March 25, 2009

Slavopaionian propaganda video + Stephen Miller's excellent letter to Archaeology magazine

Last year, when the "Macedonian issue" was in the news, due to FYROM's NATO candidacy I proposed that the issue could be resolved if FYROM accepted a compromise in the "name issue" that would qualify "Macedonia" with an appropriate geographical disambiguating adjective.

Events since that time have further strengthened my belief that no compromise is possible any more with our neighbors to the north, who refuse to budge even to the slightest degree in their stubborn adherence to their invented identity.

If you are in doubt of the degree of irrationality present in FYROM, this official video in state TV will change your mind:



The part at 04:25 is especially strange, where the narrator announces that one of the three races of mankind are the "Whites-Macedonoids" who spread to the "Sea of Japan", but the whole thing has a lunatic vibe to it.

On a more positive note, Prof. Stephen G. Miller's letter to Archaeology magazine is a welcome scholarly demolition of the Slavomacedonians' invented history.
I opened the January/February issue of Archaeology today and eagerly turned to “A Letter from Macedonia” only to discover that it was actually a letter from ancient Paionia – the land north of Mt. Barmous and Mt. Orbelos. Livy’s account of the creation of the Roman province of Macedonia (45.29.7 and 12) makes clear that the Paionians lived north of those mountains (which form today the geographically natural northern limits of Greece) and south of the Dardanians who were in today’s Kosovo. Strabo (7. frag 4) is even more succinct in saying that Paionia was north of Macedonia and the only connection from one to the other was (and is today) through the narrow gorge of the Axios (or Vardar) River. In other words, the land which is described by Matthew Brunwasser in his “Owning Alexander” was Paionia in antiquity.


While it is true that those people were subdued by Philip II, father of Alexander, in 359 B.C. (Diodorus Siculus 16.4.2), they were never Macedonians and never lived in Macedonia. Indeed, Demosthenes (Olynthian 1.23) tells us that they were “enslaved” by the Macedonian Philip and clearly, therefore, not Macedonians. Isokrates (5.23) makes the same point. Likewise, for example, the Egyptians who were subdued by Alexander may have been ruled by Macedonians, including the famous Cleopatra, but they were never Macedonians themselves, and Egypt was never called Macedonia (and so far as I can tell does not seek that name today).

Certainly, as Thucydides (2.99) tells us, the Macedonians had taken over “a narrow strip of Paionia extending along the Axios river from the interior to Pella and the sea”. One might therefore understand if the people in the modern republic centered at Skopje called themselves Paionians and claimed as theirs the land described by Thucydides.

But why, instead, would the modern people of ancient Paionia try to call themselves Macedonians and their land Macedonia? Mr. Brunwasser (p. 55) touches on the Greek claims “that it implies ambitions over Greek territory” and he notes that “the northern province of Greece is also called Macedonia.” Leaving aside the fact that the area of that northern province of modern Greece has been called Macedonia for more than 2,500 years (see, inter alios, Herodotus 5.17; 7.128, et alibi), more recent history shows that the Greek concerns are legitimate. For example, a map produced in Skopje in 1992 (Figure 1) shows clearly the claim that Macedonia extends from there to Mt. Olympus in the south; that is, combining the ancient regions of Paionia and Macedonia into a single entity. The same claim is explicit on a pseudo-bank note of the Republic of Macedonia which shows, as one of its monuments, the White Tower of Thessalonike, in Greece (Figure 2). There are many more examples of calendars, Christmas cards, bumper-stickers, etc., that all make the same claim.

Further, Mr. Brunwasser has reported with approval (International Herald Tribune 10/1/08) the work of the “Macedonian Institute for Strategic Research 16:9”, the name of which refers “to Acts 16:9, a verse in the New Testament in which a Macedonian man appears to the Apostle Paul begging him: ‘Come over into Macedonia, and help us.’” But where did Paul go in Macedonia? Neapolis (Kavala), Philippi, Amphipolis, Apollonia, Thessaloniki, and Veroia (Acts 16:11-17:10) all of which are in the historic Macedonia, none in Paionia. What claim is being made by an Institute based in Skopje that names itself for a trip through what was Macedonia in antiquity and what is the northern province of Greece today?

I wonder what we would conclude if a certain large island off the southeast coast of the United States started to call itself Florida, and emblazoned its currency with images of Disney World and distributed maps showing the Greater Florida.
Certainly there was no doubt of the underlying point of “Macedonia” in the mind of U.S. Secretary of State Edward Stettinius on December 26, 1944, when he wrote:

“The Department [of State] has noted with considerable apprehension increasing propaganda rumors and semi-official statements in favor of an autonomous Macedonia, emanating principally from Bulgaria, but also from Yugoslav Partisan and other sources, with the implication that Greek territory would be included in the projected state. This government considers talk of Macedonian ”nation”, Macedonian “Fatherland”, or Macedonian “national consciousness” to be unjustified demagoguery representing no ethnic nor political reality, and sees in its present revival a possible cloak for aggressive intentions against Greece.”
[Source: U.S. State Department, Foreign Relations vol viii, Washington, D.C., Circular Airgram (868.014/26Dec1944)]


Mr. Brunwasser (a resident of Bulgaria), however, goes on to state, with apparent distain, that Greece claims “Alexander III of Macedon (Alexander the Great) . . . as Greek.”

This attitude mystifies me. What is there to “claim”? Alexander’s great-great-great grandfather, Alexander I, was certified as Greek at Olympia and, in the words of the father of history “I happen to know that [the forefathers of Alexander] are Greek” (Herodotus 5.22). Alexander’s father, Philip, won several equestrian victories at Olympia and Delphi (Plutarch, Alexander 4.9; Moralia 105A), the two most Hellenic of all the sanctuaries in ancient Greece where non-Greeks were not allowed to compete. If Philip was Greek, wasn’t his son also Greek?

When Euripides – who died and was buried in Macedonia (Thucydides apud Pal. Anth. 7.45; Pausanias 1.2.2; Diodorus Siculus 13.103) – wrote his play Archelaos in honor of the great-uncle of Alexander, did he write it in Slavic? When he wrote the Bacchai while at the court of Archelaos did he not write it in Greek even as it has survived to us? Or should we imagine that Euripides was a “Macedonian” who wrote in Slavic (at a date when that language is not attested) which was translated into Greek?

