Mιλτιάδης Η. Μπόλαρης
Το παρών άρθρο δημοσιεύθηκε ταυτόχρονα και στο Αμέρικαν Κρόνικλ:
Todor Petrov (pictured above between a medieval Bulgarian lion and an ancient Greek sun) is the self-proclaimed "President of the World (Slavo-)macedonian Congress. He wants us all to believe that he is a reasonable man, a man of Peace and reconciliation.
In an article in the Skopje daily Vreme (1)we read that he is asking for nothing less than for the presidents of Greece Carolos Papoulias and the president of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Makedonija (FYROM) Georgi Ivanov to sign a statement of reconciliation. Not just a statement, in fact, but "a joint presidential declaration between (Slavo-)makedonija and Greece on the (Slavo-)makedonijan-Greek historical reconciliation". This will have to be followed by a proposed suggestion that "both governments must conclude an agreement on a lasting peace and good neighborly relations between (Slavo-)makedonija and Greece, which will replace the Interim Agreement".
Greece and FYROM have been butting heads ever since the Former Yugoslav People´s Republic split off its mother country Yugoslavia and declared independence, back in 1991. The problem, as Greeks saw it, was the Slavomacedonians´ ultra-nationalism and unbridled irredentism, typical of most nationalities that cut themselves off Yugoslavia at some point or another during the 1990's. The Skopje ultra-nationalists gleefully and in all seriousness demanded annexation of large chunks of Greek territory, including Greece´s second largest city, Thessaloniki. Maps of United Makedonija were widely distributed and propagated, from Melbourne and Toronto to Skopje and the internet:
These attitudes were expressed most vividly in the name and the symbols of the new country: Makedonija, a Slavic rendition of Macedonia, which happens to be the northernmost and largest province of Greece, home of Aristotle and Alexander the Great, among other Greek notables. By 1995, an interim agreement, to which Mr. Petrov makes mention was reached, and some changes were agreed, like dropping the most offensive of FYROM´s constitutional articles that were seemed directed against Greece, and the changing of both the flag and the name. The name for international use was accepted to be FYROM, and it was seen as a transitional name to be replaced later on by a permanent one to be agreed in negotiations between the two countries.
Todor Petkov´s proposals, in other words, sound too good to be true! Finally, someone would think, the most extreme Slavomakedonci groups seem to be putting water in their deleteriously ultra-nationalist positions. It is these expatriate organizations, centered in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto, Canada that ever since the 1940´s seem to be the carriers of the most uncompromising anti-Hellenism. These are the ones who have poisoned the political agenda inside Skopje itself, forcing the "Antiquization" campaign, also known sarcastically as "Bucephalism" from Bucephalas, the name of the horse of Alexander the Great into the political arena. They have forced the revision of this multi-ethnic state´s history, making a two prong attack. First they try to deny the Hellenic nature of the ancient Macedonians, whose name they wish to assume. Secondly, they want to convince the Slavonic inhabitants of FYROM feel that they are not Slavs, and that the Slavic invasion of the 7th and 8th century AD never happened. That these Slavonic people are supposedly indigenous to the area since time immemorial and they are, therefore, the true descendants of the ancient Macedonians. A new official version of a so-called "History of the Macedonian Nation" has been published in 2009, making all these un-historical and outlandish claims official national dogma, something for which a Joseph Goebbels or a Lavrenti Beria would be proud of.
Hearing the president of this group, which started it all, proclaiming reconciliation with "the enemy" is a thunder in sunshine…we rightfully wonder: what happened?
Vreme´s article is thankfully not keeping us in tension for too long. Todor Petrov is forthcoming with a few minor preconditions:
A. "Great Britain must apologize for her agreement with Russia to assist the Greek government defeat the (Communist Party-led) partisan movement during the (1946-1949)Greek Civil War, in which the (Slavo-)macedonians, took active part".
It is true that the Churchill and Stalin made an agreement during the famous Yalta conference, by which Stalin relinquished any interest in Greece, being content with control of Bulgaria, Romania and Yugoslavia, and practical as he was, left Greece and Turkey to the British (later, after 1946, American) sphere of interest. The British, he was heard saying, will not let Greece go, and we have no navy…
B. "Greece must recognize the associations of the child refugees from Greek Macedonia".
These are the now grown up Greek children, over 30,000 of whom had been taken from their own villages by the retreating Democratic Army partisans and most were raised in orphanages in Tito´s Yugoslavia. Greece at the time raised hell internationally and several United Nations resolutions were passed against Yugoslavia for this crime against humanity, but of the 30,000 who left, less than 1000 were ever returned. The rest of them grew up in a system that taught them a new, recently formed language, teaching them that they are not Greeks but (Slavo-)Macedonians, effectively making rabidly anti-Greek Janissaries out of them.
