Friday, November 28, 2008

The Greek administrative usage of Macedonia as a name

The Balkan Wars of 1912-13 freed Macedonia from Ottoman suzerainty. Its greater part –over 50% of the former Ottoman Macedonian geographical region-- was incorporated into Greece, while the rest was split between Serbia and Bulgaria by a 40-10% ratio respectively.

A year later, in 1914, for the first time since classical era, the term «Macedonia» was employed by the Greek state to define once again an administrative region, which from a geographical point of view was essentially identical to the ancient Macedonian kingdom. The name «General Government of Macedonia» (in Greekenglish Geniki Dhioikisi Makedhonias") was retained almost throughout the Interwar period, and continued in use even during the German occupation from 1941 to 1944.

In the below picture you can see a Greek historical archive that defines via State Law once again the Macedonia term as administrative unit. [1]

The Article 1 mention:

«The new countries except for Epirus and the Aegean Islands are divided administratively into General Governments and Prefectures; Macedonia, Epirus and the Aegean islands can be subdivided- apart from prefectures- into sub-governments. The General Governments of Epirus and the Aegean Islands as well as the Government of Samos are abolished. Thessaloniki and Chania are defined as the seats of the General Governors of Macedonia and Crete respectively.»

I would like to add that in Byzantine era was also established the administrative theme of Macedonia but had nothing in common with either classical Macedonia or that of modern times: this point must be made clear, particularly because the question of Macedonia is of special importance to our problem. The Byzantine theme of Macedonia consisted of western Thrace, with its center at Adrianople. The name "Macedonia" was attached to this territory precisely because actual Macedonia was lost to Byzantium, and was occupied by Slavs and formed a conglomeration of Sclaviniae.[2]

After World War II, it was named «General Government of Northern Greece», subdivided into the General Governments of Eastern, Western and Central Macedonia. These divisions were retained up to 1950, when they were subsumed into the Ministry of Northern Greece which added Thrace to its jurisdiction. In the early 1970s, the «General Government of Macedonia» made a further brief reappearance, only to revert after a few years to the name «Ministry of Northern Greece» (Ypourgeio Voreiou Elladhos). Since 1988, however, the Ministry of Northern Greece assumed its current name as the «Ministry of Macedonia and Thrace». Earlier, in 1986, the regions of «Eastern» «Western» and «Central Macedonia» were also created.

The existence of a Macedonian administrative entity within the framework of the Greek state, together with the long Greek Macedonian heritage, were contributory factors which consolidated the widespread use of the Macedonian name as a feature of the regional and cultural identity of the Greeks in Macedonia. Such use was not limited to Greek administrative bodies and public sector companies and organizations in Macedonia; it also spread to businesses, as well as cultural and other associations and every relevant event in the private sector originating in Macedonia. [3]

At this point it is worth stressing that in contrast to Greek Macedonia, in the other two parts of Macedonian territory that came under the sovereignty of the neighboring states, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, the Macedonian term was never used to identify an administrative region in the respective countries. Indeed, the name chosen for the Yugoslav region between 1929 and 1939 was «Vardarska Banovina». It was only after the end of World War II, i.e. some 30 years after Greece had extensively used the Macedonian name to identify its own province in the north, that the newly-established communist Yugoslav Federation chose, for its own political reasons, to set up a federative unit, the «People´s Republic of Macedonia» (subsequently, "Socialist").


FYROM(the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia)a new formatted State use opposes the usage of the name «Macedonia» by in its post 1991 constitutional name, without a geographical qualifier. The choice of the name Macedonia by FYROM directly raises the issue of usurpation of the Greek cultural heritage. The name constitutes the basis for staking an exclusive rights claim over the entire geographical area of Macedonia. More specifically, to call only the Slavmacedonians as «Macedonians» monopolizes the name for the Slavmacedonians and creates semiological confusion, whilst violating the human rights and the right to self-determination of Greek Macedonians. [4]
The use of the name by FYROM alone may also create problems in the trade area, and subsequently become a potential springboard for distorting reality, and a basis for activities far removed from the standards set by the European Union and more specifically the clause on good neighborly relations. [5] The best example of this is to be seen in the content of school textbooks in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

FYROM's terminology--"Aegean Macedonia"--for Greek Macedonia and the so call repression of "the Macedonians in Greece" without qualification, which not only generates confusion but also gives the impression that members of this small minority constitute the only or true Macedonians in the region. As Loring Danforth point out the usage of the «Aegean Macedonia» is regarded as a non-recognition of current European borders, including the legitimacy of Greek sovereignty over the area. [6]


Macedonia» has reference to a geographic area encompassing all or portions of several States in the region of Southeast Europe that «Macedonia» has importance to a long association with the heritage, culture and history of the Greek Republic and Greek people since antiquity, that «Macedonia» is a name commonly used to refer to a region of northern Greece, and that the people of such region are, within the Greek Republic, customarily referred to as «Macedonians».

That´s why after the liberation of the Macedonian region, the Greek administration re-establish for first time in the Modern Balkan history the «Macedonian term» again respected her cultural heritage.


[1]- Government Gazette of the Greek Kingdom, 31 December 1914, No 404: Law 524
[2]- George Ostrogorsky,The Byzantine Background of the Moravian Mission, Dumbarton Oaks Papers, Vol. 19. (1965), pp. 1-18
[3]- Μακεδονία (Macedonia): A Greek Term in Modern Usage, Museum of the Macedonian Struggle Foundation
[4]-«Hellenic Republic, Ministry of Foreign Affairs», Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) — The Name Issue.
[5]-As noted by D. Perry, "the idea of a Macedonian nationality spread during the 20th century, but did not find official expression or acceptance anywhere until the creation of the second Yugoslavia", See D. Perry, p. 278 and his reference to Loris M. Danforth, The Macedonian Conflict, Princeton University Press, 1995, pp. 56-69.
[6]- The Macedonian Conflict: Ethnic Nationalism in a Transnational World", Loring M. Danforth, p. 37


  1. I am the Maznik of Epirus the member of the last royal family of Muzaks. The history of my family is writen in the church documents. We named our willages by our family name. Those wilages are in Epirus, Macedonia, Shqiperia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Moldova and Ukraina.
    I disagree with your historical views, so if you want to convice me, please use relevant documents internationaly acceptable.
    Thank you,
    Maznik of Epirus

  2. Maznik I am not try to convice you. I am just post my arguments with my sources. The majority of my sources are international and not Greek.

    You said that disagree but you didnt bring any material that proove your claims.


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