June 13, 2018
I actually lived a long time in Greece.
They all loved Serbians and other Slavs – I dunno, Slavs get along with Southern Europeans for some reason – but hated Macedonia. Because of the name. That was the only reason. Greeks really, really hate that non-Greeks were calling that country a Greek name.
Apparently, that issue has been fixed.
Ever since the Republic of Macedonia declared its independence in 1991, Greece has been fighting the country over its name. Today the 27-year impasse ended as two nations finally came to a resolution: The former Yugoslav republic is getting a new name, the Republic of North Macedonia.
“There is no way back,” Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said in a press conference, Reuters reports, after he spoke with his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras. “Our bid in the compromise is a defined and precise name, the name that is honorable and geographically precise — Republic of Northern Macedonia.”
When Yugoslavia disintegrated, one of its pieces declared itself the Republic of Macedonia. But its southern neighbor, Greece, has regions that use the same name, and both countries argued that they had the rightful claim to it.
“We have a deal. I’m happy because we have a good deal which covers all the preconditions set by the Greek side,” Tsipras said, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
I’m not really sure that the majority of Greeks are going to be happy with this change. But Zoran is right – what are they going to do at this point? Call themselves “Serbigaria”?
There is a story that Greeks tell of a Greek politician in the European Parliament telling a story of Alexander the Great taking a bath in the Danube and a Slav coming and stealing his clothing while he was taking a bath. Then a Representative from Macedonia came and said “that’s impossible – there were no Slavs on the Danube at the time of Alexander the Great!” and the Greek then said “I rest my case.”
This story isn’t true, because Macedonia isn’t in the European Union so is not at the European Parliament. Maybe there is some other thing like this that happened. But it’s a funny story.
Slavs did move down from the North. Sometime. A long time ago. I don’t know the dates. But after Alexander the Great, for sure. Romania was actually settled by Romans, hence the name and the language being so much like Italian. Culture very similar too, really.
Anyway, people move around, that’s life, no one really holds that against anyone. At least not seriously.
But the name was really a sticking point.
It’s great if this solves the issue. I really like the people of Macedonia. They are basically like Serbs, who are some of my favorite folks. A lot more chill than the Bulgarians. Bulgaria is legit like a caricature of a burned out Soviet hellscape out of one of those movies. All brutalist architecture with this weird fog and everyone just hunched over smoking cigarettes and scowling.
It’s weird that Macedonia has a statue of Alexander the Great in the center of their capital and on their money and so on. They legit tried to create a fake history in the 1990s, which doesn’t make any sense. It’s a surreal kind of thing.
To be true, Yugoslavia breaking up was a horrible disaster. A mini version of the fall of the USSR. It wasn’t good for anyone but Albanian terrorists.
Other than Serbs, who identify strongly with Russia, most Balkan Slavs have identity issues. I remember being on a bus next to this Bulgarian guy for like 12 hours and him explaining this whole long thing about how Bulgarians aren’t even Slavs at all but are Bulgars descended from some ancient something or other. I don’t remember the details.
But it was a really weird story, I remember that.
Oh and I have a story about a talk with a Macedonian. First time I was, I was walking and talking with a guy who was in his late forties and I was like “so what is your nationality?” and he was like “I am Macedonian!” and I was like “yeah, but” and he was like “my nationality is Macedonian! I have always been a Macedonian!”
I felt bad.
But hey – at least they’re committed to playing the hand they were dealt. A rough spot they’re in.
It’s a great place though. I recommend swinging through Skopje. Super-chilled out, really friendly people, hot girls who speaking English.
The old city has a great vibe.
I endorse the country, whatever it’s called.