Death threats haunt Greek champion of Macedonians: In the first of two articles on the region, Leonard Doyle describes Athens' drive against ethnic Slavs

A GREEK scholar who described the existence of a Slavic-speaking Macedonian community inside Greece in her American university thesis and other publications, has received death threats for challenging the government line. This denies the existence of the minority.

Athens protests that there is no Macedonian minority within its borders. The government fears the Slavic-Macedonian community in Greece, which numbers between 50,000 and 300,000, depending on who is counting, could seek political links with ethnic kin in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Greece is so concerned with the growth of Slavic-Macedonian consciousness that it recently introduced an economic blockade on its neighbour. Athens claims the exclusive right to the name Macedonia, and claims that it has been usurped by Slavic speakers from the former Yugoslavia.

The threats against Anastasia Karakasidou, 38, escalated last week when Stohos, an extreme right-wing Greek newspaper, published her address in Salonika. The newspaper also provided details of the car she uses while researching Macedonian-speaking villages in the northern Greece. Ms Karakasidou does not believe that the government is behind the death threats, but feels that the threats are the work of nationalist extremists.

So as not to stir controversy over the Macedonian debate in Greece, she decided not to publish her dissertation, Fields of Wheat, Hills of Shrubs, Agrarian Development and Nation Building in Northern Greece.

Greek newspapers got their hands on the manuscript anyway. Since then, Ms Karakasidou, the mother of two young children, has been mercilessly hounded by sections of the Greek media and by the Greek-American community in the United States.

She received a veiled death threat from a Greek-American newspaper in February, when it published an article describing a possible scenario for her death. It described an attack by a group of men, one of whom pushed a stick painted in the colours of the Greek flag into her heart, killing her as a traitor. It is thought that the veiled death threats were designed to frighten her away from academic research. In the US, Greek nationalists unsuccessfully lobbied to prevent Ms Karakasidou being given an assistant professorship at the City University of New York. In Salonika the secret police have ostentatiously visited her elderly mother.

The Greek Macedonian community refuses to go away, despite attempts to deny its existence. Efforts to stamp out use of the Macedonian language, by refusing to open Macedonian schools or allow the publication of newspapers in the language, have failed.

The government has changed the names of hundreds of Macedonian villages into Greek-sounding names. The closest it comes to recognising the community is to call them 'Slavophone Greeks' or 'bilinguals.'

Ethnic Macedonians say that they are a people of Slavic descent, who speak Macedonian, and have a culture and customs which differ from the Greek majority.

The geographic region of Macedonia is divided among Bulgaria, Greece and the newly independent country of Macedonia. According to anthropologists, the Greek portion has two distinct groups - the ethnic Macedonians who settled around the sixth century - and the Greeks, many of whom are descendants of refugees from Asia Minor, who arrived during the 1920s.

The population of Greek Macedonia has changed since the Balkan wars, when thousands of Macedonians left for Bulgaria. Many more left as political refugees during the 1946-49 Greek civil war. Since then, those who consider themselves Macedonian - even though born in Greece - have not been allowed back.

Tomorrow: Political trials in Greek Macedonia

(Map omitted)

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SEN Teacher, Permanent Role in Ashford

Competitive Salary: Randstad Education Group: Randstad urgently seeks a qualif...

SAP BI CONSULTANT

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BI CONSULTA...

Infrastructure Manager - Southampton - Up to £45K

£35000 - £45000 per annum + 36 days holiday and more: Deerfoot IT Resources Li...

Drama Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Liverpool: We are looking for someone who can t...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice