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Macedonia (region)

Macedonia (region)

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Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of the Balkan peninsula
Historical regions of the Balkan Peninsula
This is a list of major historical regions of the Balkan Peninsula. Note that these regions come from different time periods - from ancient to modern era - and may often overlap. National borders have been drawn across those regions multiple times over centuries so usually they cannot be assigned...

 in southeastern Europe. Its boundaries have changed considerably over time, but nowadays the region is considered to include parts of five Balkan countries: Greece
Greece
Greece , officially the Hellenic Republic , and historically Hellas or the Republic of Greece in English, is a country in southeastern Europe....

, the Republic of Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

, Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

, Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

, Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

, as well as Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe. Part of the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries, later the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia...

. It covers approximately 67000 square kilometre and has a population of 4.76 million.

Its oldest known settlements date back approximately 9,000 years. From the middle of the 4th century BC, the Kingdom of Macedon became the dominant power in Greece and the neighbouring regions; since then Macedonia has had a diverse history.

Boundaries and definitions


The definition of Macedonia has changed several times throughout history.

Prior to its expansion under Philip II
Philip II of Macedon
Philip II of Macedon "friend" + ἵππος "horse" — transliterated ; 382 – 336 BC), was a king of Macedon from 359 BC until his assassination in 336 BC. He was the father of Alexander the Great and Philip III.-Biography:...

, the ancient kingdom of Macedonia, to which the modern region owes its name, lay entirely within the current Greek province of Macedonia
Macedonia (Greece)
Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of Greece in Southern Europe. Macedonia is the largest and second most populous Greek region...

.

The Roman province of Macedonia consisted of what is today Northern and Central Greece, much of the geographical area of the present-day Republic of Macedonia and southeast Albania. Simply put, the Romans created a much larger administrative area under that name than the original ancient Macedon
Macedon
Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....

. In late Roman times, the provincial boundaries were reorganized to form the Diocese of Macedonia
Diocese of Macedonia
The Diocese of Macedonia was a diocese of the later Roman Empire, forming part of the praetorian prefecture of Illyricum. Its capital was Thessalonica....

, consisting of most of modern mainland Greece right across the Aegean to include Crete
Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

, southern Albania, and parts of modern-day Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia.

In the Byzantine Empire, a province under the name of Macedonia was carved out of the original Theme of Thrace, which was well east of the Struma River
Struma River
The Struma or Strymónas is a river in Bulgaria and Greece. Its ancient name was Strymōn . Its catchment area is 10,800 km²...

. This thema variously included parts of Thrace
Thrace
Thrace is a historical and geographic area in southeast Europe. As a geographical concept, Thrace designates a region bounded by the Balkan Mountains on the north, Rhodope Mountains and the Aegean Sea on the south, and by the Black Sea and the Sea of Marmara on the east...

 and gave its name to the Macedonian dynasty
Macedonian dynasty
The Macedonian dynasty ruled the Byzantine Empire from 867 to 1056, following the Amorian dynasty. During this period, the Byzantine state reached its greatest expanse since the Muslim conquests, and the Macedonian Renaissance in letters and arts began. The dynasty was named after its founder,...

. Hence, Byzantine documents of this era that mention Macedonia are most probably referring to the Macedonian thema. The region of Macedonia, on the other hand, which was ruled by the First Bulgarian Empire
First Bulgarian Empire
The First Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state founded in the north-eastern Balkans in c. 680 by the Bulgars, uniting with seven South Slavic tribes...

 throughout the 9th and the 10th century, was incorporated into the Byzantine Empire in 1018 as the Themе of Bulgaria
Bulgaria (theme)
For other uses, see Bulgaria The Theme of Bulgaria was a province of the Byzantine Empire established by Emperor Basil II after the victory over Samuel of Bulgaria and the fall of the First Bulgarian Empire in 1018. It was based on the wider regions of Skopje and Ohrid...

.

With the gradual conquest of southeastern Europe by the Ottomans in the late 14th century, the name of Macedonia disappeared as an administrative designation for several centuries and was rarely displayed on maps. The name was again revived to mean a distinct geographical region. In the late 19th century, it developed roughly the same borders that it has today.

Demographics


During medieval and modern times, Macedonia has been known as a Balkan region inhabited by ethnic Greeks, Albanians, Vlachs, Serbs, Bulgarians, Jews, and Turks. Today, as a frontier region where several very different cultures meet, Macedonia has an extremely diverse demographic profile.



  • Macedonian Greeks have ancient roots in Macedonia and many identify as descendants of the Greeks who lived in the Ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia; they self-identify culturally and regionally as "Macedonians" (Greek: Μακεδόνες, Makedónes). They form the majority of the region's population (~51%). They number approximately 2,500,000 and, today, they live almost entirely in Greek Macedonia
    Macedonia (Greece)
    Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of Greece in Southern Europe. Macedonia is the largest and second most populous Greek region...

    . The Greek Macedonian population is mixed, with other indigenous groups and with a large influx of Greek refugees descending from Asia Minor
    Asia Minor
    Asia Minor is a geographical location at the westernmost protrusion of Asia, also called Anatolia, and corresponds to the western two thirds of the Asian part of Turkey...

    , Pontic Greeks, and East Thracian Greeks in the early 20th century. This is due to the population exchange between Greece and Turkey
    Population exchange between Greece and Turkey
    The 1923 population exchange between Greece and Turkey was based upon religious identity, and involved the Greek Orthodox citizens of Turkey and the Muslim citizens of Greece...

    , during which over 1.2 million Orthodox Christian refugees from Turkey were settled in Greece, 638,000 of whom were settled in the Greek province of Macedonia. Smaller Greek minorities exist in Bulgaria and the Republic of Macedonia, although their numbers are difficult to ascertain. In official census results, only 86 persons declared themselves Greeks in Bulgarian Macedonia (Blagoevgrad Province) in 2001, out of a total of 3,408 in all Bulgaria; while only 442 persons described themselves as Greeks in the 2002 census in the Republic of Macedonia.

  • Ethnic Macedonians
    Macedonians (ethnic group)
    The Macedonians also referred to as Macedonian Slavs: "... the term Slavomacedonian was introduced and was accepted by the community itself, which at the time had a much more widespread non-Greek Macedonian ethnic consciousness...

     self-identify as "Macedonians" (Macedonian: Македонци, Makedonci) in an ethnic sense as well as in the regional sense. They are the second largest ethnic group in the region. Because of their primarily Slavic
    Slavic peoples
    The Slavic people are an Indo-European panethnicity living in Eastern Europe, Southeast Europe, North Asia and Central Asia. The term Slavic represents a broad ethno-linguistic group of people, who speak languages belonging to the Slavic language family and share, to varying degrees, certain...

     origin they are also known as "Macedonian Slavs" or more properly Slavmacedonians(Greek: Σλαβομακεδόνες, "Slavomakedones"). They form the majority of the population in the Republic of Macedonia
    Republic of Macedonia
    Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

     where according to the 2002 census, approximately 1,300,000 people declared themselves as Macedonians. According to the latest Bulgarian census held in 2001, there are 3,117 people declaring themselves ethnic Macedonians in the Blagoevgrad Province of Bulgaria (Pirin Macedonia). The official number of ethnic Macedonians in Bulgaria
    Ethnic Macedonians in Bulgaria
    Ethnic Macedonians in Bulgaria are a group in Bulgaria concentrated within Blagoevgrad province and the capital Sofia. In the 2011 Bulgarian census, 1,654 people officially declared themselves to be ethnic Macedonians. They are not currently recognized officially as an ethnic minority but were...

     is 5,071. A relatively small number of ethnic Macedonians exist among the Slavic-speakers of Greek Macedonia. There has not been a census in Greece on the question of mother tongue since 1951, when the census recorded 41,017 Slavic-speakers, mostly in the West Macedonia
    West Macedonia
    West Macedonia is one of the thirteen regions of Greece, consisting of the western part of Greek Macedonia. It is divided into the regional units of Florina, Grevena, Kastoria, and Kozani.-Geography:...

     periphery of Greece. The linguistic classification of the Slavic dialects spoken by these people can be either Bulgarian
    Bulgarian language
    Bulgarian is an Indo-European language, a member of the Slavic linguistic group.Bulgarian, along with the closely related Macedonian language, demonstrates several linguistic characteristics that set it apart from all other Slavic languages such as the elimination of case declension, the...

     or Macedonian
    Macedonian language
    Macedonian is a South Slavic language spoken as a first language by approximately 2–3 million people principally in the region of Macedonia but also in the Macedonian diaspora...

    , although the people themselves call their language "Slavic". Most of these people declare themselves as ethnic Greeks (Slavophone Greeks), although there are small groups espousing ethnic Macedonian and Bulgarian national identities. In the 1989 Albanian census, approximately 5,000 Albanian citizens declared themselves Macedonians.

  • Macedonian Bulgarians are ethnic Bulgarians who self-identify regionally as "Macedonians" (Bulgarian: Mакедонци, Makedontsi). They represent the bulk of the population of Bulgarian Macedonia (also known as "Pirin Macedonia"). They number approximately 370,000 in the Blagoevgrad Province
    Blagoevgrad Province
    Blagoevgrad Province , also known as Pirin Macedonia , is a province of southwestern Bulgaria. It borders four other Bulgarian provinces to the north and east, Greece to the south, and the Republic of Macedonia to the west. The province has 14 municipalities with 12 towns...

     where they are mainly situated. There are small Bulgarian-identifying groups in Albania, Greece and the Republic of Macedonia with an uncertain size. In the Republic of Macedonia, 1,417 people claimed a Bulgarian ethnic identity in the 2002 census. Paradoxically, during the last few years around 60,000 Macedonians have applied for Bulgarian citizenship and some 10,000 ethnic Macedonians have already obtained Bulgarian passports. Bulgaria's admission to the European Union
    European Union
    The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

     is evidently a powerful motivation factor. In order to obtain it they must sign a statement proving they are Bulgarian by origin, effectively not recognizing their rights as a minority.

  • Albanians
    Albanians
    Albanians are a nation and ethnic group native to Albania and neighbouring countries. They speak the Albanian language. More than half of all Albanians live in Albania and Kosovo...

     are another major ethnic group in the region. Ethnic Albanians make up the majority in certain northern and western parts of the Republic of Macedonia, and account for 25.2% of the total population of the Republic of Macedonia, according to the 2002 census.

  • Smaller numbers of Turks
    Turkish people
    Turkish people, also known as the "Turks" , are an ethnic group primarily living in Turkey and in the former lands of the Ottoman Empire where Turkish minorities had been established in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Romania...

    , Bosniaks
    Bosniaks
    The Bosniaks or Bosniacs are a South Slavic ethnic group, living mainly in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with a smaller minority also present in other lands of the Balkan Peninsula especially in Serbia, Montenegro and Croatia...

    , Roma, Serbs
    Serbs
    The Serbs are a South Slavic ethnic group of the Balkans and southern Central Europe. Serbs are located mainly in Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and form a sizable minority in Croatia, the Republic of Macedonia and Slovenia. Likewise, Serbs are an officially recognized minority in...

    , Vlachs
    Vlachs
    Vlach is a blanket term covering several modern Latin peoples descending from the Latinised population in Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. English variations on the name include: Walla, Wlachs, Wallachs, Vlahs, Olahs or Ulahs...

     (Aromanians
    Aromanians
    Aromanians are a Latin people native throughout the southern Balkans, especially in northern Greece, Albania, the Republic of Macedonia, Bulgaria, and as an emigrant community in Serbia and Romania . An older term is Macedo-Romanians...

     and Megleno-Romanians
    Megleno-Romanians
    The Megleno-Romanians or Meglen Vlachs or Moglenite Vlachs, are a small Eastern Romance people, currently inhabiting seven villages in the Moglena region spanning the Pella and Kilkis prefectures of Central Macedonia, Greece, and one village, Huma, across the border in the Republic of...

    ), Egyptians, Armenians
    Armenians
    Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

     and Jews
    Jews
    The Jews , also known as the Jewish people, are a nation and ethnoreligious group originating in the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East. The Jewish ethnicity, nationality, and religion are strongly interrelated, as Judaism is the traditional faith of the Jewish nation...

     (Sephardim
    Sephardi Jews
    Sephardi Jews is a general term referring to the descendants of the Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula before their expulsion in the Spanish Inquisition. It can also refer to those who use a Sephardic style of liturgy or would otherwise define themselves in terms of the Jewish customs and...

     and Romaniotes
    Romaniotes
    The Romaniotes or Romaniots are a Jewish population who have lived in the territory of today's Greece and neighboring areas with large Greek populations for more than 2,000 years. Their languages were Yevanic, a Greek dialect, and Greek. They derived their name from the old name for the people...

    ) can also be found in Macedonia.

Religion


Most present-day inhabitants of the region are Eastern Orthodox
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 Christians, principally of the Greek Orthodox
Church of Greece
The Church of Greece , part of the wider Greek Orthodox Church, is one of the autocephalous churches which make up the communion of Orthodox Christianity...

, Bulgarian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox Churches and Macedonian Orthodox Church
Macedonian Orthodox Church
The Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric or just Macedonian Orthodox Church is the body of Christians who are united under the Archbishop of Ohrid and Macedonia, exercising jurisdiction over Macedonian Orthodox Christians in the Republic of Macedonia and in exarchates in the Macedonian...

. Notable Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 minorities are present among the Albanian, Bulgarian
Bulgarian Muslims
The Bulgarian Muslims or Muslim Bulgarians are Bulgarians of the Islamic faith. They are generally thought to be the descendents of Slavs who converted to Islam during Ottoman rule...

 (Pomaks
Pomaks
Pomaks is a term used for a Slavic Muslim population native to some parts of Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo. The Pomaks speak Bulgarian as their native language, also referred to in Greece and Turkey as Pomak language, and some are fluent in Turkish,...

), Macedonian
Macedonian Muslims
The Macedonian Muslims , also known as Muslim Macedonians, Torbeš, ; , in older sources Pomaks are a minority religious group within the community of ethnic Macedonians who are Muslims...

 (Torbeš), Bosniak, and Turkish
Turkish people
Turkish people, also known as the "Turks" , are an ethnic group primarily living in Turkey and in the former lands of the Ottoman Empire where Turkish minorities had been established in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Greece, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Romania...

 populations.

Early Neolithic


While Macedonia shows signs of human habitation as old as the paleolithic period, the earliest known settlements, such as Nea Nikomedeia in Imathia Prefecture
Imathia Prefecture
Imathia is one of the regional units of Greece. It is part of the region of Central Macedonia. The capital of Imathia is the city of Veroia.-Administration:The regional unit Imathia is subdivided into 3 municipalities...

 (today's Greek Macedonia), date back 9,000 years. The houses at Nea Nikomedeia were constructed—as were most structures throughout the Neolithic in northern Greece—of wattle and daub
Wattle and daub
Wattle and daub is a composite building material used for making walls, in which a woven lattice of wooden strips called wattle is daubed with a sticky material usually made of some combination of wet soil, clay, sand, animal dung and straw...

 on a timber frame. The cultural assemblage includes well-made pottery in simple shapes with occasional decoration in white on a red background, clay female figurines of the 'rod-headed' type known from Thessaly
Thessaly
Thessaly is a traditional geographical region and an administrative region of Greece, comprising most of the ancient region of the same name. Before the Greek Dark Ages, Thessaly was known as Aeolia, and appears thus in Homer's Odyssey....

 to the Danube Valley, stone axes and adzes, chert blades, and ornaments of stone including curious 'nose plugs' of uncertain function. The assemblage of associated objects differs from one house to the next, suggesting some degree of craft specialisation had already been established from the beginning of the site's history. The farming economy was based on the cultivation of cereal crops such as wheat and barley and pulses
Pulse (legume)
A pulse is an annual leguminous crop yielding from one to twelve seeds of variable size, shape, and color within a pod. Pulses are used for food and animal feed. The term "pulse", as used by the Food and Agricultural Organization , is reserved for crops harvested solely for the dry seed...

 and on the herding of sheep and goats, with some cattle and pigs. Hunting played a relatively minor role in the economy. Surviving from 7000 to 5500 BCE, this Early Neolithic settlement was occupied for over a thousand years.

Middle Neolithic


The Middle Neolithic period (c. 5500 to 4500 BC) is at present best represented at Servia in the Haliacmon
Haliacmon
The Haliacmon is the longest river in Greece, with a total length of . Haliacmon is the traditional English name for the river, but many sources cite the formerly official Katharevousa version of the name, Aliákmon...

 Valley in western Macedonia, where the typical red-on-cream pottery in the Sesklo
Sesklo
Sesklo is a village nearby the city of Volos, in Thessaly , in the prefecture of Magnesia. It is part of the municipality Aisonia...

 style emphasises the settlement's southern orientation. Pottery of this date has been found at a number of sites in Central and Eastern Macedonia but so far none has been extensively excavated.

Late Neolithic


The Late Neolithic period (c. 4500 to 3500 BC) is well represented by both excavated and unexcavated sites throughout the region (though it should be noted that in Eastern Macedonia levels of this period are still called Middle Neolithic according to the terminology used in the Balkans). Rapid changes in pottery styles, and the discovery of fragments of pottery showing trade with quite distant regions, indicate that society, economy and technology were all changing rapidly. Among the most important of these changes were the start of copper working, convincingly demonstrated by Renfrew to have been learnt from the cultural groups of Bulgaria and Roumania to the North. Principal excavated settlements of this period include Makryialos and Paliambela near the western shore of the Thermaic gulf, Thermi to the south of Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

 and Sitagroi
Sitagroi
Sitagroi is a village and a former municipality in the Drama peripheral unit, East Macedonia and Thrace, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Prosotsani, of which it is a municipal unit. Population 5,266 . The seat of the municipality was in Fotolivos...

 and Dikili Tas in the Drama
Drama
Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning "action" , which is derived from "to do","to act" . The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a...

 plain. Some of these sites were densely occupied and formed large mounds (known to the local inhabitants of the region today as 'toumbas'. Others were much less densely occupied and spread for as much as a kilometer (Makryialos). Both types are found at the same time in the same districts and it is presumed that differences in social organisiation are reflected by these differences in settlement organisation. Some communities were clearly concerned to preotect themselves with different kinds of defensive arrangements: ditches at Makryialos and concentric walls at Paliambela. The best preserved buildings were discovered at Dikili Tas, where long timber-framed structures had been organised in rows and some had been decorated with bulls' skulls fastened to the outside of the walls and plastered over with clay.
Remarkable evidence for cult activity has been found at Promachonas
Promachonas
Promachonas is a village and a former community in the Serres regional unit, Greece. Since the 2011 local government reform it is part of the municipality Sintiki, of which it is a municipal unit. Population 252 . A major border crossing with Bulgaria is located here...

-Topolnica, which straddles the Greek Bulgarian border to the north of Serres
Serres
Serres is a city in Greece, seat of the Serres prefecture.Serres may also refer to:Places:* Serres, Germany, a part of Wiernsheim in Baden-WürttembergIn France:* Serres, Aude in the Aude département...

. Here a deep pit appeared to have been roofed to make a subterranean room; in it were successive layers of debris including large numbers of figurines, bulls' skulls, and pottery, including several rare and unusual shapes.

The farming economy of this period continued the practices established at the beginning of the Neolithic, although sheep and goats were less dominant among the animals than they had previously been, and the cultivation of vines (Vitis vinifera
Vitis vinifera
Vitis vinifera is a species of Vitis, native to the Mediterranean region, central Europe, and southwestern Asia, from Morocco and Portugal north to southern Germany and east to northern Iran....

) is well attested.

Only a few burials have been discovered from the whole of the Neolithic period in northern Greece and no clear pattern can be deduced. Grave offerings, however, seem to have been very limited.

Ancient Macedonia (500 BC to 146 BC)



In classical times, the region of Macedonia comprised parts of what at the time was known as Macedonia, Illyria and Thrace. Among others, in its lands were located the kingdoms of Paeonia, Dardania, Macedonia and Pelagonia, historical tribes like the Agrianes, and colonies of southern Greek city states. Prior to the Macedonian ascendancy, parts of southern Macedonia were populated by the Bryges
Bryges
Bryges or Briges is the historical name given to a people of the ancient Balkans. They are generally considered to have been related to the Phrygians, who during classical antiquity lived in western Anatolia. Both names, Bryges and Phrygians, are assumed to be variants of the same root. Based on...

, a Thracian people, while western, (i.e., Upper
Upper Macedonia
Upper Macedonia is a geographical and tribal term to describe the regions that became part of the kingdom of Macedon in the early 4th century BC. From that date, its inhabitants were politically equal to Lower Macedonians...

) Macedonia, was inhabited by Macedonian and Illyrian tribes
Illyrians
The Illyrians were a group of tribes who inhabited part of the western Balkans in antiquity and the south-eastern coasts of the Italian peninsula...

. Whilst numerous wars are later recorded between the Illyrian and Macedonian Kingdoms, the Bryges might have co-existed peacefully with the Macedonians. In the time of Classical Greece
Classical Greece
Classical Greece was a 200 year period in Greek culture lasting from the 5th through 4th centuries BC. This classical period had a powerful influence on the Roman Empire and greatly influenced the foundation of Western civilizations. Much of modern Western politics, artistic thought, such as...

, Paionia
Paionia
In ancient geography, Paeonia or Paionia was the land of the Paeonians . The exact original boundaries of Paeonia, like the early history of its inhabitants, are very obscure, but it is believed that they lay in the region of Thrace...

, whose exact boundaries are obscure, originally included the whole Axius
Vardar
The Vardar or Axios is the longest and major river in the Republic of Macedonia and also a major river of Greece. It is long, and drains an area of around . The maximum depth of river is ....

 River valley and the surrounding areas, in what is now the northern part of the Greek region of Macedonia
Macedonia (Greece)
Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of Greece in Southern Europe. Macedonia is the largest and second most populous Greek region...

, most of the Republic of Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

, and a small part of western Bulgaria. By 500 BC, the ancient kingdom of Macedon
Macedon
Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....

 was centered somewhere between the southern slopes of Lower Olympus and the lowest reach of the Haliakmon River. During the Persian Wars, the kingdom of Macedonia was subject to the Persians but after the battle of Plataia regained its freedom. Under Philip II and Alexander the Great, the kingdom of Macedonia forcefully expanded, placing the whole of the region of Macedonia under their rule.
Alexander's conquests produced a lasting extension of Hellenistic culture and thought across the ancient Near East
Near East
The Near East is a geographical term that covers different countries for geographers, archeologists, and historians, on the one hand, and for political scientists, economists, and journalists, on the other...

, but his empire broke up on his death. His generals divided the empire between them, founding their own states and dynasties. The kingdom of Macedon was taken by Cassander
Cassander
Cassander , King of Macedonia , was a son of Antipater, and founder of the Antipatrid dynasty...

, who ruled it until his death in 297 BC. At the time, Macedonian control over the Thracoillyrian states of the region slowly waned, although the kingdom of Macedonia remained the most potent regional power. This period also saw several Celtic invasions into Macedonia. However, the Celts
Gallic invasion of the Balkans
Gallic groups, originating from the various La Tène chiefdoms, began a south-eastern movement into the Balkan peninsula from the 4th century BC. Although Celtic settlements were concentrated in the western half of the Carpathian basin, there were notable incursions, and settlements, within the...

 were each time successfully repelled by Cassander, and later Antigonus, leaving little overall influence on the region.

Roman Macedonia


Macedon
Macedon
Macedonia or Macedon was an ancient kingdom, centered in the northeastern part of the Greek peninsula, bordered by Epirus to the west, Paeonia to the north, the region of Thrace to the east and Thessaly to the south....

ian sovereignty in the region was brought to an end at the hands of the rising power of Rome in the 2nd century BC. Philip V of Macedon
Philip V of Macedon
Philip V was King of Macedon from 221 BC to 179 BC. Philip's reign was principally marked by an unsuccessful struggle with the emerging power of Rome. Philip was attractive and charismatic as a young man...

 took his kingdom to war against the Romans in two wars during his reign (221 BC-179 BC). The First Macedonian War
First Macedonian War
The First Macedonian War was fought by Rome, allied with the Aetolian League and Attalus I of Pergamon, against Philip V of Macedon, contemporaneously with the Second Punic War against Carthage...

 (215 BC-205 BC) was fairly successful for the Macedonians but Philip was decisively defeated in the Second Macedonian War
Second Macedonian War
The Second Macedonian War was fought between Macedon, led by Philip V of Macedon, and Rome, allied with Pergamon and Rhodes. The result was the defeat of Philip who was forced to abandon all his possessions in Greece...

 in (200 BC-197 BC). Although he survived war with Rome, his successor Perseus of Macedon
Perseus of Macedon
Perseus was the last king of the Antigonid dynasty, who ruled the successor state in Macedon created upon the death of Alexander the Great...

 (reigned 179 BC-168 BC) did not; having taken Macedon into the Third Macedonian War
Third Macedonian War
The Third Macedonian War was a war fought between Rome and King Perseus of Macedon. In 179 BC King Philip V of Macedon died and his talented and ambitious son, Perseus, took his throne. Perseus married Laodike, daughter of King Seleucus IV Keraunos of Asia, and increased the size of his army...

 in (171 BC-168 BC), he lost his kingdom when he was defeated. Macedonia was initially divided into four republics subject to Rome before finally being annexed in 146 BC as a Roman province
Roman province
In Ancient Rome, a province was the basic, and, until the Tetrarchy , largest territorial and administrative unit of the empire's territorial possessions outside of Italy...

. Around this time, vulgar Latin was introduced in the Balkans by Latin-speaking colonists and military personnel.

With the division of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 into west and east in 298 AD, Macedonia came under the rule of Rome's Byzantine
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

 successors. The population of the entire region was, however, depleted by destructive invasions of various Gothic
Goths
The Goths were an East Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin whose two branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire and the emergence of Medieval Europe....

 and Hun tribes
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

 c. 300 – 400s AD. Despite this, other parts of the Byzantine empire continued to flourish, in particular some coastal cities such as Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

 became important trade and cultural centre. Despite the empire's power, from the beginning of the 6th century the Byzantine dominions were subject to frequent raids by various Slavic tribes
Early Slavs
The early Slavs were a diverse group of tribal societies in Migration period and early medieval Europe whose tribal organizations indirectly created the foundations for today’s Slavic nations .The first mention of the name Slavs dates to the 6th century, by which time the Slavic tribes inhabited a...

 which, in the course of centuries, eventually resulted in drastic demographic and cultural changes in the Empire's Balkan provinces. Although traditional scholarship attributes these changes to large-scale colonizations by Slavic-speaking groups, it has been proposed that a generalized dissipation of Roman identity might have commenced in the third century, especially amongst rural provincials who were crippled by harsh taxation and famines. Given this background, penetrations carried by successive waves of relatively small numbers of Slavic warriors and their families might have been capable of assimilating large numbers of indegenes into their cultural model, which was sometimes seen as a more attractive alternative. In this way and in the course of time, great parts of Macedonia came to be controlled by Slavic-speaking communities. Despite numerous attacks on Thessaloniki, the city held out, and Byzantine-Roman culture continued to flourish, although Slavic cultural influence steadily increased.


The Slavic settlements organized themselves along tribal and territorially based lines which were referred to by Byzantine Greek historians as "Sklaviniai". The Sklaviniai continued to intermittently assault the Byzantine Empire, either independently, or aided by Bulgar
Bulgars
The Bulgars were a semi-nomadic who flourished in the Pontic Steppe and the Volga basin in the 7th century.The Bulgars emerge after the collapse of the Hunnic Empire in the 5th century....

 or Avar
Eurasian Avars
The Eurasian Avars or Ancient Avars were a highly organized nomadic confederacy of mixed origins. They were ruled by a khagan, who was surrounded by a tight-knit entourage of nomad warriors, an organization characteristic of Turko-Mongol groups...

 contingents. Around 680 AD a "Bulgar" group (which was largely composed of the descendants of former Roman Christians taken captive by the Avars), led by khan Kuber
Kuber
Khan Kuber was a Bulgar leader, brother of Khan Asparukh and member of the Dulo clan, who according to the Miracles of St Demetrius, in the 670s was the leader of a mixed Christian population of Bulgars, ‘Romans’, Slavs and Germanic people that had been transferred to the Syrmia region in Pannonia...

 (theorized to have belonged to the same clan
Dulo clan
The Dulo Clan or the House of Dulo was the name of the ruling dynasty of the early Bulgars.This was the clan of Kubrat who founded Old Great Bulgaria, and his sons Batbayan, Kuber and Asparuh, the latter of which founded Danube Bulgaria....

 as the Danubian Bulgarian khan Asparukh), settled in the Pelagonian plain
Pelagonia
This is about the geographical plain between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia. For the political unit in Macedonia, go to Pelagonia Statistical Region....

, and launched campaigns to the region of Thessaloniki. When the Empire could spare imperial troops, it attempted to regain control of its lost Balkan territories. By the time of Constans II
Constans II
Constans II , also called Constantine the Bearded , was Byzantine emperor from 641 to 668. He also was the last emperor to become consul in 642, becoming the last Roman consul in history....

 a significant number of the Slavs of Macedonia were captured and transferred to central Asia Minor where they were forced to recognize the authority of the Byzantine emperor and serve in its ranks. In the late 7th century Justinian II
Justinian II
Justinian II , surnamed the Rhinotmetos or Rhinotmetus , was the last Byzantine Emperor of the Heraclian Dynasty, reigning from 685 to 695 and again from 705 to 711...

 organized again a massive expedition against the Sklaviniai and Bulgars of Macedonia. Launching from Constantinople, he subdued many Slavic tribes and established the Theme of Thrace in the hinterland of the Great City, and pushed on into Thessaloniki. However, on his return he was ambushed by the Slavo-Bulgars of Kuber, losing a great part of his army, booty, and subsequently, his throne. Despite these temporary successes, rule in the region was far from stable since not all as the Sklaviniae were pacified, and those that were often rebelled. The emperors rather resorted to withdrawing their defensive line south along the Aegean coast, until the late 8th century. Although a new theme—that of "Macedonia"—was subsequently created, it did not correspond to today's geographic territory, but one farther east (centred on Adrianople), carved out of the already existing Thracian and Helladic themes.

Medieval Macedonia


There are no Byzantine records of "Sklaviniai" after 836/837 as they were absorbed into the expanding First Bulgarian Empire
First Bulgarian Empire
The First Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state founded in the north-eastern Balkans in c. 680 by the Bulgars, uniting with seven South Slavic tribes...

. Slavic influence in the region strengthened along with the rise of this state, which incorporated parts of the region to its domain in 837 AD. In the early 860s Saints Cyril and Methodius
Saints Cyril and Methodius
Saints Cyril and Methodius were two Byzantine Greek brothers born in Thessaloniki in the 9th century. They became missionaries of Christianity among the Slavic peoples of Bulgaria, Great Moravia and Pannonia. Through their work they influenced the cultural development of all Slavs, for which they...

, Byzantines born in Thessaloniki, created the first Slavic Glagolitic alphabet
Glagolitic alphabet
The Glagolitic alphabet , also known as Glagolitsa, is the oldest known Slavic alphabet. The name was not coined until many centuries after its creation, and comes from the Old Slavic glagolъ "utterance" . The verb glagoliti means "to speak"...

 in which the Old Church Slavonic
Old Church Slavonic
Old Church Slavonic or Old Church Slavic was the first literary Slavic language, first developed by the 9th century Byzantine Greek missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius who were credited with standardizing the language and using it for translating the Bible and other Ancient Greek...

 language was first transcribed, and are thus are commonly referred to as the apostles of the Slavic world. Their cultural heritage was acquired and developed in medieval Bulgaria, where after 885 the region of Ohrid
Ohrid
Ohrid is a city on the eastern shore of Lake Ohrid in the Republic of Macedonia. It has about 42,000 inhabitants, making it the seventh largest city in the country. The city is the seat of Ohrid Municipality. Ohrid is notable for having once had 365 churches, one for each day of the year and has...

 (present-day Republic of Macedonia) became a significant ecclesiastical center with the nomination of the Saint Clement of Ohrid
Clement of Ohrid
Saint Clement of Ohrid was a medieval Bulgarian saint, scholar, writer and enlightener of the Slavs. He was the most prominent disciple of Saints Cyril and Methodius and is often associated with the creation of the Glagolitic and Cyrillic alphabets, especially their popularisation among...

 for "first archbishop in Bulgarian language" with residence in this region. In conjunction with another disciple of Saints Cyril and Methodius, Saint Naum
Saint Naum
Saint Naum , also known as Naum of Ohrid or Naum of Preslav was a medieval Bulgarian scholar and missionary among the Slavs. He is venerated as a saint in the Orthodox Church.Information about his early life is scarce...

, Clement created a flourishing Slavic cultural center around Ohrid, where pupils were taught theology in the Old Church Slavonic
Old Church Slavonic
Old Church Slavonic or Old Church Slavic was the first literary Slavic language, first developed by the 9th century Byzantine Greek missionaries Saints Cyril and Methodius who were credited with standardizing the language and using it for translating the Bible and other Ancient Greek...

 language and the Glagolitic and Cyrillic alphabet
Cyrillic alphabet
The Cyrillic script or azbuka is an alphabetic writing system developed in the First Bulgarian Empire during the 10th century AD at the Preslav Literary School...

 at what is now called Ohrid Literary School
Ohrid Literary School
The Ohrid Literary School was one of the two major medieval Bulgarian cultural centres, along with the Preslav Literary School . The school was established in Ohrid in 886 by Saint Clement of Ohrid on orders of Boris I of Bulgaria simultaneously or shortly after the establishment of the Preslav...

. The Bulgarian-Byzantine boundary in the beginning of 10th century passed approximately 20 km (12 mi) north of Thessaloniki according to the inscription of Narash. According to the Byzantine author John Kaminiates
John Kaminiates
John Kaminiates was a Greek resident of Thessalonica when the city, then one of the largest in the Byzantine Empire, was besieged and sacked by a Saracen force led by Leo of Tripoli in 904...

, at that time the neighbouring settlements around Thessaloniki were inhabited by "Scythians" (Bulgarians) and the Slavic tribes of Drugubites and Sagudates
Sagudates
The Sagudates were a South Slavic tribe that lived in Macedonia, in the area between Thessaloniki and Veria.- History :The Sagudates were first attested in a Byzantine document of 686 as allies of the Avars and besiegers of Thessaloniki in alliance with other South Slavic tribes...

, in addition to Greeks.

At the end of the 10th century, what is now the Republic of Macedonia became the political and cultural heartland of the First Bulgarian Empire
First Bulgarian Empire
The First Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state founded in the north-eastern Balkans in c. 680 by the Bulgars, uniting with seven South Slavic tribes...

, after Byzantine emperors John I Tzimiskes
John I Tzimiskes
John I Tzimiskes or Tzimisces, was Byzantine Emperor from December 11, 969 to January 10, 976. A brilliant and intuitive general, John's short reign saw the expansion of the empire's borders and the strengthening of Byzantium itself.- Background :...

 conquered the eastern part of the Bulgarian state during the Rus'–Byzantine War of 970–971. The Bulgarian capital Preslav
Preslav
Preslav was the capital of the First Bulgarian Empire from 893 to 972 and one of the most important cities of medieval Southeastern Europe. The ruins of the city are situated in modern northeastern Bulgaria, some 20 kilometres southwest of the regional capital of Shumen, and are currently a...

 and the Bulgarian Tsar Boris II were captured, and with the deposition of the Bulgarian regalia in the Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey...

, Bulgaria was officially annexed to Byzantium. A new capital was established at Ohrid, which also became the seat of the Bulgarian Patriarchate. A new dynasty, that of the Comitopuli under Tsar Samuil
Samuil of Bulgaria
Samuel was the Emperor of the First Bulgarian Empire from 997 to 6 October 1014. From 980 to 997, he was a general under Roman I of Bulgaria, the second surviving son of Emperor Peter I of Bulgaria, and co-ruled with him, as Roman bestowed upon him the command of the army and the effective royal...

 and his successors, continued resistance against the Byzantines for several more decades, before also succumbing
Byzantine conquest of Bulgaria
The Byzantine conquest of Bulgaria lasted from 968 to 1018, and was a military conflict that marked the beginning of the second apogee of the Byzantine Empire, which managed to incorporate most of the Balkan Peninsula, controlled by the First Bulgarian Empire, ridding itself of one of its most...

 in 1018. The western part of Bulgaria including Macedonia was incorporated into the Byzantine Empire as the province of Bulgaria (Theme of Bulgaria) and the Bulgarian Patriarchate was reduced in rank to an Archbishopric
Bulgarian Archbishopric of Ohrid
The Archbishopric of Ochrid was an autonomous Orthodox Church under the tutelage of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople between 1019 and 1767...

.

Intermittent Slavic uprisings continued to occur, often with the support of the Serbian princedoms to the north. Any temporary independence that might have been gained was usually crushed swiftly by the Byzantines. It was also was marked by periods of war
Byzantine-Norman Wars
A number of wars between the Normans and the Byzantine Empire were fought from c. 1050 until 1185 when the last Norman invasion of Byzantine territory was defeated...

 between the Normans
Normans
The Normans were the people who gave their name to Normandy, a region in northern France. They were descended from Norse Viking conquerors of the territory and the native population of Frankish and Gallo-Roman stock...

 and Byzantium. The Normans launched offensives from their lands acquired in southern Italy, and temporarily gained rule over small areas in the northwestern coast.

From the 12th century, parts of Macedonia were conquered by the Serbian kingdom of Raška
Raška (state)
Principality of Serbia or Serbian Principality was an early medieval state of the Serbs ruled by the Vlastimirović dynasty, that existed from ca 768 to 969 in Southeastern Europe. It was established through an unification of several provincial chiefs under the supreme rule of a certain Višeslav,...

. In the 13th century, following the Fourth Crusade
Fourth Crusade
The Fourth Crusade was originally intended to conquer Muslim-controlled Jerusalem by means of an invasion through Egypt. Instead, in April 1204, the Crusaders of Western Europe invaded and conquered the Christian city of Constantinople, capital of the Eastern Roman Empire...

, Macedonia was disputed among Byzantine Greeks
Byzantine Greeks
Byzantine Greeks or Byzantines is a conventional term used by modern historians to refer to the medieval Greek or Hellenised citizens of the Byzantine Empire, centered mainly in Constantinople, the southern Balkans, the Greek islands, Asia Minor , Cyprus and the large urban centres of the Near East...

, Latin crusaders of the short-lived Kingdom of Thessalonica
Kingdom of Thessalonica
The Kingdom of Thessalonica was a short-lived Crusader State founded after the Fourth Crusade over the conquered Byzantine lands.- Background :...

, and the revived Bulgarian state
Second Bulgarian Empire
The Second Bulgarian Empire was a medieval Bulgarian state which existed between 1185 and 1396 . A successor of the First Bulgarian Empire, it reached the peak of its power under Kaloyan and Ivan Asen II before gradually being conquered by the Ottomans in the late 14th-early 15th century...

. Most of southern Macedonia was secured by the Despotate of Epirus
Despotate of Epirus
The Despotate or Principality of Epirus was one of the Byzantine Greek successor states of the Byzantine Empire that emerged in the aftermath of the Fourth Crusade in 1204. It claimed to be the legitimate successor of the Byzantine Empire, along with the Empire of Nicaea, and the Empire of Trebizond...

 and then by the Empire of Nicaea
Empire of Nicaea
The Empire of Nicaea was the largest of the three Byzantine Greek successor states founded by the aristocracy of the Byzantine Empire that fled after Constantinople was occupied by Western European and Venetian forces during the Fourth Crusade...

, while the north was ruled by Bulgaria. After 1261 however, all of Macedonia returned to Byzantine rule, where it largely remained until the Byzantine civil war of 1341–1347
Byzantine civil war of 1341–1347
The Byzantine civil war of 1341–1347 was a conflict between supporters of designated regent John VI Kantakouzenos and guardians acting for John V Palaiologos, Emperor Andronikos III's nine-year-old son, in the persons of the Empress-dowager Anna of Savoy, the Patriarch of Constantinople John XIV...

. Taking advantage of this conflict, the Serb ruler Stefan Dushan expanded his realm and founded the Serbian Empire
Serbian Empire
The Serbian Empire was a short-lived medieval empire in the Balkans that emerged from the Serbian Kingdom. Stephen Uroš IV Dušan was crowned Emperor of Serbs and Greeks on 16 April, 1346, a title signifying a successorship to the Eastern Roman Empire...

, which included all of Macedonia, northern and central Greece - excluding Thessaloniki, Athens and the Peloponnese. Dushan's empire however broke up shortly after his death in 1355.

At this time, the Ottoman threat was looming in the Balkans, as the Ottomans defeated the various Christian principalities, whether Serb, Bulgarian or Greek. After the Ottoman victory in the Battle of Maritsa
Battle of Maritsa
The Battle of Maritsa, or Battle of Chernomen, took place at the Maritsa River near the village of Chernomen on September 26, 1371 between the forces of the Ottoman sultan Murad I's lieutenant Lala Şâhin Paşa and the...

 in 1371, most of Macedonia accepted vassalage to the Ottomans and by the end of the 14th century the Ottoman Empire fully annexed it. Macedonia remained a part of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 for nearly 500 years, during which time it gained a substantial Turkish
Turkic peoples
The Turkic peoples are peoples residing in northern, central and western Asia, southern Siberia and northwestern China and parts of eastern Europe. They speak languages belonging to the Turkic language family. They share, to varying degrees, certain cultural traits and historical backgrounds...

 minority. Thessaloniki later become the home of a large Sephardi Jewish population following the expulsions of Jews after 1492 from Spain
Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

.

Emergence of a Macedonian region



After the revival of Greek, Serbian, and Bulgarian statehood in the 19th century, the Ottoman lands in Europe that became identified as "Macedonia", were contested by all three governments, leading to the creation in the 1890s and 1900s of rival armed groups who divided their efforts between fighting the Turks and one another.

The most important of these was the Bulgarian Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Committee (BMARC, SMARO from 1902) (an alternative version says that it consisted of the Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (MRO, TMORO from 1902)), under Gotse Delchev
Gotse Delchev
Georgi Nikolov Delchev was an important revolutionary figure in Ottoman-ruled Macedonia and Thrace at the turn of the 20th century...

 who in 1903 rebelled in the so-called Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising
Ilinden-Preobrazhenie Uprising
The Ilinden–Preobrazhenie Uprising or simply the Ilinden Uprising of August 1903 |Macedonia]] affected most of the central and southwestern parts of the Monastir Vilayet receiving the support mainly of the local Bulgarian peasants and to some extent of the Aromanian population of the region...

, fighting for an autonomous or independent Macedonian state (before 1902 only Bulgarians could join, but afterward, it invited "any Macedonian or Odrinian, irrespective of nationality, to join together"), and the Greek efforts from 1904 until 1908 (Greek Struggle for Macedonia
Greek Struggle for Macedonia
The Macedonian Struggle was a series of social, political, cultural and military conflicts between Greeks and Bulgarians in the region of Ottoman Macedonia between 1904 and 1908...

). Diplomatic intervention by the European powers led to plans for an autonomous Macedonia under Ottoman rule.

It is often claimed that macédoine
Macedonia (food)
Macedonia or macédoine is a salad composed of small pieces of fruit or vegetables.Fruit Macedonia or Macedonia de frutas is a fruit salad and is a common dessert in Spain, France, Italy and Latin America....

, the fruit or vegetable salad, was named after the area's very mixed population. It seems more likely that it was inspired by the diversity of Alexander the Great's domains, as the term dates to France in the 18th century, when Macedonia's ethnic composition was not widely known.

The birth of nationalism and of Macedonian identities








Over the centuries Macedonia had become a multicultural region. The historical references mention Greeks, Bulgarians, Turks, Albanian, Gypsies, Jews and Vlachs. From the Middle Ages to 20th century the Slav-speaking population in Macedonia was identified mostly as Bulgarian or Greek and occasionally as Serbian. During the period of Bulgarian National Revival
Bulgarian National Revival
The Bulgarian National Revival , sometimes called the Bulgarian Renaissance, was a period of socio-economic development and national integration among Bulgarian people under Ottoman rule...

 many Bulgarians from these regions supported the struggle for creation of Bulgarian cultural educational and religious institutions, including Bulgarian Exarchate
Bulgarian Exarchate
The Bulgarian Exarchate was the official name of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church before its autocephaly was recognized by the Ecumenical See in 1945 and the Bulgarian Patriarchate was restored in 1953....

. Eventually, in the 20th century, 'Bulgarians' came to be understood as synonymous with 'Macedonian Slavs' and, eventually, 'ethnic Macedonians'. Krste Misirkov
Krste Misirkov
Krste Petkov Misirkov was a philologist, slavist, historian, ethnographer, publicist author of the first book and scientific magazine in Macedonian, where he for the first time outlined the principles of the literary Macedonian language...

, a philologist and publicist, mostly known for his work "On the Macedonian Matters" (1903), heralded by Macedonians
Macedonians (ethnic group)
The Macedonians also referred to as Macedonian Slavs: "... the term Slavomacedonian was introduced and was accepted by the community itself, which at the time had a much more widespread non-Greek Macedonian ethnic consciousness...

 as one of the "founders of the Macedonian nation", stated:

The restricted borders of the modern Greek state at its inception in 1830 disappointed the inhabitants of northern Greece (Epirus and Macedonia). Addressing these concerns in 1844, the Greek Prime Minister Kolettis addressed the constitutional assembly in Athens that "the kingdom of Greece
Kingdom of Greece
The Kingdom of Greece was a state established in 1832 in the Convention of London by the Great Powers...

 is not Greece; it is only a part, the smallest and poorest, of Greece. The Greek is not only he who inhabits the kingdom, but also he who lives in Ioannina, or Thessaloniki, or Serres, or Odrin" . He mentions cities and islands that were under Ottoman possession as composing the Great Idea (Greek: Μεγάλη Ιδέα) which meant the reconstruction of the classical Greek world
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 or the revival of the Byzantine Empire
Byzantine Empire
The Byzantine Empire was the Eastern Roman Empire during the periods of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, centred on the capital of Constantinople. Known simply as the Roman Empire or Romania to its inhabitants and neighbours, the Empire was the direct continuation of the Ancient Roman State...

. The important idea here is that for Greece, Macedonia was a region with large Greek populations expecting annexation to the new Greek state. At this time, the region which today is the Republic of Macedonia was known as the "fief (vilayet) of Skopje".

The 1878 Congress of Berlin
Treaty of Berlin, 1878
The Treaty of Berlin was the final act of the Congress of Berlin , by which the United Kingdom, Austria-Hungary, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the Ottoman Empire under Sultan Abdul Hamid II revised the Treaty of San Stefano signed on March 3 of the same year...

 changed the Balkan map again. The treaty restored Macedonia and Thrace to the Ottoman Empire. Serbia, Romania and Montenegro were granted full independence, and some territorial expansion at the expense of the Ottoman Empire. Russia would maintain military advisors in Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia until May 1879. Austria-Hungary was permitted to occupy Bosnia, Herzegovina and the Sanjak of Novi Pazar. The Congress of Berlin also forced Bulgaria, newly given autonomy by the 1878 Treaty of San Stefano
Treaty of San Stefano
The Preliminary Treaty of San Stefano was a treaty between Russia and the Ottoman Empire signed at the end of the Russo-Turkish War, 1877–78...

, to return over half of its newly gained territory to the Ottoman Empire. This included Macedonia, a large part of which was given to Bulgaria, due to Russian pressure and the presence of significant numbers of Bulgarians and adherents to the Bulgarian Exarchate
Bulgarian Exarchate
The Bulgarian Exarchate was the official name of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church before its autocephaly was recognized by the Ecumenical See in 1945 and the Bulgarian Patriarchate was restored in 1953....

. The territorial losses dissatisfied Bulgaria; this fuelled the ambitions of many Bulgarian politicians for the following seventy years, who wanted to review the treaty - by peaceful or military means and to reunite all lands which they claimed had a Bulgarian majority. Besides, Serbia was now interested in the Macedonian lands, until then only Greece was Bulgaria's main contender, which after the addition of Thessaly to Greece in (1881) was bordering Macedonia. Thus, the Berlin Congress renewed the struggle for Turkey in Europe, including the so-called Macedonia region, rather than setting up a permanent regime. In the following years, all of the neighboring states struggled over Turkey in Europe; they were only kept at bay by their own restraints, the Ottoman Army and the territorial ambitions of the Great Powers in the region.

Serbian policy had a distinct anti-Bulgarian flavor, attempting to prevent the Bulgarian influencing the inhabitants of Macedonia. On the other hand, Bulgaria was using the power of its religious institutions (Bulgarian Exarchate established in 1870) to promote its language and make more people identify with Bulgaria. Greece, in addition, was in an advantageous position for protecting its interests through the influence of Patriarchate of Constantinople which traditionally sponsored Greek-language and Greek-culture schools also in villages with few Greeks. This put the Patriarchate in dispute with the Exarchate, which established schools with Bulgarian education. Indeed, belonging to one or another institution could define a person's national identity. Simply, if a person supported the Patriarchate they were regarded as Greek, whereas if they supported the Exarchate they were regarded as Bulgarian. Locally, however, villagers were not always able to express freely their association with one or the other institution as there were numerous armed groups trying to defend and/or expand the territory of each. Some were locally recruited and self-organized while others were sent and armed by the protecting states.

The aim of the adversaries, however, was not primarily to extend their influence over Macedonia but merely to prevent Macedonia succumbing to the influence of the other. This often violent attempt to persuade the people that they belonged to one ethnic group or another pushed some people to reject both. The severe pressure on the peaceful peasants of Macedonia worked against the plans of the Serbians and Bulgarians to make them adopt their ethnic idea and eventually a social divide became apparent. The British Ambassador in Belgrade in 1927 said: "At present the unfortunate Macedonian peasant is between the hammer and the anvil. One day 'comitadjis' come to his house and demand under threat lodging, food and money and the next day the gendarm hales him off to prison for having given them; the Macedonian is really a peaceable, fairly industrious agriculturist and if the (Serbian) government give him adequate protection, education, freedom from malaria and decent communications, there seems no reason why he should not become just as Serbian in sentiment as he was Bulgarian 10 years ago". As a result of this game of tug-of-war, the development of a distinct Macedonian national identity was impeded and delayed. Moreover, when the imperialistic plans of the surrounding states made possible the division of Macedonia, some Macedonian intellectuals such as Misirkov mentioned the necessity of creating a Macedonian national identity which would distinguish the Macedonian Slavs from Bulgarians, Serbians or Greeks.

Baptizing Macedonian Slavs as Serbian or Bulgarian aimed therefore to justify these countries' territorial claims over Macedonia. The Greek side, with the assistance of the Patriarchate that was responsible for the schools, could more easily maintain control, because they were spreading Greek identity. For the very same reason the Bulgarians, when preparing the Exarchate's government (1871) included Macedonians in the assembly as "brothers" to prevent any ethnic diversification. On the other hand, the Serbs, unable to establish Serbian-speaking schools, used propaganda. Their main concern was to prevent the Slavic-speaking Macedonians from acquiring Bulgarian identity through concentrating on the myth of the ancient origins of the Macedonians and simultaneously by the classification of Bulgarians as Tatars and not as Slavs, emphasizing their 'Macedonian' characteristics as an intermediate stage between Serbs and Bulgarians. To sum up the Serbian propaganda attempted to inspire the Macedonians with a separate ethnic identity to diminish the Bulgarian influence. This choice was the 'Macedonian ethnicity'. The Bulgarians never accepted an ethnic diversity from the Slav Macedonians, giving geographic meaning to the term. In 1893 they established the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO) aiming to confront the Serbian and Greek action in Macedonia. VMRO hoped to answer the Macedonian question through a revolutionary movement, and so they instigated the Ilinden Uprising (1903) to release some Ottoman territory. Bulgaria used this to internationalize the Macedonian question. Ilinden changed Greece's stance which decided to take Para-military action. In order to protect the Greek Macedonians and Greek interests, Greece sent officers to train guerrillas and organize militias (Macedonian Struggle
Greek Struggle for Macedonia
The Macedonian Struggle was a series of social, political, cultural and military conflicts between Greeks and Bulgarians in the region of Ottoman Macedonia between 1904 and 1908...

), known as makedonomahi (Macedonian fighters), essentially to fight the Bulgarians. After that it was obvious that the Macedonian question could be answered only with a war.

The rise of the Albanian and the Turkish nationalism after 1908, however, prompted Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria to bury their differences with regard to Macedonia and to form a joint coalition against the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 in 1912. Disregarding public opinion in Bulgaria, which was in support of the establishment of an autonomous Macedonian province under a Christian governor, the Bulgarian government entered a pre-war treaty with Serbia which divided the region into two parts. The part of Macedonia west and north of the line of partition was contested by both Serbia and Bulgaria and was subject to the arbitration of the Russian Tsar after the war. Serbia formally renounced any claims to the part of Macedonia south and east of the line, which was declared to be within the Bulgarian sphere of interest. The pre-treaty between Greece and Bulgaria, however, did not include any agreement on the division of the conquered territories - evidently both countries hoped to occupy as much territory as possible having their sights primarily set on Thessaloniki.


In the First Balkan War
First Balkan War
The First Balkan War, which lasted from October 1912 to May 1913, pitted the Balkan League against the Ottoman Empire. The combined armies of the Balkan states overcame the numerically inferior and strategically disadvantaged Ottoman armies and achieved rapid success...

, Bulgaria, Serbia, Greece and Montenegro occupied almost all Ottoman-held territories in Europe. Bulgaria bore the brunt of the war fighting on the Thracian front against the main Ottoman forces. Both her war expenditures and casualties in the First Balkan War were higher than those of Serbia, Greece and Montenegro combined. Macedonia itself was occupied by Greek, Serbian and Bulgarian forces. The Ottoman Empire in the Treaty of London in May 1913 assigned the whole of Macedonia to the Balkan League
Balkan League
The Balkan League was an alliance formed by a series of bilateral treaties concluded in 1912 between the Balkan states of Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro and Serbia, and directed against the Ottoman Empire, which at the time still controlled much of the Balkan peninsula...

, without, specifying the division of the region, to promote problems between the allies. Dissatisfied with the creation of an autonomous Albanian state, which denied her access to the Adriatic, Serbia asked for the suspension of the pre-war division treaty and demanded from Bulgaria greater territorial concessions in Macedonia. Later in May the same year, Greece and Serbia signed a secret treaty in Thessaloniki stipulating the division of Macedonia according to the existing lines of control. Both Serbia and Greece, as well as Bulgaria, started to prepare for a final war of partition.

In June 1913, Bulgarian Tsar Ferdinand
Ferdinand I of Bulgaria
Ferdinand , born Ferdinand Maximilian Karl Leopold Maria of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha-Koháry, was the ruler of Bulgaria from 1887 to 1918, first as knyaz and later as tsar...

, without consulting the government, and without any declaration of war, ordered Bulgarian troops to attack the Greek and Serbian troops in Macedonia, initiating the Second Balkan War
Second Balkan War
The Second Balkan War was a conflict which broke out when Bulgaria, dissatisfied with its share of the spoils of the First Balkan War, attacked its former allies, Serbia and Greece, on 29 June 1913. Bulgaria had a prewar agreement about the division of region of Macedonia...

. The Bulgarian army was in full retreat in all fronts. The Serbian army chose to stop its operations when achieved all its territorial goals and only then the Bulgarian army took a breath. During the last two days the Bulgarians managed to achieve a defensive victory against the advancing Greek army in the Kresna Gorge
Kresna Gorge
The Kresna Gorge is a stunning steep valley in southwestern Bulgaria. The Struma River, which stems off of Vitosha mountains, is what formed this spectacular site. The gorge is rich in biodiversity, which may be in danger of the project to build the Struma Motorway, which is part of Trans European...

. However at the same time the Romanian army crossed the undefended northern border and easily advanced towards Sofia
Sofia
Sofia is the capital and largest city of Bulgaria and the 12th largest city in the European Union with a population of 1.27 million people. It is located in western Bulgaria, at the foot of Mount Vitosha and approximately at the centre of the Balkan Peninsula.Prehistoric settlements were excavated...

. Romania interfered in the war, in order to satisfy its territorial claims against Bulgaria. The Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 also interfered, easily reassuming control of Eastern Thrace with Edirne
Edirne
Edirne is a city in Eastern Thrace, the northwestern part of Turkey, close to the borders with Greece and Bulgaria. Edirne served as the capital city of the Ottoman Empire from 1365 to 1453, before Constantinople became the empire's new capital. At present, Edirne is the capital of the Edirne...

. The Second Balkan War, also known as Inter-Ally War, left Bulgaria only with the Struma valley and a small part of Thrace with minor ports at the Aegean sea. Vardar Macedonia was incorporated into Serbia and thereafter referred to as South Serbia. Southern (Aegean) Macedonia was incorporated into Greece and thereafter was referred to as northern Greece. The region suffered heavily during the Second Balkan War. During its advance at the end of June, the Greek army set fire to the Bulgarian quarter of the town of Kilkis
Kilkis
Kilkis is an industrial city in Central Macedonia, Greece. As of 2001 there were 17,430 people living in the city proper, 24,812 people living in the municipal unit, and 56,336 in the municipality of Kilkis. It is also the capital city of the regional unit of Kilkis.-Name:Kilkis is located in a...

 and over 160 villages around Kilkis and Serres driving some 50,000 refugees into Bulgaria proper. The Bulgarian army retaliated by burning the Greek quarter of Serres
Serres, Greece
Sérres is a city in Macedonia, Greece. It is situated in a fertile plain at an elevation of about 70 m, some 24 km northeast of the Strymon river and 69 km north-east of the Macedonian capital, Thessaloniki. The Rhodope Mountains rise to the north and east of the city...

 and by arming Muslims from the region of Drama
Drama
Drama is the specific mode of fiction represented in performance. The term comes from a Greek word meaning "action" , which is derived from "to do","to act" . The enactment of drama in theatre, performed by actors on a stage before an audience, presupposes collaborative modes of production and a...

 which led to a massacre
Massacre
A massacre is an event with a heavy death toll.Massacre may also refer to:-Entertainment:*Massacre , a DC Comics villain*Massacre , a 1932 drama film starring Richard Barthelmess*Massacre, a 1956 Western starring Dane Clark...

 of Greek civilians.


In September 1915, the Greek government authorized the landing of the troops in Thessaloniki. In 1916 the pro-German King of Greece agreed with the Germans to allow military forces of the Central Powers to enter Greek Macedonia to attack Bulgarian forces in Thessaloniki. As a result, Bulgarian troops occupied the eastern part of Greek Macedonia, including the port of Kavala
Kavala
Kavala , is the second largest city in northern Greece, the principal seaport of eastern Macedonia and the capital of Kavala peripheral unit. It is situated on the Bay of Kavala, across from the island of Thasos...

. The region was, however, restored to Greece following the victory of the Allies
Allies of World War I
The Entente Powers were the countries at war with the Central Powers during World War I. The members of the Triple Entente were the United Kingdom, France, and the Russian Empire; Italy entered the war on their side in 1915...

 in 1918. After the destruction of the Greek Army in Asia Minor in 1922 Greece and Turkey exchanged most of Macedonia's Turkish minority and the Greek inhabitants of Thrace and Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

, as a result of which Aegean Macedonia experienced a large addition to its population and became overwhelmingly Greek in ethnic composition. Serbian-ruled Macedonia was incorporated into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (later the Kingdom of Yugoslavia
Kingdom of Yugoslavia
The Kingdom of Yugoslavia was a state stretching from the Western Balkans to Central Europe which existed during the often-tumultuous interwar era of 1918–1941...

) in 1918. Yugoslav Macedonia was subsequently subjected to an intense process of "Serbianization" during the 1920s and 1930s.

During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 the boundaries of the region shifted yet again. When the German forces occupied the area, most of Yugoslav Macedonia and part of Aegean Macedonia were transferred for administration to Bulgaria. During the Bulgarian administration of Eastern Greek Macedonia, some 100,000 Bulgarian refugees from the region were resettled there and perhaps as many Greeks were deported or fled to Greece. Western Aegean Macedonia was occupied by Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, with the western parts of Yugoslav Macedonia being annexed to Italian-occupied Albania. The remainder of Greek Macedonia (including all of the coast) was occupied by Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

. One of the worst episodes of the Holocaust
The Holocaust
The Holocaust , also known as the Shoah , was the genocide of approximately six million European Jews and millions of others during World War II, a programme of systematic state-sponsored murder by Nazi...

 happened here when 60,000 Jews from Thessaloniki were deported to extermination camps in occupied Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

. Only a few thousand survived.

Macedonia was liberated in 1944, when the Red Army's advance in the Balkan Peninsula forced the German forces to retreat. The pre-war borders were restored under U.S. and British pressure because the Bulgarian government was insisting to keep its military units on Greek soil. The Bulgarian Macedonia returned fairly rapidly to normality, but the Bulgarian patriots in Yugoslav Macedonia underwent a process of ethnic cleansing by the Belgrade authorities, and Greek Macedonia was ravaged by the Greek Civil War
Greek Civil War
The Greek Civil War was fought from 1946 to 1949 between the Greek governmental army, backed by the United Kingdom and United States, and the Democratic Army of Greece , the military branch of the Greek Communist Party , backed by Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Albania...

, which broke out in December 1944 and did not end until October 1949.

After this civil war, a large number of former ELAS fighters who took refuge in communist Bulgaria and Yugoslavia and described themselves as "ethnic Macedonians" were prohibited from reestablishing to their former estates by the Greek authorities. Most of them were accused in Greece for crimes committed during the period of the German occupation.

The Balkan Wars



The imminent collapse of the Ottoman Empire
Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire
The Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire included the watershed events of the Young Turk Revolution and the establishment of the Second Constitutional Era, and ended with the Partitioning of the Ottoman Empire by the victorious sides of World War I.- Establishment of the Second Constitutional Era, 24...

 was welcomed by the Balkan states, as it promised to restore their European territory. The Young Turk Revolution
Young Turk Revolution
The Young Turk Revolution of 1908 reversed the suspension of the Ottoman parliament by Sultan Abdul Hamid II, marking the onset of the Second Constitutional Era...

 of 1908 proved a nationalistic movement thwarting the peoples' expectations of the empire's modernization and hastened the end of the Ottoman occupation of the Balkans. To this end, an alliance was struck among the Balkan states in Spring 1913. The First Balkan War, which lasted six weeks, commenced in August 1912, when Montenegro declared war on the Ottoman Empire, whose forces ultimately engaged four different wars in Thrace, Macedonia, Northern and Southern Albania and Kosovo. The Macedonian campaign was fought in atrocious conditions. The retreat of the Ottoman army from Macedonia succeeded the desperate effort of the Greek and Bulgarian forces to reach the city of Thessalonica, the "single prize of the first Balkan War" for whose status no prior agreements were done. In this case possession would be equal to acquisition. The Greek forces entered the city first liberating officially, a progress only positive for them. Glenny says: "for the Greeks it was a good war".

The first Balkan War managed to liberate Balkans from Turks and settled the major issues except Macedonia. In the spring 1913 the Serbs and Greeks begun the 'Serbianization' and the 'Hellenization
Hellenization
Hellenization is a term used to describe the spread of ancient Greek culture, and, to a lesser extent, language. It is mainly used to describe the spread of Hellenistic civilization during the Hellenistic period following the campaigns of Alexander the Great of Macedon...

' of the parts in Macedonia they already controlled, while Bulgarians faced some difficulties against the Jews and the Turkish populations. Moreover, the possession of Thessalonica was a living dream for the Bulgarians that were preparing for a new war. For this, the Bulgarian troops had a secret order in June 1913 to launch surprise attacks on the Serbs. Greece and Serbia signed a previous bilateral defensive agreement (May 1913). Consequently, Greece and Serbia decided to attack Bulgaria in its moment of maximum weakness, exhausted by its sacrifice the previous winter. Besides, they had to fight also the Romanians who were claim Bulgarian lands.

The Treaty of Bucharest (August 1913) took off most of the Bulgarian conquests of the previous years. Large part of Macedonia became Southern Serbia, including the territory of what today is the Republic of Macedonia and Aegean Macedonia became Northern Greece. Greece almost doubled its territory and population size and its northern frontiers remain today, more or less the same since the Balkan Wars. However, when Serbia acquired 'Vardarska Banovina' (the present-day Republic of Macedonia), it launched having expansionist views aiming to descend to the Aegean, with Thessalonica as the highest ambition. However, Greece after the population exchange with Bulgaria, soon after its victory in the Balkan wars, managed to give national homogeneity in the Aegean and any remaining Slavic-speakers were absorbed.

Many volunteers from Macedonia joined Bulgarian army and participated in the battles against Bulgarian enemies in these wars—on the strength of the Macedonian-Adrianopolitan Volunteer Corps
Macedonian-Adrianopolitan Volunteer Corps
The Macedonian-Adrianopolitan Volunteer Corps was a volunteer corps of the Bulgarian Army during the Balkan Wars. It was formed on 23 September 1912 and consisted of Bulgarian volunteers from Macedonia and Thrace, regions still under Ottoman rule, and thus not subject to Bulgarian military...

 and other units.

World War I



After World War I Macedonian Campaign
Macedonian front (World War I)
The Macedonian Front resulted from an attempt by the Allied Powers to aid Serbia, in the autumn of 1915, against the combined attack of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria. The expedition came too late and in insufficient force to prevent the fall of Serbia, and was complicated by the internal...

 the status quo of Macedonia remained the same. The establishment of the 'Kingdom of Serbians, Croats and Slovenes' in 1918, which in 1929 was renamed 'Yugoslavia' (South Slavia) predicted no special regime for Skopje neither recognized any Macedonian national identity. In fact, the claims to Macedonian identity remained silent at a propaganda level because, eventually, north Macedonia had been a Serbian conquest.

The situation in Serbian Macedonia changed after the Communist Revolution in Russia (1918–1919). According to Sfetas, Comintern was handling Macedonia as a matter of tactics, depending on the political circumstances. In the early 1920s it supported the position for a single and independent Macedonia in a Balkan Soviet Democracy. Actually, the Soviets desired a common front of the Bulgarian communist agriculturists and the Bulgarian-Macedonian societies to destabilize the Balkan Peninsula. The Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO), under the protection of Comintern, promoted the idea of an independent Macedonia in a Federation of Balkan states, unifying all Macedonians. However, the possible participation of Bulgaria in a new war, on the Axis side, ended the Soviet support some years later.

World War II



Bulgaria was forced to join the Axis powers
Axis Powers
The Axis powers , also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was an alignment of great powers during the mid-20th century that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and...

 in 1941, when German troops prepared to invade Greece from Romania reached the Bulgarian borders and demanded permission to pass through Bulgarian territory. Threatened by direct military confrontation, Tsar Boris III had no choice but to join the fascist block, which officially happened on 1 March 1941. There was little popular opposition, since the Soviet Union was in a non-aggression pact with Germany.

On April 6, 1941, despite having officially joined the Axis Powers, the Bulgarian government maintained a course of military passivity during the initial stages of the invasion of Yugoslavia
Invasion of Yugoslavia
The Invasion of Yugoslavia , also known as the April War , was the Axis Powers' attack on the Kingdom of Yugoslavia which began on 6 April 1941 during World War II...

 and the Battle of Greece
Battle of Greece
The Battle of Greece is the common name for the invasion and conquest of Greece by Nazi Germany in April 1941. Greece was supported by British Commonwealth forces, while the Germans' Axis allies Italy and Bulgaria played secondary roles...

. As German, Italian, and Hungarian troops crushed Yugoslavia and Greece, the Bulgarians remained on the sidelines. The Yugoslav government surrendered on April 17. The Greek government was to hold out until April 30. On April 20, the period of Bulgarian passivity ended. The Bulgarian Army entered the Aegean region. The goal was to gain an Aegean Sea
Aegean Sea
The Aegean Sea[p] is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between the southern Balkan and Anatolian peninsulas, i.e., between the mainlands of Greece and Turkey. In the north, it is connected to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea by the Dardanelles and Bosporus...

 outlet in Thrace and Eastern Macedonia and much of eastern Serbia. The so-called Vardar Banovina
Vardar Banovina
The Vardar Banovina or Vardar Banate or Vardarska Banovina was a province of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia between 1929 and 1941. It was located in the southernmost part of the country, encompassing the whole of today's Republic of Macedonia, southern parts of Central Serbia and southeastern parts of...

 was divided between Bulgaria and Italians which occupied West Macedonia. The Bulgarian occupation of Macedonia was viewed as oppressive by the inhabitants of the region, further distancing any previous affiliations between Macedonian and Bulgarians.

During the German occupation of Greece (1941–1944) the Greek Communist Party-KKE was the main resistance factor with its military branch EAM
Ethniko Apeleftherotiko Metopo
The National Liberation Front was the main movement of the Greek Resistance during the Axis occupation of Greece during World War II. Its main driving force was the Communist Party of Greece , but its membership throughout the Occupation period included several other leftist and republican groups...

-ELAS
Ethnikos Laikos Apeleftherotikos Stratos
The Greek People's Liberation Army or ELAS , often mistakenly called the National People's Liberation Army , was the military arm of the left-wing National Liberation Front during the period of the Greek Resistance until February 1945.-Birth of ELAS:After Nazi Germany attacked the...

 (National Liberation Front). Although many members of EAM were Slavic-speaking, they had either Bulgarian, Greek or distinct Macedonian conscience. To take advantage of the situation KKE established SNOF with the cooperation of the Yugoslav leader Tito, who was ambitious enough to make plans for Greek Macedonia. For this he established the Anti-Fascistic Assembly for the National Liberation of Macedonia (ASNOM) giving an actual liberating character to the whole region of Macedonia. Besides, KKE was very positive to the option of a greater Macedonia, including the Greek region, since it realized that a victory in the Greek Civil War was utopic. Later EAM and SNOF disagreed in issues of policy and they finally crashed and the latter was expelled from Greece (1944).

Post–World War II


The end of the War did not bring peace to Greece and a strenuous civil war between the Government forces and EAM broke out with about 50,000 casualties for both sides. The defeat of the Communists in 1949 forced their Slav-speaking members to either leave Greece or fully adopt Greek language and surnames. The slav minorities were discriminated against, and not even recognised as a minority. Since 1923 the only internationally recognized minority in Greece are the Muslims in Western Thrace.

Yugoslav Macedonia was the only region where Yugoslav communist leader Josip Broz Tito
Josip Broz Tito
Marshal Josip Broz Tito – 4 May 1980) was a Yugoslav revolutionary and statesman. While his presidency has been criticized as authoritarian, Tito was a popular public figure both in Yugoslavia and abroad, viewed as a unifying symbol for the nations of the Yugoslav federation...

 had not developed a Partisan movement because of the Bulgarian occupation of a large part of that area. To improve the situation, in 1943 the Communist Party of 'Macedonia' was established in Tetovo
Tetovo
Tetovo is a city in the northwestern part of Macedonia, built on the foothills of Šar Mountain and divided by the Pena River.The city covers an area of at above sea level, with a population of 86,580 citizens in the municipality. Tetovo is home to the State University of Tetovo and South East...

 with the prospect that it would support the resistance against the Axis. In the meantime, the Bulgarians' violent repression led to loss of moral support from the civilian population. By the end of the war "a Macedonia national consciousness hardly existed beyond a general conviction, gained from bitter experience, that rule from Sofia was as unpalatable as that from Belgrade. But if there were no Macedonian nation there was a Communist Party of Macedonia, around which the People's Republic of Macedonia was built".

Tito thus separated Yugoslav Macedonia from Serbia after the war. It became a republic of the new federal Yugoslavia (as the Socialist Republic of Macedonia) in 1946, with its capital at Skopje
Skopje
Skopje is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Macedonia with about a third of the total population. It is the country's political, cultural, economic, and academic centre...

. Tito also promoted the concept of a separate Macedonian nation, as a means of severing the ties of the Slav population of Yugoslav Macedonia with Bulgaria. Although the Macedonian language
Macedonian language
Macedonian is a South Slavic language spoken as a first language by approximately 2–3 million people principally in the region of Macedonia but also in the Macedonian diaspora...

 is very close to Bulgarian
Bulgarian language
Bulgarian is an Indo-European language, a member of the Slavic linguistic group.Bulgarian, along with the closely related Macedonian language, demonstrates several linguistic characteristics that set it apart from all other Slavic languages such as the elimination of case declension, the...

, the differences were deliberately emphasized and the region's historical figures were promoted as being uniquely Macedonian (rather than Serbian or Bulgarian). A separate Macedonian Orthodox Church
Macedonian Orthodox Church
The Macedonian Orthodox Church – Ohrid Archbishopric or just Macedonian Orthodox Church is the body of Christians who are united under the Archbishop of Ohrid and Macedonia, exercising jurisdiction over Macedonian Orthodox Christians in the Republic of Macedonia and in exarchates in the Macedonian...

 was established, splitting off from the Serbian Orthodox Church
Serbian Orthodox Church
The Serbian Orthodox Church is one of the autocephalous Orthodox Christian churches, ranking sixth in order of seniority after Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, and Russia...

, but it has not been recognized by any other Orthodox Church, including the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
The Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople , part of the wider Orthodox Church, is one of the fourteen autocephalous churches within the communion of Orthodox Christianity...

. The Communist Party sought to deter pro-Bulgarian sentiment, which was punished severely; convictions were still being handed down as late as 1991.

Tito had a number of reasons for doing this. First, as an ethnic Croat, he wanted to reduce Serbia's dominance in Yugoslavia; establishing a territory formerly considered Serbian as an equal to Serbia within Yugoslavia achieved this effect. Secondly, he wanted to sever the ties of the Macedonian Slav population with Bulgaria because recognition of that population as Bulgarian would have undermined the unity of the Yugoslav federation. Third of all, Tito sought to justify future Yugoslav claims towards the rest of Macedonia (Pirin and Aegean
Aegean Macedonia
Aegean Macedonia is a term that refers to the Greek region of Macedonia. It is currently mainly used in the Republic of Macedonia, including in the irredentist context of a United Macedonia. The term is also used in Bulgaria as the more common synonym for Greek Macedonia, without the connotations...

), in the name of the "liberation" of the region. The potential "Macedonian" state would remain as a constituent republic within Yugoslavia, and so Yugoslavia would manage to get access to the Aegean Sea
Aegean Sea
The Aegean Sea[p] is an elongated embayment of the Mediterranean Sea located between the southern Balkan and Anatolian peninsulas, i.e., between the mainlands of Greece and Turkey. In the north, it is connected to the Marmara Sea and Black Sea by the Dardanelles and Bosporus...

.

Tito's designs on Macedonia were asserted as early as August, 1944, when in a proclamation he claimed that his goal was to reunify "all parts of Macedonia, divided in 1912 and 1913 by Balkan imperialists". To this end, he opened negotiations with Bulgaria for a new federal state, which would also probably have included Albania, and supported the Greek Communists in the Greek Civil War
Greek Civil War
The Greek Civil War was fought from 1946 to 1949 between the Greek governmental army, backed by the United Kingdom and United States, and the Democratic Army of Greece , the military branch of the Greek Communist Party , backed by Bulgaria, Yugoslavia and Albania...

. The idea of reunification of all of Macedonia under Communist rule was abandoned as late as 1949 when the Greek Communists lost and Tito fell out with the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and pro-Soviet Bulgaria.

Across the border in Greece, Slavophones were seen as a potentially disloyal "fifth column
Fifth column
A fifth column is a group of people who clandestinely undermine a larger group such as a nation from within.-Origin:The term originated with a 1936 radio address by Emilio Mola, a Nationalist General during the 1936–39 Spanish Civil War...

" within the Greek state by both the US and Greece, and their existence as a minority was officially denied. Greeks were resettled in the region many of whom emigrated (especially to Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

) along with many Greek-speaking natives, because of the hard economic conditions after the Second World War and the Greek Civil War. Although there was some liberalization between 1959 and 1967, the Greek military dictatorship re-imposed harsh restrictions. The situation gradually eased after Greece's return to democracy, although even as recently as the 1990s Greece has been criticised by international human rights activists for "harassing" Macedonian Slav political activists, who, nonetheless, are free to maintain their own political party (Rainbow
Rainbow (political party)
The Rainbow is a political party in Greece, and a member of the European Free Alliance. It is known for its activism amongst what it regards as the Ethnic Macedonian minority in Greece and their descendants abroad...

). Elsewhere in Greek Macedonia, economic development after the war was brisk and the area rapidly became the most prosperous part of the region. The coast was heavily developed for tourism, particularly on the Halkidiki peninsula.

Under Georgi Dimitrov
Georgi Dimitrov
Georgi Dimitrov Mikhaylov , also known as Georgi Mikhaylovich Dimitrov , was a Bulgarian Communist politician...

, Soviet loyalist and head of the Comintern
Comintern
The Communist International, abbreviated as Comintern, also known as the Third International, was an international communist organization initiated in Moscow during March 1919...

, Bulgaria initially accepted the existence of a distinctive Macedonian identity. It had been agreed that Pirin Macedonia would join Yugoslav Macedonia and for this reason the population declared itself "Macedonian" in the 1946 census. This caused resentment and many people were imprisoned or interned in rural areas outside Macedonia. After Tito's split from the Soviet bloc this position was abandoned and the existence of a Macedonian nation or language was denied.

Attempts of Macedonian historians after the 1940s to claim a number of prominent figures of the 19th century Bulgarian
History of Bulgaria
The history of Bulgaria spans from the first settlements on the lands of modern Bulgaria to its formation as a nation-state and includes the history of the Bulgarian people and their origin. The first traces of human presence on what is today Bulgaria date from 44,000 BC...

 cultural revival and armed resistance movement as Macedonians has caused ever since a bitter resentment in Sofia. Bulgaria has repeatedly accused the Republic of Macedonia of appropriating Bulgarian national heroes and symbols and of editing works of literature and historical documents so as to prove the existence of a Macedonian Slav consciousness before the 1940s. The publication in the Republic of Macedonia of the folk song collections 'Bulgarian Folk Songs' by the Miladinov Brothers
Miladinov Brothers
The Miladinov Brothers , Dimitar Miladinov and Konstantin Miladinov , were Bulgarian poets and folklorists from Macedonia, authors of an important collection of folk songs, Bulgarian Folk Songs...

 and 'Songs of the Macedonian Bulgarians' by Serbian archaeologist Verkovic under the "politically correct" titles 'Collection' and 'Macedonian Folk Songs' are some of the examples quoted by the Bulgarians. The issue has soured the relations of Bulgaria with former Yugoslavia and later with the Republic of Macedonia for decades.

Foundation of the Republic of Macedonia as an independent state


Kiro Gligorov
Kiro Gligorov
Kiro Gligorov , born May 3, 1917) was the first democratically elected President of the Republic of Macedonia. His son Vladimir Gligorov is the refounder of the Serbian Democratic Party.- Biography :...

, the president of Yugoslav Macedonia, sought to keep his republic outside the fray of the Yugoslav wars
Yugoslav wars
The Yugoslav Wars were a series of wars, fought throughout the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 1995. The wars were complex: characterized by bitter ethnic conflicts among the peoples of the former Yugoslavia, mostly between Serbs on the one side and Croats and Bosniaks on the other; but also...

 in the early 1990s. Yugoslav Macedonia's very existence had depended on the active support of the Yugoslav state and Communist Party. As both began to collapse, the Macedonian authorities allowed and encouraged a stronger assertion of Macedonian Slav national identity than before. This included toleration of demands from Macedonian Slav nationalists for the reunification of Macedonia. The Albanians in the Republic of Macedonia
Albanians in the Republic of Macedonia
Albanians are the largest ethnic minority in the Republic of Macedonia. Of the 2,022,547 citizens of Macedonia, 509,083, or 25%, are Albanian according to the latest national census in 2002. The Albanian minority lives mostly in the north-western part of the country...

 were unhappy about an erosion of their national rights in the face of a more assertive Macedonian Slav nationalism. Some nationalist Serbs called for the republic's re-incorporation into Serbia, although in practice this was never a likely prospect, given Serbia's preoccupation with the wars in Bosnia
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the...

 and Croatia
Croatia
Croatia , officially the Republic of Croatia , is a unitary democratic parliamentary republic in Europe at the crossroads of the Mitteleuropa, the Balkans, and the Mediterranean. Its capital and largest city is Zagreb. The country is divided into 20 counties and the city of Zagreb. Croatia covers ...

 and the relatively small number of Serbs in the Republic of Macedonia compared to Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

As communism fell throughout Eastern Europe in the late 20th century, Macedonia followed its other federation partners and declared its independence from Yugoslavia in late 1991. In 1991, the (then Socialist) Republic of Macedonia held a referendum on independence which produced an overwhelming majority in favor of independence. The referendum was boycotted by the ethnic Albanians, although they did create ethnic political parties and actively contributed in the Macedonian government, parliament etc. The republic seceded peacefully from the Yugoslav federation
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was the Yugoslav state that existed from the abolition of the Yugoslav monarchy until it was dissolved in 1992 amid the Yugoslav Wars. It was a socialist state and a federation made up of six socialist republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia,...

, declaring its independence as the Socialist Republic of Macedonia. Bulgaria was consequently the first country to officially recognize Republic of Macedonia's independence - as early as February 1992, followed by other countries as well. The new Macedonian constitution took effect November 20, 1991 and called for a system of government based on a parliamentary democracy. Kiro Gligorov
Kiro Gligorov
Kiro Gligorov , born May 3, 1917) was the first democratically elected President of the Republic of Macedonia. His son Vladimir Gligorov is the refounder of the Serbian Democratic Party.- Biography :...

 became the first President of the new independent state, succeeded by Boris Trajkovski
Boris Trajkovski
Trajkovski died on 26 February 2004 in a plane crash en route to an economic conference in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The aircraft crashed in thick fog and heavy rain on a mountainside in southeastern Herzegovina, near the villages of Huskovici and Rotimlja some eight miles south-south-east...

. In early January 2001 armed conflict
2001 Macedonia conflict
The insurgency in the Republic of Macedonia was an armed conflict which began when the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army militant group attacked the security forces of the Republic of Macedonia at the beginning of January 2001...

 took place between the ethnic Albanian National Liberation Army (UÇK
National Liberation Army (Macedonia)
The National Liberation Army , also known as the Macedonian UÇK, was a militant organization that operated in the Republic of Macedonia in 2001 and was closely associated with the Kosovo Liberation Army ....

) militant group and the Republic of Macedonia's security forces. The conflict partially ended with the signing of the Ohrid Framework Agreement by the government of the Republic of Macedonia and Albanian representatives on August 13, 2001, which provided for greater rights for Macedonian Albanian population. In January 2002, the Macedonian conflict ended when the amnesty was announced to Albanian irregulars and rebels. Occasional unrest continued throughout 2002.

Controversy between the Republic of Macedonia and Greece


A controversy exists in regard to whether or not any parts of the historic region of Macedonia are incorporated in the present-day Republic of Macedonia, as very little if any of the ancient Macedonian kingdom is. There is also controversy, however, with regard to the Slavic peoples who are concentrated in less than half of the region. They first arrived in the late 6th and early 7th centuries AD when Slavic
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

-speaking populations overturned Macedonia's Greek
Greeks
The Greeks, also known as the Hellenes , are a nation and ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus and neighboring regions. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world....

 ethnic composition. As a result, the appropriation by the "Republic of Macedonia" of what Greece held as its "Greek symbols", raised concerns in Greece as well as fuelling nationalist anger. This anger was reinforced by the legacy of the Civil War and the view in some quarters, that members of Greece's Slavic-speaking minority were pro-Yugoslavian and presented a danger to its borders. The status of the Republic of Macedonia became a heated political issue in Greece where demonstrations took place in Athens
Athens
Athens , is the capital and largest city of Greece. Athens dominates the Attica region and is one of the world's oldest cities, as its recorded history spans around 3,400 years. Classical Athens was a powerful city-state...

 while one million Macedonian Greeks took to the streets in Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki
Thessaloniki , historically also known as Thessalonica, Salonika or Salonica, is the second-largest city in Greece and the capital of the region of Central Macedonia as well as the capital of the Decentralized Administration of Macedonia and Thrace...

 in 1992, under the slogan: "Macedonia is Greek", referring to the name and ancient history of the region, not posing a territorial claim against their northern neighbor. Initially, the Greek government objected formally to any use of the name Macedonia (including any derivative names) and also to the use of symbols such as the Vergina Sun
Vergina Sun
The Vergina Sun — also known as the Star of Vergina, Macedonian star, or Argead Star — is the name given to a symbol of a stylised star or sun with sixteen rays. It was unearthed in 1977 during excavations in Vergina, in the northern Greek region of Macedonia, by archaeologist Manolis Andronikos...

. On the other hand, also in 1992, demonstrations by more than 100,000 ethnic Slav Macedonians took place in Skopje, the capital of the Republic of Macedonia, over the failure to receive recognition and supporting the constitutional name of the country.

The controversy was not just nationalist, but it also played out in Greece's internal politics. The two leading Greek political parties, the ruling conservative New Democracy
New Democracy (Greece)
New Democracy is the main centre-right political party and one of the two major parties in Greece. It was founded in 1974 by Konstantinos Karamanlis and formed the first cabinet of the Third Hellenic Republic...

 under Constantine Mitsotakis
Constantine Mitsotakis
Constantine Mitsotakis , a Greek politician, was born in Chania, Crete. He came from a political family: his father and grandfathers were members of parliament, and the great liberal leader Eleftherios Venizelos was his uncle...

 and the socialist PASOK
Panhellenic Socialist Movement
The Panhellenic Socialist Movement , known mostly by its acronym PASOK , is one of the two major political parties in Greece. Founded on 3 September 1974 by Andreas Papandreou, in 1981 PASOK became Greece's first social democratic party to win a majority in parliament.The party is a socialist party...

 under Andreas Papandreou
Andreas Papandreou
Andreas G. Papandreou ; 5 February 1919 – 23 June 1996) was a Greek economist, a socialist politician and a dominant figure in Greek politics. The son of Georgios Papandreou, Andreas was a Harvard-trained academic...

, sought to outbid each other in whipping up nationalist sentiment and the long-term (rather than immediate) threat posed by the apparent irredentist policies of Skopje. To complicate matters further, New Democracy itself was divided; the then prime minister, Mitsotakis, favored a compromise solution on the Macedonian question, while his foreign minister Adonis Samaras took a hard-line approach. The two eventually fell out and Samaras was sacked, with Mitsotakis reserving the foreign ministry for himself. He failed to reach an agreement on the Macedonian issue despite United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 mediation; he fell from power in October 1993, largely as a result of Samaras causing the government's majority of one to fall in September 1993.

When Andreas Papandreou took power following the October 1993 elections, he established a "hard line" position on the issue. The United Nations recommended recognition of the "Republic of Macedonia" under the temporary name of the "former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (or FYROM for short), which would be used internationally while the country continued to use "Republic of Macedonia" as its constitutional name. The United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and European Union (therefore, including Greece) agreed to this proposal and duly recognized the Republic of Macedonia. This was followed by new, though smaller demonstrations in Greek cities against what was termed a "betrayal" by Greece's allies. Papandreou supported and encouraged the demonstrations, boosting his own popularity by taking the "hard line" against the Republic of Macedonia. In February 1994, he imposed a total trade embargo on the country, with the exception of food, medicines and humanitarian aid. The effect on the Republic of Macedonia's economy was limited, mainly because the real damage to its economy had been caused by the collapse of Yugoslavia and the loss of central European markets due to the war. Also, many Greeks broke the trade embargo by entering through Bulgaria. However, the embargo had bad impact on the Republic of Macedonia's economy as the country was cut-off from the port of Thessaloniki and became landlocked because of the UN embargo on Yugoslavia to the north, and the Greek embargo to the south. Later, the signing of the Interim accord between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia marked the increased cooperation between the two neighboring states. The blockade had a political cost for Greece, as there was little understanding or sympathy for the country's position, and exasperation over what was seen as Greek obstructionism from some of its European Union partners. Athens was criticized in some quarters for contributing to the rising tension in the Balkans, even though the wars in the former Yugoslavia were widely seen as having been triggered by the premature recognition of its successor republics, a move to which Greece had objected from the beginning. It later emerged that Greece had only agreed to the dissolution of Yugoslavia in return for EU solidarity on the Macedonian issue. In 1994, the European Commission
European Commission
The European Commission is the executive body of the European Union. The body is responsible for proposing legislation, implementing decisions, upholding the Union's treaties and the general day-to-day running of the Union....

 took Greece to the European Court of Justice
European Court of Justice
The Court can sit in plenary session, as a Grand Chamber of 13 judges, or in chambers of three or five judges. Plenary sitting are now very rare, and the court mostly sits in chambers of three or five judges...

 in an effort to overturn the embargo, but while the court provisionally ruled in Greece's favor, the embargo was lifted by Athens the following year before a final verdict was reached. This was for the "Republic of Macedonia" and Greece to enter into an "interim agreement" in which the Republic of Macedonia agreed to remove any implied territorial claims to the greater Macedonia region from its constitution and to drop the Vergina Sun from its flag. In return, Greece lifted the blockade.

