On April 25, 2008 the prestigious Smithsonian Residence Association Program presented “A Glimpse into Macedonia, Past and Present” by art historian and “Macedonian” native, Aneta Georgievska-Shine. The electronic advertisement for this stated that Dr. Georgievska-Shine will speak about her native, “Macedonia”: “Home to exquisite Byzantine churches with beautifully preserved frescoes and valuable icons, the Republic of Macedonia is a country of rich and complex cultural identity. From antiquity, when Alexander the Great created an empire that reached as far away as India, to the first decades of the 20th century, when this country finally gained its present-day borders, Macedonia has been one of the most contested geopolitical prizes in southeastern Europe”.
At the end of the presentation the Smithsonian Residence Association organizers of the conference allowed time for only one question and one comment. The question asked was: If the Macedonians were Greek, as you mentioned during your presentation, what is the relationship of today’s inhabitants of the FYROM with the ancient Macedonians? On what historical and ethno-cultural basis do you make the link of the modern day Slavs to Alexander?” Dr. Georgievska-Shine’s reply was that “…since the Macedonians were one of the most powerful peoples in the region, the Slavs adopted elements of the most dominant populace…in addition numerous conquerors overtook the region that those peoples did not exist any more.”
Someone from the audience then replied “Perhaps a lot of conquerors had settled on the area for a while, but they came and went… Greeks can claim that they have uninterruptedly been living in the same area, they talk a language that linguistically derives from the same Greek language and have preserved customs and features in the culture which come from antiquity,” adding “I find Dr Georgievka Shine’s comments on the “adoption of the Attic Greek dialect” by Alexander I the Macedon and by Alexander the Great fallacious, as the ancient Macedonians had their own Greek-Doric (North-West Doric) dialect, which can be attested by the Pella Katadesmos.”
Record note: In 1986 a scroll was found in the area of Pella and published in the Hellenic Dialectology Journal in 1993. It is known as the Pella katadesmos or the curse of Pella. It was written in the mid 4th century BC. According to the Journal “It is a magic spell or love charm written by a woman, named Dagina, whose lover Dionysophōn is apparently about to marry Thetima.” She invokes "Makron and the demons"to cause Dionysophon to marry her rather than Thetima. Professors Olivier Masson in the Oxford Classical Dictionary and James L. O’Neils from the University of Sidney, both concur that “The language is a harsh but distinctly recognizable form of North-West or Doric Greek, and the low social status of its writer, as evidenced by her vocabulary and belief in magic, strongly hint that a unique form of Doric Greek was spoken by lay people in Pella at the time the tab was written.
We were not afforded the opportunity to ask and discuss many other questions/arguments with Dr. Georgievska Shine’s as it is traditionally done in any academic environment, especially of the caliber as that of the Smithsonian Institute, as the program coordinators of the aforementioned institute cut us off with the excuse that the hall had to be readied for a different event. Furthermore, the speaker appeared to have been rushed off through an unseen exit, not event giving us the chance to have a few minutes of casual conversation with her. We met with a few of the Smithsonian coordinators just outside of the lecture hall for some time and expressed our concerns but during this time we did not see anyone making any sorts of preparation in the lecture hall.
Dr. Georgievska Shine during her presentation mentioned: “The Slavs of the Ottoman Macedonia were members of the Orthodox millet according to the Ottoman administration system that recognized religious and not national identities. They declared themselves largely as Christians.”
Record note: Even though we were not given the opportunity to reply to Dr. Georgievska-Shine during the question/answer period, we would her to note that the census by Himli Pasha in 1906 refers to various ethnicities in that area; however there is no mention of any “Macedonians.”423,000 41.71% Muslims (Turks and Albanians) 259,000 27.30% Greeks 178,000 18.81% Bulgarians 13,150 1.39% Serbs 73,000 7.72% others
We also like her to note that during the Ottoman era there was no use of the term Macedonia (meaning the boundaries of the geographic or ancient Macedonia). Macedonia was divided in two vilaets; the vilaet of Thessaloniki and the vilaet of Monastiri (Bitola). Skopje, the present capital of FYROM, was in a separate vilaet, the Kossovo vilaet with Skopje as its capital also. The Kossovo vilaet was outside of and was never any part of the so-called geographic Macedonia. Dr. Georgievska-Shine should also note that the percentages she mentioned that were received by the countries that liberated the area from the Ottomans-“Greece received 52%, “Macedonia” 38%, and Bulgaria 10%,” do not correspond to historic Macedonia, but to the area liberated from the Turks by the four allies (Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria and Mavrovounion). That is, the area that was liberated was the area of the Ottoman vilaets of which the geographic Macedonia was a part of and a smaller portion of the whole liberated area. Actually Greece received 70% of the historic geographic Macedonia. About 3/5 of today’s FYROM, never belonged to ancient Macedonia, including its capital, Skopje, as this part was in the Kossovo vilaet which, as mentioned, was outside of the geographic Macedonian area.
