“Extending Greece to the New Territories: A British View” by Sir Michael Llewellyn-Smith. Lecture presented on November 5, 2012 at the inauguration of the periodic exhibition at the Museum for the Macedonian Struggle in Thessaloniki entitled “The British Presence in Thessaloniki and the Macedonian Hinterland”
While Yugoslavia was occupied by the axis forces, the AVNOJ met on November 26, 1942 at Bihać (First Session), in northwest of Bosnia under Josip Broz Tito, in the hope of gaining political legitimacy, proclaimed support for:
2.the rights of ethnic minorities;
3.the inviolability of private property; and
4.freedom of individual economic initiative for the different groups.
Despite the above statements, the new class had to efface many of the societal ills, as the new regime had perceived them. In the communist Yugoslavia, the ills were the fault of the “Others” who were a). The Swabian Germans; b).The Pre-War II Yugoslavism (Unitarism, Centralism, Statism, and Bureaucratism); and c). The Soviet-style socialism.
Historical Background– Swabian Germans
The incursions of the Huns in Europe forced waves of Slavs and Germans during the 4th century to migrate. Germans migrated to the Danube and the Mediterranean as early as the year 375, but the Germans of Yugoslavia migrated to their respective areas approximately 800 years ago. Between the time of their migration to Yugoslavia and WW I the Swabian Germans lived in Austro-Hungarian held territories, as Vojvodina, Croatia, Slovenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The loss of Austro-Hungarian territories to the newly formed Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes a.k.a. Yugoslavia, Romania, and Hungary forced the Swabian Germans to separate into three different chauvinistic countries as Hungary (700,000), Yugoslavia (550,000), and Romania (350,000). The new states were not very understanding of the fact that these people did not have any contact with Germany over the centuries, making them the scapegoat that paid for the Third Reich Germans’ brutality in the eastern occupied countries.
In his interview on www.Balkanalysis.com (12/14/2008) , Linguistics professor and Balkan Studies scholar Victor Friedman portrays Greeks as a most undemocratic and oppressive nation, from ancient to present time, and places the role of Greece in the Balkans in a most negative light. The core of his arguments seems to lie in what he considers suppression of multilingualism and minorities in Greece, which he associates with the current dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on the name of the latter country. As scholars and academics, some of us students of Macedonian history and culture, we wish to offer an alternative perspective and rebut Friedman’s views and assertions in regard to the identity of the modern Greek nation and the true nature of the current dispute between Greece and FYROM. It should be noted that, prior to our decision to write this letter, we invited Dr. Friedman to debate his views in the Hellenic Electronic Center/Professors’ Forum*, but he declined our invitation.
Several reports by various International Organisations describing the situation of human rights in the Balkans have been publicised recently. Such reports on minorities and human rights hardly constitute a novelty nor are they the exclusive ideological by-product of post-cold-war diplomacy. They have been in circulation in the past, especially after the Final Act of Helsinki in 1975, mostly in the form of International Amnesty reports focusing on the situation of human rights within the domains of the former Eastern Block countries. The fall of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s led to a readjustment of the world order. The protection of minority rights all over the world became one of the top priorities in this "New Era" probably less for humanitarian reasons than for diplomatic exigencies. In any case, in this context N.G.O. (Minority Rights Group, Helsinki Watch etc.) or even the U.S. State Department reports grew of paramount importance. It has become clear by now that in a rapidly changing and unstable world reports on minorities strongly influence public opinion and are often used internationally as the most effective mechanisms to exercise diplomatic pressure.
In the case of the Balkans this interest is obviously related to the ongoing diplomatic crisis which followed the break-up of Yugoslavia. The dispute between Athens and Skopje over the name "Macedonia" made Greece part of the Yugoslav crisis and attracted the attention of various organisations. Thus, a considerable part of their reports on the Balkans deals with the Slav-speaking population of Greece and its course through history. Reports like these would be indifferent to a historian, had they not directly referred to the demographic picture of Macedonia in the past as back as far the eve of the Treaty of Bucharest; a Treaty which ended the Balkan Wars (1912-1913) and interrupted a lengthy diplomatic game, played since 1878 by Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia, and the Great Powers, concerning the demise of the Ottoman Empire and the future of Macedonia. The researcher is amazed at the realisation that estimates of the number of Slav-speakers in Greece today are not based on modern, official statistics but constitute a mere revival -a rather clumsy one though- of statistical "games" which were played long ago.
Minority Rights and Educational Problems in Greek Interwar Macedonia: The Case of the Primer “Abecedar”
This study elucidates the diplomatic context of the “Abecedar,” a Slavic primer prepared in 1925 by the Greek authorities for use by Greece's Slavic-speaking population. The “Abecedar” has become widely known recently because in various partisan studies its very existence and its withdrawal shortly after its circulation have been employed as sound evidence for the existence of an ethnic Macedonian minority in Greece even before World War II. Archival sources, used here for the first time, provide substantial evidence to show that the primer was a desperate and honest (at least for European observers) attempt by Greece to comply with its minority obligations and simultaneously to neutralize Bulgarian and Serbian involvement in Greek Macedonia. The attempt eventually failed owing to local pressure and diplomatic necessity.
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