What was the language of instruction when Aristotle taught Alexander? What language was carried by Alexander with him on his expedition to the East? Why do we have ancient inscriptions in Greek in settlements established by Alexander as far away as Afghanistan, and none in Slavic? Why did Greek become the lingua franca in Alexander’s empire if he was actually a “Macedonian”? Why was the New Testament written in Greek rather than Slavic?

On page 57 of the so-called “Letter from Macedonia” there is a photograph of the author standing “before a bronze statue of Alexander the Great in the city of Prilep.” The statue is patently modern, but the question is whether the real historic Alexander could have read the Slavic inscription beneath his feet. Given the known historic posterity of Slavic to Greek, the answer is obvious.

While Mr. Brunwasser’s reporting of the archaeological work in Paionia is welcome, his adoption and promotion of the modern political stance of its people about the use of the name Macedonia is not only unwelcome, it is a disservice to the readers of Archaeology who are, I imagine, interested in historic fact. But then, the decision to propagate this historical nonsense by Archaeology – a publication of the Archaeological Institute of America - is a disservice to its own reputation.

Let it be said once more: the region of ancient Paionia was a part of the Macedonian empire. So were Ephesos and Tyre and Palestine and Memphis and Babylon and Taxila and dozens more. They may thus have become “Macedonian” temporarily, but none was ever “Macedonia”.

Allow me to end this exegesis by making a suggestion to resolve the question of the modern use of the name “Macedonia.” Greece should annex Paionia – that is what Philip II did in 359 B.C. And that would appear to be acceptable to the modern residents of that area since they claim to be Greek by appropriating the name Macedonia and its most famous man. Then the modern people of this new Greek province could work on learning to speak and read and write Greek, hopefully even as well as Alexander did.


Sincerely,

Stephen G. Miller

Professor Emeritus,
University of California, Berkeley

PS: For a more complete examination of the ancient evidence regarding Paionia, see I. L. Merker,“The Ancient Kingdom of Paionia,” Balkan Studies 6 (1965) 35-54
My only disagreement with the good professor, is that the Slavs of FYROM do not merit either the name of Macedonians or of Paionians, since they have no ethnic link to either ancient people. They are in fact, largely Bulgarians, but since some of them don't like (or are afraid) to be called such, they should be called Slavopaionians, as is appropriate for Slavs inhabiting the ancient region of Paionia.

55 comments:

Maju said...

I could not watch the video because religion makes me sick (and it's really a pity that Christianity has made a comeback in the formerly strongly secularist republics of Eastern Europe). But I am not surprised at all that nonsense as they are nowadays ruled by the right-wing nationalist VMRO, which are like all right-wing nationalists, fascists under a convenient cover.

I can't but agree that the Republic of Macedonia occupies the territory of ancient Paionia but, well, the Republic of Ghana has nothing to do with ancient Ghana, the Republic of Sudan occupies only a small fraction of the land once called Sudan (i.e. Tropical Africa or, later, the Sahel) and the United States of America, who like to monopolize the terms "America" and "American", occupy only a fraction of the northern half of that continent. What about Belgium, that takes the name from ancient Belgica, while it only occupies a small fraction of the old Roman province and who don't even speak Celtic anymore? And France, that only occupies a fraction of medieval Francia, while has instead included the southern lands of Occitania, Aquitaine, Brittany and Burgundy (not to mention Corsica and the Caribbean islands)?

But this is what I really disagree with, Dienekes:

My only disagreement with the good professor, is that the Slavs of FYROM do not merit either the name of Macedonians or of Paionians, since they have no ethnic link to either ancient people.

How do you know? How can you claim that? How can you be so sure? Of course they now speak a Bulgarian dialect (the majority), Albanian (the larger minority) and other languages like Turkish (c. 5%). Whatever language was ancient Paeonian or the Greek that surely once was spoken in that area too have been lost, but I am pretty sure that you are wrong when you say that modern (Northern) Macedonians have no ethnic connection with those historical peoples. Obviously they are, at least in part, descendants from them and therefore they have the perfect right to feel as such. As much as a Greek from Athens at least, I'd say.

Athens was not Macedonia ever. It may have been a vassal at times (an enemy at other times too) but was never part of the historical kingdom of Macedonia, even if Greek was spoken in both places.

Obviously when Slavomacedonians go nationalist crazy that's despicable but similarly deserves rejection the equally arbitrary nationalist madness at the other side of the border.

And you seem to share more things with each other than any of you with Alexander or his contemporaries. At least in religion: you both worship a Jewish prophet-god instead of the truly Greek gods that the classical Greeks venerated, not on their knees but standing, as they believed it was not worth of free people to kneel before anyone, not even a god.

Dienekes said...

What about Belgium, that takes the name from ancient Belgica, while it only occupies a small fraction of the old Roman province and who don't even speak Celtic anymore? And France, that only occupies a fraction of medieval Francia, while has instead included the southern lands of Occitania, Aquitaine, Brittany and Burgundy (not to mention Corsica and the Caribbean islands)?

In all these cases, the ancient people (Belgae, Germanic Franks) are extinct. Greek Macedonians are not extinct, they are well and have spoken Greek in Macedonia far longer than the Slavopaionians spoke Slavic in Paionia.

A more apt comparison would be if whites from Kansas decided all of the sudden to call themselves "Sioux", and their state "Siouxland". Would it not matter that Kansas is not really part of the Sioux homeland, or that the hypothetical whites speak English, or that there are already Sioux people in existence?

How do you know? How can you claim that? How can you be so sure?

I have no doubt that there is some Macedonian Greek blood in the FYROMians veins, but that is irrelevant in terms of their ethnic affiliation. These people don't live in historical Macedonia, nor do they speak Greek. So what is their claim to a Macedonian ethnic identity? The fact that they have some Macedonian blood and live close by?

Using that criterion half the Mediterranean and a lot more besides could assert a connection to the Macedonians.

And you seem to share more things with each other than any of you with Alexander or his contemporaries.

Nonsense. What Greeks share with FYROMians it is just the things that are generally different today than they were 2,300 years ago. Obviously we both use computers, and drink coffee and eat potatoes, etc., none of which link us to the ancient past. Indeed, we are more similar to the Japanese than to the ancient Macedonians in these respects.

plschwarz said...

I think that the Greeks and you along with them are off the wall about this.
If this is about national honor then you have little honor. Do you care that your ability to block these people from joining the EU, if your belief in word magic has hurt anyone in Macedonia then you are a member of a thoughtless race.
Your nation is at the bottom of the old EU countries. It is handouts from the North. Even the Turks will pass you by.

Maju said...

A more apt comparison would be if whites from Kansas decided all of the sudden to call themselves "Sioux", and their state "Siouxland". Would it not matter that Kansas is not really part of the Sioux homeland, or that the hypothetical whites speak English, or that there are already Sioux people in existence?

In fact many if not most US states have aboriginal names. Not sure where Kansas come from but it's obviously not English (neither are Connecticutt, Massachussetts, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Illinois, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Utah, N. and S. Dakota, Minnesotta, Oregon, Hawaii, etc.) And I haven't mentioned all the states with Spanish names. What relation have white New Mexicans with Mexico?, North Dakotans with real Dakota (aka Lakota, aka Sioux)?

Yes, we like it or not there are many examples of odd names. Are you telling me that the Celtic speakers of Wales and Brittany are not the real Britons?

Along the ages geographic and even ethnic names change. Macedonia was first of all Greek Macedonia (roughly) but soon it became a much larger state and it certaily included the modern Republic of Macedonia. Since Philip II till the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. In that time it was kingdom, brifely an empire, then again a kingdom that dared to challenge Rome, then a Roman province, Byzantine, Bulgarian, Serbian, Crusader, Ottoman... and then came the 19th and 20th century nationalist revival (which I largely support but not in its excesses).

Wether you like it or not historical Macedonia included Vardar Macedonia. The Paeonians became Macedonians, learnt Greek and surely ranked side by side with other subjects in the wars of Macedonia in all antinquity. If modern Slavic and Albanian Macedonians are largely descendants from those Paeonians, as well as of all those peoples that have lived in Macedonia in all these milennia, they have, you must admit, some right to call themselves Macedonians and claim their share of the Macedonian heritage. It's only natural.

At the debacle of the Ottoman Empire some 90 years ago, Macedonia was a very mixed province: there were Greeks, there were Slavs, there were Jews, Turks, Albanians, etc. Don't know in Greece but here "macedonia" means fruit salad, probably because of that complex and rich ethnic admixture of Macedonia some 100 years ago, before the nationalist wars divided the province.

The fact is that, since Rome, Macedonia has been a mere geographic name. And all this issue of the name is for the common of us mortals, who watch the issue from outside (and also for many who watch it from inside, I know first hand) a storm in a cup of water: meaningless. Archetypically Balcanic (extreme ethnic passions and all that), I guess, but makes no sense.

Indeed, we are more similar to the Japanese than to the ancient Macedonians in these respects.

Well you are also Europeans of Orthodox tradition, Balcanic, neighbours that have lived in peace for the last many decades. Look at France and Germany, for instance: in the past so pitted against each other and now best friends. Even Ireland and the UK get along in spite of a very violent historical confrontation.

I really don't make any sense. What's in a name?

Even the Turks will pass you by.

AFAIK, they have the right to veto, and Cyprus does too. Turkey (Cyprus issue apart) has more bitter enemies nowadays in the west and the north than in Greece, I believe.

Josef said...

"I think that the Greeks and you along with them are off the wall about this.
If this is about national honor then you have little honor. Do you care that your ability to block these people from joining the EU, if your belief in word magic has hurt anyone in Macedonia then you are a member of a thoughtless race.
Your nation is at the bottom of the old EU countries. It is handouts from the North. Even the Turks will pass you by."

Greece is not on the bottom in the EU.Greece´s GDP per capita is almost on average of EU and Greeks practically own all southeast Europe, including modern Paionia and also many turkish Banks and business.
The only thing bottomlike is your opinion, paionian!

Rednik South said...

I would align with Dienekes on this. It would be a nonsense to explain lengthy what I mean; however, both contemporary Bulgarians and contemporary Macedonians(FYROM-ians) are historically very young ethnic formations. AS Fyromians are the younger or even in processes of becoming an ethnic formation, as this process still goes on.....Bulgarian ethnic affiliation was formed in the midst of Ottoman empire during 18-19 century ad among the Christian Slavonic speaker from the central Balkans. It is impossible to claim continuity between medieval Bulgarian kingdom from 7-14th century AD and the revived “Bulgarian” nation, that came into being back from the dead during the national revival in 19th century. I write it as an Bulgarian. There is no historical mentioning of bulgars/Bulgarians for the period 14-end of 18th century, as the Slavonic speakers of central Balkans identified themselves simply as “seliane-hristiyani” - “Christian farmers/villagers”. The Bulgarian kingdom seemed to be erased from collective memories; Same with FYROM-ians at this time – they identified the same way -Christian farmers, no ethnic affiliation whatsoever. The Slavonic speaking Christians from ottoman empire looked at each other as a fellow countrymen, based on shared language and religion, for 5 long centuries.... not surprisingly, when the Slavonic speakers from Hemus and surrounding plains adopted the Bulgarian historical / ethnic agenda, the language and religious gravity threw the people from Vardar/Struma area in the same ethnic circle and they started identifying as Bulgarians” as well, during 19th century. However, since the revived “Bulgarian” affiliation itself was highly conditional and provisional, from the moment Bulgarians achieved a state, independent from the Ottoman empire and “Slavonic Macedonians” got left behind under Ottoman rule, this short-lived ethnic unity began to disappear, as the process of the emancipation and search for their own ethnic identity for the FYROM-ans still goes on........what a mess...and it is still not over...

BlaiseVillaume said...

Maju,
You miss the point entirely with your United States comparisons. Rather than trivializing it as merely "odd names" as if it was by fluke or chance, you should see it as the result of one people naming newly acquired land after previous and distinct occupants.

In Minnesota, for as many towns like Shakopee or Waseca, we have towns like Lac Qui Parle, Linsdstrom, or New Ulm. It is a mixture of where we're from, and who came before us. Our identity remains as Americans however.

The Macedonians use the name to tie them to an ancient Macedonian culture they have no part of. White people living in Waukegon, Wisconsin, are not making videos tying themselves to some Indian culture.

Maju said...

Maybe but I was just countering the example put by Dienekes: Kansas. But the fact that you keep calling yourselves "Americans" sounds offensive for the rest of Americans (very especially Latin Americans) - that is beyond doubt. That was my first example and I think it's fully comparable to the Macedonian case (i.e. "appropiation" of the name of a larger area by a fraction of it).

The Macedonians use the name to tie them to an ancient Macedonian culture they have no part of.

That's just plainly false: Macedonia, as I have said before, included since Philip II (i.e. before Alexander and unil today) what is now the Republic of Macedonia. Obviously modern Macdonians at either side of the border are descended largely from the people who made up that historical Kingdom of Macedonia and also from the people who later on made up the medieval and modern Macedonia.

That coastal Macedonia had the primacy and was the primigenious Macedonia, nobody denies. But soon after its coming to being it also incorporated Paeonia and that's a fact that you can't ignore. It'd be like denying Germanity to southern Germans, US citizenship to Texans, Russian nationality to Siberians or Chinese ethnicity to Cantonese. Or like trying to forbide the name France because the Franks were Germanic and not Latin, you know. It's forcing "historical" or "ethnic legitimacy" to such a extreme and against the right and legitimacy of the other that is plainly absurd.

J said...

What language was carried by Alexander with him on his expedition to the East?

Greek of course. But when Alexander, drunk at a dinner, felt menaced and called his bodyguard, he did it in a language that was not Greek. His bodyguard was composed by his fellow clansmen whose language was apparently not Greek. So says Herodotus.

This us unrelated to the debate about Macedonia. But it is an interesting point of history.

Dienekes said...

Greek of course. But when Alexander, drunk at a dinner, felt menaced and called his bodyguard, he did it in a language that was not Greek. His bodyguard was composed by his fellow clansmen whose language was apparently not Greek. So says Herodotus.

Herodotus wasn't a time traveller...

Dienekes said...

Macedonia, as I have said before, included since Philip II (i.e. before Alexander and unil today) what is now the Republic of Macedonia.

What do you mean "included"? Paionia had been conquered by the Macedonians, but so was much of Thrace. Should Thrace be called "Macedonia" too?

BlaiseVillaume said...

FYI, Maju...
We ARE Americans. Out of "Canada," "The United States of Mexico," and "The United States of America," which people do you suppose would most logically claim to be "Americans?"

Your contrarian, cultural marxist, viewpoints on everything grow tiring. You fail to address the fact that the Slavic migrations happened much after the regional expansion of Macedonia, and that these Slavic newcomers are claiming the most ancient of Macedonian lineages.

Maju said...

What do you mean "included"? Paionia had been conquered by the Macedonians, but so was much of Thrace. Should Thrace be called "Macedonia" too?

Paeonia remained part of Macedonia after Alexader's death. Forever till the partition in the Balcanic Wars.

It is as much Macedonia as Toledo is Castile.

Maju said...

We ARE Americans. Out of "Canada," "The United States of Mexico," and "The United States of America," which people do you suppose would most logically claim to be "Americans?"

Macedonians maybe? ^^

You are Americans but only a fraction of all Americans. And your appropiation of the name of a whole continent, clearly harms the interests and the dignity of the rest of people who equally claim such name, like Brazilians.

But I would not like to go off topic. It was just used as example to illustrate how the issue of Macedonia is not anything "unique". It is a most similar exaple: America was first used to call Brazil, then the whole continent, since a time when North America was still poorly explored out of Mexico, and then, many centuries later, come a new republic and arrogantly claims the name to the exclussion of all other Americans. You tell me.

I think the real issue with Macedonia is that, if I happen to be a southern Macedonian and there is an internationally recognized Republic of Macedonia, and I go and say "I am Macedonian", there can be confusion and even nationalistic denial. Much like if I am Cuban or Chilean or from Greenland and say "I am American" there is confusion and often even rejection (depending on the audience) now.

Hence I do support that Macedonia Republic is called North Macedonia and that the USA is renamed Virginia, a most historical name.

Dienekes said...

Paeonia remained part of Macedonia after Alexader's death. Forever till the partition in the Balcanic Wars.

Er, not really. In fact the Byzantine theme of "Macedonia" was in Thrace.

Maju said...

Well for most of the time in any case.

Dienekes said...

It is as much Macedonia as Toledo is Castile.

And how would Castilians feel, if a few centuries from now the people of Toledo spoke Arabic, and decided to secede, call their state "Republic of Castile" and start spreading propaganda about the oppression against Castilans (i.e., Arabs) in "occupied Castile"?

Maju said...

Don't know for sure Dienekes. But, if that happened within the course 2300 years (and while I don't have much faith in the Castilian mentality in general), I'm pretty sure that they would just take as a matter of fact.

For instance, Aragon was originally a small county of Navarre, no it means a much larger region, once a Kigndom, after they annexed large Muslim territories. Well, who cares? It's just history.

What matters in fact is the self-identification of the people, which fluctuates across generations, and their socio-political will.

Dienekes said...

What matters in fact is the self-identification of the people, which fluctuates across generations, and their socio-political will.

Right, so you wouldn't mind if a few Frenchmen decided to secede from France, found a "Basque Republic", name their Romance language as "the Basque Language", and claimed that they were the real Basques and people such as yourself were usurpers who oppressed the indigenous Romance-speaking "Basques" of your country?

Maju said...

LOL I would not even think a Frenchman would do that at all. They are to chauvinist to pretend to be anything else than French.

Nor I think most Upper Macedonians claim that Lower Macedonians are usurpers, even if they seem to have some grudges on how the Slavs of the border are were treated by Greece.

I never spoke to VMRO supporters but I have discussed with other Macedonians (Slavic socialists and liberals, Albanians) and they don't seem to have any claim to the South, just that they came out from history with the relatively logical name of Republic of Macedonia, of which they feel naturally proud, and they want to keep it and think that the nationalist Greek stand is absurd and dogmatic.

I have also discussed the issue with Greek Macedonians and they also think it's absurd and dogmatic. None of them like the ultra-nationalist stand of some. Sadly it seems to me that with the passing of time, instead of having come to a quite natural gentlemen's agreement that satisfies both parties, the dogmatic positions of those "some" are becoming dominant.

That is a situation that does not benefit Macedonia in general, as for the northerners Thesalonikki is the natural port, and for the southerners that traffic could be a source of money (Upper Macedonia is quite the natural hinterland of southern Macedonia and especially of such an important harbour city as Thesalonikki, which could use the Vardar route to connect with Serbia and other parts of the Balcans). Plus any eventual escalation of the conflict can only harm them first of all.

It does benefit the nationalist intransigent parties in both sides, as they feed on conflict with a pretense of "patriotism".

Kaitlin said...

Lets not act like Herodotus' word is law or that everything he wrote was even close to fact.

The man left us many truths about the ancient world but he also left us with a lot of fabrications such as giant magical ants, birds and other beasts.

The guy clearly had a pro-Greek agenda(as do most historians from any nation) But he constantly insisted that the Egyptian gods were the same as the Greek and so on.

The Macedonians spoke their own language and had a very different culture and military strategy from the Greek City states.

But they deeply respected the Greeks as being an older and more learned culture and wanted to adopt as much as they could from the Greeks.

But its true they did not speak a Slavic language in 300 BC.

But they did have their own language and it wasnt Greek.

DagoRed said...

Titus Livius was not greek and he wrote Macedonians were a greek tribe cos in the III B.C. a Macedonian ambassador was in Rome and spoke a Greek language. It was not the Koinè but a Greek dialect yet.
Ancient greek never was a national state and every single state defended strongly their specificity.
In the north archaic kingdoms as the Macedonian one and the Epirotas had survived, still tied up to the Homeric myths and very distant from the polis of the south, however they were Greek .

Dienekes said...

The guy clearly had a pro-Greek agenda(as do most historians from any nation) But he constantly insisted that the Egyptian gods were the same as the Greek and so on.

Er, Herodotus spoke of the Pelasgian ancestry of the Ionians contrasting it with the Hellenic ancestry of the Dorians. So, apparently he had no trouble claiming that some Greeks were of non-Hellenic ancestry. As for the Egyptian gods, he claimed that the names of the Greek gods were taken from Egypt; hardly what a "pro-Greek" person would say.

In fact, there is no reason to doubt Herodotus' testimony. And, Herodotus was long dead when Philip II, Alexander's father won a victory at the Olympics, signifying that he was indeed accepted as a Greek by the hellanodikai

But they did have their own language and it wasnt Greek.

Titus Livius clearly considers the Macedonians as Greeks. And Strabo considers Macedonia as part of Hellas. Every single inscription found in Macedonia is in Greek. The Macedonian pantheon is clearly that of the Greeks. All the Macedonian place names (such as Aigai, their ancient capital, or Dion, their religious center) were Greek. Their names were all Greek in origin.

steve321 said...

Dienekes, your comment about Herodotus not being a time traveller seem to have flown over some people's heads. LOL!!

james said...

To come back from politics to anthropology, all the ancient names for human groupings were/ are part or a transient virtual reality in people's heads, where the name referred to belongs to an emotionally valued but temporary group identity. Mostly cultural.
A virtual reality more real than reality! For humans were and still are, willing to slay and die arguing over such names and "sentiments". The latter by the way is a psychology term of art for fixed beliefs blindly held long after the arguments that shaped them have been forgotten. The modern state of Israel is a tragic example, so the pseudoMacedonian Bulgars are in good company, along with the pseudoBritish, pseudoFranks and pseudoRomans etc.

Maju said...

The modern state of Israel is a tragic example...

No comparison: Israel is an apartheid/genocide regime hidden behind a name, similar to the Republika Srpska or white South Africa. Macedonia had some issues with their Albanian population (20-25%) but they seem to have solved them rather satisfactorily.

This issue of the name is just a silly neighbours' grudge, not any real conflict - and that's why almost nobody takes it seriously. Of course it could be used to spark a conflict by some machiavellan leader but it is not in itself any real conflict.

Dean said...

I recently talked with some older Greeks about this issue, and they were spitting-mad: eyes bulging out, screaming, the whole bit.

I don't understand why the Slavic Macedonians are so interested in identifying with the ancient Macedonians yet they do not adopt any language of the ancient past. If I felt such a connection, I probably would try to regain my ancient linguistic roots, especially if I have a physical connection to the ancient peoples.

If a native American tribe who was admixed with whites (historical newcomers) was able to and wanted to have a sovereign country in the US, and they named their country after their ancient language, it makes no sense to me as to why they would not incorporate their ancient language.

A sovereign country can call itself anything it wants, I understand that. But the Turks, for example, who are admixed with older Anatolian peoples, are mostly happy being Turks. They don't want to cop revered symbols of their older Anatolian ancestors.

Maju said...

But the Turks, for example, who are admixed with older Anatolian peoples, are mostly happy being Turks. They don't want to cop revered symbols of their older Anatolian ancestors.

And that they do bad: feeling so extremely Turkish and nothing else, they disdain their legacy. Turks are by ancestry as much (or probably more) Trojan or Hittite or even Greek than genuinely Turkic. They should respect more and feel more pride for the hisory of their ancestors.

Italians don't speak Etruscan or Latin anymore but they feel pride about those ancient peoples. The French or the English are not anymore Celtic but they feel attched to those historical ancestors. So why would not Macedonians to their own? Please!

Dean said...

I don't know anything about the culture of Slavic Macedonians. I don't know what these Macedonians do that is related to their pre-Slavic past.

How did these Macedonians relate to their older past 150, 350, 800 years ago? If these people did not relate to their past throughout history, it seems contrived that all of a sudden they want to be identified with ancient Macedonians.

Again, I believe a country can call itself whatever it wants. What I am ignorant about (and don't feel like researching right now) is whether the country of Macedonia has designs on Macedonian Greece. I've heard this from Greeks. Is this propaganda, or what?

Maju said...

What I am ignorant about (and don't feel like researching right now) is whether the country of Macedonia has designs on Macedonian Greece. I've heard this from Greeks. Is this propaganda, or what?

That would be in any case an extreme minority position. There are some people (both sides of the border) that somewhat miss or claim to miss the "Macedonian unity" of Ottoman times. At that time the province was very plural ethnically, with Macedonian Slavs (often undistinguishable from Bulgarians) and Greeks being the main ethnicities. But there were others: Turks, Albanians, Sephardic Jews, Roma, Vlach...

In the Balcanic wars of 1912-13, most of Macedonia first went to Bulgaria but later Serbia and Greece defeated them and divided it. After WWI and the Turkish revolution, Turkey and Greece "agreed" to exchange ethnic minorities. 1.5 million of ethnic Greeks from Anatolia were relocated to Greece and 500,000 Turks from Greece (mostly Macedonia) to Turkey. In and after WWII the Sephardic community was also virtually destroyed, and also Greece practiced a policy of assimilation of southern Slavs, which brought some conflict for a time (not sure of the details right now).

