Macedonian Macedonians National Minority in its own country?


The first Macedonian-Albanian civil war, an exception to the century-long tradition of friendly coexistence between Macedonians and Albanians, who lived together under the threat of brutal Ottoman slavery and later under both Serbian and Bulgarian hardship, is a living proof that Macedonia was indeed the powder keg of the Balkans. The fire was lit by Macedonian diplomacy, thus repeating a clear example of the Macedonian tendency to self-destruction.

Homo Balkanicus has undergone five centuries of Ottoman slavery that has embedded a servant mentality as an almost genetic characteristic in its Slavic population, which migrated to the Balkan Peninsula from behind the Carpathian Mountains around the sixth century. This is a unique theory to explain the wide range of dictatorial regimes in the region ruled by Stalin, Ceausescu, Zhivkov, Hoxha and, slightly less brutally, by Tito. Therefore, Ketman [1] , the self-imposed mimicry by the great majority of intellectuals in former totalitarian regimes is still an efficient protector of freethinking intellectuals. Dissidence has died since democracy was imposed in the region, but Freedom did not arrive in former socialist (mistakenly termed as communist by western scholars) countries. If it is any consolation, there are hardly any freethinking intellectuals in the world, even in the USA, the symbol of world democracy, where the intellectual product of a mind is ordered and paid for by a party or a mighty lobby group for its own specific interest. [2] In short, the old Hamlet dilemma of ‘To Be or Not To Be’ has turned into ‘To Be or To Have.’ [3] In the Republic of Macedonia, for great majority of intellectuals, it is a matter of survival not to oppose a bi-partisan, divided society at almost every level. Freedom of thought has been locked out, as democracy since ancient and Roman times has been destroyed and anyways, it is a simple fact that democracy does not necessarily mean freedom.

One has to fight for it, [4] first, and most of all, within oneself, which is the hardest place to struggle. As Neil Young sings, ‘It is so hard to make arrangements with yourself.’ [5] The contemporary history of the 20th century represents an odd reversal of the fortunes of intellectuals and leaders of the working class. Koca Popovic was a surrealist from the famous Paris circle before WWII and intellectual mastermind as partisan general of the YU antifascist liberation movement, but it was the metal smith Josip Broz Tito that ruled over former Yugoslavia for four decades. The same phenomenon occurred in Poland during the revolutionary changes of the 1980s, as the most famous dissident liberal Adam Michnik did not even begin to approach the glory of the locksmith Lech Walesa, who even received the Nobel Prize.

The image of Freedom Erich Fromm refers to in his masterpiece Escape from Freedomconcerning nazi Germany [6] , is, as far as the Balkans is concerned, synonymous with severe self-destruction, due to the tribal mentality of the region’s inhabitants at the moment of the changing of the guards from feudalism to socialism, whatever that term is supposed to mean. Former Yugoslavia split in bloodshed due to its self-destructive ethnic fundamentalism, [7]encompassed only verbally, without any sustainable economic foundation. Former Yugoslavia split into 6 feuds out of which only two (Slovenia and Croatia) emerged with relatively ethnically clean territories. As for the remaining four former republics, they are still fighting their way out of turmoil that could hardly be foreseen. This is the paradox of the former Yugoslavia: it had to go through a bloody dissolution of its former Federation and is now opting to enter another one, the coming federation of the EU. The irony of short memories of recent history can be cruel and merciless. Therefore, let us remind ourselves: the 1974 Brioni Constitution was actually a Confederation, and after, its republic party leaders took over leading roles in the country. The Slovenia League of Communists did its best to make one last attempt to legalize former Yugoslavia as a Confederation at the last Yugoslav Party 10th Congress held in Belgrade, but the only outcome was that it became clear former Yugoslavia had to split. The very last attempt to save former Yugoslavia from the coming bloodshed was the Gligorov-Izetbegovic Platform, but everything had been already prepared for the foreseen disaster. The feudalism of former Yugoslavia, enriched by the ‘successful’ process of electrification + industrialization = socialism had completed its task. Only the feuds remained borderless, and could only be resolved by war that resulted in more than 200,000 deaths, a million or so wounded, and an uncertain but very large number of traumatized people. Only the numbers of direct victims, at the first battle line, remain known even now among those that had initiated and conducted the war. Collective sadistic-masochist drift, put into the highest gear, definitely ruined former Yugoslavia. The two former Yugoslav republics, Serbia and Macedonia were champions in this regard. The former celebrated the defeat of its lost Kosovo battle in 1389, and the latter its Ilinden Uprising in 1903. Both had become strongly committed to rebuild their futures based on the myths of their lost battles, endorsing a self-sacrificial past as the leading principle for their futures. Both Serbians and Macedonians totally ignored famous Yeats line, “too much satisfaction can make a heart of stone.” [8]