Dr. Georgievska-Shine stated: “Vardar Macedonia incorporated into Serbia and referred to as South Serbia. The easternmost part of Macedonia ceded to Bulgaria (Pirin Macedonia). The southern part (Agean Macedonia) incorporated into Greece and referred to as northern Greece.”
Record note: The liberation of present day Greece from the Ottomans did not happen simultaneously in all former Greek territories, but it happened in different stages. In 1912-13, parts of Macedonia and Epirus were liberated. Since then Macedonia has been called as such. In fact, the first administrator in Thessaloniki in 1913 was called “Governor of Macedonia”. The term Northern Greece was ONLY for the Greek Ministry in Thessaloniki, because it included the region of Thrace as well. The Treaty of Bucharest on August 10, 1913 only set the borders of Bulgaria and its neighbors. It did not split “Macedonia,” as many FYROM sources are claiming. It did however split relevant Turkish vilayets.
The area that later comprised of the former Yugoslavia's southern republic was not called Macedonia but it bore the name of Vardarska Banovina (Province -of the river- Vardar). It was in 1944 that Marshal Joseph Broz Tito, the communist dictator ruling Yugoslavia at that time, created Yugoslavia's southern republic and called it "People’s Republic of Macedonia" and in 1963 "Socialist Republic of Macedonia" for purely political and expansionist reasons.
Record note: It is not the first time that American citizens of Macedonian/Greek descent, members of the Pan-Macedonian Association USA, observed their history being falsified, and denied their right to defend their ancestral history in prestigious academic institutions, right in their homeland!! On September 20, 2003, a symposium, titled "The Importance of Ilinden in the Awakening of Macedonian National Consciousness", took place in the School of Journalism, Columbia University, on September 20, 2003 and was sponsored by the Harriman Institute of Columbia Univeristy, the East Central European Center and the Macedonian Arts Council. It had as its main theme the anniversary of the Ilinten revolution against the Turkish rule in the Balkans. Mr. Kiro Gligorov, the former President of the FYROM, was the main speaker.
The theme of Mr. Gligorov's speech was "Macedonia from Ilinten until Now". Other participants in the discussion were Dr. Nadine Akhund, from Columbia University, addressing "1903 Seen Through the Eyes of Europe", Dr. Duncan Perry, "1903-The Ilinden Uprising and its Legacy". Mr. Blaze Ristovski from the Macedonian Academy of Science and Arts (MANU) introduced "Macedonia in 1903" and Dr. Andrew Rossos from the University of Toronto spoke on "Macedonian National Consciousness in 1903".
Dr. Nantine Akhurd, who received her doctorate at the University of Sorbonne, France, spoke first. She addressed the events that occurred in 1903 in Macedonia. She came to certain conclusions from the research she did, based on the correspondence of various European diplomats of that time. She read certain letters of diplomats and at the end she concluded that the Turks did not keep accurate records, "therefore it is difficult to calculate the exact number of the ethnicities that existed in the Turkish-occupied Macedonia. However from the correspondence of the diplomats we can assume the most prevailing nationalities were Slavic, Bulgarian and Serbian. In addition there were French, German and Italian companies in Salonik". No mention at all about the Greek element in the area!!
The rest of the academicians spoke and all of them praised and glorified the Ilinten uprising, which even though was not successful, "Macedonia" emerged as an international issue, which resulted in the awakening of the "Macedonian" national consciousness. No one mentioned that this uprising was staged by the Bulgarians and the Bulgarians were inviting all the nationalities in the area, even the peasant Turkish population, to revolt against the Sultan. No one pointed out that the Manifesto of Krushevo was written in Bulgarian. None of the academicians revealed that during the revolt, with Krushevo as its epicenter, the Turks who had been bribed by the Bulgarians exterminated the Greek population and the Hellenized Vlachs of Krushevo. No one mentioned that 366 Greek homes and 203 Greek shops were destroyed by the vengeance of the Turks and Bulgarians. The Slavs, today's self-proclaimed "Macedonians" were coerced to finance the "revolution", but as soon as they found the chance, they escaped to the mountains (Douglas Dakin).
Dr. Duncan Perry in his book The Politics of Terror: The MacEdonian Liberation Movement, 1893-1904, identified this uprising as an act of terror. It is not known under which circumstances he changed his opinion and why during the deliverance of his theme he concluded that the Ilinten revolution "awakened the "Macedonian" national consciousness".
A translator read Mr. Blaze Ristovski's lecture. King Philip, Alexander the Great, as well as Cyril and Methodius were depicted as "Macedonian" personas. Following a ten-minute break, Mr. Herbert S. Okun, former American Ambassador to UN, introduced the keynote speaker, the former President of the FYROM, Mr. Kiro Gligorov. The American former Ambassador named Mr. Gligorov as the "peace-maker" of the Balkans and "George Washington" of "Macedonia", since under his direction "Macedonia" was able to face various problems such as the problems with the Serbian Church, problems with the Albanians and issues with Greece about the name".
A copy of Mr. Gligorov's translated in English address was distributed to the audience, since the former President spoke in "Macedonian". Some college students, sitting near us, explained that they were Bulgarians, they however could understand everything that Mr. Gligorov was saying (but don't the FYROM people insist that their language is the same language that Alexander the Great and his "Macedonian" soldiers were using to communicate?). Mr. Gligorov's speech lasted for two hours and he continuously was receiving messages from various individuals. In the beginning we thought that individuals in charge of the symposium were trying to urge him to be brief, but as we assumed they were rather urging him to do otherwise. Thus reaching the end of his lecture there was no time for the academically established etiquette of "questions and answer period" between panelists and audience, especially in such an institution of higher learning as the Columbia University.
From various articles written previously there were a number of voices that advocated contradictory theories about the origins of the FYROM inhabitants. Here are some testimonies from The FYROM’s officials:
The former President of The FYROM, Kiro Gligorov said: “We are Slavs who came to this area in the sixth century ... we are not descendants of the ancient Macedonians" (Foreign Information Service Daily Report, Eastern Europe, February 26, 1992, p. 35).
Also, Mr Gligorov declared: "We are Macedonians but we are Slav Macedonians. That's who we are! We have no connection to Alexander the Greek and his Macedonia… Our ancestors came here in the 5th and 6th century" (Toronto Star, March 15, 1992).
On 22 January 1999, Ambassador of the FYROM to USA, Ljubica Achevska gave a speech on the present situation in the Balkans. In answering questions at the end of her speech Mrs. Acevshka said: "We do not claim to be descendants of Alexander the Great … Greece is Macedonia’s second largest trading partner, and its number one investor. Instead of opting for war, we have chosen the mediation of the United Nations, with talks on the ambassadorial level under Mr. Vance and Mr. Nemitz." In reply to another question about the ethnic origin of the people of FYROM, Ambassador Achevska stated that "we are Slavs and we speak a Slav language.”
On 24 February 1999, in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen, Gyordan Veselinov, FYROM'S Ambassador to Canada, admitted, "We are not related to the northern Greeks who produced leaders like Philip and Alexander the Great. We are a Slav people and our language is closely related to Bulgarian." He also commented, “There is some confusion about the identity of the people of my country."
In addition, the Foreign Minister of the FYROM, Slobodan Casule, in an interview to Utrinski Vesnik of Skopje on December 29, 2001, said that he mentioned to the Foreign Minister of Bulgaria, Solomon Pasi that they "belong to the same Slav people.”
Conclusion: Consequently, the plethora of questions, including questions about FYROM’s officials testifying their no-relation to ancient Macedonians that we had, remained unanswered in both prestigious US institutions of higher learning. Both were unacceptable incidents for the caliber of such institutions.
We consider that Columbia University and the prestigious Smithsonian Institute were unknowingly used by the FYROM propagandistic entities to further their quest to legitimize the usurpation of the Macedonian name, history, and culture while negotiations for resolution of these are ongoing between FYROM and Greece. Since we, and the general audience, were not afforded the opportunity to ask questions and to have a full discussion of the subject matter presented by Dr. Georgievska-Shine at the Smithsonian on April 25, 2008, we consider that the Smithsonian Institute should afford the opportunity for a presentation at the institute from the Hellenic perspective.
Cc Barbara Tuceling, Director of Smithsonian Resident Associate Program
Francine C. Berkowitz, Office of International Relations SRAP
Fay Dale Browning, Program Manager-Education and Cultural Program Smithsonian Assoc.
Senator Robert Menendez
Senator Barack Obama
Senator Olympia Snowe
Senator Carl Levin
Senator Debbie Stabenow
Congressman Gus Bilirakis
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney