FYR Macedonia's Claims on Ancient Macedon Herritage

Valens

Ad Honorem
Feb 2014
8,310
Colonia Valensiana
This is still a controversial subject in the Balkans, especially for Greeks and Macedonians. I thought we could discuss it in the historical, but also cultural and, inevitably political context.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macedonia_naming_dispute

The modern country of Macedonia, became a sovereign nation after the collapse of Yugoslavia in the early 90's. A dispute over the country's name erupted with neighboring Greece, which denies Skopje the right to the name of 'Macedonia', a name of one of Greece's territorial units, and it also considers it a part of the attempt to steal Greek historical and cultural heritage.
The result is that Macedonia is officially known as Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, but its constitutional name is 'Republic of Macedonia' (somebody can correct me if I'm wrong).
Greece refused to recognize it under this name, and blocked Macedonian entrance into NATO, and would likely oppose its EU accession.

Successive Macedonian governments have promoted nationalism as means of building a new national identity. Macedonia also claims Alexander the Great (an airport in the country's capital bears the name of Alexander the Great) and the heritage of Ancient Kingdom of Macedon.

Recently, however, the new government hinted it may make some concessions in the name dispute, and the PM also said the country would no claim to be the sole successor of the Ancient Kingdom.

I would like we discuss the historical context of the topic.
 

Tsar

Ad Honorem
Apr 2015
2,010
Serbia
It is well known how popular Alexander the Great was. Many of later rulers, Caesar and Octavian August included, sought to emulate him. In the 3rd century a romance called Alexandria was codified, incorporating many stories about Alexander's life and deeds. The redactions of the romance became vastly popular during medieval times. In 13th century the South Slavic redactions of the romance appeared.

One can trace the popularity of Alexandria on the West Balkans during early modern era: Albanians Marin Barleti (1450-1513) and Frang Bardhi (1606-1643) draw parallels between Scanderbeg and Alexander the Great (even drawing the genealogy between the two) and use the names of Arbër, Macedonia and Epirus interchangeably. Another Albanian, Pjetër Bogdani (1630–1689), states that Alexander the Great and Pyrrhus hail from the region of Arbër. Ragusan Ivo Gundulić (1589-1683) calls Alexander the Great "Lesander the Serb".

The territory called Macedonia got its present shape during the 19th century, and started living in approximately the same time as "the Balkans". The origin of both terms is western, not native.



While travelling through Macedonia in 1844, a Russian professor called Viktor Grigorovich noted "In all lands that I saw I did not hear other names, except two ones, which are Alexander the G(reat) and Marko Kraljević." The Bulgarian propagandists were indeed delighted with the poems about Alexander. The Miladinov Brothers, who published a collection called Bulgarian Folk Songs in Zagreb in 1861, started the collection with a folk tale about Alexander the Great. The Greek schools in Macedonia insisted on the idea that all the population of whole "geographic Macedonia" originated from Ancient Macedonians, and that the fact that they spoke a South Slavic language was caused by historical circumstances. The Bulgarian nationalists accepted this discourse, using it to "affirm" the ancient Bulgarian nation: this trend survived until 1940's.

During the early socialist years the issue of continuity was almost completely neglected. Liberalization of federal policies brought to the rule of the "decentralizers" under the party leader Krste Crvenkovski (1964-1974). In 1967 the so-called Macedonian Orthodox Church proclaimed autocephaly. This was followed by historiography as well: in 1969 the (Macedonian) Institute of National History published "History of Macedonian People". While it gave minor attention to the antiquity, the book claimed that the Macedonians were a mixture of the Ancient Macedonians and the Slavs, the second group being dominant. In 1967 however a special department for ancient and medieval history was established in the aforementioned institute, headed by a Croat, Stjepan Anatoljak, who promoted alternative historiography. The results came soon, as Blaže Ristovski started claiming the dominance of Ancient Macedonian component, which gave "the name, the blood and the territory" to the Macedonians. The Institute printed a new book already in 1970 ("Macedonia and the Macedonians"), showing ancient history of Macedonia as an integral part of Macedonian history.

