Nowadays we often hear in the news of people having their identity stolen, resulting in life altering consequences for the victims. This, however, is not a new phenomenon, at least not for the Macedonians.
When an identity thief steals a person´s identity, which on the surface may sound funny, they steal more than their name; they steal their history, property, dignity and life. The victims find themselves isolated, questioned and sometimes suspected of having done something wrong. Every time the identity thief steals money from the victim´s accounts and the victim complains, the victim is put in question and his or her entire existence is put under scrutiny.
As Macedonians we are well aware of how it feels to be victims of identity theft. We are feeling those effects even today.
Our story begins in the late 1800´s when our neighbours the Greeks, Serbians and Bulgarians decided that they wanted our Macedonia for themselves. To legitimize their claims they first declared that „Macedonians do not exist“ and as potential heirs to Macedonia, they began to speak on behalf of the Macedonian people. To make their claims more believable the three began producing census and demographic reports each claiming that the vast majority of the people living in Macedonia were of their own kind with a few Vlachs and Turks here and there. Each in turn produced reports that greatly exaggerated their claims and contradicted the others. Unfortunately they could not agree as to who and how many were actually Greeks and how many were Serbians or Bulgarians, but in the absence of Macedonians in their reports they all agreed that „Macedonians did not exist“.
The Greeks claimed there were more Greeks living in Macedonia than all the others combined. Serbia and Bulgaria too were making similar outrageous claims. These however were all lies. The only interest these three (Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria) had in Macedonia was to steal Macedonia away from the Macedonian people and convince the world that it actually belonged to them on account that the people living in Macedonia were part of their respective nations.
Having no clout and no voice in the matter the Macedonian people kept silent. The few that spoke up were drowned out by the many voices of our enemies. Any Macedonian who attempted to „do something“ was as good as dead.
Being indifferent to the situation, the outside world couldn´t care less and had no desire to find out the truth about what was really going on in Macedonia. The outside world had reason to not believe the Greeks, Serbians and Bulgarians on account of their bogus contradictory demographic statistics yet still, outside of some brows raised in the western capitals, no one took real measures to do anything. Even when France sent its own census monitors, the Greeks still managed to cheat them by having their priests tell the Macedonian people to say „ne“ meaning „no“ when they were asked „if they were Greek“. So when people, most of whom did not speak Greek were asked in the Greek language if they were „Greek“, they answered „ne“ meaning „no“ in Macedonian. „Ne“ however means „yes“ in Greek. So naturally they were counted as Greeks even though they said they weren´t!
So in time the Greeks, Serbians and Bulgarians and to some extent the Albanians and Romanians became the spokespeople for the Macedonians, a practice which continues to this day!
Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria´s wishes came true in 1912 when they invaded Macedonia without any opposition from the outside or from within.
After driving out the Ottomans, ironically with help from the Macedonian people, their armies settled in for a long stay. In order to gain entry into Macedonia without opposition, the three lied to the Macedonian people for years, telling them that they would be sending their armies to Macedonia to liberate the Macedonian people from the Ottomans. However they neglected to tell them that once they drove the Ottomans out they intended to stay, occupy their country, partition it and annex it for themselves. They also neglected to tell them that they would assimilate them and turn them into Greeks, Serbians and Bulgarians whether they liked it or not.
Again their wishes came true after the three partitioned and annexed Macedonia in 1913 with Great Power approval sanctioned by the signing of the 1913 Treaty of Bucharest.
From that time onward, Macedonians were not allowed to call themselves Macedonians. Those annexed by Greece became instant Greeks. Those refusing to call themselves Greeks were exiled or outright executed as an example to the others. The Serbians and Bulgarians did exactly the same.
