The Balkan Question

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The Independent Online
Who are Macedonians?

Macedonia is not only a much fought-over territory, the very concept is contested. Before 1912 Macedonia was a large, loosely defined region in the Ottoman Empire and the object of predatory designs by the newly independent states of Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria.

After the Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913, it was divided between them. Most went to Greece and Serbia. Bulgaria lost more of its share to Greece in 1918 as a punishment for supporting Germany in the First World War.

What we now call "Macedonians" are the citizens of the old Serbian portion, which became the republic of Macedonia in federal Yugoslavia after 1945 and an independent state in 1991. Most are Orthodox Slavs with their own church and language. Greece was infuriated by the name of the new state, fearing it implied a claim on Greek Macedonia, but Athens is now much friendlier towards the government in Skopje.

Marcus Tanner