How is it possible in the 21st century for someone else to decide who I am, or who I am not? Does the „universal human right to self determination“ as declared by the United Nations not apply to me? Am I excluded from this declaration?
How does one become what or who he or she is? Is it the government that decides? The priest, the church, the United Nations…? Who has the power to decide ethnically and nationally who I am, what language I can speak, what songs I can sing, what dances I can dance,…. And if anyone has that right who has given it to him or her?
My mother was Macedonian, my grandmothers were Macedonian, and my great grandmothers were Macedonian as were their parents; they told me so themselves! So what am I now CHINESE? Not that I want to be one but even if I wanted to I cannot be anything but Macedonian because all my ancestors were Macedonian!
In the beginning of the 20th century my ancestors struggled to free themselves and Macedonia from the grip of the Ottoman occupiers as did the other nations in the Balkans. After five centuries of occupation it was time for freedom; time for the Ottomans to leave. The spirit of freedom was felt everywhere and blood was spilled to achieve it. Unfortunately freedom to the Macedonians did not come easily in spite of their effort. Not to Macedonia and not to my ancestors! One tyrant was replaced by three and instead of gaining its freedom Macedonia was again occupied and divided. Worse than before, in addition to losing their homeland, Macedonians now lost their identity and forcibly were made into Serbs, Bulgarians and Greeks.
The struggle for the Macedonian name, identity and language became and 100 years later is still a burden to all Macedonians and a shame for Greece, Bulgaria, the EU and the United Nations who still insist on their non-existence.
My ancestors fought hard for their identity, nation and country Macedonia but obviously not hard enough because they did not understand the power of politics and were naïve enough to trust their „neighbours“ to have their best interest in their hearts when hundreds of thousands of them joined in the fight against the Ottomans to first free „their neighbours“ and then their own homeland Macedonia. Macedonians believed in a United Macedonia and a Macedonia for Macedonians. The neighbours however had different ideas. The Greeks, Serbs and Bulgarians fought against one another for a larger „land grab“ of Macedonia, each claiming that Macedonia and Macedonians belong to them, only to settle for its division in 1913.
Historian JS Gandeto writes:
„Nineteenth century Greeks did not regard the Macedonians as people of the same ethnicity (Politis 1993:36; Dimaras 1958; Karagatsis, 1952). (1) Greeks in the late eighteen and early nineteenth century viewed the Macedonians as conquerors of Greece. Only after the „Megali Idea“ took root in Greece did the Greeks embark on providing and securing ‚evidence‘ for their new political vision…“
The Great Powers of the time particularly England, France and Russia decided to condone Macedonia´s division in accordance with their interests instead of relying on justice, democratic principles, or human rights. It was easy for them to offer the new Balkan states something that did not belong to them, instead of standing up for justice, decency, human rights and democracy. This is the „shame“ of Europe. Europeans made a great mistake in the 20th century and Europeans must fix it now.
Serbia, to its credit, begrudgingly but none the less gave back „its“ 1913 portion of the spoils to the Macedonians to whom it belongs. Bulgarians and Greeks are still holding on to more than 2/3 of Macedonia. All three committed „ethnocide „and, yes, GENOCIDE since they acquired Macedonian territories in 1913 but Greece and Bulgaria continue to do so to this day! Yes, even today Macedonians in Greece and Bulgaria are forbidden to use their language, sing their songs and freely express their ethnic identity even though both countries are members of the European Union! Both Greece and Bulgaria accuse Macedonians of stealing Greek and/or Bulgarian history, as both will do all they can in their power to exterminate the Macedonian name, language and history. Both claim that: „there is no such thing as a Macedonian nation, language, customs or history“.
What about me, my ancestors, my mother, grandmothers, great grandmothers and millions of other Macedonians worldwide? What are we? Are we a mass of unidentified humans? A new species that just appeared on this planet out of nowhere!? What about all the songs that glorify Macedonia, Alexander, his father Philip II, Tsar Samoil, Gotse Delchev, Jane Sandanski, …. In fact there are thousands of folk songs mentioning Macedonia and the struggle for freedom from the Roman Empire, the Ottoman occupation, Macedonia´s division of 1913, the Second World War, etc, which are neither of Greek or of Bulgarian creation. Macedonia is not even mentioned, let alone glorified by Greece and Bulgaria. If Macedonia was Greek or Bulgarian why did both consent to splitting it into three pieces in 1913? Why split what is yours!! Only Macedonians were against splitting Macedonia and only the Macedonians want it put back together. I don´t hear any Greeks or Bulgarians wanting something back that they lost in 1913. They never lost anything because one cannot lose something if one never had it.
Both Greece and Bulgaria since 1913 have changed the names of people and places to wipe out everything Macedonian. Greeks even went so far as to change the names of the dead by inscribing Greek names on the gravestones of the deceased and long gone Macedonians. This is the SHAME of Europe!
If this historical injustice is not righted and if Macedonians are not given rights as other nations enjoy, there will never be true peace in the Balkans or in Europe!
By Risto Stefov
Source: American Chronicle