Most of the countries have recognized the Republic of Macedonia under its constitutional name, notably the United States, the People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, and also its neighbours Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

, Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

, although as the country is referred in the UN only under the provisional reference the "former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", the constitutional name is generally used only in bilateral relations and in relations where a state not recognizing the constitutional name is not a party.

Discussions continue over the Greek objection regarding the country's name, but without any resolution so far. The Greek government have linked progress on this issue to the Republic of Macedonia's accession to the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

 and NATO (for more on this, see Accession of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the European Union
Accession of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the European Union
The Republic of Macedonia has been a candidate for accession to the European Union since 2005. It submitted its membership application in 2004, thirteen years after its independence from former Yugoslavia...

).

Republic of Macedonia, Croatia and Albania were qualified to join NATO and an invitation for those three countries was planned to be issued on the NATO summit in Bucharest (Romania), in April 2008. Before the beginning of the summit, the American president Bush said that NATO would make a historic decision on the admission of three Balkan nations: Croatia, Albania and Macedonia; and that the United States strongly supported inviting these nations to join NATO. However, during the summit NATO leaders decided not to extend a membership invitation to Macedonia because Greece vetoed the move after the dispute over the name issue. The Macedonian representative and negotiator with Greece in the name issue complained that the Republic of Macedonia was punished not because it had failed to fulfill NATO accession criteria, but because it had been trying to defend its national identity. The NATO leaders agreed to extend a membership invitation for Macedonia as soon as the name issue with Greece is resolved, but until now no progress has been made in the negotiations between the Republic of Macedonia and Greece to resolve the name issue.

In November 2008, Republic of Macedonia filed a lawsuit against Greece before the International Court of Justice
International Court of Justice
The International Court of Justice is the primary judicial organ of the United Nations. It is based in the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands...

 in The Hague accusing Athens that it violated the Interim Accord by blocking its NATO membership. In 1995, the two countries signed an agreement by which Macedonia agreed to use the provisional reference in international organizations, while Greece pledged not to block Macedonia's integration into the European Union and NATO.

In March 2009 the European Parliament expressed support for the Republic of Macedonia's EU candidacy and asked the EU to grant the country a date for the start of accession talks by the end of 2009, regretting that the country is waiting three years after the country was granted a candidate status, which makes a demoralizing effect on Macedonia and brings risks of destabilizing the whole region. The parliament also recommended a speedy lifting of the visa regime for the country citizens.

Controversy between the Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria


The number of ethnic Macedonians in Bulgaria is controversial as several Bulgarian censuses showed conflicting numbers of ethnic Macedonians living in that country. As the Bulgarian authorities did not publish the results of the 1946 census regarding the number of ethnic Macedonians in Bulgaria, Yugoslav sources claimed that some 252 000 people declared themselves as Macedonians in that census. Bulgarian embassy in London in 1991 stated that some 169 000 people were recorded as Macedonians on the same census. The census in 1956 registered 187 789 ethnic Macedonians in Bulgaria. During this period the Macedonian Language
Macedonian language
Macedonian is a South Slavic language spoken as a first language by approximately 2–3 million people principally in the region of Macedonia but also in the Macedonian diaspora...

 was to be the official language of Pirin Macedonia. In 1992 the number of the ethnic Macedonians was 10,803 and in 2001 only 5,071 citizens declared as ethnic Macedonians. Bulgarian governments and public opinion throughout the period continued their policy of non-recognition of Macedonians as a distinct ethnic group. The recent Bulgarian view on the issue is that the Bulgarian policy after the Second World War regarding the Macedonians in Bulgaria was conducted despite the unwillingness of the local population to cooperate, in the conditions of the pressure and reprisals by the Bulgarian communists authorities against the Bulgarians in Pirin Macedonia. After 1958 when the pressure from Moskow decreased, Sofia turned back to the view that the separate Macedonian language did not exist and that the Macedonians in Blagoevgrad province
Blagoevgrad Province
Blagoevgrad Province , also known as Pirin Macedonia , is a province of southwestern Bulgaria. It borders four other Bulgarian provinces to the north and east, Greece to the south, and the Republic of Macedonia to the west. The province has 14 municipalities with 12 towns...

 (Pirin Macedonia) were actually Bulgarians.

There are several ethnic Macedonian organizations in Bulgaria: "Traditional Macedonian Organization Ilinden", later renamed the "IMRO independent - Ilinden", registered in 1992 at the Sofia City Court. Later, in 1998, the organization was registered as a public NGO. The "United Macedonian Organization (UMO) - Ilinden" is another organization. In 1990, the Blagoevgrad District Court refused to register this organization as some parts of the organization statute were not in accordance with the Bulgarian Constitution. In October 1994 this association split up on three different factions. Later two wings were unified under the "UMO Ilinden - PIRIN" organization. In 1998 the European Commission of Human Rights gave admissibility to two out of five complaints of Macedonians from Pirin Macedonia. After the Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

n Electoral Committee endorsed in 2001 the registration of a wing of UMO Ilinden, which had dropped separatist demands from its Charter, the mother organization became largely inactive. In 2007, the Sofia City Court refused registration of UMO Ilinden Pirin organization, despite an October 2005 ruling by the European Court of Human Rights that a previous ban of the party violated rights to freedom of association and assembly. In November the European Parliament Rapporteur on Bulgaria and the Enlargement Commissioner of the European Commission urged the government to register the organization.

There were repeated complaints of official harassment of ethnic Macedonian activists in the 1990s. Attempts of ethnic Macedonian organization UMO Ilinden to commemorate the grave of revolutionary Yane Sandanski
Yane Sandanski
Yane Ivanov Sandanski or Jane Ivanov Sandanski, was a revolutionary, one of the leaders of the Internal Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization in the Serres region and head of the extreme leftist wing of the organization...

 throughout the 1990s were usually hampered by the Bulgarian police. Several incidents of mobbing of UMO Ilinden members by Bulgarian Macedonian organization IMRO activists were also reported.

There is a newspaper published by the Macedonian organizations in Bulgaria, Narodna Volja ("People's Will"), which is printed in 2,500 copies.

Some cases of harassment of organizations of the Bulgarians in Republic of Macedonia and activists have been reported. In 2000 several teenagers threw smoke bombs at the conference of Bulgarian organization Radko in Skopje, causing panic and confusion among the delegates. The Macedonian
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

 Constitutional Court annulled the status and program of the organization (hence terminating its existence), as those documents question the constitutional establishment of Macedonia and creating national and religious hatred and intolerance. Since then, apparently there are very little or not reported public activities of that organization.


In 2001 Radko issued in Skopje the original version of the folk song collection Bulgarian Folk Songs by the Miladinov Brothers
Miladinov Brothers
The Miladinov Brothers , Dimitar Miladinov and Konstantin Miladinov , were Bulgarian poets and folklorists from Macedonia, authors of an important collection of folk songs, Bulgarian Folk Songs...

 (issued under an edited name in the Republic of Macedonia and viewed as a collection of Slav Macedonian lyrics). The book triggered a wave of other publications, among which the memoirs of the Greek bishop of Kastoria
Kastoria
Kastoria is a city in northern Greece in the periphery of West Macedonia. It is the capital of Kastoria peripheral unit. It is situated on a promontory on the western shore of Lake Orestiada, in a valley surrounded by limestone mountains...

, in which he talked about the Greek-Bulgarian church struggle at the beginning of the 20th century, as well the Report of the Carnegie Commission on the causes and conduct of the Balkan Wars from 1913. Neither of these addressed the ethnic Macedonian population of Macedonia as Macedonians but as Bulgarians. Being the first publications to question the official Macedonian position of the existence of a distinct Macedonian identity going back to the time of Alexander the Great (Macedonism), the books triggered a reaction of shock and disbelief in Macedonian public opinion. The scandal after the publication of Bulgarian Folk Songs resulted in the sacking of the Macedonian Minister of Culture, Dimitar Dimitrov.

As of 2000, Bulgaria started to grant Bulgarian citizenship to members of the Bulgarian minorities in a number of countries, including the Republic of Macedonia. The vast majority of the applications have been from Macedonian citizens. As of May 2004, some 14,000 Macedonians had applied for a Bulgarian citizenship on the grounds of Bulgarian origin and 4,000 of them had already received their Bulgarian passports. According to the official Bulgarian sources, in the period between 2000 to 2006 some 30 000 Macedonian citizens applied for Bulgarian citizenship, attracted by the Bulgaria's recent positive development and the opportunity to get European Union passports after Bulgaria joined EU on the beginning of 2007. In 2006 the former Macedonian Premier and chief of IMRO-DPMNE Ljubčo Georgievski became a Bulgarian citizen.

The rules governing good neighbourly relations agreed between Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

 and the Republic of Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

 were set in the Joint Declaration of February 22, 1999 reaffirmed by a joint memorandum signed on January 22, 2008 in Sofia. There are regular contacts between the Macedonian and Bulgarian officials, confirming the relatively good relationships between the two neighboring countries.

Bulgaria has proposed to sign a treaty (based on that 1999 Joint Declaration) guaranteeing the good neighbourly relations between the two countries, to enable Bulgarian support for the accession of the Republic of Macedonia to the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

.

See also

  • Macedonia (terminology)
    Macedonia (terminology)
    The name Macedonia is used in a number of competing or overlapping meanings to describe geographical, political and historical areas, languages and peoples in a part of south-eastern Europe. It has been a major source of political controversy since the early 20th century...

  • Demographic history of Macedonia
    Demographic history of Macedonia
    - Early history :The region of Macedonia is known to have been inhabited since Paleolithic times. Early historical inhabitants of the region were the Ancient Macedonians, Phrygians, Thracians and Illyrians. Thracians in early times occupied mainly the eastern parts of Macedonia but were also...

  • Macedonia (Greece)
    Macedonia (Greece)
    Macedonia is a geographical and historical region of Greece in Southern Europe. Macedonia is the largest and second most populous Greek region...

  • Republic of Macedonia
    Republic of Macedonia
    Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

  • Blagoevgrad Province
    Blagoevgrad Province
    Blagoevgrad Province , also known as Pirin Macedonia , is a province of southwestern Bulgaria. It borders four other Bulgarian provinces to the north and east, Greece to the south, and the Republic of Macedonia to the west. The province has 14 municipalities with 12 towns...

  • History of Europe
    History of Europe
    History of Europe describes the history of humans inhabiting the European continent since it was first populated in prehistoric times to present, with the first human settlement between 45,000 and 25,000 BC.-Overview:...

  • History of the Balkans
    History of the Balkans
    The Balkans is an area of southeastern Europe situated at a major crossroads between mainland Europe and the Near East. The distinct identity and fragmentation of the Balkans owes much to its common and often violent history and to its very mountainous geography.-Neolithic:Archaeologists have...

  • History of Greek Macedonia
  • History of the Republic of Macedonia
    History of the Republic of Macedonia
    - Ancient period :In antiquity, most of the territory that is now the Republic of Macedonia was included in the kingdom of Paeonia, which was populated by the Paeonians, a people of Thracian origins, but also parts of ancient Illyria and Dardania, inhabited by various Illyrian peoples, and...

  • Macedonian Mafia
    Macedonian Mafia
    The Macedonian Mafia is a term used to describe illegal gangs and criminal organisations operating in the Republic of Macedonia and within the Macedonian diaspora.-Background:...

  • History of Greece
    History of Greece
    The history of Greece encompasses the history of the territory of the modern state of Greece, as well as that of the Greek people and the areas they ruled historically. The scope of Greek habitation and rule has varied much through the ages, and, as a result, the history of Greece is similarly...

  • History of Bulgaria
    History of Bulgaria
    The history of Bulgaria spans from the first settlements on the lands of modern Bulgaria to its formation as a nation-state and includes the history of the Bulgarian people and their origin. The first traces of human presence on what is today Bulgaria date from 44,000 BC...

  • History of Serbia
    History of Serbia
    The history of Serbia, as a country, begins with the Slavic settlements in the Balkans, established in the 6th century in territories governed by the Byzantine Empire. Through centuries, the Serbian realm evolved into a Kingdom , then an Empire , before the Ottomans annexed it in 1540...

  • Irredentism
    Irredentism
    Irredentism is any position advocating annexation of territories administered by another state on the grounds of common ethnicity or prior historical possession, actual or alleged. Some of these movements are also called pan-nationalist movements. It is a feature of identity politics and cultural...

  • List of homonymous states and regions

External links