The very act of the foundation of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), together with all its subsequent actions as a political entity from 1944 to the present day, show that ‘Macedonianism’ is the basic totalitarian ideological tenet of that state. With this tenet the state and the Slavic component in a population of several different ethnic groups have constructed their existence as a nation and their ‘historical’ mission. Right at the very start, ‘Macedonism’ was proclaimed as a sacred dogma, allowing of no discussion, let alone questioning. It has been practised with all the means available to a State that, up to 1991, had been forced to operate under a totalitarian Communist regime where there ‘was but one’ Truth and where the question that bulked above all others was ‘the security of the State’. Anyone dissenting did so with the foreknowledge that he or she would be ‘eliminated’.
When this totalitarian regime collapsed, as it was bound to do, from external causes, nothing changed. There has been no relaxation in the human geography of power at FYROM, not even in the sacred dogma and the State’s duty to safeguard it. The question is one about which a society trained for generations at the hard camp of Macedonianism remains tight-lipped, phobia-prone, and trigger-happy.
An alternative view of the matter has yet to establish itself, any dialogue being considered out of the question. Instead, every pronouncement to the international community by every Skopje government since 1991 has insisted that even the slightest modification to State ‘Macedonianism’ would be fatal to the very existence of the State and the people. And the outward and visible sign of this insistence is the claim to have a monopoly on the name ‘Macedonia’.
These final apocalyptic assertions from Skopje have effectively been espoused by scores of other states, the USA being one example, precisely because they are well aware how ramshackle is the whole artificial but temporarily expedient structure.
They are certainly not ignorant of history. But for the time being they play down what is a self-evident fact. Following the adoption of ‘Macedonism’ as an ideology, FYROM has been trapped in a dead-end of its own making. Sooner or later it is bound not only to destabilize at large a region which is still in a state of flux, but also to place its own Balkan interests in jeopardy.
Those powerful foreign interests that protect Skopje and make use of her may be counting on exploiting for themselves when the time comes. But the sad conclusion from major events on the international stage – in Iraq, say, in Palestine, in the Islamic world, or in the global context of terrorism – is that in some at least of the places where decisions are taken politics is no longer the art of foresight and anticipation. For the Great Powers of today, it is no longer five minutes to midnight, but five minutes past.
The official totalitarian State ideology cultivated in Skopje and theirs claims are....
- It claims that Macedonia has long been a distinct political entity; and that during the two Balkan Wars (1912-1913) against the Ottoman Empire, master of the region from the 14th century onwards, the latter partitioned a ‘united’ (when was she ever thus?) Macedonia among ‘its conquerors’, namely Greece, Bulgaria, and Serbia, with a small part of it later coming into the possession of Albania.
- It claims that Serb Macedonia – what was known until 1941 as Vardarska Banovina – was liberated in 1944, to become from thence onward the metropolitan centre of the ‘splintered and still subservient Macedonian nation’. It is the ‘inalienable national rights’ of this nation which the now independent State of FYROM has been seeing to, in line with an express provision of its present constitution (a clause necessarily revoked in 1995).
- It claims that Greek Macedonia is still ‘under foreign occupation’, viz by Greece, which is said to have ‘inflicted genocide on the Macedonian People’. (This region is therefore always referred to as ‘Aegean’ - never as ‘Greek’ - Macedonia by Skopje, which officially recognizes the Greek Civil War of 1944-1949 as ‘the Macedonian’ national liberation struggle to free Aegean Macedonia’ and to incorporate the latter in ‘the free motherland’, meaning FYROM). It makes similar claims, though these often fluctuate, against Bulgaria, and less loudly against Albania.
- It claims that the ancient Macedonians – notable examples being Alexander the Great and his father Philip – ‘were not Greeks’. As ‘conquerors of Aegean Macedonia’ and ‘oppressors of our brothers the Aegean Macedonians’, from 1913 onwards, the Greeks have been ‘usurping’ the history, the civilization, and the name of the ancient Macedonians, ‘the forefathers’ of FYROM’s (Slav) Macedonian nation.
These four central tenets of ‘Macedonianism’, given in chronological sequence with the necessary background, are already enough to show that while feigning ‘legitimate irredentism’, Skopje is openly and unambiguously declaring her expansionist designs towards Greek Macedonia. The arguments themselves are full of holes, yet they have been swallowed, wittingly, by dozens of civilized states, the United States included.
Because they want to advance their own interests and promote hidden geopolitical agendas in the region. But this is a serious blunder, and it goes against their interests. And in politics a blunder (said Talleyrand) is worse than a crime. Small the FYROM may be, but in the hands of powerful third parties it could be lead to catastrophe.
It should lastly be pointed out that for the State and the Slavs of Skopje ‘Macedonism’ has become an article of faith, a question of existence. This question needs fodder to survive, which means constructing an equally fictitious ‘enemy’: Greece.
But at the same time this State and its Slavic population are well aware, since they see it in their daily lives, of what Greece – ‘the enemy’ – can do for them. Better than any of Skopje’s other neighbours, with more resolve, effectiveness and credibility, Greece is assisting them with their economic development, their orientation towards Europe, the cohesion of their ethnically disparate society, and the existence and the security of their State. This she does better and more credibly than all the other Balkan countries put together; and all that she is after is peace in the region, productive cooperation, and a common sense of dignity. The pity of it is that the two positions are so far apart.
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