The Search for independence, Macedonia
The Search for independence, Macedonia
The title of the essay is “The Search for independence, Macedonia”, the reason I decided to do this essay on this question is because I have lived and stydied in my society enough to know is it really independent or not.
Back home I had the chance to talk to people and see their point of view on this matter, of course all of them are patriotic and say that “Macedonia is independend and it will stay independetn forever”.
But will it stay independent or not is not the argument. My argument is, is the country independent or are the people just deluding themselves. To explain that I stated the Historical bacground from the time of Alexander the Great,Otoman Empire,Balkan Wars, First and Second World War, Period of Yugoslavian Federation till the end of the Federation and the final gaining of independence for Macedonia. So after the whole process of struglle troughout the centuries from the time when it was a great empire and now when it is an insignificant part of the world did Macedonia sucseed to raise itself or did it fall in the darkness forever, long time ago?
I am clearly stating in the conclusion that until the country overcomes all the obsticales sated in the essay it will not acheeve its full independence because there will be the other countries to give statements like the ones where they say that all the culture and tradition belongs to them.Of course forgeting about the fact that long time ago we were all slavs and some of the traditions are common for all the region. but I hope that it will happen like the rest of the Macedonian people.
Macedonia is a crossroads where East and West meet, where European and Asian civilizations unite to create new values.
Macedonia is the heart of Balkan Peninsula. Something that is shown, as true is that Macedonian geography had its contribution to a lot of problems connected with Macedonian’s independence. Macedonia with its valleys full of graves, rivers and lakes with churches and monasteries built around them, a mountain with caves is the right place where History and Geography meet.
Looking at the past, we can see that Balkan Peninsula usually mean endless conflicts and wars, conspiracies and murders, undignified human being, misfortune and suffering. And however, Macedonian’s lakes have shined like mirrors among all the rivers of blood and the towns in flames.
On the other hand Balkan Peninsula also mean Alexander the Grate’s venture, place where Christ’s apostles brought Christianity, where the Son of God spoke Slavic for the firs time, where the great educator, Clement of Ohrid laid the foundations of Slavic literature. And one of first conclusion that is imposing is undoubtedly that, the Macedonian people have survived in this Balkan Peninsula thanks to its own culture as creative gift and despite all the horrors of war and sufferings.
If we speak about the Macedonian history we found that it has been interpreted in different ways, from different aspects and viewpoints. It has been usurped falsified, supplemented and altered. Written by others, who did not have a lot of knowledge, it has been adjusted depending on interests. Usually it has been broadened and narrowed, according to the situation and various interests.
Exactly the individuality of Macedonia has been disputed. To Macedonia and Macedonian’s were given different names, difficult to pronounce and difficult to remember. Statues of kings and gods have been demolished, old manuscripts have been burnt, and graves have been erased. Books written in Macedonian language have been burnt by Bulgarians and Greeks in order to deny the existance of the language.Also a lot of creative achievements produced during the centuries in Macedonia have been disappeared, and nobody knows how.
But despite all attempts, despite long domination, despite the destruction’s, migrations, deportations and naming and renaming, the Macedonian people hardly but anyway succeeded to preserve its individuality, as well as individuality of its culture and as result to create independence of own state.
Macedonia, therefore, exists and endures by the rules of its own development and by its own manner.
Basic data on Macedonia
Macedonia is South European-state on the Balkan Peninsula, bounded by Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Greece and Albania. It belongs to the group of small continental states. Such geographical features beside the above-mentioned negative influences, on other side give broad opportunities for geographic connections, traffic communications and economic links. Macedonia is mountainous country with many lowlands. As well as Macedonia is characterized by develop hydrographic net. As population concerned Macedonia has one of most complex ethnic population in Europe. Macedonian Slavs made up 67 percent of the population. These people are traditionally Orthodox Christians and speak a South Slavic language called Macedonian. Neighboring Bulgaria does not recognize Macedonian as separate language. While the overall population growth rate in Macedonia is relatively low, the ethnic Albanians have a growth rate substantially higher than that of the Macedonians. That growth rate is in disorder with the economy growth rate, which is one serious problem.
In relation to the age structure it is interesting to mention that the number of people between ages 0-19 for instance in capital Skopje make up to 30.0 percent of the total population. This means there is the possibility for rising number of people looking for employment when unemployment is constantly large problem.
Macedonia throughout History
I have mentioned before that the Balkan’s history was characterized by military and political strife. Because Balkan Peninsula was politically and economically important as an let say bridge between Europe and Asia and the main way from the Mediterranean Sea to the Black Sea, conflicts between Balkan peoples and nations had been common. Balkans also has played a key role in European power struggles, for example a huge conflict like the First World War started there.
However Macedonia existed as an independent state as early as the ancient period. It was a slave-owning society located on the territory known by the same name, but previously called Ematia. Ancient Macedonia had bordered with Greece in south, Epirus in the west, Illyria in the northwest and Thrace in the East. The population of this state had consisted of various nations. It was supposed that they were all been close to the Illyrians, the Thracians and the Greeks.
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Apart from this supposition, in the past Macedonia did not have close contacts with the Greek State and culture. Macedonia had its own culture and concerning the state it was organized on a very primitive basis. In the moment when the processes of development entered Macenonia started uniting its territory. Alexander I was the first to unite Macedonia. During the Philip II authority the borders of Macedonia were significantly expanded. He reorganized the military, defeated Greeks and raised Macedonia among the most powerful states. Later, his son, Alexander the Great in the perion of 356 to 323 B.C.
continued military territorial expansion. After he destroyed the powerful state of his southern neighbors, Alexander moved to the East and reached as far as India. Than Macedonia became the center of great empire.
But Roman’s aspirations toward the Balkans were present(215-205, 200-193, 171-167 B.C.) and Macedonia falls under Roman rule.
Macedonia was divided into regions within the Roman provinces and the Balkan Peninsula become Byzantine Empire.
During that period, the power of the knezes increased as well as the acceptance of Christianity. Feudalism established itself as a social order. One of the most famous rebellions against feudal system was by the Knez Nikola. The sons of knez Nikola (David, Moses, Aaron, and Samuil) rebel against Bulgarian authority and establish the medieval Macedonian state, which in 997 becomes the Macedonian Empire.
This kingdom became one of the most powerful in the Balkans. When the knez was assassinated Macedonia fell under Bulgarian rule. Later Czar Dushan managed the whole territory of Macedonia to put under Serbian rule.
Until the late Middle Ages, Ottoman Turks took control of almost the entire Balkan Peninsula. Macedonians took an active part in the struggle against Turkish rule. The largest Macedonian uprising against the Turks took place during the Austro-Turkish war and is known as the Karpos Uprising(1689). In this period large social changes happened in Macedonia as transition from a barter economy to a monetary economy, growth of cities, beginnings of a cultural and national awakening, expansion of education, publication of the books in the Macedonian language and development of Macedonian culture as whole.
It is important to stress that these were the first steps of gaining an independent state. Particularly the appearance of several very well organized resistance against five-century long Turkish occupation. Those were great achievements toward the independence. These were also years when the first socialist groups were formed in Macedonia. They claimed that independence of Macedonia was an important matter of the Macedonians and also propagated the idea of the creation of an independent Macedonian Republic.
Actually in the 19th century, one Balkan nation after another developed strong nationalist movements and won independence from the Turks.
Worth to mention here is that by the 1890’s in Macedonia a national movement was developed. In 1896 the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization /VMRO/ tried to resist the influence of the regional powers, Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia, which wanted control over Macedonia. They have used the slogan “Macedonia for the Macedonians”. However, It was failed attempting. As a result of the Balkan Wars of 1912-13 entire historical region of Macedonia was divided up among Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia.
After World War I, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the provinces of Croatia, Slovenia united with Serbia and Montenegro to the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenians. Later this kingdom has been renamed in Yugoslavia, which part was Macedonia too. In this period the name of Macedonia did not mentioned and the people were not recognized.
But probably, thinking about the later results, Macedonians did not stop to develop as nation in whole aspects of their life, cultural, social, and educational.
In the Second World War Yugoslavia and Greece fell to the Germans early in 1941 despite their stubborn resistance. For a brief period during the Second World War the territory of Macedonia was over Bulgaria, but afterwards was incorporated into Yugoslavia.
The idea of independence of Macedonia come true later in 1944, when the first Macedonian state was proclaimed but within the Yugoslav Federation. The founding of Yugoslav Macedonia in that time was mean full development of a Macedonian nationality with its own recognized language, culture and institutions. Thanks to Tito who was very tolerant of national groups and national issues in general, Macedonians succeeded in furthering their identity within Yugoslavia.
For independence of Macedonia there is important that in mid 1989 the ruling League of Communists of Macedonia, acting in line with developments elsewhere in Yugoslavia, committed itself to the introduction of multi-party politics.
The political party that most hardly promoted Macedonian nation is the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization – Democratic Party of Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE). They pledged as “all free Macedonians being united in a Macedonian state”. The party took a strong line on the issue of the country’s name as well as being relatively hostile to all other ethnic groups or nations.
There were two ethnic Albanian parties – the party for Democratic Prosperity (PDP) and the more radical National Democratic Party. There were the first signs that the Albanian minorities were becoming increasing radicals.
Finally in 1991 and 1992 four Yugoslav republics, and Macedonia too, declared their independence from Yugoslavia. Those republics were (Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia and Slovenia), Serbia and Montenegro preserved the name “Yugoslavia”.
On 8th September Macedonia becomes really and finally Independent State. It proclaimed the independent Republic of Macedonia along with its Constitution on 17th November 1991.
Is it really independent…?
This country cannot be viewed as worth as it was, if it did not in first place follow the roads taken by other civilized societies. And Macedonia did. Macedonia was an active member of an old culture and civilization that was absolutely important for creation of an independent Macedonian State.
When talking about the independence of Macedonia, we must not forget that one of the first steps is creation of the Macedonia is Macedonian language. That language, the Old Church Slavic language had been common language among all southern and eastern Slavs and partly among the western Slavs. Cyril and Methodius (855 after Christ) were the founders of Slavic literacy and literature. They were born in Thessaloniki (Solun) but the brothers were achieved full success precisely in Macedonia. Later they would spread to the other Slav countries. The oldest preserved Cyrillic monument has been discovered in Macedonia. Some of the best known documents in Slavonic literacy, written in Cyrillic where elements of the Macedonian version are to be found, originate from Macedonia. They show that Macedonian people were a highly cultured people, and they left traces within the cultural heritage of the Slavs as well as in civilization of the world in general.
Along with its cultural development which is very important to be independent as State, worth to mention is that the doors of democracy were always open in Macedonia and for everyone. Macedonia in the past, or former Macedonia and today was and is democratic country. I think that in Balkan and wider region there is not country that has such a democracy and inter-ethnic permanent improvement like Macedonia does. When we compare the human rights and life conditions in this region, we can get a conclusion that all ethnic groups and particularly the largest one as Albanian is, would rather choose to live in Macedonia than in other neighboring countries.
On the other hand, it is widely held view in Bulgaria that Macedonians are in fact Bulgarians, which mean permanent tendency amongst Bulgarians to deny the existence of a Macedonian minority in the country nor the existence of the language. And it is widely held view that the Greeks have always refused to recognize the Macedonians living in Greece as Macedonians. They refer them as “Slavophone Greeks”. Because of that many Macedonians living in Greece left it, or were expelled from Greece. Majority of them settled in Yugoslav Macedonia, because of much better life conditions and higher level of freedom of overall expressions. And Albania, which do not pay any attention on Macedonians living in Albania. And Serbs, they had not reconciled themselves to the loss of Macedonia. In the very beginning of the Macedonian’s independence from Yugoslavia, they were very hostile toward Macedonia and made some negotiations with the Greeks, in order to destroy the gained independence and probably get back the whole territory of Macedonia or even one its part.
As we see Macedonia had highly complex relationship with its neighbors. The fact that so many countries have an interest in Macedonia and that so many have minorities there, but also Macedonia had there its minority, in that connection made Macedonia an important place on regional problems. The capital Skopje, lied at the heart of region that had been amongst the most volatile in Europe. Apart from the ethnic Albanian riots in Skopje in 1992, Macedonia has managed to avoid significant political violence during the war in former Yugoslavia. And well known as very hosted country it accepted thousands of refugees. As controversy as always in case of this country on this extreme humanitarian effort, they have protested relating to the accommodations or something like that, for instance. If we count that in April 1993 there were 30,000 refugees from Bosnia, what to say just Macedonian’s fate. However, Macedonia has long been a refugee-producing and refugee-accepting area.
As a confirmation of Macedonian’ democracy is that ever since and no matter how many times Macedonia gained independence it has been paying significant attention to inter-ethnic relations, as well as development of their ethnic and cultural identities. Regarding the improvement of the inter-nation relations and protection of the rights of the minorities, Macedonia as state, usually have proved that it was trying through every day activities to integrate all entities in the area of its overall social life. That was related particularly to the Albanian citizens. Despite for long time they have showed significant and permanent growth, Macedonian State was supported and welcomed the growth of the participation of these nation within the all institutions of the system and overall life, especially education, even that growth was not in compliance with Macedonian’s economy growth.
Mutual respect and tolerance between citizens of different ethnic origin is a principle, which has been sustained in the development of inter ethnic relations in Macedonia. This principle is an expression of the centuries-lasting traditional and civilized co-existence on this Balkan area. Minorities, in accordance with the Constitution, laws and international documents enjoy all the rights and have all the responsibilities as citizens of Macedonia. This provides for the encouragement and protection of their ethnic and cultural identity, as well as protection of the integrity of the state as a whole.
Given that Macedonia, over the centuries, has been occupied by virtually all the regional powers Macedonia was always fearful about the main principles of Balkan politics. Here in Balkan Peninsula, as rule, each nation assumes that it had full right to regain the territory that was once within its boundaries, however it was long time ago.. The territory within Macedonia has been for centuries highly volatile and has witnessed successive wars. Here in Macedonia a possibility that history will repeat itself is permanently present. As well as that Macedonia might in every single moment fall in a complex game of nationalism involving itself and its neighbors. And that’s why the United Nations Security Council announced in December 1992 the deployment of a preventive peace keeping force.
Concerning the process of gaining independence of the new Macedonian State and the establishment of the political system and parliamentary democracy is important to enhance that the poorest country of the former Yugoslavia was the only republic that gained its independence peacefully. The maintenance of stability in Macedonia was a key element that for sure was serious contribution on reducing instability in Balkan region. The main interests were again about democracy, economic prosperity and national security. Since declaring its independence in 1991, the Macedonians have consistently developed and reformed economy and strengthened democracy and democratic institutions. Despite the hardships imposed by external forces, such as the United Nations sanctions against Serbia and the 1992-95 Greek trade embargo, Macedonia persisted in implementing the key reforms concerning economic stabilization program. There was a great help from the international organizations as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
Also very radical reforms of the economics and political life took place in Macedonia, in order to establish a new system of values of market economy and stable parliamentary democracy. These processes in the economic system have resulted in a dominant position of private ownership and defined the framework for the public sector towards its further transformation to private ownership. In the field of economy, a strict monetary policy has been applied. To this aim, efforts have been made to attract foreign investment, to develop small and medium enterprises, to enhance employment, and reforms in the financial, banking and tax system have been also undertaken.
As Constitution of Macedonia concerned, passed in 1991, and it said that: “Macedonia is constituted as a national country of the Macedonian people which guarantees complete civil equality and permanent mutual living of the Macedonian people with the Albanians, Turks, Vlachs, Roma and the other nationalities living in the Macedona.
The new Constitution have confirmed the character and organization of the state. Macedonia was defined as a sovereign, independent, democratic and social state, in which the sovereignty originates from the citizens and belongs to the citizens. The Constitution prescribed the constitutional basis for a new organization of the state authority and for developing parliamentary democracy, in which citizen’s freedom and rights and their protection are the basis of the system. As fundamental values of the state order, the Constitution laid down the rule of law, the division of the state power, political pluralism and free general and democratic elections, free expression of the ethnic affiliation, the legal protection of ownership, the freedom of the market and, local self-government, respect of generally accepted provisions of international law.
Defined in this way, the fundamental values of the constitutional order especially the principle of division of powers to legislative, executive and judicially, of parliamentary democracy and the rule of law determined the basis from the political system of the state. Also here the principles of European democracy were applied, particularly development of civil society, based on independent judiciary, freedom of association, an enhancement of inter-ethnic relations, freedom of speech and freedom of press, inviolability of ownership, freedom of religion and gender equality.
According to the Constitution the judiciary in Macedonia, was based on the constitutional principles of independence and autonomy, provides for the democratic and legal character of the state, through the rule of law and realization of the protection of human rights and freedom. The Supreme Court was proclaimed as the highest court in Macedonia and provides uniformity in the implementation of the laws by the courts. As well as responsibility of the Constitutional Court is to decide on the collision of powers between the holders of the legislative, the executive and the judicial power, as well as the collision of powers between the Macedonian authorities and the local self-government units. A particularly significant task of the Constitutional Court is to decide on the responsibility of the president of the State.
Also development of democratic processes in Macedonia has resulted in the establishment of numerous media, such independent television and radio channels, as well as newspapers and magazines. It is of particular importance that some of them are printed in the languages of ethnic minorities living in Macedonia.
In the development of its foreign orientation, Macedonia has imposed itself as country for peaceful co-operation. As well as Macedonian is a member of numerous international global and regional organizations as I said before United Nations, OSCE, and Council of Europe and others. The foreign orientation of Macedonian have provided favorable international conditions to it to come closer to the countries with developed democracy and developed market economy. Becoming a member of Euro-Atlantic integration – the European Union and NATO, was strategic objective of the whole foreign policy of Macedonia.
One of priorities of the foreign policy of Macedonia was also regional cooperation. Macedonia took part in almost all the regional initiatives in Southeast Europe. Development of friendly relations and close co-operation with the neighboring countries, as Albania, Bulgaria, Greece and Yugoslavia and the positive energy in the improvement of relations with these states was one of the priorities of the Macedonian foreign policy. In this way, Macedonia I am sure will continue to give its concrete contribution to the transformation of Southeast in region of peace, stability, security, prosperity and democracy.
This is the best sign what country Macedonia was and what state it used to be. As such high levels of democracy I think Macedonia always deserved its independence it will be for sure in the future.
In that sense, it as not in line with all mentioned before when the Greeks were argued concerning the name of the country and other smaller issues. They thought they based their opinion on history. And they proved their opinion by explanation given as the people living in Macedonia were not the descendants of the ancient Macedonians, but their ancestry can be traced back to the Slav tribes and moved into the area in the seventh century. As a consequence, the Greeks argue, the government of Macedonia has no right to use symbols or names dating back to the ancient period as an expansion of national identity today example is the flag which had to be changed. Macedonia as very flexible and tolerant country have changed its signs and adapted to its own history.
As young a man, who has been for a period of one year out of my own country, I had nice opportunity to see another country and its way of life. I saw a real democracy, and I felt it. And I saw very well organized society and people, which can call them selves Norwegians with proud. I also lived in a multinational college with students all over the world where I found out that the History is completely different from the one back home and I am not saying that the one back home is the correct one but I can see that some countries like Serbia are keen enough to change their previous history in order to get more tollerance and help from other more developed countries (Greece).
Probably due to the history or its surroundings, my country has to pass a lot of additional hardships to become a modern and developed society. I have no doubt that it will happen, but I have a little doubt when it would be.
When I think of the whole history I would say that there is still a chance, the country has to overcome the obstacles like the erasing of history and agree with the neighboring countries about the name, culture, language … Than it can say that it is completely independent.
Something what is evident, there is so much things to be concerned about, such as quicker and easier transition to modern society, evolution of economy, technology, improvement of civil society and humanity as whole. Essential component is education that is for luck no longer stumbling block.
I am sure we will succeed also in making the world favor to us. It is important for us, as we are part of this changing world.
1) “History of Macedonian nation” – Blaze Ristovski; 1990, Printed by Magnat, Skopje
- History for primary and secondary schools – d-r Novica Veljanovski, d-r Stojan
Kiselinovski, d-r Simo Mladenovski and d-r svetozar Naumovski; 1993 new edition, Kultura, Skopje, print NIP Nova Makedonija.
3) Macedonian newspapers: (Forum , Vecer, Dnevnik all from 2000, Skopje
- “International relations” – Petar Mangoski 1997 Skopje, Makedonska Kniga
- Internet search engines (Yahoo, Altavista),
Word Count: 3977
"...we note Greek claims that Northern Greece, or Aegean Macedonia, is 'more than 98.5% ethnically pure.' The purity is held to be Greek. However, the statement is not accepted by reputable opinion outside of Greece. For instance, the 1987 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica indicated that there were still 180,000 Macedonian speakers in this area, indicating a much greater percentage than 1.5%. If Macedonian activists from these areas are correct, there may be as many as 1,000,000 people from Macedonian-speaking backgrounds in Aegean Macedonia."
"For most of the past eighty years, the Greek government has consistently denied the existence of both a Macedonian nation and a Macedonian minority in northern Greece and has adopted a policy of forced assimilation toward the Slavic-speaking inhabitants of Aegean Macedonia."
"The United Nations, the United States State Department, Amnesty International, and various chapters of Helsinki Watch throughout the world disagree with the Greeks, in particular, about the presence of Macedonians (and other minorities) in Greece and have pressured them in recent times to change their behaviour toward their Macedonian-speaking minority."
"Greece is the only Southeast European country that does not recognize the presence of any national minorities in its territory. Turks are recognized as a mere “religious, Muslim” minority (which nevertheless is educated in Turkish), while Macedonians are not considered even a linguistic minority. The words “Turkish” and “Macedonian” have repeatedly led to the prosecution of their users, with courts handing down prison sentences or banning minority associations
Macedonian speaking areas.
Extract from the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia
Taking as the points of departure the historical, cultural, spiritual and statehood heritage of the Macedonian people and their struggle over centuries for national and social freedom as well as the creation of their own state, and particularly the traditions of statehood and legality of the Krushevo Republic and the historic decisions of the Anti-Fascist Assembly of the People's Liberation of Macedonia, together with the constitutional and legal continuity of the Macedonian state as a sovereign republic within Federal Yugoslavia and freely manifested will of the citizens of the Republic of Macedonia in the referendum of September 8th, 1991, as well as the historical fact that Macedonia is established as a national state of the Macedonian people, in which full equality as citizens and permanent co-existence with the Macedonian people is provided for Albanians, Turks, Vlachs, Romanies and other nationalities living in the Republic of Macedonia.
- the establishment of the Republic of Macedonia as a sovereign and independent state, as well as a civil and democratic one;
- the establishment and consolidation of the rule of law as a fundamental system of government;
- the guaranteeing of human rights, citizens' freedoms and ethnic equality;
- the provision of peace and a common home for the Macedonian people with the nationalities living in the Republic of Macedonia;
- the provision of social justice, economic wellbeing and prosperity in the life of the individual and the community
, 28th June, 1914 by Gavrilo Princip.
Karpos is the name of the person who led the uprising.
From 1945 to 1980 Yugoslavia was ruled by one man, Josip Broz, half Croat and half Slovene, better known by his pseudonym, Tito. Leader of the communist Partisan movement during World War II, Tito, with Allied backing, emerged as the undisputed leader of the country at the war's end. Tito was firmly committed to a multinational Yugoslavia.
See Appendix 1 for more informations on this issue.
See Appendix 2 for the old flag.