 Myths and legends are the basic pillars for keeping up the tradition of a nation or a broader state community. They present the habits, customs or values of a certain community. Myths and legends are closely related to rituals from the pagan world, mainly those of self-sacrificing. Sir James George Frazer [9] pointed out that the basic value of myths is to give an explanation of the substance of rituals. Legends are narrative continuations of myths and make them accessible to a wider scope of recipients. Basically, myths and legends are meant to distribute mystery and wonder, which has hardly anything to do with reality. But that is exactly what people do need when life is hard to live. During five century of Ottoman Empire rule in the Balkans, people created the legend of King Marko, the defender of ordinary people from the Ottoman tyranny, even though he was a Sultan vassal who had lost his life fighting for his own interests. There is an additional question by the famous historian J.Jirichek: What made this meaningless historic person become the greatest epic hero? [10]

At the beginning of the Macedonian velvet-revolution at the end of the 1980s, the initial notion was the idea of a ‘3rd Ilinden.’ [11] At the same time, Slobodan Milosevic started his orthodox-bolshevist jihad, praising the myth of the lost Kosovo battle in 1389 with a warrior-like exclamation: If we were not able to work, we do know how to fight, and accompanying it with the slogan of the coming war: Every Serb in a single state. The path for slaughter in former Yugoslavia had been paved for more than 200,000 dead, more than 1 million wounded and an unknown but certainly great number of traumatized people. It was also paved for the unknown number of leaders and initiators or their sons who had taken part in the first battle line, and the many of them that died. Ironically, this was just another example of Anthony Stor’s claim that it is only a human being among its kind that is capable to kill members of its kind. [12]

Such behavior is neither normal, nor pathological, if you follow the reasoning of the Bosnian psychiatrist Dusan Kecmanovic [13] who, following Erich Fromm, brilliantly elaborated individual helplessness and man’s alienation from the world of reality after facing a defeat and being frightened to face it again. He would rather withdraw from his authentic intellectual being. The next step he gets into is a type of neurosis that he terms pamfilia, which is actually a retreat from reality and an emergence into deep self-seclusion. A pamfilist would rather become a member of Animal Protective Society (Look at the dog’s eyes, they are so sincere, he would keep on insisting) or an NGO and even political party. He becomes part of a Group just for the sake of running away from himself. Kecmanovic asserts this is, in fact, simultaneously, both the sadistic and masochistic behavior of a neurotic individual.

Inarticulate ideas of statehood are the main characteristics of the transitional period in the Republic of Macedonia since its independence in 1991. As a matter of fact, there is not a single solid articulated idea of statehood among Macedonians. If this absence can be explained, as far as ethnic Albanians are concerned, by their non-civil treatment in the pre-Ohrid Agreement Constitution, or by aggressive paternalism from the Kosovo Albanians, there is hardly any satisfactory explanation for this absence among ethnic Macedonians. Worse than that, ethnic Macedonians have introduced a ridiculous correction of the famous Vladimir Ilich Lenin message, given in a commanding manner. They did take two steps backward but forgot to make the one step forward. In contrast to the Eagle [14] , ethnic Macedonians continue to fly with blocked wings [15]

Ethnic Macedonians seem to have forgotten their recent past as the first Macedonian state in history within the former Yugoslavia before they gained their independence and became a sovereign state in 1991, when a severe recycling of modern history occurred. “We need apositive destruction” [16] was nothing but a warlike call similar to the one of Milosevic at Gazimestan on the 600-th anniversary of the lost Kosovo battle. Unlike Milosevic, who already had the plan to destroy former Yugoslavia with the help of the Serbian Academy of Science and Arts Memorandum of 1988, ethnic Macedonians were lost in advance, with no other compass to follow but the one of Milosevic. The tradition of the Ilinden Uprising in 1903, and later on in Ilinden 1944, when the first Macedonian state within the Yugoslav federation was established, had to be sacrificed. In the very same manner that Milosevic had made his warlike cry at Gazimestan, so did a famous Macedonian dramatist [17] : ‘I have no respect for your Ilinden 1944, I need a new one, my own’. The recycling of history could begin, as the path for self-destruction had been opened wide. Vladimir Ilich Lenin could rest in peace as his claim that religion was opium for the masses was effectively replaced by a nationalistic opium meant to renew old Bulgarian-Serbian stories that Macedonians were a people newly invented by the Vatican and the Komintern, following a similar story that the Macedonian language had been codified by an order from Stalin imposed on Serbian communist ideologist and second-to-Tito party leader Milovan Gjilas, who then ordered Macedonians to accept a Serbian model of the Macedonian modern language. The second, much stronger blow to the Macedonian independent and sovereign state since its Referendum in 1991 came in 1999, with a secretly master-minded recognition of Taiwan by the Macedonian government that caused China to veto prolonging of the UNPREDEP mandate as a successful preventive diplomacy [18] to keep Macedonia out of the former Yugoslav bloodshed. This action meant not only a catastrophe of the UN preventive diplomacy that had proved to be utterly successful, but, worse than that, it opened the road for a spillover of the Kosovo crisis into Macedonia. It was only recently that Henry Sokalski, the chief of the UNPREDEP Mission made a fatalistic public statement that read: After UNPREDEP had to withdraw, the complex odyssey of former Yugoslavia went on, and the Balkans ‘unfinished peace’ of the recent past was transformed into an ‘unfinished war’. Why did the newly established independent Macedonia have to pay the highest price for the sins of history? [19] The events that followed, leading to the first Macedonian-Albanian civil war, the end of a century-long tradition of friendly coexistence between Macedonians and Albanians, who lived together first under the threat of the brutal Ottoman slavery and later under both Serbian and Bulgarian hardship, are proof that Macedonia was indeed the powder keg of the Balkans. Ironically enough, the fire was lit by Macedonian diplomacy, thus demonstrating once again a clear example of the Macedonian tendency to self-destruction. Not surprisingly, the present division of the country and the destructive partisan politics of the two biggest political parties, SDSM and VMRO-DPMNE, has resulted in the flight of a great number of young intellectuals abroad, and worse, in the growing number of young Macedonians seeking Bulgarian passports to travel freely abroad.

The New World Order has been temporarily delayed due to the rise of militant Islamic fundamentalism. After this delay is resolved, it is most probably the Geostrategic triad [20]advocated by the second half of the world’s most powerful strategic tandem with Kissinger, that will be the determining force in world events, following these basic principles: 1.) Eurasian politics have replaced European politics as the central arena of world politics; 2.) Despite Europe’s economic strength, significant economic and financial integration, and the enduring authenticity of transatlantic integration, it is a de facto military protectorate of the United States. As a result, the US is likely to remain the only truly global power for at least another generation. 3) The progressive inclusion of Russia in the expanding transatlantic community is the necessary component of any long-term US strategy to consolidate stability on the European mega-continent.

What is Macedonia to expect? Not too much at present! It needs to face reality first. The present brutal reality is the following: there were murders every ten days in the country until December 11, 2003; hard robbery occurred every hour until February 2, 2004; and there were murders every five days and hard robberies twice a day until March 5, 2004. However, a common saying goes in the country: people do hope as the hope diminishes the last.


[1] Czeslav Milosz, Zarobljeni Um, BIGZ, Bgd. 1985

[2] Fareed Zakaria, The Future of Freedom, W.W.Norton/Company, 2003 New York

[3] Erich From, Escape of Freedom,

[4] [4] Fareed Zakaria, The Future of Freedom, W.W.Norton/Company, 2003 New York

[5] Neil Young, a Canadian folk poet and singer.

[6] Millions of Germans, he writes, are doing their best to give up Freedom at the very same manner their fathers had fought for it.

[7] Ivan Tosevski, Nacia ili Nacia, MI’AN, Skopje 2003

[8] W.B.Yeats, Eastern 1916

[9] Sir James George Frazer: The Golden Bough, Macmillan, London 1922

[10] Kiril Penusliski, Dijalog za Krali Marko.Sovremenost, Skopje 1979

[11] After Ilinden 1903 Uprising, Macedonia established its first state within the Yugoslav federation on August 2, 1944 (Ilinden is a religious holiday). An almost hysterical cry for bloodshed came from then a famous Macedonian dramatist and now high-ranking diplomat: Enough of your Ilinden, I need my own, 3-rd Ilinden. Additionally in Stefan Troebs: Historical Politics and Historical Masterpieces in Macedonia Before and After 1991, New Balkan Politics, Vol.6-7, 2003

[12] Anthony Stor, Human Aggression, Oxford, 1968

[13] Ni Normalno, Ni Patalosko, Svetlost, Sarajevo 1988

[14] Eagle is the symbol of the Albanian flag that ethnic Albanians in Macedonia have adopted as their own, thus endangering stability in the country.

[15] A famous Macedonian drama writer Goran Stefanovski play (Let vo mesto)

[16] A famous Macedonian dramatist, now a high-ranking diplomatic representative abroad.

[17] A Macedonian Ambassador to an important Western country at present.

[18] Preventive Action in Theory and Practice (The Skopje Papers), The Norweign Institute of International Affairs, Oslo 1999.

[19] Macedonian TIMES, February 2003

[20] Zbigniew Brzezinski: The Geostrategic Triad (Living with Chine, Europe and Russia), The CSIS Press, Washington D.C. 2001