M E M O R A N D U M
of the Bulgarian Cultural Club – Skopie concerning
the name issue between Macedonia and Greece
The President, Prime Minister and Minister of the Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Macedonia;
The Presidents, Prime Ministers and Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, United Kingdom, USA through the embassies of the corresponding countries in the Republic of Macedonia;
The President of the European Commission through Mr. Erwan Fouere, EU Special Representative in the Republic of Macedonia;
The United Nations President and the Special Mediator Mr. Matthew Nimitz through Ms. Maria Luisa Silva Mejias, Office of the United Nations Resident Coordinator in the Republic of Macedonia;
The General Secretary of NATO through Brigadier General Stoyan Genkov, NATO Coordination Liason Office in the Republic of Macedonia;
The Chairman of OSCE through Ambassador Giorgio Radiciati, OSCE Spillover Monitor Mission in the Republic of Macedonia;
At the last NATO summit held in Bucharest, Romania, the Republic of Macedonia was not invited to become a NATO member as a result of the name issue that was imposed by Greece on an international level.
The Bulgarian Cultural Club - Skopie is of the opinion that with this, Greece aims to obtain international verification for its years long policy of denationalization, terror and cultural assimilation against the Macedonian Bulgarians.
This memorandum is based on the document “The Cyprus Problem and Macedonia - An expose of Greece's oppression of her ethnic minorities”, prepared by the delegates of the 35th MPO convention held in 1956 in Pitsburg, USA, as well as the book “Bulgarian policies on the Republic of Macedonia” by professor Lyubomir Ivanov, Chairman of the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria and President of the Manfred Worner Foundation. The aim of the memorandum is to acquaint the international community with the truth for Macedonia and to suggest recommendations for stability in the Balkan region.
II. Historical background
The Macedonian question was brought to the international scene after the Treaty of Berlin revised the Treaty of San-Stefano. The formation of the Macedonian Liberation Movement was the necessary consequence of the Treaty of Berlin, aiming for the freedom of all the people of Macedonia, who remained under the Ottoman Turkish yoke after the Treaty of Berlin. The slogan of the Macedonian Liberation Movement was “Macedonia for the Macedonians”, an ideal that was based on democratic principles, where freedom and human rights would have been guaranteed for all its ethnic and religious groups - Bulgarians, Greeks, Albanians, Turks, Vlakhs, Jews, etc.
This wide multi-ethnic concept for the geographic region of Macedonia as Switzerland on the Balkans was sincerely offered to the Macedonian Greeks. Unfortunately, Athens did not accept this peaceful concept, but preferred the “Megali Idea” for the establishment of a greater Greece. After the Treaty of Bucharest, 51% of the Macedonian territory was annexed by Greece. Starting from 1913, the policy of continual ethnic cleansing, expulsion and forced assimilation was adopted towards the Bulgarians who were the dominant ethnic group in this annexed part. In the appendix of this memorandum some facts are given regarding the policy of Greece and Serbia towards the Macedonian Bulgarians.
Since 1912 and up to 1922 in the Southern Macedonia, the Greeks were about 220,000 in number compared to 350,000 Bulgarians and several tens of thousands of Vlakhs. We shall not go into detail by quoting statistics compiled by competent and authoritative scholars of all cultured nations. We shall only say that even the Turkish statistics confirm our statements. After 1922, the Greek government transferred forcibly into Macedonia the Greek refugees from Asia Minor. The expulsion of the Bulgarians and Vlakhs from their century-old settlements and homes does not constitute an act of justice and still less a moral act; they still have the most eager desire to return to their fatherland, provided that liberty and a democratic way of life is guaranteed for them.
Evidences showing that Bulgarians have lived and are now living in the Southern Macedonia are innumerable. Many of these evidences come from Greek sources. Herewith, we shall call attention only to some of them which are of international political character, dealing with the problems of the Bulgarian inhabitants of Macedonia. Some of these testimonials are as follows:
1. In 1876, the Constantinople Ambassadorial Conference of the Great Powers decided to create within the frontiers of Turkey, two autonomous provinces with “predominant Bulgarian population”. In the Western province, with Sofia as its capital, nearly all of Macedonia was included. The Powers participating in this Conference were: Austria-Hungary, England, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and Turkey.
2. In 1859 the Bulgarians from some localities of Macedonia, primarily those of the city of Koukoush, situated forty miles from Salonika, addressed a petition to His Holiness the Pope, asking to be received into the bosom of the Catholic Church. They could no longer bear the spiritual yoke and assimilative process of the Greek Orthodox Church under which the Sultan of Turkey had placed them, together with other Balkan peoples, five centuries ago. Receiving their petition favorably, the Pope expressly assured them that they would be able to have Bulgarian priests, and also be permitted to use the Bulgarian language in the church services. The documents pertaining to this particular event are known to all scholars who have, more or less, studied Balkan history.
3. Until 1767 there existed in the city of Ohrid (Southwestern Macedonia) the Bulgarian Archbishopric of Ohrid, known throughout the Balkan Medieval history. It was recognized with this title even by the Greek Patriarch of Constantinople. In the above mentioned year, through intrigues and the insistence on the part of the Greek Patriarch, the Bulgarian Archbishopric of Ohrid was suppressed by the Turkish government. Prior to 1767 also some of the prelates in the Southern Macedonia were titled as “Bulgarian”. One of them was the Bishop of Kostour (Kastoria); he was the spiritual head of the southern-most district of Macedonia bordering with Thessaly.
4. All the records of the Protestant religious missionaries in Macedonia, for the entire second half of the nineteenth century, speak only of Bulgarians, and not other Slavs living in the Southern Macedonia. Two missionary newspapers published at that time, “The Missionary News From Bulgaria” and “The Missionary Herald”, are particularly rich in documentation. The information provided by the Protestant missionaries eloquently speaks about the strenuous efforts made by the Greek Church to Grecianize the Bulgarian population of Macedonia.
5. In 1870 the sultan of Turkey issued a decree (Firman) by which he gave the Bulgarian people the right to organize their own National Church at the head of which would be an Exarch. Article 10 of the Firman enumerates the dioceses which the Bulgarian Exarchate would have the right to comprise. One of these dioceses was that of Veles, which covers the center of Macedonia.
This decree also contained provisions by which other Bulgarian eparchies could be formed. To establish a new diocese, a two-thirds vote was necessary in each province concerned. All the Bulgarians of Macedonia, as far south as Thessaly, voted for their national Bulgarian Exarchate. It is important to state that in the struggle against the Greek Church, which was the beginning of the Bulgarian national revival, the Bulgarians of Macedonia took a prominent part. As we have already mentioned above, in the Macedonia districts, which were placed under Greek rule in 1912, there were 378 Bulgarian Churches.
6. On August 5, 1913, the members of the American Protestant Mission to the Balkans had addressed to the Great Powers a protest about the situation of Macedonia whose area was occupied by Serbia and Greece. In the protest it was emphatically stated that the bulk of the Macedonian population is by origin and language an inseparable part of the Bulgarian people. In part it states: “The Bible was translated into modern colloquial Bulgarian, and has been circulated all through Bulgaria, Macedonia and Thrace”. Also, the language of preaching “in all places of assembly is Bulgarian”.
This note was signed by the following noted missionaries: J. F. Clarke, D.D., Missionary in European Turkey for 54 years; J. W. Baird, D.D., Missionary in European Turkey for 40 years; and Robert Thomson of Edinburgh, missionary for 30 years in Constantinople and European Turkey.
7. On December 11, 1918, a telegram was sent to the President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, by members of the Board of the American Missionaries, Leroy F. Ostrainder, Lyle W. Woodruff, and H. E. King. They emphasized the fact that the greater part of the population of Macedonia is Bulgarian by origin, language, and customs and formed an inseparable part of the Bulgarian nation whose territory extends from Skopie and Ohrid as far as Drama.
8. The existence of foreign schools in Macedonia whose students were Bulgarians is evidence in itself that the inhabitants were ethnic Bulgarians. One of the best known foreign schools in Macedonia was the Zaytinlak High School, near Salonica. It was staffed by French teachers of the Order of Lazzarists. This noted school was closed immediately after Greece occupied the Southern Macedonia.
9. The International Commission of Inquiry, which carried out its work in the Balkans in behalf of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, published in 1914 a volume on the results of its investigations under the title of: “Report of the International Commission to Inquire into the Causes and Conduct of the Balkan Wars”. The authors of this Report speak only of the Bulgarian Slavs living in Macedonia including the Southern districts now dominated by Greece. It mentions no other Slavic group. Although the investigating Commission did not act under the auspices of the Great Powers, because of the authoritative character of its members, their Report will forever remain significant. The following individuals were members of Commission: Austria – Dr. Joseph Redlich, Professor of Public Law in the University of Vienna; France – Baron d’Estournelle de Constant, Senator, President of the Commission, and Mr. Justin Godart, lawyer and member of the Chamber of Deputies; Germany – Dr. Walter Schucking, Professor of Law at the University of Marburg; England – Francis W. Hirst, Esq., Editor of “The Economist”, and Dr. H. N. Brailsford, Journalist; Russia – Professor Paul Milyukoff, member of the Duma; United States – Dr. Samuel T. Dutton, Professor at Teachers’ College, Columbia University.
10. On September 29, 1924, Kalfov and Politis, in the name of Bulgaria and Greece, signed a protocol for the protection of the Bulgarian minority in Greece. The protocol was also signed by the Secretary of the League of Nations. The agreement reached was considered by the League as great success. But Greece soon failed to honor her signature and on March 14, 1925, the League of Nations, by a special motion, condemned her action.
11. In 1924 the League of Nations sent an international commission to establish the truth about the killing of fourteen Bulgarians near the village of Tarlis, in Macedonia under the Greek rule. The massacre, carried out by the Greek authorities, took place on July 27, 1924, that is, a month before the period of emigration was to expire. It was obvious that the Greek authorities hoped to frighten the Bulgarian inhabitants and force them to emigrate.
The International commission, which established the guilt of the Greek authorities, was composed of the following persons: M. de Roover, President of the Commission, delegate of Belgium, Col. Corfe, delegate of England, both representatives of the League of Nations; Mayor Sanders, head of the Sub-Committee for Emigration stationed at Salonica, and M. Lagrange, Belgian, Secretary of the Mixed Commission. There were in addition the Greek Minister, Tsorbadzis, delegate of Greece, and Mr. Robev, delegate of Bulgaria.
III. Republic of Macedonia
The Macedonian nation and the Macedonian state were created in the process of implementation and evolution of a well known Serbian political construction originally proposed in 1889, later supported by a decision of the Communist International in Moscow in 1934, and eventually put into effect after 1944 in one particular part of the geographical and historical region of Macedonia (about 36 percent of its territory) known as Vardar Macedonia, included in the territory of Yugoslavia, and governed by the Yugoslav Communist Party. This idea proclaimed that the ethnic Bulgarians in Macedonia, who had lived there since the 7th century, had nothing to do with the Bulgarian state and the Bulgarian nation – a statement that contradicts the historical interpretation predominantly accepted by historians around the world. The Macedonist doctrine was enforced in Vardar Macedonia by methods and means typical of a totalitarian communist regime: by terror and repression against those who considered themselves Bulgarian (30,000 executed, and another 120,000 sent to concentration camps and prisons); by rewriting history through education and the media; falsifying authentic historical evidence and artefacts; and by counterfeiting historical monuments (inscriptions in churches and monasteries, burial grounds, etc.).
Since its independence in 1990, the Republic of Macedonia still lives with Tito’s concept for a unique Macedonian ethnicity that was constantly applied by force during the Serbian domination of Yugoslavia. After the fall of Yugoslavia, this concept continues to held the politicians and most of the citizens of Republic of Macedonia as hostages of artificial historical interpretations about their heritage. The Republic of Macedonia and especially the Macedonian Bulgarians are victims of the historical falsifications imposed by Serbia and Greece that can always destabilize the Balkan region.
In other words, the consolidation of a distinct Macedonian nation proceeded in conditions of independence not on the basis of recognition and appreciation of objective historical evidence, but rather, the authorities persisted in falsifying the past, and projecting processes confined to a particular territory and period of time (Vardar Macedonia in Yugoslavia, 1944 -1991) into other territories and other times. Given that the history of the population of the Republic of Macedonia and that of its neighbouring countries are interrelated, this exercise in rewriting history (extending back to the Balkan Revival of the 19th century, the Middle Ages and even to Antiquity), while aimed at adjusting the historic ethnic identity of the population of the Republic of Macedonia to its present one, effectively attempts to redefine the historic – and hence the modern – identity of neighbouring nations, especially the Bulgarians. This attempt is perceived as outrageous by the latter.
On the other hand Greece, not by chance and not without interests, opened the name issue, thus throwing a glove not only to the Republic of Macedonia, but at the same time to NATO, to the European Union, the United Nations, the USA and Russia. The problem is that neither NATO and the European Union nor the United Nations managed to understand this Byzantine maneuver by Greece. With the name dispute, arranged in such manner, Greece will end up strengthening the position of the government of the Republic of Macedonia around the Macedonian identity (but strictly on anti-Bulgarian basis and, of course, with the help of the theory for the origin of Alexander the Great) which at the same time implies keeping the Serbian control over the politics, history, and spirituality of our young state and averting the eventual rapproachment between the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Bulgaria. This means that the Republic of Macedonia will join the Euro-Atlantic structures together with Serbia at the time when Greece will decide that it is in its own interest. Many indications show that Greece has plan B, too: disintegration of Macedonia on ethnical level with the Macedonian Albanians and its separation in such a manner that Greece and Serbia will be neighboring countries again and will have a common border.
The paradox is that Greece, contrary to its statements for solving the dispute, in fact, prefers the firm and unyielding stance of the government of the Republic of Macedonia!