So there's some historical issues. Some Macedonian nationalists once published a map with the old borders of Ottoman Macedonia (and modern borders too) that caused some upheaval in Greece. Most argued that it had no irredentist intentions but, you see, some Greeks take such petty things very passionately. There were also complaints north of the border on how Slavomacedonians in the south had been treated by Greece. But for the most part they just seem(ed) to want a good neighbourhood relation and have free access to the natural port of Thessaloniki (Salonique), as well as getting into EU.

The official Greek position is, as you probably know, that the republic must have a distinctive name an must not use any Alexandrine symbols like the Vergina Sun. North Macedonians have agreed to the latter and changed the flag but they still don't agree on the issue of the name. EU as a whole is nowadays too messed up into its own internal problems and will probably wait till the situation in Bosnia and Kosovo settles (maybe another decade) before accepting all those countries into, so they have a good pretext in the Greek caveats just not to get all those Western Balcanic countries, which could be troublesome (and are anyhow poor and needy) in the confederation as of yet. Same with Turkey and the Cyprus issue (though the reluctances towards Turkey are bigger, mostly because it's a large, poor and Muslim nation, that exports many workers who assimilate badly, and also because it would extend the borders of EU deep into the quite problematic West Asia region).

Anyhow, the irredentist claims are mostly a ghost. Though it's not totally unlikely that some nationalist Macedonian sectors secretly hold such ambitions anyhow. Though they are most unlikely to be realized in any case, as the Republic of Macedonia is a tiny country of some 2 million people (in comparison Greece is a "giant" and has a huge army) and southern Macedonia is nowadays overwhelmingly Greek ethically.

It's like whatever claims some Mexicans could hold on US territory: most unlikely to be ever realized at all. Using such extremist positions as pretext to bycott an otherwise friendly neighbour is clearly a political decision: throwing oil to a tiny ember trying to create a huge fire.

Dienekes said...

The French or the English are not anymore Celtic but they feel attched to those historical ancestors. So why would not Macedonians to their own? Please!

Why aren't the Slavopaionians attached to their Paionian ancestors? After all, given their geographical location, they're much more likely to have Paionian ancestry than they do ancient Macedonian.

But of course, the ancient Paionians aren't as cool or politically expedient...

onur said...

And that they do bad: feeling so extremely Turkish and nothing else, they disdain their legacy. Turks are by ancestry as much (or probably more) Trojan or Hittite or even Greek than genuinely Turkic. They should respect more and feel more pride for the hisory of their ancestors.

Educated and unbrainwashed ones like myself feel more connected to and take more pride in their non-Turkic ancestors.

The current situation of disowning is the result of Turkish nationalism and the inevitable failure of the Sun Language Theory.

In his SLT, Ataturk saw the Turks as the direct descendants of the pre-Seljuk Anatolians, but he did it with a trick: He claimed that the pre-Seljuk Anatolians were already Turkic, as well as nearly all big civilizations worldwide. Such an outlandish theory was doomed to fail. So following Ataturk's death and as it became totally clear meanwhile that the languages of the Hittites and other pre-Hellenic Anatolian peoples weren't Turkic, the SLT became untenable. What would replace the SLT then?

Unfortunately, Ataturk's insistence on a Turkic past (however non-Central Asian) had set a restrictive precedent for the subsequent history writing in Turkey. So historians began to almost totally reject the pre-Seljuk Anatolian and Balkanic roots of the Turks after the abandonment of the SLT.

Kepler said...

BlaiseVillaume,

Who else would claim to be American?
Well, I do. I am Venezuelan and I have native American ancestors, Spanish ancestors and African ancestors.
The first part of America that was called America was were Americo Vespucci arrived and that was South America. The first piece of continental America seen by Europeans after the first attempts by the Vikings in the North was the Orinoco Delta and Paria Peninsula (3rd trip by Columbus).

Latin Americans as a whole are as much Americans as Canadians and US Americans. As Manu said, you are a part of it only (yes, we know the US is a superpower and has the atomic bomb)
It is like the Germans started to call themselves "Europeans" and they insisted the others were not Europeans but Latin Europeans or Eastern Europeans or South Europeans or whatever.

And no, I am not a Marxist.

Maju said...

Why aren't the Slavopaionians attached to their Paionian ancestors? After all, given their geographical location, they're much more likely to have Paionian ancestry than they do ancient Macedonian.

But of course, the ancient Paionians aren't as cool or politically expedient...


Ancient Paeonians became Macedonians with Philip II. Not much is known of Paenoians before that.

Though I concede the point: much as British of French traditionally have prefered to identify with Celts and not with the nameless peoples that existed before them (and many other similar examples surely).

Anyhow nobody denies Spain to claim Roman legacy or Modena to claim Etruscan one, even if these are not the original ultimate homelands. Legacy is complex.

Dienekes said...

Ancient Paeonians became Macedonians with Philip II. Not much is known of Paenoians before that.

Nonsense, the Paionians were allied with the Illyrians and fought against Philip II. Being defeated foes of the Macedonians does not render them "Macedonians". Using that "logic", the Slavopaionians should be called "Ottomans" since they were defeated foes of the Turks and part of the Ottoman empire.

Anyhow nobody denies Spain to claim Roman legacy or Modena to claim Etruscan one, even if these are not the original ultimate homelands. Legacy is complex.

I don't see any Spaniard calling themselves Romans. Acknowledging their cultural debt to Rome is one thing, pretending to be "Romans" is another.

And, in the case of Spnaniards, they at least speak the descendant of the Latin language, unlike the Slavopaionians who speak a language which originated in the Ukraine or Poland.

Nothing wrong with the FYROM Slavs acknowledging the Macedonian chapter of their history. That's quite a long way from pretending to be ethnic Macedonians themselves.

Maju said...

Nonsense, the Paionians were allied with the Illyrians and fought against Philip II. Being defeated foes of the Macedonians does not render them "Macedonians".

That's like saying that Zaragozans are not Aragonese because the Kingdom of Zaragoza was conquered to the Moors.

Since that moment Paeonia became a part of Macedonia, as we have discussed, until the 20th century (with some quite arbitrary Byzantine exceptions).

Whataver the cae is arguing in circles: you can reach no agreement from that "essentialist" viewpoint that rejects to wear the shoes of the other even for a minute. Put yourself in their position: only that way you can really understand what's going on.

