Greek history books are the problem
Saturday, 20 September 2008

Image Anti-Macedonian campaign frequently present in Greece, followed by hysteria among the Greek population when it comes to “Macedonia” is the result of inability to get to, or obtain the true information regarding the relations between Greece and Macedonia, says Macedonian daily Vreme in its editorial.

“In Greek history books, Macedonia is either never mentioned or is represented as ‘Greek’, and its citizens as citizens of ‘former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia’ or as ‘slavophonic Greeks’ which are all part of “Greek history”.

The Macedonian minority, on the other hand is represented in various forms. It depends on which edition you get your hands on (they change frequently), Macedonians are mentioned as “bilinguals”, “slavophones”, or “local residents”. I am unsure if 'local resident' is a promotion or demotion.

Respected historians in both countries state that Greek Politics is deeply embedded in historical sciences, and this is mostly the reason for Athens’ fear to accept the Macedonian nation, and the Macedonians as a minority in Greece.
Greek fears have nothing to do with the name, as it has been stated by both Macedonian and Greek politicians. Greece’s biggest fear is loosing out on the cultural and historical significance of the Macedonians as they strive to present them as their own with no one else having the right to them.

It is an understatement to say Greece has taken the word “history” very literally, his-story, or in their case, their-story.

One of the biggest frauds perpetrated by the Greek Government is the claim of Alexander and Phillip being ‘Greek’ and that today’s Macedonians have in no way connection with the antic Macedonians!

World historians from the most prestigious US Universities, who are authority on the subject of antic Macedonia have dismissed Greek claims as “not serious to consider” and “irrelevant nonsense“. Clearly, this a black eye for Greece, if not a knock out, with the count being up to nine.

Lets take a look at two world famous historians well known on the subject of Antic Macedonia:

- Eugene Borza (Prof Emeritus Penn State University) published many books on Alexander the Great and Antic Macedonia, has asked “Why would the Macedonians invade, kill and enslave their own people?”

- Ernst Badian (Harvard University - History Department) explains the last battle between Macedonians and Greeks. “After hearing and rejoicing on the news of  Alexander’s death, Greek soldiers and mercenaries saw their chance to remove themselves from Macedonian despot rule and  rebelled. However, a Macedonian army under Pithon did defeat the rebels. Pithon, no doubt recognizing their immense value for the empire as a whole, persuade them to go back to their posts, assuring them personal safety in return. Yet, contrary to his oath, seventeen thousand Greeks were cut down, after surrendering their arms, by the enraged Macedonians, and Pithon could not stop them.
The patent needs of the empire and the oath of their commander were swallowed up in the explosion of what we can only regard as the men's irrational hatred for their Greek enemies.”

Clearly, the animosity between the Macedonians and Greeks was at monumental proportions. Alexander used the Greeks, and later the Iranians as dispensable weapon for his conquests. This is why he was the first military leader to be considered "Great". He used his enemies to fight for Him.

The Government in Athens tends to quickly throw away any and all international authority on the subject. It is only Historians paid for by Athens who matter, according to Greece.
I am not an authority on Antic history, however,  I’d take the word of Penn State, Harvard, Yale, Oxford historians, instead of Greek Government sources. Lets not forget there are Historians in Greece who don’t share Athens‘ version,  however they are not allowed to speak publicly on the subject.

Todor Cepreganov, Director of the National History Institute says today’s Macedonians have no aspirations towards Greece.
- In Greek history books Macedonia is not mentioned anywhere as a neighboring country, in any context. In our history books, we have chapters on all neighbors, including Greece.  If Greece starts to teach their kids about Macedonia, their Government would have to change their attitude towards the Macedonians living there. This is where their fear kicks in. We allowed Alexander instead of uniting us, to divide us - says Cepreganov.

Just a year ago, the European Union came up with an initiative for creating a single history book to be used by all Balkan countries. The main reason was to create one history book so the Balkan countries wouldn’t translate history to fit their own agendas.
All Balkan countries agreed to this initiative, with only one exception. Greece blocked the project before it started.

Dalibor Jovanovski, of UKIM, says there are Greek Intellectuals who speak about Macedonia, however, they are frequently shunned, or prohibited from speaking, and in many cases threatened with losing their positions or University funding.

- The main problem is that our identity as Macedonians is ethnic, while theirs is ‘regional’. There is no such thing as a ‘regional’ ethnicity,  but it is precisely what the Government in Athens claims. If we start calling people by regions, mountains, lakes, we’d have a million ‘regional ethnicities’.
There is no question Greece’s biggest fear is their acceptance of us as Macedonians. If they accept this, Greece would have to do a complete revision of their history.
Greek feelings for Macedonia although recent, are deeply implanted into the populace subconscious which is why it is difficult to explain to them that what they want, it belongs to someone else - says Jovanovski from the Philosophy Department at UKIM in Skopje.

Marina Sazdovska


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