Friday, January 16, 2009
THE PROPERTIES QUESTION(Slav Macedonians Political Separatists)
This chapter is from a book in Greek, (Macedonia in non-Greek archives, pages 22-37), a collection of timely specialist essays, published on line by Society of Balkan Studies . The present work makes available - for the first time in Greece or elsewhere - confidential documents from Yugoslav and Bulgarian state archives that reveal how and for what purposes the governments of Greece’s two neighbours handled the Macedonian Question from 1950 to 1967, the crucial period that followed on from the Greek Civil War, where Greek Macedonia was the main theatre of operations.FYROM has even tried to reopen World War II issues that European countries have put behind them for good; issues that have no place in our common journey towards ever closer union.
In Greek Macedonia during the 1940s two Slav Macedonian activist organizations went to work to achieve the union of Greek Macedonia with the Yugoslav Federation, either by becoming an autonomous region or by seceding from Greece. SNOF, and its successor NOF, exploited a fluid situation - the Triple Occupation and then the Greek Civil War – to pursue their goals. Their leaders trimmed their sails to the wind, siding with the Bulgarian conqueror and then with the Yugoslav Communists as it suited them.
When the Triple Occupation of Greece ended – in Autumn 1944 – quislings were were brought to trial, in a series of legal proceedings, on charges of collaboration. Among the accused were a large number of Slav Macedonians who had made themselves useful to the Bulgarians and had subsequently left Greece. The same went for those who had worked for the secession of Greek Macedonia during the Civil War. These individuals were stripped of their Greek nationality and had their estates confiscated - normal official practice followed in all countries against collaborators with the Axis Powers in World War Two.
The question of the properties of fugitives and refugees from Greece was one that was already on the minds of the Yugoslav authorities in the early 1950s. Initially it was widely thought that the negotiations with Greece should include a demand for indemnities. Nevertheless, this line of thought was soon abandoned; the Yugoslav Foreign Ministry’s legal department had given its opinion that anything of the sort would be legally null and void, for various good reasons. This ruling was of course known to PRM’s regional government. Eventually it was decided to handle the matter purely politically. The sequel is of considerable interest. Yugoslavia could have dumped the whole problem in the lap of a joint Greek-Yugoslav Commission, set up in the late 1950s, whose job it was to look into the matter of properties owned by Greek and Yugoslav subjects resident in these two countries, but abandoned during the 1940s. Instead, Yugoslavia once more deliberately refused to do this, precisely in order not to lose a valuable bargaining counter. The documents below are revealing as to the aims and methods of Yugoslavia’s federal
chiefs and the local leaders in PRM.
Click the images to view them in higher resolution.