But over the years the Macedonian embers kept smoldering, buried deep down in the ashes invisible to the naked eye, that is, until one day a spark flew out and restarted the Macedonian flame. Against all odds, after what happened to the Macedonian people over the years, in 1991 they declared their independence and formed a Macedonian state. With the break up of Yugoslavia, the part of Macedonia that was annexed by Serbia in 1913 finally became an independent state. The Macedonians, unlike the other people in Yugoslavia, liberated themselves and declared their independence peacefully and without bloodshed. Some called it a miracle, but not those who were guilty of wrong doing like the Greeks and Bulgarians and their Western European patrons. They were quick to condemn the Macedonian people as frauds, the very same act of which they themselves are guilty.
Greece, the very country which had illegally and by act of war annexed 51% of Macedonia in 1913, as confirmed by the 1913 Treaty of Bucharest, was the first to not only protest Macedonia´s independence but, after trying to bury the name „Macedonian“ out of existence for a century, protested its use by this independent country, claiming that the name was Greek!
In addition to having illegally expropriated Macedonian lands and having committed genocide against the Macedonian people over the years in 1991, Greece also became an identity thief by outrageously claiming that the Macedonian people could not call their country Macedonia because that name is Greek!
Now in addition to having their country taken away from them for a century, being exiled, forcibly assimilated and abused, Macedonians are again finding themselves the victims of the same perpetrators, this time the victims of identity theft!
If a person is born in Macedonia, is a descendent of many generations of Macedonians, speaks the Macedonian language, practices the Macedonian culture and traditions, has been called Macedonian and feels like a Macedonian, then one would deduce that they are Macedonian and their country is Macedonia! But not the Greeks! The Greeks now say that the name Macedonia is Greek and that they are the only Macedonians and therefore „these people“ should not be allowed to call their country Macedonia! But that´s not all; Greeks also demand that „these people“ not call themselves Macedonians and their language Macedonian! In other words, Greece, the identity thief, will not tolerate the real Macedonians calling their country „Macedonia“ and their identity and language „Macedonian“!
Over the centuries the Macedonian people lost their country, many were exiled, experienced genocide, experienced forced assimilation and countless other atrocities at the hands of the Greeks, Serbians and Bulgarians and on top of that they now have to endure the pain of having their identity stolen. They now have to justify their existence every time they dare call themselves Macedonians. And how does the world react to all this? It is telling the Macedonians to change their name and give in to the demands of their identity thieves!
Ironically, despite what has happened to the Macedonian people over the years, most people in the world support the Greek side, the criminal side, which is not only sad but purely pathetic!
I however don´t blame the world for not believing the Macedonian side. How could the world believe the Macedonian side when these criminals, for a century now, have been the unopposed voices speaking for the Macedonian people and claiming that Macedonians don´t exist and that the Macedonians of today are some kind of Titovian Frankenstein creation! God only knows how far these criminals and identity thieves will go to cover their tracks!
Now imagine how the Macedonian people must feel, having been robbed of everything they value, their lands, their names, their history, their culture, their heritage and on top of that, their identity. They can´t call their country Macedonia, they can´t call their ethnic identity Macedonian and they can´t call their language Macedonian, all because of these identity thieves.
How can the Macedonians survive when Greece, the real identity thief, is spending every ounce of its energy to paint itself as the victim of a „Macedonian“ plot designed to steal their Macedonia from them? The very same Macedonia which they themselves stole from the Macedonian people in 1912, 1913!
Despite the fact that today´s modern Greeks are not who they purport to be and ethnically they are not much different than the rest of the people living in the Balkans, they maintain that they have exclusive and inherent rights not only to the name „Macedonia“ but also to Macedonian lands and the Macedonian heritage.
Despite the fact that both Macedonia and Greece have been borderless since Philip II´s time (338 BC up until 1913 when the modern artificially imposed border was erected after Macedonia´s partition) and despite the fact that the entire region including Macedonia and Greece, over the last two millenniums has been overrun by the same conquerors and settlers, Greece maintains that it is populated by „pure Greeks“ (98% pure Greeks and 2% Muslim Greeks) and Macedonia is populated by „Slavs“, whatever that means!
We all know how the borders that partitioned Macedonia in 1912 and 1913 were drawn and we all know that Greece willingly signed the 1913 Treaty of Bucharest giving half of Macedonia to its partners and worst enemies. Yet today Macedonia is Greek! How can that be? According to the Greeks „No explanation is required!“
I think the problem here is not whether Macedonians exist or not or whether Macedonians have the right to call their country Macedonia and their identity and language Macedonian. The problem here is that every time we say the word „Greece“ and „Greeks“ we give legitimacy and credence to a bunch of pirates and identity thieves who do not deserve the attention they get.
By writing, talking and „negotiating“ with them we legitimize their theft and false claims! The Greeks are no different than any of their immediate neighbours because whatever happened to their neighbours over the years has also happened to them.
So if Macedonians don´t exist, then „Greeks“ don´t exist! If Macedonians can´t call their country Macedonia the Greeks do not have the privilege of calling their artificially created country Greece or Hellas or whatever it is they call it! If the Macedonians can´t call their ethnic identity Macedonian then Greeks do not have the privilege of calling their artificially created identity Greek or Hellene or whatever it is they call themselves! If the Macedonians can´t call their mother tongue Macedonian then the Greeks have no right to call their artificially imposed language Greek or Hellenic or whatever it is they call it! If the Greeks like to call the Macedonian peoples´ country „Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia“ (FYROM) then the Greeks should not mind if the Macedonian people call their country „Former Ottoman Republic of Greece“ (FOROG). If Greece insists that the rest of the world call Macedonia FYROM then Greece should not mind if Macedonia insists that the world call Greece FOROG.
If Greece was not guilty of piracy and identity theft, Greece would not care what Macedonia calls itself. But obviously its fear of being discovered has made it act irrationally!
So once again, if a nation of people is born in Macedonia of Macedonian parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc., stretching back countless generations, speaks the Macedonian language and feels Macedonian, then what else could it be other than Macedonian?
Many thanks to Dedo Kire for giving me the idea for this article.
Dedo Kire wrote:
I speak a little French and can sing a few songs but I am not French nor does France make me one.
I speak a little Spanish and can sing some Spanish songs but I am not Spanish nor does Spain make me one.
I speak a smattering of Portuguese, Italian, German but none of the countries try to make me one of them.
I speak English rather well but England doesn´t call me or regard me as an Englishman.
I speak a few words of Greek and sing one or two songs and Greece tries to lie to the world that I am Greek.
I speak Macedonian, my mother tongue, and I choose to call myself ethnically Macedonian but Greece denies that no such language exists even though I speak it as millions do. Some universities teach it too.
Greece tells the world I speak a barbarian bastard language as much as to try and make me a Barbarian Bastard.
Greece tries to convince the world that they are the true and only ´Macedonians´ claiming a monopoly on the name. With audacity, they now claim everything associated with that name throughout history. Over the past 90 years Greece has practiced with increasing vigor IDENTITY THEFT and are still doing it. Their ACTIONS speak louder than words. Look, in 1923 they changed every village name, every river, every mountain from a Macedonian name to a Greek Name. Then they FORCED every Macedonian in Northern Greece to change their Macedonian name into a Greek name. The Greek Orthodox Church collaborated refusing to baptize children with a name other than Greek, refused to marry anyone or bury anyone with a Macedonian name. No one could go to any school or be employed unless they used a Greek name. They went so far as to punish anyone speaking the Macedonian language. Everyone who learns about this responds the same way, „Unbelievable“, they say. Yet, it is true. It is and was nothing less than CULTURAL GENOCIDE.
With the proclaiming the ideas of Human Rights imbedded in the Charter of the United Nations it is now about time to STOP THIS CULTURAL GENOCIDE.
Now is the time to STOP THE IDENTITY THEFT being practiced by Greece against the Republic of Macedonia AND Macedonians around the world.
Let us gather together, take council, AND STOP THE THIEF WHO IS STEALING.
Risto Stefov, April 18, 2010