The Yugoslav propaganda painted this tragedy in totally different colors: They named it the EXODUS of the "Macedonian" children, giving it biblical overtones, as if the children made their own decision about where they were being led. More on them later.
C. "Macedonians from "Aegean Macedonia" (originally a Bulgarian but later also Slavomacedonian misnomer for Historic Macedonia of Northern Greece) individually and united must act to exercise their rights of citizenship and property rights and inheritance rights and to claims their seized property".
At the end of the civil war, there were winners and there were losers. The ones who lost had to filter into Albania, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria, and they were then spread, being divided between the Warsaw pact countries, many staying in Yugoslavia´s southernmost province, the so called Socialist People´s Republica Makedonija, while others were relocated everywhere from Hungary´s Beloyiannis village to Poland, and from Uzbekistan´s Tashkent to Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria and Romania; anywhere, in other words, as long as they were far from Stalin´s Moscow who wanted to have nothing to do with them. Many who were caught inside Greece, or trying to cross the frontiers, were executed or thrown into prisons and exile in deserted islands. Thousands of ex-partisans lingered in prison and exile for anywhere from 1 to 15 years or more, most of them with death or life sentences on their head. The ones who left Greece lost all their civil and political rights. Their homes and property were passed to their closest in kin. Although almost everyone built a new life in their respective host countries, some married and made new families, many having left another wife and children back in Greece, but as years went by, they started lobbying their host governments to ask the Greek state to allow their repatriation. Some, especially the ones living in Yugoslavia eventually emigrated and some, very few, ended up in the USA; having to sign the US immigration petition that "you are not now or have not in the past been affiliated with the Communist Party", did not help. Most of them found a new home in Canada or Australia.
More than twenty five years later, post 1975, some of the old partisans of the "Democratic Army" started trickling back into Greece. Then in 1981 Andreas Papandreou´s Socialist PASOK government came to power on a platform of civil war reconciliation and he allowed anyone who had taken up arms in the 1940´s on the side of the partisans but wished to return to do so. There was only one condition to repatriation: Even if you or your children and been born abroad, you had to declare that you are a Greek national. If you were naïve enough to write in your petition: Sovietski, Bulgarski, Makedonski, Slavomakedonski, etc, etc, your petition was summarily dismissed. The road to Greece was open only to the ones who felt and declared themselves to be Greek. Anyone who had collaborated with the occupation of the Nazi-allied Bulgarians (part of Greek Macedonia and most of Greek Thrace had been ceded by Hitler to Bulgaria) or participated in the civil war under Nikos Zachariades´ catastrophic leadership which (in exchange for diplomatic and military support from Tito) advocated that historic Macedonia of Greece be ceded to Tito´s Yugoslavia, and continued to harbor such notions was simply not welcome back, blocking their chances of return to Greece.
No state organizations accepts its voluntary dismemberment without a fight. The Americans fought a bitter civil war to avoid just that in the 19th century and they succeeded, and so did the Yugoslavs unsuccessfully in the 1990's. Speaking of the Americans, to the best of my knowledge, once you take up arms against the American state, like some American born Islamic activists have done so lately, American citizen or not, you are considered an enemy combatant and if caught, in Pakistan, Afghanistan or in New York, you are brought in front of a judge to face death sentence or life imprisonment without parole. I would never equate the Islamic fundamentalists with the Greek partisans of the 1940´s, and I am not advocating the death penalty or state terror against anyone, far from it, but I am trying to keep things in perspective, and take a view from the side of the State´s self preservation.
Some, of the ones we were refused re-entry included many who had emigrated to Canada and Australia, organized themselves in Slavomacedonian organizations and habitually demonstrated outside Greek consular offices. Many of them were in fact the children of the so called "paidomazoma" / the "child abduction" children of the civil war, grown up and full of hatred against Greece by now. Obviously, their names joined the list of undesirables, and the Greek customs officers refused entry to them, especially when they tried to enter Northern Greece in busloads through Skopje.
Who are these children of abduction, the children of the so called Paidomazoma, or Exodus if you like?
During the fiercest battles, towards the end of the Greek civil war, men and women were being forced from both sides to join either the rebel partisans or the national army. The children were being left behind in bombed out villages to fend for themselves. Both sides took realized the problem and both sides took action, to take these children under their control and protection. The royalists created the Paidoupoleis (Παιδουπόλεις / children's cities) in other parts of Greece, away from the fighting, under the auspices of Queen Frederica who saw them as first class propaganda opportunity, to prop up her royal presence. The partisans did exactly the same, taking the children in areas of their control and shipping them off to friendly Eastern European countries, mostly, but not only, in Yugoslavia. Eastern Germany, Czechoslovakia and others took in many of these Greek children too.
Many of these innocent Greek children that were taken abroad were homeless and orphaned, and many lost their parents either because they were eventually killed or arrested, sent off to prison or exile or finally lost in the confusion of the times and were never re-united. Even in cases when the mother was at home, the pressure to get a child out of a war zone where Greek and American planes were bombing every village suspected of cooperation with the Democratic Army guerrillas, was sufficient to persuade the parent, grandparent or other guardian to let the child be taken away, in safety. Whether the children were taken forcefully (it may have happened, and for sure there are documented cases that it did) or taken out willingly from cooperating relatives, the issue is really secondary as to what happened to them later on. The children that remained in Greece or were sent off to other countries, remained Greek. A different fate awaited those who were settled in Yugoslavia. Makedonski indoctrination set in. You are "Macedonians", "Makedonci", "Ethnic Makedonci", they were told. Greeks are your parents' enemies, Greece is your enemy, Makedonija and Yugoslavia is your new country and Marshal Tito is your savior.
A tag of diplomatic and propaganda flared up between Greece and Yugoslavia. The innocent children of the civil war became a point of contention and Greece fought in the United Nations and in the international fora to take them back, throughout the late 1940´s and early 1950´s.
Once they grew up though, they became the unwanted ones, having grown into Yugoslav Jenissaries. The Greek state reacted by rejecting them, not allowing their return, as long as they proclaimed another ethnicity. It is as if someone removes several cells from your body, treats them with poison and then attempts to infuse them back into you: No sane person would accept such transfusion.
The most famous -or infamous- of these expatriate Janissaries is the current prime minister of FYROM, Nikola Gruevski whose grandfather Νικόλαος Γρούιος / Nikolaos Grouios(1911-1940) was a hero of the Greek army, who joined the Greek army and died during the 1940 Greco-Italian war, resisting the Italian invasion of Greece. He died in the Florina military hospital on November 19, 1940 having been mortally wounded by an Italian shrapnel days earlier, and his name is prominently scribed on a marble Heroon in his native village, Αχλάδα/Achlada of the Φλώρινα/Florina district. His son, Gruevski's father himself is one of the so called "Deca Belgaci" children. Gruevski, whose own mother is a Greek Vlach-turned fanatical Makedonka, has become the most virulent enemy of anything and everything Greek.
Now, Todor Petrov is proposing that all of the expatriates "individually and united must act to exercise their rights of citizenship and property rights and inheritance rights and to claims their seized property." (3)
The Greek government has recently declared that it is open to discuss repatriation, and even restitution. Restitution from whom though? Who is tilling their parents´ or grandparents´ land? It is obvious that they will have to sue their own cousins.
If you abandon your land in Greece for over twenty years, anyone who has used it for that time without paying you rent has acquired property rights over it, according to the law. Assuming that Todor Perov´s mates return, a can of worms will be opened, attorneys will be happy, and old family ties will now break up and flare into intra-familial hatred.
But this is not all of it. Todor Petrov has more aces up his sleeve. The civil war issues are only the beginning. The main course come immediately after:
D. For what Mr. Petrov calls "persecutions of the (Slavo-)macedonians during the Balkan wars" of 1912-1913, which today, according to Mr. Petrov, are "defined" (by whom?) as "genocide" there "must be a request for reparation of war damages from the occupation and the division of Macedonia and the genocide against the Macedonian people" - said Petrov.