There is no valid legal justification for Greece, based on the possession of a part of the geographic area of Macedonia, to demand rights to dictate the name of the rest of Macedonia, where citizens live who have chosen the political destiny to be independent. From a legal point of view, the name of an independent country stands higher than the name of a province in another country. A case in point: Bulgaria has a province named “Pirin Macedonia”, but Bulgaria recognized Republic of Macedonia by its constitutional name.
Also, there is no valid historical justification for Greece to force the use of the name “Slavo-Macedonians” besides the fact that the Greek history knows very well what kind of people it is in question. That is another proof for the policy of denationalization used by Greece, that usually goes in hand with the “antique theory” that the origin and heritage of the citizens of Macedonia is connected to Alexander the Great.
This theory has its deep roots into the Greek policy on Macedonia, which may be noticed in the address (addressing) of Archbishop Karavangelis to Kote of Rulya, the murderеr of the freedom fighter Lazar Pop Traykoff. In his memories entitled as “Macedonian Struggle”, Archbishop Karavangelis, wrote:
“ You have been Greeks since the time of Alexander the Great, but the Slavs came and Slavicized you. Your appearance is Greek and the land we step on is Greek. This is witnessed by the monuments that are hidden in it, they are Greek, too, and the coins that we found are also Greek, and the inscriptions are Greek.”
Today, the Greek policy wisely uses this theory: on one hand, giving it as a “Greek gift” to the post-communist Macedonia and, on other hand, using it among the international lobby groups on the pretext that the Republic of Macedonia steals the Greek history; and that it has territorial demands against Greece. According to this, if we take into account that Greece was the biggest importer of arms globally for 2007 (Financial Times, April 16, 2007), it is logical to ask the question if this is not a preparation for political aggression (a demand for the name is a demand for the land – Nomen est Omen), for “legitimate” armed threat.
From these reasons, we recommend to the Macedonian government:
1. To change the preamble of the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, such that the current formulation will be replaced with the regulation: “Republic of Macedonia is a country that belongs to all its citizens”.
2. To abandon its doctrine that the citizens of Republic of Macedonia are descendants of Alexander the Great. Alexander should be left as a cultural heritage to all countries in the Balkans and not a basis for the creation of national doctrines.
3. To reform the educational system in which the history will be taught based on authentic historical documents and not political and ideological interpretations.
4. To take into consideration the fact that the Bulgarians from Vardar and Aegean Macedonia, according to the principles of the League of Nations in Geneva, were considered as a Bulgarian national minority in Yugoslavia and Greece until 1944.
5. In the negotiations with Greece to take into consideration:
- The Convention for exchange of refugees from 1919 signed between Bulgaria and Greece;
- The agreement Kalfov-Politis from 1924 for the protection of the Bulgarian minority in Greece;
- Тhe financial agreement Molov-Kafandaris from 1927 that precisely defines the afore mentioned Convention;
- Тhe consent of both sides, Bulgaria and Greece, from 1963, that the disputed questions for the exchange of refugees, pertaining to the above mentioned agreements, and the demands for properties that originate from them, were resolved with a comprehensive agreement.
6. To strengthen the economic and cultural relations with all neighbours, especially with Bulgaria and Albania, without the inherited prejudices from the history, and to adopt and apply the Bulgarian experience towards NATO and EU membership.
7. To recognize independent Kosovo as soon as possible and request for U.S., Bulgarian and Turkish NATO troops stationed on the border with Kosovo and Serbia.
At the same time, we recommend to the Republic of Bulgaria:
1. To continue to support the ideals of the IMRO for a free and independent Macedonian state.
2. To take an active involvement in the “name issue” and to clarify the ethnic character of Macedonia to the relevant international organizations, and especially to the international diplomatic and academic community.
3. as a member of the European Union, to take care for the protection of the human rights of the Bulgarians in Greece, protection of the Bulgarian toponyms, to help the foundation of Bulgarian schools, and reconstruction of old Bulgarian churches and Bulgarian cemeteries.
Greece must understand that the stability of the Balkan region and the prompt NATO membership of the Republic of Macedonia are very crucial at this moment. If Macedonia was as petty as Greece, we would insist that their part of Macedonia be named "Southern Macedonia".
Our sincere conviction is that the name Republic of Macedonia is the only possible solution to the name issue, provided that the rights and opportunities of the Macedonian Bulgarians and all the citizens living there are guaranteed.
In presenting this Memorandum, we sincerely hope that the high places to whom this statement is presented will do in the name of Balkan stability, human decency and Christian principles all that is possible to preserve the name Republic of Macedonia and the historical truth about its peoples.
President of the Bulgarian Cultural Club – Skopie
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Credit to: George Genov - PhD, editor of "VARDAR",Canada