3 Φεβ 2008

Orthodox Greeks in Pelagonia

Christos D. Katsetos
M.D., Ph.D., MRCPath
Drexel University College of Medicine
St. Christopher's Hospital for Children
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This is a long overdue call for recognition of the neglected and underrepresented Greek minority in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
FYROM does not recognize the existence of a Greek minority in the region of Pelagonia, claiming only the existence of a vestigeal Vlach-speaking minority.
In this regard, Skopje plays an old (19th century) card of political manipulation, exploiting historical communal divisions between the pro-Roumanian and pro-Greek Vlachs.
This failure to recognize a (predominantly Vlach) Greek minority comes from a State, which embraces an overt irredentist attitude at various levels and which continues to foster "an environment of values that considers the "Aegean Part of Macedonia under Greece" -that is, Greek Macedonia- to be still "unredeemed"..." (See relevant commentary by Dr. Evangelos Kofos, = published in the 25-6-03 issue of Vima).
The pitiable part in the whole affair is the indifference (akhdia) of the Greek State for the Vlach and Sarakatsan Greeks of Pelagonia.
The Vlachs who along with the other Greeks, evolved through millet -i- Rum to shape Modern Greek identity, are indigenous inhabitants of Macedonia (including the Pelagonia region) who strived for the preservation of Greek culture and education during the long Ottoman years and the Balkan wars.
Despite having been subjected to unrelenting Roumanian propaganda since the last quarter of the 19th century, and also having suffered unprecedented slaying and ruin in the hands of Bulgarian 'komitadjis' in the early part of the 20th century, the Vlachs stood steadfastly by the Greek side.
As loyal Patriarchists and members of Rum millet and Romiosyne, they financed schools, churches, and infirmaries and kept the Greek spirit in Macedonia alive. "The churches and schools of the town of Monastir in the mid- 19th century were in Greek hands (Kriste Pitoski. "The Activities of the Bishopric of Pelagonia 1878-1912" Skopje 1968, pp. 35-43).
According to the memorandum submitted to the Roumanian government in 1901 by Lecanda Lazarescu, head of propaganda, "In villages where the population consists entirely of Vlachs, the Greek schools are packed with pupils while the Romanian schools stand empty. The Vlachs contribute to the running of the Greek schools and, when they die, leave their fortunes to the cause of disseminating Greek education" ("Periodikon Ellhnismos" (Hellenism) 1907, pp. 585, 586).
The ubiquitous Vlach Greeks (true citizens of the world in their own right) were also the quintessential defenders of Greek Macedonia inasmuch as the philanthropists and builders of the Modern Greek nation.
"The evidence is there, from the impressive neoclassical buildings in Athens to the schools in the Macedonian market towns; from the first prime minister of Greece, Ioannis Kolettis, and the illustrious national benefactors to the forever unsung heroes from the Vlach villages who were slain during the Macedonian Struggle and the Axis Occupation." (Preface by Konstantinos Stefanopoulos, President of the Hellenic =Republic. In: A. Koukoudis Studies on the Vlachs. 2nd Vol. (Greek edition)- The Vlachs: Metropolis and Diaspora_, Zitros Publications: Thessaloniki, 2000).
Looking back to the turn of the 20th century, the cities of Monastir (Bitola), Krushevo, Megarovo, Tirnovo, were areas in which Vlachic Hellenism had once flourished. Ultimately, the fate of Monastir (and its predominantly Vlach Greek population) was determined by the Bucharest Treaty (1913), pursuant to which Greece had to abandon any territorial claims in this regard.
At the same time, the terms of the Treaty conceded to the Romanian mandate for the recognition of the Kutzovlachs as an 'ethnolinguistically' distinct Roumanian minority with semi-autonomous educational and ecclesiastical privileges in Greece.
Writes Tilemachos Katsougiannis regarding these two terms of the Bucharest Treaty."We believe that both of these sacrifices were due a fundamental lack of awareness on the part of the mainland [Helladic] Greeks as to the underlying importance of the Kutzovlachs, their ancestry, and their role in the shaping of Modern Greek history. Indeed, such naivete had an adverse effect on the fundamental understanding of the Kutzovlach affair, as well as on related epistemological and diplomatic approaches, which collectively, contributed to the underestimation of the real issues by the Greek side." (T. Katsougiannhs. Peri twn Blaxwn twn Ellhnikwn xwrwn. Tomos B. Ek tou biou kai ths istorias twn Koutsoblaxwn epi Tourkokratias, 8essalonikh. E8nikh Biblio8hkh. Dhmosieumata Makedonikwn Spoudwn. 1966, sel. 77]).
In the final analysis, the Vlach Greeks of Monastir and Pelagonia assumed the role of Iphigenia under the terms of the Bucharest Treaty.
For all intents and purposes, those who were left behind subsequently faded away in the river of oblivion. Notwithstanding the waves of immigration from Monastir, Tyrnovo, Krushevo and other ancestral Vlach towns and villages to the Metropolis and to the New World, including the United States, one truly wonders what was the fate of Greeks who were left behind...(?) Certainly, for many of us, this piece of the puzzle has not lapsed from consciousness...I submit that the very least that Greece can do nowadays for the descendants of these uncelebrated Armeni of the Genos is to grant them immediately the proper official recognition status and provide them with resources, services, and material support, similar to the Vlach Greeks of Albania.
In closing, an invaluable resource of modern historiography on Macedonia, Monastir and Vlach Greeks is the compilation of published works by Georgios Modis.
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* Orehovo and Bukovo Slavic speaking [villages] with a Greek spirit unmatched by many Greek speaking villages" Excerpt from the article entitled "Monastir of Giorgos Modis" by M. Theodosopoulou [part of the dedication titled "Monastir or Vitola", which was published in the December 16, 2001 "Sunday issue" of Kathimerini ("Seven Days" series)].

1 σχόλιο:

akritas είπε...

Well done my friend. Continue you informative contribution as about the North Macedonia.

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