I don't see any Spaniard calling themselves Romans. Acknowledging their cultural debt to Rome is one thing, pretending to be "Romans" is another.

Certainly they call themselves and are called by others Latin. "Romans" are the Greeks, you know. ;-)

[Explanation: There was a long standing medieval controversy on who were the real "Romans": the Germans or the Greeks. Historians still argue on that sometimes. The terms Byazantium and Byzantine are a modern Western creation: the Eastern Roman Empire claimed all the time the only legitimacy of Roman legacy, what Westerners, specially Romance-speakers, normally looked upon with some disdain and often also with strong disagreement. Greeks called themselves Romans (Romanoi) till the 19th century. Westerners in turn used the term Latin sometimes to mark the difference (like the crusader Latin Empire of Constantinple).]

That's quite a long way from pretending to be ethnic Macedonians themselves.

Well, that's what they call themselves now. And have been doing for many many decades. You want to call them "slavopaionians"? Fine with me but I don't think it's catchy: it will never go beyond being an erudite, somewhat pedantic, term.

Dienekes said...

Put yourself in their position: only that way you can really understand what's going on.

I actually sympathize with them. They are Bulgarians who by some accident of fate found themselves in Yugoslavia. Of course, they couldn't say that they were Serbs, because they weren't. They couldn't say that they were Bulgarians, because that would make them suspect. Everyone around them had pretensions (real or otherwise) of an illustrious history, except them.

What were these poor people to do? They would show them all! They would co-opt the oldest and coolest legacy of all their neighbors, they would become "ethnic Macedonians"! Doesn't matter that their language is Bulgarian: a little grammatic tweaking and renaming and it becomes "the Macedonian language". Doesn't matter that their land is mostly ancient Paionia: it is still part of the Ottoman Macedonia partitioned by the victors of the Balkan Wars, so it's "Macedonian" enough.

Sic natio nascitur. The myth is politically expedient: it separates them from Bulgarians, it helps Slavic pretensions to the Aegean, it explains the thousands of Slav communists who end up on the north side of the border after their defeat as fellow "Aegean Macedonians". From their perspective it's the perfect myth.

Kepler said...

Well, I saw right now part of the video and indeed it is quite lunatic.

Spanish has probably much more Greek in itself than that language and Spanish speakers are definitely not claiming to be Greek.

The video is very racist and stupid, nothing to do with history.
They do show there to be descendants of Alexander and stuff.

Now, I wonder how many people believe in that rubbish. I doubt many, even in the Republic of Skopie.

I still have this question: what do you mean by Aegean pretensions?

Kepler said...

Manu,
I think not all people in Belgica were actually Celtic.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgae

Tacitus reports about the Nervii's sense of being of Germanic stock. If the groups of them in what is now France were probably Celticized Germanic or Germanic, further North they were rather Germanic.
They were considered by Julius Caesar as the most courageous of the "Gauls" (whereby Belgica back then included a lot of what now is France)
The border between Celtic and later Roman-Celtic population and Germanic groups moved a lot, not just when Franks overrun the Roman towns, but before and later.
Anyway, most Flemish consider themselves first and foremost Flemish.
I find it funny: the Nervii back then considered they were Germanic and worked more than the Gauls. Things haven't changed that much, although now the Flemings do drink a lot.

Maju said...

I actually sympathize with them. They are Bulgarians who by some accident of fate found themselves in Yugoslavia. Of course, they couldn't say that they were Serbs, because they weren't. They couldn't say that they were Bulgarians, because that would make them suspect. Everyone around them had pretensions (real or otherwise) of an illustrious history, except them.


Yah, that's pretty much the real thing.

Maju said...

Manu,

It's Maju, the name of the ancient male half of the Basque Divinty. I have been using it as nickname in the Net for many years now.

I think not all people in Belgica were actually Celtic.

It seems Roman historians had some hard time telling apart Germanic and Celtic peoples sometimes. But conceded that the doubt is there for some of the tribes.

From the Wikipedia entry:

The later historian Tacitus records that the Nervii and Treveri were also eager to claim Germanic rather than Gaulish origin.[4] On the other hand, most of the Belgic tribal and personal names recorded are identifiably Gaulish...

So maybe it was another case of confused (and confusing) self-identification. Take in account anyhow that Celts are themselves original from Germany rather than France or Belgium, a land that they started invading only with the Urnfields migrations, so they may well have confused their probable legends about a Central European urheimat with "Germanic ancestry", maybe in a political move in a time when Germanics were expanding and Celts declining.

dderinoss said...

Sure thing Maju; and Celtic and Germanic are not genetic but language divisions. I studied and speak some from both groups and can testify as to the overlaps, and the variations within each "division".

Kepler said...

"I studied and speak some from both groups and can testify as to the overlaps, and the variations within each "division".
"

Well, but are they not also connected to other groups? Is Celtic not more connected to the Italic languages?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Italo-Celtic
What is special between Celtic and Germanic?

Maju said...

Italo-Celtic is a theory. There are many conflicting versions on how IE languages should be classified and the sprachbund effect doesn't seem to help understanding.

Personally I am inclined to favor Italo-Celtic, as both language families would seem to spring from southern Central Europe, while Germanic instead colesced in Northern Europe in a a seemingly separate developement. But the situation is not totally clear, with mass-lexical comparisons instead making Italic and Germanic appear closer in most cases (a sprachbund effect?)

Urselius said...

The Lynkestians (inhabitants of western Macedonia) were Illyrian, as were the Epirote tribes (eg the Molossians) they just had hellenised elites. If I remember rightly the Paeonian leaders at the time of Philip II and Alexander had Greek names like Clitus. Where is the difference? Just that Epirotes are now fully Greek and FYROM Macedonians are now not Greek.

In many ways the ancient Macedonians held a similar relationship to the Greeks that the Picts did to the Britons. They spoke similar languages, but were sufficiently different for their southern neighbours to think that they were "not us."

Cyd the Kid said...
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Cyd the Kid said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
John said...

Urselius,
Seriously don't use wikipedia for your source. There are literally hundreds of instances where Macedonians referred to themselves as Greek and no instances were they did not. That you can find a demagogue in Athens saying they are not isn't very meaningful when the same accusations were made against other Greek groups, depending on who was at war or conflict.

