If somebody told you that an entire ethnic group's name and identity was being changed to appease its oppressors, you would react in outrage. If they followed up by saying, "Oh wait, it's a diplomatic dispute", would your response be "That's okay then. They should resolve this dispute by denying their own existence"?
This is what's happening to Macedonia and Macedonians. We are being rebranded as "Northern Macedonians” and our country as "North Macedonia”, thus relinquishing the terms "Macedonian” and "Macedonia” to our biggest oppressor, Greece, and we get to read about this "victory” in the Western media every day. Our name and identity is being given away to the very country whose main foreign policy objective is our eradication.
Note that I said "biggest oppressor”. Let's not forget our lesser-known oppressors. Bulgaria, Albania and Serbia have all made claims to Macedonia, so how can Macedonia be Greek, Bulgarian, Albanian and Serbian all at the same time? So how about this: Macedonia is Macedonian.
But take note, this is not just a Greek-created, Western-enabled dispute between the Republic of Macedonia and Greece. Macedonia's entire territory (the Republic of Macedonia is one part of it) was partitioned in 1913 among Serbia (Yugoslavia), Bulgaria, Greece and later, Albania. With the fall of Yugoslavia in 1991, the Republic of Macedonia gained its independence. Look at a map here, complete with my comment about how - after 500 years of Turkish occupation - all of Macedonia, including the region of Macedonia annexed by Greece, still had Macedonian village and city names. After annexing Aegean Macedonia, the Greek government proceeded to change all Macedonian names into Greek ones. If Macedonia was "always Greek” (a claim made by Greece BEGINNING in 1988) then the names would have already been Greek. Common sense should prevail over racist propaganda.
And don't ever forget, no matter which country Macedonia and Macedonians find themselves in, Macedonia, was, is, and always will be MACEDONIAN.
But when we dare defend our existence, we are branded as "nationalists”. I was even introduced as a nationalist on a recent television panel discussion on TRT World. Lele majko. That's a Macedonian phrase expressing disgusted surprise. But will I have to describe it as a "Northern Macedonian” saying now? Well, if something sounds stupid, it is stupid...
So how did we get here? As I've said many times, the West's romanticizing of Greece is leading to the downfall of my entire ethnic group. You see, Greece has successfully framed its policy of cultural genocide against Macedonians as a "diplomatic dispute”, and the world has blindly followed along.
Frame the debate, and you will most likely win it. Unless, of course, the world hates you. Donald Trump, are you paying attention? Example, if Trump's claim that the US has a "massive trade deficit” with Canada was accepted, Canada would've offered concessions and Trump would be tweeting victory. But Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland saw through Trump's latest lie and proudly announced her defence of Canada's national interests by imposing retaliatory tariffs on the US.
Common sense, right? So why has the world allowed compulsive liar Greece to frame cultural genocide as a neighbourly dispute? Call it what it is - and take action to stop it.
The following question could be asked of any leader and politician I've ever met, but this one is for you, Foreign Minister Freeland: In my discussions with you and your foreign policy advisors, I've asked you the question above. And I asked you why the West is not "allowing” Macedonia to defend itself in the same manner that you defend Canada. Your response? Nothing. Know this, Macedonian-Canadians will remember your despicable inaction at election time. And no, I don't mean "Northern-Macedonian-Canadians”.
But luckily, for Greece, the world inexplicably loves them so they can spin the argument however they see fit. Greece, the West's favourite racist, drunk uncle, has lied about everything from its economy, its artificial ties to ancient history, its "cultural purity” (leading to massive human rights violations against Macedonians and other minorities), its subsequent election of 21 members of its very own Neo-Nazi party to parliament, the mass marketing campaign that anything edible must be Greek, and the West, literally, eats it all up.
This marketing campaign was also used (in addition to EU bailout money) to convince the world that Macedonia "belongs to Greece”. This campaign started in 1988. If one said to a Greek, before 1988, that Alexander the Great was Macedonian - you'd be met with a "No! There's no such thing as Macedonia! Alexander the Great was Greek!" After 1988, it became "Yes! He was Macedonian! But that means he was Greek!" Then they started claiming that "Macedonia is 4,000 years of Greek history". The math is slightly off.
But here we go again with Greece framing the debate. They descend into ancient history (when even the idea of "Greece” didn't exist. Macedonia did, by the way) but one doesn't have to go back 2,000 years to solve an artificial "dispute”. Greece deflects to its Western-created romanticized "history” because it doesn't want to admit that it previously denied Macedonia's existence, that it had no problem with the Republic of Macedonia's name when it was part of Yugoslavia, and that their former Prime Minister, Constantine Mitsotakis, admitted in 1995 that Greece created the "name dispute” in order to deny the existence - and cultural genocide - of the large Macedonian minority in Greece.
Current Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, even celebrated the illegal "agreement" to change Macedonia's name as a victory in forever denying the existence of Macedonians in Greece. Who celebrates cultural genocide? Europe's worst human rights offender does. Which reminds me of when Trump said that his supporters would remain loyal even if he shot someone in the street. Well, Western world, what does Greece have to do to lose your support?
Remember this, even though Macedonia was partitioned in 1913 among Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and later, Albania, there has only ever been one meaning for the term Macedonian - and that is an ethnic Macedonian.
Greece admitted this fact in the 1920s, took UN-sponsored steps to provide public education to Macedonians, provided a census stating Macedonian as an ethnic group, but then reverted to its fascist roots and cancelled it all. But, much like the internet, historical record is forever. Human rights abuses and propaganda changes are easily exposed - but, luckily for Greece - again, the West chooses complicity over decency.
To drive the point home for Greece's Western enablers, when Macedonians started arriving in North America in the late 1800s and early 1900s (to escape persecution, not be subjected to it by their new hosts more a century later), their Ellis Island and Pier 21 documents stated their name, country of origin (which said Turkey because Macedonia was still under Ottoman occupation) and, get this, their nationality said MACEDONIAN despite being under foreign occupation. Look at one of a multitude of examples here.
You see, we have always been Macedonian, no matter which country partitions, occupies or rules Macedonia. If this weren't true, we could eventually become Chinese - if they choose to invade. So Western rulers, you cannot reward our oppressors. You cannot reward cultural misappropriation. And as Caption Obvious might say - you cannot give one ethnic group a second ethnic identity.
Put yourselves in our shoes. What would you do if your identity was being stripped from you while the world not only watched, but participated?
Think of your ancestors and their struggles. And think of mine. While I was being attacked for existing, I explained this on TRT World: My great-grandfather was born Macedonian in 1903 under Turkish occupation. He stayed Macedonian under Greek occupation. He remained Macedonian when he moved to Canada. You can't change what's in your blood.
Look at his picture here. Our Name Is Macedonia. You know it. Now help us defend it.
Bill Nicholov, President
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International