Macedonian Human Rights Movement International
Letter to the Editor of 'The Economist' on "Slav Macedonians" Not Published

The Editor
The Economist

Dear Sir,

Inconsistency and inaccuracy are the two main arguments countering your defense of the use of the words "Slavs” or "Slav Macedonians” when referring to (ethnic) Macedonians, once you acknowledge the major problem, which is paying lip service to the denial of a distinct Macedonian nationality by fellow Slavs and/or fellow Orthodox -Bulgarians, Serbs and Greeks ("Slav or not?,” The Economist 16 August 2001 print edition, ).

In a world where citizenship is identified with the ethnicity of the majority, there is indeed potential confusion between Macedonian citizens and ethnic Macedonians, when one wants to differentiate between the latter and ethnic Albanians who are also Macedonian citizens. But the same holds for ethnic Turks of Bulgaria and Bulgarians or ethnic Hungarians of Romania and Romanians, to mention just a few examples. Had The Economist (and other media) used the terms "Slavs” or "Slav Bulgarians” and "Latins” or "Latin Romanians” in these cases, you may have convinced Macedonians that clarity is the only reason for calling them Slavs, and that you were consistently applying that criterion.

Moreover, though, the Slavs of Macedonia are not only ethnic Macedonians, but also ethnic Serbs, ethnic Bosniaks, ethnic Croats, and ethnic Bulgarians. So, calling ethnic Macedonians Slav Macedonians is inaccurate, and I am sure you are aware that the other Slavic ethnic groups in that country -like minorities everywhere in the region- do have their share of problems with their -fellow Slav- majority.

Human rights organizations and most scholars simply use the terms ethnic Macedonians and ethnic Albanians (as well as ethnic Turks, ethnic Bulgarians, ethnic Hungarians and ethnic Romanians), which provide clarity but also show respect to the most fundamental human right of self-identification.


Panayote Dimitras
Spokesperson, Greek Helsinki Monitor


Visiting Lecturer on "States and Minorities in the Balkans”
Nationalism Studies Program,
Central European Univeristy, Budapest