The analogy between the anceint Macedonians and the rest of the Greeks is not analogous to Picts and Britons, but rather more like Spartans to Athenians.

The statement son Hellinized elites based on suing names like Clitus is downright silly. Most of the names are Greek, picking one that may have a different root is meaningless.

I am Irish. My name, John is clearly Hebrew. By your logic this means I am part of an underlying Jewish population that became Irish due to its elite status in Ireland? No.

Maju said...

I am Irish. My name, John is clearly Hebrew. By your logic this means I am part of an underlying Jewish population that became Irish due to its elite status in Ireland? No.

It means a clear Judaization of Ireland of which you and your name are a byproduct. This you can't deny, can you?

Marcyshamb said...

I am not a scientist but do enjoy these topics and have enjoyed reading this blog. This is my first comment and I couldn't resist on the topic of American... The difference between US citizen identifying as American and other countries within North, Central and South America is this.. To say " I am an American" means you are speaking of the USA..a country.. If you want to identify as being a part of the continent...you would then say " I am North American, or Central American or South American, or Latin American, or Anglo American...."...

North American means Canada and the USA...and sometimes Mexico.. Mexico is counted as Central America and also at times Northern. Anglo America means Canadian and USA...

Central America is all the countries, not islands, between but not including North and South America.. South America is just that... Latin America covers all the countries of latin heritage central, south, as well as the Islands.

So, to say simply with no direction before it "American" means only of the USA. Its a national identity, not continental or ethnic or linguistic... Linguistic identifications,a gain, are Anglo, Latin, Hispanic American. Locational, continental ones are North, Central, and South American.

I am surprised you folks who are experts in so many relate areas to this don't know these differences in Western hemisphere identifications between state/nation, linguistic, and continental identifications. The fact is the word/name 'America' is used in various ways..and no one level or manner owns the word alone.. Its all in how its used.
There is no continent called America. There are the "Americas" but, then to describe each one has to use North, Central and South.

Someone from Germany once told me that in Germany they consider there to be only one mega "America" continent.... In Europe there is some difficulty in distinguishing where Europe ends and Asia begins... and for sure in the USA we have, even with North America and South America, Central America a bit iffy there... with some folks counting it as part of North America and others giving it, if not truly a geographic entity as a continent, at least a culturally assumed geographic one. Still...from two to three...one continent called
"America"? No. To identify continents in the West you must use the directions before...again, North, South... and sometimes Central. Alone...its just the good old USA.

Hello to the Brazilian... You are a Brazalian, Latin American but not
Hispanic American, and South American...but, you are not 'American'. Thats not a continent, but the Anglo country up above you in North America.

Marcy

Marcyshamb said...

Actually it was Columbus that arrived.... and the 'continents' should have been called Columbus,
after him..but the mapmaker favored the name Americus and so the mistake was made and stuck.

However, Columbus in honored on the level of city in Columbus, Ohio, District in the capital of the USA..District of Columbus, and the country in South America..Columbia.

The whole Western Hemisphere grouping of continents are known as "The Americas"... There, are, though, more than one continent...and so to distinguish there is North America and South America... the Name America is used on a national level and continental..and also used to designate ethnic and linguistic origins.. I had forgotten about the "Native American" identification. There are " Native Americans" in South, Central, North America as well as many of the islands. Of course most of them today are mixed..with more non Native American ancestry than Native. Here in the North East...North Eastern North America..most "Native Americans" in both Canada and the USA are a mix of French and "Indian". And they express culture and history from both...

Marcy

Marcyshamb said...

In the USA in the East Native Americans often blend French American with Native American tribe, which ever tribe they hail from, and then the culture they developed since the mix. At the same time they
claim heritage in both ancestry including the names.. Being part French, and often more French than Native does not keep them from claiming 'fully and all' of their tribal native heritage. As for language, it is what they are left with after four or five hundred years..depending on the indivisual and area... often neather French or Native but English... while still claiming culturally and geographically the land and ancestry.

Most native Amerians in this area look more white than native... One never finds a black native american, but in the Southern parts of the USA one finds african American, Anglo, Native American mix and the culture and claim then is both 'African American' culturally 'colorwise as in people of color' and "native american' racially and historically.

Someone in Ireland with the Name John, of celtic or English import ancestry, would be of Western civilization, Christian backround and Irish National/ethnic identity ..not 'Judaized' Irish.

Marcy

Maju said...

Marcy: your view of the issue is just totally Gringo. :D

America has been named since the 16th century that way and is not only in Germany but generally in Europe, where it's considered a single continent. And the people living there were called Americans in general. Even those returning to Europe, usually wealthy, were called Americans.

Then came the people of the English colonies of Northeast America and claimed the name for themselves arrogantly. They could have chosen any other name, like Virginia (a historical name for all the English colonies) or whatever but they decided to call themselves Americans, initially not in opposition to other Americans but to European Anglosaxons probably.

Naturally all other Americans (except Canadians maybe?) feel insulted by that arrogant appropriation. How could it be otherwise? And with aggravation, since their countries have often been prey to US imperialism.

So yeah, I propose that you rename your country the United States of Virginia or Washingtonia or whatever pleases you best but stop invading the identity of your neighbors.

It's not they who are ill-informed or ignorant, it's you.

Marcyshamb said...

Maju,

Religions don't make me sick. I see the benefits to mankind and the individual in religion. I also see the evil and misuse...in religion as well as athieism..when they are used to opress or harm others.

Eastern Europe and those countries that were under communism...opressed all religion, and forced secular athiesm on them...with as much injustice and opression as did religious institutions and groups. And in addition used one group..played one group, ethnic, religions, racial, political, against the other, using differences and hatred to keep them all in line. A century later, the hatreds, which were fostered and grew under Communism and its secular athiesm,
while kept in control/under raps by the mighty might of military and secret police....are what is spilling/pouring out all over..

Would these folks hate each other as much today had they been allowed the freedom to be themselves, and not had their hatreds exploited and used to control them for a century? I doubt it.

Secular Athiesm is just as agressivly negative and prejudiced against those of a different bent/belief as the religious zelots.

Marcy

Maju said...

I'd gladly discuss religion, atheism, and how tolerant were the societies of Eastern Europe in most cases, in contrast on how intolerant was Christianity when it was in power. And I'd gladly discuss how religion has been used in the Balcans to divide natural nations such as the Serbocroat in the benefit of foreign powers and local mafias...

But I would not like to get off topic.