Aegean Macedonia

Aegean Macedonia

:"This article is about the term "Aegean Macedonia", for the region in Greece, see Macedonia (Greece)."

"Aegean Macedonia" is a term that refers to the Greek region of Macedonia. It is currently mainly used in the Republic of Macedonia to refer to the Greek province of Macedonia, including in the irredentist context of a United Macedonia."The Macedonian Conflict: Ethnic Nationalism in a Transnational World", Loring M. Danforth, p. 37] The term has no circulation in Greece, since "Aegean" usually refers to the Greek islands or to stricly coastal areas with direct access to the Aegean Sea. The origins of the term seem to be rooted in the mid 1940s but its modern usage is considered both ambiguous and irredentist. The term has occasionally appeared on maps circulated in the Republic of Macedonia, which envisioned Greek Macedonia (referred to as "Aegean Macedonia") as part of a "Greater Macedonia", and is regarded as a non-recognition of current European borders, including the legitimacy of Greek sovereignty over the area. The origin of the geographical terminology is arguable.

During the Greek Civil War, the Greek government referred to the usage as a "new term" only recently introduced by Josip Broz Tito in Yugoslavia, [Greek Ministry of Press and Information, "I enandion tis Ellados epivoulis ["Designs against Greece"] ", Athens 1947; citing a speech by Tito from 11 October 1945 (GFM A/24581/G2/1945).] implying that it considered it part of the Yugoslav campaign of laying claim to Greek Macedonia.

Tito's war time representative to Yugoslav Macedonia, Svetozar Vukmanović-Tempo, is credited with promoting the usage of the new regional names of the Macedonian region for irredentist purposes. Indeed, Tsola Dragoicheva, in her Memoirs, 'Pobadata', Sofia 1979, writes that, "Under pressure from Tempo, the Macedonian HQ issued a Manifesto in October 1943, for the slogan about a 'United Macedonia', which began to crop up in CPY documents. Hitherto, the Yugoslav party leadership only had designs on Vardar Macedonia. Tempo himself wrote [(Struggle for the Balkans,London: Merlin 1980)] that, “The slogan about a united Macedonia first appeared in the Manifesto of the HQ of the Macedonian National Liberation Army, at the beginning of October 1943. There had been no mention of it earlier in any document either in Yugoslavia or in Macedonia”. Tempo also attacked the Greek Communist Party (KKE) because it, "only recognises the Macedonian people of Aegean Macedonia a right to equality in the framework of the Greek State". [(On the Popular Revolution in Greece (O narodnou revolucijiu u Grckoj), Manchester: Merlin Press, 1985, first publication 1949)] The ideological context was always 'anti bourgeois-democratic parties' and in line with communist ideology.

In 1946, the Belgrade newspaper Borba, (August 26, 1946) published an article under the title "Aegean Macedonia", it was also published in Skopje’s Nova Makedonija with a map of Yugoslav territorial claims against Greece. A month later, on September 22, the Premier of the People's Republic of Macedonia, Dimitar Vlahov [speech in Nova Makedonija, on September 26, 1946] announced, "We openly declare that Greece has no rights whatsoever over Aegean Macedonia...". Vlahov then went on to publish, "The Problems of Aegean Macedonia", Belgrade, June 1947.

By 1950, the term 'Aegean Macedonians' had been officially adopted by the (Slav) Macedonian refugees in Skopje who began publishing the newspaper, ‘The Voice of the Aegeans’; it is later found amongst diaspora communities. [(Some of this material is quoted from, E. Kofos, Nationalism and Communism in Macedonia, Thessaloniki, Institute of Balkan Studies, 1964)]

In Greece, the Slav Macedonians seemed relieved to be acknowledged as Slavomacedonians. A native of the region, former exile, teacher and local historian, Pavlos Koufis, says in "Laografika Florinas kai Kastorias" (Folklore of Florina and Kastoria), ['Laografika Florinas kai Kastorias', Athens, 1996, probably published by the author] that,

“ [During its Panhellenic Meeting in September 1942, the KKE mentioned that it recognises the equality of the ethnic minorities in Greece] the KKE recognised that the Slavophone population was ethnic minority of Slavomacedonians] . This was a term, which the inhabitants of the region accepted with relief. [Because] Slavomacedonians = Slavs+Macedoninas. The first section of the term determined their origin and classified them in the great family of the Slav peoples.”

The name "Aegean Macedonia" is considered by some Greeks as, at best, ambiguous. On the one hand it contains a reference to a geographical area which, since Homeric times, is historically associated with the Greeks (the Aegean), but, as expressed above, there is also the experience that it is used by irredentist organizations in the FYRepublic of Macedonia and beyond who support a United Macedonia, contrary to the desires of the people living in the area. Writing in 1953, Lazar Mojsov seems surprised that the Greeks find the term "Aegean Macedonia" insulting, and uses it frequently, noting that "..."Politis" (former Greek minister of external affairs) "didn't miss the opportunity to attack even the very term "Aegean Macedonia", stating that it was "coined by the communist propagandists". [("Лазо Мојсов, Околу прашањето на македонското национално малцинство во Грција, ИНИ, Скопје, 1954")]

The term is currently used by some scholars, mostly contextualised, along with the sister terms Vardar Macedonia (describing the part of Macedonia in which the Republic of Macedonia inhabits) and Pirin Macedonia (describing the part of Macedonia in which the Blagoevgrad province of Bulgaria inhabits). The term is used more frequently by Ethnic Macedonians and can have irredentist connotations.

ee also

*Aegean Macedonians


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