Sunday, July 13, 2008

Interview of Nicholas Hammond about Macedonia

Nicholas Hammond, one of the world’s best authorities in Macedonian history, stated the following in an interview with the magazine “Macedonian Echo” in February, 1993:

(Q): Who were the Macedonians ?

(A): The name of the ancient Macedonians is derived from Macedon, whowas the grandchild of Deukalion, the father of all Greeks. This we mayinfer from Hesiod’s genealogy. It may be proven that Macedonians spoke Greek since Macedon, the ancestor of Macedonians, was a brother of Magnes, the ancestor of Thessalians, who spoke Greek.

(Q): Isn’t it true that Demosthenes called them “barbarians” ?

(A): The speeches of Demosthenes, that deal with Philip as the enemy, should not be interpreted as an indication of the barbarian origins of Macedonians, but as an expression of conflict between two differentpolitical systems: the democratic system of the city-state (e.g.Athens) versus the monarchy (Kingdom of Macedonia). Personally, I believe that it is the common language, which gives onethe opportunity to share a common civilization. Thus the language is themain factor that forms a national identity.

(Q): What was the geographic location of the Macedonian Kingdom ?

(A): It should be emphasized that Macedonia occupied only the area of Pieria, as is characteristically mentioned by Hesiod and Thucydides. It had to wait until Philip II ascended to the throne and expanded hiskingdom by occupying, among others, the Thracians and the PAEONIANS. The Paeonians were allowed to keep their customs, which was a sign ofliberal policy of Philip after each conquest. From Homer we learn thatthe Paeonians had their own language and that they fought on the side ofthe Trojans. They lived in the area around Skopje , and this is thereason I suggested to Patrick Leigh Fermor to suggest in his article inthe Independent the name of “PAEONIA” as the most suitable for Skopje .

(Q): Given your experience as a liaison officer in German occupied Macedonia, do you believe that there may be a Macedonian nation ?

(A): NO. Macedonia was under Ottoman occupation until the beginning ofthe 20th century. With the decline of the Ottoman empire, the GreatPowers began to seek spheres of influence in the Balkans. The result wasthe emergence, during the latter part of the 19th century, of theMacedonian revolutionary movements.The Serbian IMRO, the Bulgarian VMRO and the Greek “Ethniki Etairia” were formed with the support of certainGreat Powers with the goal of organizing revolutionary units in thearea. After the Balkan wars, the Macedonia (the geographical region) wasdivided between Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria. The movement for thecreation of a Slav-controlled Greater Macedonia continued until 1934,when the Yugoslav government declared IMRO illegal, as a good willgesture to Greece. Therefore, given the struggle of the three ethnicgroups (Serbs, Greeks, Bulgarians) for the control of Macedonia AND THEABSENCE OF ANY LOCAL NATIONAL MOVEMENT, we can talk of Macedonia only asa GEOGRAPHICAL ENTITY AND NOT as A NATION.

(Q): Tell us of your experience in Northern Greece during the German occupation.

(A): I fell with the parachute into Greece in 1943. Our goal was to cooperate as liaison officers with the Greek resistance against the Germans. Tito’s plan was to found a Greater Macedonia, that would include Greek Macedonia and South Yugoslavia; in practice it would beunder Russian control. In January 1944, Tito formed a government and declared a federal Yugoslavia that would be composed of six different republics, the southern most of which would be called Macedonia. It ishere that the name Macedonia appears at the fore front of a plan of aGreater Macedonia against Greece. The same year, Tito’s guerillas invaded Greece three or four times and attempted to enlist men from slavophone villages in the area of Florina. Based on my knowledge, they were unsuccessful.

(Q): Could you please explain, who are these slavophones you refer to ?

(A): They are people who have been living in the area for centuries, perhaps from the time of the Slavic invasions of the 7th century. Nevertheless, they have been integrated with the population and consider themselves Greek.

1 comment: