The Macedonians – Macedonian people

Macedonians are outstandingly pleasant, warm, cheerful, open, hospitable, simple, friendly and lovely people, and the most soulful of all the Balkan peoples /one needs to put lots of efforts into understanding the meaning of soulful/ whose innate traits and cordial attitude you immediately spot the very moment you meet them. You instantly learn that Macedonians love their country by the way they inoffensively greet you and show you around.

The Macedonians are the southern Slavic people of the Illyrian-Thracian origin – the archaic Paeonians who speak the Macedonian language which is a part of the South Slavic group of languages. Structurally, Macedonian language is closest to Serbian and Bulgarian than any other Slavonic language. The current form of the Macedonian language has accumulated a thriving Slavic literary tradition and was codified after the Second World War. The Macedonian language is in the same family as Russian, Serbian or Bulgarian, but is distinctly different. The official alphabet in Macedonia is the Cyrillic, but Latin is used also.

“The Thracian Albanians are today the language minority in the southern Macedonia and the western Thracia, along the border with Turkey. They speak the toskresh language which is branch of the Tosk dialect of the Albanian language, and they are descendants of the Albanian population of eastern Thracia which in 1920-ies emigrated during the exchange of population between Greece and Turkey. They are known in Greece as Arvanites which is name accepted for all groups of the Albanian origin in Greece, but predominantly relates to the southern dialectic group of the Arbaresh population. People who speak Albanian language in western Thracia and Greek Macedonia use for themselves the name of the Albanians, not the Arbaresh or Arvaniti people. ” Predrag Đurić

Macedonia has been continuously settled since prehistory. The modern Macedonians developed as a result of the mixing of the Illyrians and the Thracians in antiquity by uniting those close and similar tribes who had common features and language. By absorbing the peoples living in Macedonia who migrated to the north under persecution of the Persians, the Greeks and later the Turks, the Slavs also absorbed their culture and in that amalgamation the nation was gradually formed with predominantly Slavic ethnic elements, speaking a Slavic language and flourishing a Slavic-Byzantine culture. In 581 AD the Slavs created their own country-like formation on the territory of Macedonia called the Macedonian Sclavinia which waged several wars against the Byzantine Empire. In 686 AD the last Macedonian Sclavinia was occupied by the Byzantium and the Bulgarians. In the middle of the 8th century the Macedonian Slavs under Byzantine rule were fully baptized and accepted Christianity, and the Macedonians under Bulgarian rule became Christians in the 9th century. When Tsar Samuel founded his Macedonian Empire in 976 Bulgaria was already conquered by Byzantium /971/. The Macedonians have a great role in the creation of the Slavic writing. The local dialect of the Macedonian Slavs spoken north of Thessaloniki became the basis for Old Church Slavonic, the first literary Slavic language. During the whole medieval period, Macedonia was constantly an object of conquest and was being slipped from Byzantine, to Bulgaria, and to Serbia. This ended in the 14th century when Macedonia along with the whole Balkan region was conquered by the Ottoman Turks. After the creation of the Greek, Bulgarian and Serbian states who gained independence from Turkey, the three young countries started opening Greek, Bulgarian and Serbian churches and propagandist schools, in order to assimilate the Macedonian population through education. The rivalry succeeded in dividing the Macedonians into three distinct parties, the pro-Bulgarian /which was the largest/, pro-Greek and pro-Serbian one, at the expense of development of a unique Macedonian identity.

In the middle of the 15th century the krajina vilayets of Roumelia in Macedonia were : Skopje, Kalkandelen /Tetovo/, Gornji i Donji Debar, Dugo Brdo, Reka, Čemernica, Veles, Prilep,  Bitolj, Kičevo and other on the territories of Kosovo, Raška and Bosnia with vilayets of : Pastric – later Paštrik, Vlk – the area ruled by Vuk Branković, Priština, Zvečan, Jeleč, Ras, Sjenica, Nikšići – Vlasi-Wallachians of Nikšić and Hodidjed  – Saray-ovasi.

The historical Old Serbia and Macedonia – i.e. the South Serbia in the narrow sense considers those areas that were liberated in the Balkan wars from the five centuries long Turkish yoke, and were united by the Bucharest Peace Treaty in 1913 with the Kingdom of Serbia and Montenegro. Those are areas in the valleys of the Lim, Ibar and Raska Rivers, Metohija, Kosovo and Vardar Macedonia – the Skopje basin, Kumanovo-Preševo Valley, area by the Pcinja and Kriva rivers, Kocani Valley, Maleš-Osogovo Mountains, Plauš and Strumica, Veleš Valley, basins of the Topolka and Babuna, Has and Klepci areas, Rajac and Tikveš, Morihovo, Meglen, Tziga Valley, Đevđelija Valley, Bojmija, Demir Kapija – Železnik, Solunska kampanja i zaliv – Thessaloniki and Bay, Pajak, Thessaloniki, Drama, Dojran and Seres Valleys, Trakia, basin of the Marica River, Ajvasilsko and Bešič lakes, Dojran Lake, Epirus and South Albania, West Macedonia, Poreč, Kičevo, Kopač, Kačanik Gorge, Tetovo Valley, Suhodolica, Šar planina Mountain, Kosovo, Metohija, Prizren area, Rogozna Mountain, Novi Pazar area, Šekular, Plav and Gusinje.

‘Thanks to numerous travel writers and ethnologists we know about the Serb tribes in the territory of Macedonia under the name of Miyaks and Brsyaks /Mijaci and Brsjaci/.  Their area, customs, language and architecture are described by the Serb scientists and researchers as Miloš Milojević, Milojko Veselinović, Jovan Cvijić, Toma Smiljanić, Branislav Rusić, Jovan Trifunoski…. However, in preparation of reprint of the book “Javni zborovi Srbomaćedonaca i Starosrba iz 1885. godine” – Public speaches of the Serbo-Macedonians and the Old Serbs from 1885, I was surprised to learn that on the territory of the ‘whole’ Macedonia at the end of the 19th century lived more Serbian tribes. Kuzman Badzovic was one of the speakers in the event of the public speaches of the Serbo-Macedonians and the Old Serbs held in Vranje and provided names of the Serb tribes which lived in that area. From his speach we learn that besides the Miyaks and Brsyaks tribes, there were the tribes of Pejanci, Boji – Bojki, Marvenci, Pulevci – Belci and Banovci – Bandovci”…..

The royal Serbian army led by King Aleksandar Karadjodjevic was greeted on the 11 August 1913 in Slavija square in Belgrade after return from the Second Balkan War. Names of the four Serb towns of Old Serbia of Kumanovo, Skopje, Prilep and Bitolj that Kingdom of Serbia liberated from the Turks in 1912 and defended from the Bulgarians in 1913 were inscribed on the triumphal arch in front of the Victory Gate of the Belgrade square.

At the Salonica front – also known as the Macedonia front /which was military theater in 1916 in attempt by the Allies to help Serbia against the combined attack of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria/, there was a Russian brigade sent by the Tsar Nikolai to aid the Serbian Army as the Russian Empire  was a major supporter of Serbia. The English were extremely upset about this event and they did everything to isolate the Russian brigade which the British generals considered the great threat to their interests. They successfully made the Russian brigade transferred from the Salonica front. This Russian brigade was sent far to the east of Greece to avoid any contact with the Serbian Army. Just then the British enmity toward Serbia was expressed in the most cruel way, as they started with the most despicable blackmails. In the hardest moment, Serbia asked for the financial aid of 800 thousands of pounds sterling as the loan for renewal of armament, and medicament and sanitary equipment. The Brits responded with blackmail – you Serbs will get the loan under the condition to renounce your territory in east of Macedonia in favor of Bulgaria. This ultimatum was firmly rejected by Serbia.

The issue of the future destiny of Stara Srbija – Old Serbia and Macedonia, that included the Ottoman vilayets of Kosovo, Bitola and Thessaloniki was one of the main open and disputed questions of the European diplomacy in the last decades of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. The neighboring Balkan states of Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece, but also the great powers were interested for the so-called ‘Macedonian question‘  as the fate of the Turkish European provinces. 

In the period between 1903 and 1908 the three Balkan countries started arming the three different parties and stimulating them to fight one another. This period of the history of Macedonia is called the Macedonian Struggle, and is manifested with brother killing his own brother for being a partisan of the different nationalist propaganda. This period lasted till 1912, when Macedonia was divided between Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia. In those dark days the National Awakening of the Macedonians took place. In late 19th and early 20th century several Macedonian intellectuals living abroad propagated the idea of the unique character of the Macedonians, that is, that the Slavic-speakers of Macedonia compose a separate ethnicity which is different from Serbian, Bulgarian and Greek. After the Balkan Wars, following division of the region of Macedonia among the Kingdom of Greece, the Kingdom of Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Serbia, and after WWI, during which Macedonia was ruled by Bulgaria /1914-1918/ in return for supporting Axis, the idea of belonging to a separate Macedonian nation was further spread among the Macedonians. The suffering during the wars, the endless struggle of the Balkan monarchies on dominance over the population made the Macedonians more and more aware that the creation of an independent Macedonian state and a development of a Macedonian nation would put an end of their suffering. The first revolutionary organization that promoted the existence of a separate ethnic Macedonian nation was United IMRO created in 1925 and composed of Macedonians with leftist ideology. This idea was internationalized and backed by the Comintern which issued in 1934 a declaration supporting the further development of the Macedonian nation. This action was backed by the Bulgarian, Greek and Yugoslav communist parties and they started supporting the national consolidation of the Macedonian people and created Macedonian sections within the parties, headed by a prominent IMRO (United) member.
From a demographic standpoint, the population was slowly increasing prior to World War II, and has been increasing more rapidly since then. A substantial migration from villages to towns has been occurring over the last 60 years. In World War II, Macedonia was occupied by Italian, German and Bulgarian troops. Macedonia was annexed and divided between Greater Albania and Greater Bulgaria following the invasion and occupation of Yugoslavia in April, 1941 by Germany and Axis allies Italy, Hungary, Albania and Bulgaria. The Tetovo, Gostivar, Struga, Kicevo and Debar districts of Western Macedonia were annexed and incorporated into an enlarged Albanian state, of Greater Albania, sponsored by Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Western Macedonia was occupied by the Italian army and was under Italian administration until the Italian surrender in 1943 when it was re-occupied by Germany. In conjunction with the Balli Kombetar, the Italian occupation forces formed the fascist Albanian Ljuboten battalion which the German forces retained after 1943. In 1944, Germany formed the Albanian Skanderber Waffen SS Division which occupied Kosovo, Southern Serbia, Montenegro and Western Macedonia. The Macedonian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, Roma and Macedonian Jewish population were the targets of victims of genocide and extermination. The Macedonian and Serbian nationalities were de-recognized by the Bulgarian occupation forces. The Bulgarian occupation regime categorized the Macedonian Slav population as Bulgarian. In the Greater Albania of Western Macedonia, the Macedonian Orthodox, Serbian Orthodox, Roma and Jewish population were similarly targeted for elimination and deportation. read more Carl K. Savich Holocaus in Macedonia, 1941-1944.

In mid 1941 the first Macedonian partisan units were created, and organized attacks on targets in the cities of Kumanovo and Prilep, as the Macedonian people took part in the Second World War side by side with the Allied forces, with the other people of Yugoslavia. The first greater partisan battalion was formed in 1943, and the same year the armed struggle against the fascist occupation was conducted in every part of Macedonia. On August 2, 1944 the ASNOM (Anti-Fascist Assembly of the National Liberation of Macedonia) was held on which the decisions were made for the establishment of the Macedonian State, as a federal unit within the framework of the Yugoslav federation, and the officiousness of the Macedonian language. During the period September – November 1944 the Macedonian Partisan Army has taken the final offensives which resulted in the liberation of the whole of the territory of Vardar Macedonia.
After being nearly 50 years the federal republic of Yugoslavia, on 8 September 1991 Macedonia proclaimed its independence. Over the period since achieving its independence, the Republic of Macedonia has been striving to build a stable political and economic community, with a legal system able to facilitate rapid integration into the European Union and the wider international community. From 1991 till today the Republic of Macedonia has been walking the road towards integration in the Euro-Atlantic structures. Since the early 1990s, many Macedonians embraced the view that their identity stems from 2,500 years ago in antiquity, while many Macedonians also feel very proud of their Slav origin.

Macedonians are the warmest people in the Balkans and keen to make their guests feel at home, starting with their tasty food, to the skilfullness and craftsmanship in traditional works, love for music and dance and overall merrymaking… If Kosovo is heart of Serbia, than Macedonia is soul of Serbia.