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Old 03-04-2011, 11:54 PM
Kyla is offline
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Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: California, temporarily.
Posts: 11,610
Let me preface by saying I just drank a glass of wine so I hope this makes sense.

Ethnicity and nationality in the Balkans is very complicated and doesn't really have a neat parallel to how we view it in the United States. You just have to keep that in mind. You hear one thing from one person and a totally conflicting thing from another person; it's really confusing, and even though I have actually made a concerted effort to learn Balkan history, I still don't really know what's going on. (Not the least because what I've heard from Bulgarians often totally conflicts with what I read in mainstream English-language books.) You have to keep in mind that borders have shifted a lot over time, and that this entire region was part of the Ottoman Empire for hundreds of years.

There is a large region of Northern Greece, the FYROM, and Western Bulgaria that is considered by the people who live there to be "Macedonia". The Bulgarian part is called Pirin Macedonia (the Pirin Mountains run through it) and many people who live in the region consider themselves to be ethnically Macedonian instead of Bulgarian, and people in that region speak Bulgarian with a "Macedonian accent." However, the Northern Greeks consider themselves to be the descendants of the original, ancient Macedonians. When Macedonians and Bulgarians say that they are Macedonians, the Greeks get annoyed because they believe that their culture is being misappropriated by Slavs. That is the essence of the issue.

And yes, he majority of citizens of the FYROM are Slavs - there is also a large Albanian minority.

It's not as well-known as the Greek issue, but Bulgarians also have a major problem with the existence of an independent Macedonia. Bulgarians will tell you that Macedonians ARE Bulgarians and that Macedonia should be part of Bulgaria and that it was artificially separated from Bulgaria after...I want to say WWI, but it might have been one of the Balkan Wars. It is certainly true that the linguistic and cultural distinction between Bulgarians and Macedonians is very minor. (Like I already mentioned, there is distinct accent, but Bulgarian and Macedonian are in essence the same language.)

If you want to see people who are part of this conflict talk about it, I recommend reading the comments at literally any video of Macedonian music at youtube. The very first thing I came up with when I searched at youtube was this.

By the way, just to the east of Macedonia is Thrace, which is claimed by Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey. If there were a modern country named Thrace, I guarantee you that one (or all three) of those countries would have a shit fit.