Where can we start from, now? It is a fact that there were no Slavomakedonci during the 1912 war of liberation against the Ottoman empire. Tito´s so called "Makedonci" nation had to wait until 1944 to be invented. At that time the Bulgarophile Slavs of Macedonia were still Bulgarians. They were calling themselves "Bugari". Todor Petrov is speaking of persecutions but somehow he is forgetting about Serres. My hometown is Serres, which the Bulgarian army burned down completely ninety sever years ago to the date, on June 29, 1913, during its hasty retreat, because its population, Greek and Muslim with a few Jewish and Armenian families, was not deemed friendly to Bulgarian occupation. Is this burning down of a major Macedonian city (Doxato in Drama province was the next town to suffer the same fate), plus the summary executions of Greek notables also considered genocide?
Can I and my family sue the Bulgarian state, almost a hundred years later for reparations? But wait, Petrov, is not saying anything about Bulgarians, he almost forgot all about his Bugari / Bulgarski grandparents. True enough, he is a Makedonski now! So, now, it is definitely getting definitely a bit confusing here. Whom should I have to sue? Should I forget about the original Bulgarians and direct my lawsuit against the FYROMian government in Skopje instead, and demand reparations for their "genocide against the Macedonian Greeks of Serres" and the "war damages" inflicted upon my own family´s property, for the Bulgarian occupation of Serres?
No division between the two existed at the time, and the grandparents of today's Slavomacedonians were proud Bugari being separated by the Bulgarians by a mere "l" (BuLgari) not Makedonci. Therefore, I suppose that I have every right to sue either of them or better yet, both of them! I will find an attorney in Sofia and sue the descendants of both the Bulgari who burned down my hometown, and another attorney in Skopje and sue the descendants of the Bugari – the Slavomacedonians who did the same and whomever wins (I think both will) I will be happy. Me and my brother, and all of our children will now be rich! Victims of Genocide that we are, we will win so much money for the war reparations of our torched down city of Serres that the next step will be to hire yet two more attorneys and send them off to the next mission: Reparations for war damages from the Bulgarian (must I call it "Bugarian/(Slavo-)macedonski"?) occupation and division of Macedonia during the first world war. Speaking of genocide, should we maybe remember the 70,000 Eastern Macedonian Greeks that were taken by the Bulgarian army as "hostages" during the 1916-1917 years of WWI, and only 12,000 of them returned alive? But we are not done yet! What about the second world war? The same week that the Nazi Germans broke through the Thessaloniki – Central Macedonian front, the Bulgarian army followed suit and occupied our province FOR A THIRD TIME IN AS MANY DECADES! Our province was split in half, and the western pat remained with Nazi – occupied Greece, while the Eastern part, including my hometown Serres, and further east the rest of Eastern Macedonia and Western Thrace were given by Hitler to Bulgaria. Talk about "the occupation and the division of Macedonia", indeed!
Hitler also gave Skopje and Vardarska, to the Bulgarians of Sofia. Vardarska, you guessed it, is southern Yugoslavia, which post 1991 is an independent country that now calls itself "Makedonija" but the rest of the world FYROM. Skopje´s Bulgarophile population went frantic and joyous out in the streets to welcome Hitler´s troops and the Bulgarian King they brought along with them.
The Greek Macedonians were now openly persecuted. All the Greek priests had to leave their churches on a day´s notice and all the Greek teachers were thrown out of the schools. Both were replaced by Bulgarians who were brought in from Bulgaria that same week. Greek doctors and attorneys had to sign off their property and were expelled, and so was the case with any and all elected officials. The best homes were all confiscated and given to Bulgarians who were brought in by the thousands to stay.
Within a week´s notice, all the Greek street and commercial signs everywhere had to be with Cyrillic and no Greek sign could stay up anywhere. Food became scarce; the economy collapsed and food coupons became the only means of acquiring foodstuffs. Opportunities opened up for the occupational authorities. If you declared yourself a Bulgarian, you were given twice the coupons, twice the rations. New words were invented and entered the Greek language, words immediately forgotten after WWII:
Ντουρντουβάκια / Dourdouvakia: the Greek youth of Eastern Macedonia and Thrace that were summarily rounded up and taken into Bulgaria to work as unpaid slave laborers for the benefit of the Bulgarian state.
Βουλγαρογραμμένος / Boulgarogrammenos was someone who had become "written down" / declared as a Bulgarian".
Λαδοβούλγαρος / Ladoboulgaros: literally an "oily-Bulgarian", someone that became a Bulgarian in order to get olive oil rations in return and avoid starvation.
I know this is not "genocide" in the literal meaning of the word, but it is a hell of a lot harsher than any bogus "genocide" the Greeks are being accused of by the likes of Todor Petrov and his group. But using hunger to change someone´s ethnic identity, really hits the borderline, if you ask me. On another note, the word Genocide has a very particular meaning: Killing off the genes, killing off the procreated future of a nation. Is this what happened to the Bulgarians / Slavomacedonians after Macedonia´s liberation from the Ottomans? Some, several thousand actually, left, especially from the Kilkis area and relocated to Bulgaria. But so did several thousand Greeks who felt trapped into Serbia and Bulgaria, especially from the Monastir district, Stromnista or Philippoupolis. Was that a Genocide too? We need to remain serious. The Greeks from Bulgaria and south Serbia (later renamed Vardarska and now calls itself Makedonija, or FYROM) left because they felt unwelcome, and so did the Bulgarians of Kilkis, but nobody was massacred or suffered the fate of the Pontian and Asia Minor Greeks, Christian Assyrians and Armenians in the hands of the Turks during and after WWI. THAT was genocide.
So, now we return to Todor Petrov´s proposal in Vreme. The article is titled:
"Aegeans require a signature for reconciliation". By "Aegeans" the article means the descendants of the defeated Slavomacedonian partisans who left Greece and relocated to Skopje after the Greek civil war, as if Florina has anything to do with Aegean (it is like saying the "Pacifics", as in the Pacific Ocean, speaking of the people who live in Colorado).
"The presidents of (Slavo-)macedonia and Greece, George Ivanov and Carlos Papoulias, must sign a statement of reconciliation of the two countries". Indeed, the President of the World (Slavo-)macedonian Congress / Светскиот македонски конгрес, Todor Petrov / Тодор Петров, announces that he will encourage the process of reconciliation and unity…!
So, then, where do we start from? I propose that we start from "A":
"Great Britain must apologize for her agreement with Russia to assist the Greek government defeat the (Communist Party-led) partisan movement during the 1946-1949 Greek Civil War, in which the (Slavo-)macedonians, took active part."
But, i wonder, why only the British? The British after all gave up on their presence in Greece by the time the civil war got serious, in 1946, ceding their position of dominance in the Greek political and military events to the Americans.
I propose that Todor Petrov and the World Congress of the (Slavo-)macedonians take steps to amend this slight oversight and immediately send a forceful demand to president Barack Obama insisting that the "US must apologize for her agreement with Great Britain and Russia to assist the Greek government to defeat the (Communist Party-led) partisan movement during the 1946-1949 Greek Civil War, in which the (Slavo-)macedonians took active part!"
I just want to see Obama's face when Светскиот македонски конгрес / Svetsiot Makedonski Kongres president Тодор Петров / Todor Petrov presents him with his group's demands for the expected US apology!
Now, since "reconciliation precondition" A and B are already assigned, we can call this one: "Todor Petrov's reconciliation precondition A-1".
Once this is done, and Great Britain and the USA move expediently to conform with Todor Petrov's and Svetsiot Makedonski Kongres' very reasonable demands for British and American apologies, I am sure that presidents Carolos Papoulias and Georgi Ivanov can then hastily move to the next step and tackle "reconciliation precondition B"...
What else can I say...Good Luck!
PS1: The damage that the Slavomacedonian expatriate community has done, comfortably sitting in their Toronto, Indiana or Melbourne suburbs, to their home country, FYROM over the years, idiotically demanding an ever harder position against Greece is beyond measure. Skopje's body politic has for years been hijacked by the kinds of Nikola Gruevski and Todor Petrov who have been imposing their criminally self-defeating ultra-nationalist policies on the young nation, leading it from one blind alley to another and from one humiliating defeat to another.
Todor Petrov's latest proposal, as published in Vreme and exposed here for what it's worth it, is indicative of the narrow corner into which they have squeezed themselves.
Lasting Peace, good neighborly relations and reconciliation are indeed needed, but it takes two to tango and they obviously cannot be achieved by people who make ludicrously unsupported claims of "genocide" or "exodus" and demand "apology" and "war reparations" for the war of the Greeks against the Turks and Bulgarians during the first and second Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913. Every nation, even the Turks, at some point or another like to pretend that they have been the victim of everyone else. The problem with Nikola Gruevski, Todor Petrov and VMRO-DPMN is that they have overstretched the net of their ultra-nationalist mythology and ethnic hatred against the Greeks just a little bit too far and they are now trapped in it!
PS2: I may or may not agree with everything said on the videos above but I think that they are well-researched and very informative. M.E.B.