In 1974 Krste Crvenkovski was replaced by "centralizers" loyal to federal authorities, and the question was completely ignored until 1991. In September 1991 the independence was proclaimed. The new constitution, drawn in the same year, proclaimed the fight for well-being of "all Macedonians". In 1990 a nationalist party called VMRO-DPMNE was founded, claiming the work on "unification of all Macedonians". Even though the constitution claimed explicitly that Macedonia had no pretension on any foreign territory, the wave of nationalism and various incidents provoked the Greek government into the struggle for the name of Macedonia, and the rest of the text would belong to the "Current Events" sectioon.
 

Edric Streona

Ad Honorem
Feb 2016
4,546
Japan
Most of Old Macedon lies in Greece. Though FYROM is all in former Macedonian territory, the lands of Alexander and Phillip are not. So they have the right to the name I suppose but no claim on the history or Alexander.

Maybe Moesia is better?
 
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At Each Kilometer

Ad Honorem
Sep 2012
4,149
Bulgaria
Most of Old Macedon lies in Greece. Though FYROM is all in former Macedonian territory, the lands of Alexander and Phillip are not. So they have the right to the name I suppose but no claim on the history or Alexander.

Maybe Moesia is better?
Moesia was conquered by the romans and though initially it was treated as part of roman province of macedonia, it became separate imperial province, ruled by imperial prefects. Later moesia was divided into moesia superior and moesia inferior. The point is that roman moesia was bounded to the south by the haemus (today balkan mountains).

EDIT: .. south of the balkan mountains is/was thrace.
 
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Dec 2017
167
America
Most of Old Macedon lies in Greece. Though FYROM is all in former Macedonian territory, the lands of Alexander and Phillip are not. So they have the right to the name I suppose but no claim on the history or Alexander.

Maybe Moesia is better?
As far as I know, they claim Alexander and Philip on the basis that they (Slavic Macedonians) are part of the continuity of the ancient Macedonians. So to them, the history of all of ancient Macedonia (which includes Alexander and Philip) is their history. Greek Macedonians also claim Pelagonian Macedonian history despite Pelagonia being outside of Greece's borders because they see themselves as the contuinity of the ancient Macedonians and all Macedonian history as an intrinsic part of Greek history.

The Moesi mainly lived in Serbia and to a lesser extent Bulgaria, not FYROM. FYROM was mainly inhabited Macedonians (Pelagonia) and Paeonians (rest of FYROM). The Roman province of Moesia didn't either include any of FYROM. So Moesia wouldn't make sense, but I feel like discussing alternative names for them is heading into the current events section.
 

At Each Kilometer

Ad Honorem
Sep 2012
4,149
Bulgaria
As far as I know, they claim Alexander and Philip on the basis that they (Slavic Macedonians) are part of the continuity of the ancient Macedonians. So to them, the history of all of ancient Macedonia (which includes Alexander and Philip) is their history. Greek Macedonians also claim Pelagonian Macedonian history despite Pelagonia being outside of Greece's borders because they see themselves as the contuinity of the ancient Macedonians and all Macedonian history as an intrinsic part of Greek history.

The Moesi mainly lived in Serbia and to a lesser extent Bulgaria, not FYROM. FYROM was mainly inhabited Macedonians (Pelagonia) and Paeonians (rest of FYROM). The Roman province of Moesia didn't either include any of FYROM. So Moesia wouldn't make sense, but I feel like discussing alternative names for them is heading into the current events section.
Macedonians often quote Demosthenes and his speeches against Philip II of Macedon, especially this part of 3rd Philippic:

... not only no Greek, nor related to the Greeks, but not even a barbarian from any place that can be named with honors, but a pestilent knave from Macedonia, whence it was never yet possible to buy a decent slave
Other ancient Greek orators and authors like Pausanias and his remark about the Battle of Chaeronea and the plight of defeated Greeks, Thrasymachus with Greeks being slaves to Macedonian king (Archelaus), list continues..

Their point is because the ancient Greeks called all non-Greeks barbarians, they did not consider neither the Macedonian king nor his subjects to be Greek, but foreigners to the ancient Greek world.

EDIT: It's worth to mention that when Kingdom of Yugoslavia was formed what is today Republic of Macedonia was one of the 9 provinces of this kingdom. The very name Macedonia was prohibited in Yugoslavia so it was named Vardarska banovina. Banovina = province, Vardarska after the Vardar river, the mayor river in this part of the balkans.

Greeks who care to participate in discussions with these particular northern neighbours of theirs refer to Republic of Macedonia as FYROM (short of former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) or Vardarska (see above).
 
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