-like, stubborness. The more Greeks insult and threat, the more we dig in into the trench. At the end, our economy will go to hell, we will live in the mud, drink water from a river and eat shit and rocks, but we will not “surrender”. This is a suicidal Balkan mentality that has brought for example the Serbs where they are today, and actually us as well with this problem.

    I can tell you that many Macedonans are ready to have a compromise if they see that Greece finally stops with the insults and threats and shows some genuine acceptance of Macedonian nation,identity, culture and language. For example, today there are still around 40-50 000 slavic Macedonians living in Greece who are not even allowed to speak their language on the street or publicly state that they are from Slavic origin. Greece can simply recognize these people as ethnic minority. The name does not matter, Greece can call them upper or lower or slavic or ..whathever macedonians.
    …gotta go, need to go to a meeting, perhaps later…

  • Filip

    Anonymous Hellene,

    I have succeeded!

    I am sorry if I have offended you but hopefully now you and others can see what the Macedonians have been going through everytime someone offends us.

    Let’s compare samples of some of the comments that I have extracted from above:

    Sample 1.
    a) “There are no ethnic Macedonians as a separate, distinct, and self-identifying cultural identity anywhere in the world..” and
    b) “The ancient Macedonians were and never became Greek,…”
    Difference – None. One is your point of view and the other is mine.

    Sample 2.
    a) “To this extent, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia should not be allowed to misappropriate a historical identity” and “Any recognition of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia with the name would be an act of historical injustice” and “What then gives you the exclusive right based on being slavs to the name macedonia or macedonian?” and
    b) “.. what gives the Greeks more rights to call themselves Macedonians than the Slavs who migrated to Macedonia.”
    Difference – Every person who lives in Macedonia or originates from the Macedonian regions should have equal rights in calling himself “Macedonian who comes from Macedonia.”

    Sample 3.
    a) “How can a predominately Slavophone (a dialect of Bulgarian) people…” and “You are Slavs, genetically, linguistically and otherwise.???..” and “Alexander the Great and his countrymen where not part of the great Slavic races of Europe.” and ..”(the scandalous DNA-articles by FYROM scholars)” and
    b)It has been proven genetically that today’s Greeks originate from North Africa and migrated to Greece/Macedonia later on. Why not call yourselves African Macedonians?”
    Answer – All comments are insulting. My response was to make you, Paul and the others aware that we the Macedonians are equally offended whenever you refer to us with different names (eg.”Slavophone, Bulgarophones, Slavs, FYROMians etc” vs “African Greek”)

  • Paul

    Not that there is anything wrong with being North African but you are sadly mistaken.

    There are Greeks with Blonde Hair Blue Eyes and Fair skin to more Olive Skinned Dark Haired people.

    Questions to:

    What’s wrong with some kind of qualification (adjective) preceding the name of the country.

    For Example.


    You do know that there are Greeks and Bulgarians who live in Macedonia, so would it not be de-legitimizing to them to say Macedonia is referring to only one people group?

    Another Question..If the name holds no irredentist intent then how come in your schools you show areas of Greece as belonging to your state.

    It seems to me there are different types of view on this whole issue within your state. A moderate view and an extremist view. The extremist seem to appropriate Greek History as their own.

    For example. if Alexander the Great was a NON-Greek Macedonian then why would he spread Greek language and culture throughout his empire. If we got to Egypt you will see the evidence. The New Testament was written in Greek cause it was the lingua franca of the region. Why would he have not spread your slavic or some other language and culture?

  • Paul

    Do you not consider yourselves Slavs?

  • Anonymous Hellene.

    Vlatko & Filip,

    (Part 1 of 2)

    For simplicity and practicality I refer to your respective comments in this piece. Also, I make it known that I will not involve myself in a perpetual comment-by-comment polemic to prove or disprove statements made and implied about our respective identities – there is no need for this.

    My understanding on the history of the region is that Ancient Macedonia incorporated a very small part of what is today’s Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Furthermore, I understand that the bulwark of Ancient Macedonia is found in the northern Greek region bearing the name . A further point I wish to make is that the Ancient Macedonians were a people akin to the Ancient Greeks speaking the same language, worshipping the 12 Gods of Mount Olympus (in the Greek region of Macedonia), and participating in the Olympic games (an event encompassing exclusively Greeks).

    It is true the geographical region of Macedonia was a melting pot of predominately Greeks, Bulgars, Jews, Turks, and Gypsies in late 1890s. This point is not denied by any self-respective historian who is familiar with the region. However, what does this have to do with the question of the name and identity? The Slavic and other ethnic groups who came to the region did not bring with them the name, culture, and identity that is “Macedonia”. If anything, these people integrated with the people already existing in the region.

    At issue at the moment in relation to the name is the demand of a republic of the former Yugoslavia insisting to be called “Macedonia”. Considering the original Macedonians were people akin to the Ancient Greeks, that a small part of Ancient Macedonia is found in present-day FYROM, and that the overwhelming majority of people living in this same historical area reside in Greece, why should your country have exclusivity of the name? Remember, it is not Greece’s area of Macedonia that has sought exclusive use of the name (though its claim would have greater weight), it is yours!

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