The Macedonian Tendency: Why Can't Robert Kaplan Find Any Macedonians!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Why Can't Robert Kaplan Find Any Macedonians!

Dear Robert Kaplan, Balkan Ghosts, Eastward to Tartary

From: David Edenden

I found your old travel article from 1989 from the New York Times website on your visit to Greek Macedonia (which is thankfully available for free). Robert, you are a good writer and this is a good article. It makes me want to book my ticket right now! However, you forgot to mention any ethnic Macedonians who might be scurrying around the mountains of Vitsi and Gammos, a place where Macedonians gathered to fight for their rights during the Greek Civil War, unfortunately closing the wrong side. You mention Vlahs, and Greeks of course, but no ethnic Macedonians. Probably just an oversight.

Now in Balkan Ghosts, you said Macedonians were really Bulgarians who spoke Bulgarian with a speech impediment. I assured my grandfather, after he slowly read the Macedonian chapter of your book, that the error would probably be corrected in the following edition, because ... you know ... so many countries, so little time! (Has it? I don't think so. Maybe later.)

In another book, Eastward to Tartary, you mentioned that no one wrote about the existence of the Macedonian people as a separate ethnic group, prior to WW2, so therefore "Tito invented a counterfeit nation", as the Greek slander goes. Well, Robert, I think you must have forgotten Krste Misirkov and his book, On Macedonian Matters - 1903, and lets not even mention the Bulgarian slander that Macedonians were invented by a Serbian plot circa 1890.

If it exists,I will try to get a picture of you, at the Krste Misirkov Institute, which is "The Academie Francaise" of the Macedonian language. I am sure you visited there with the professors, and they must have showered you with all kinds of documents and information about the Macedonian people. Maybe you lost them?

Krste Misirkov Institute

Now Robert, I am starting to be suspicious. I admit I have an incurable form of male answer syndrome. I have never met you, but let me see if I can guess why you you overlooked the plight of ethnic Macedonians in Greece . I know you spent a great deal of time in Greece and at least one of your children was born there and you speak fluent Greek.

Was it your wife? Did she say "if you discussed the mistreatment of ethnic Macedonians in Greece you could never eat feta cheese in Athens again"? Did she say "you could never return to the Greek Islands"? Did she say that "you would lose all your Greek friends and your picture would be posted in every Greek restaurant, in every "Greek Town", around the world ... behind a dartboard"?

I have a suggestion that can address my concerns and those of your wife. Have one of your nephews or nieces (hopefully named Kaplan) to do a story on the pressure on the small Jewish communities in both Macedonia and Greece to toe the "nationalist party line" in their respective countries. Maybe Dimitar Vlahov can be mentioned, who according to C. L. Sulzberger, "often spoke out in defense of the rights of the Jews, when Jewish members of the Ottoman Parliament were too cowed to speak" (Sulzberger's words "A long row of candles; memoirs and diaries, 1934-1954"). In addition, the movement to create a "Joint History Project" for the Balkans can also be discussed.

That's the cake. The icing on the cake would be a report on the Greek Issues Caucus and how they destabilize the Balkans by ignoring human rights violations for ethnic Macedonians in Greece ... and Bulgaria too!

Anyway, thanks and don't be a stranger!

A Greece of Forests And Mountain Lakes - New York Times
Published: February 12, 1989

"The town of Kastoria boasts a spectacular situation at the foot of the Vitsi and Grammos mountains, at the edge of a lake that has the mysterious, toneless quality of a dusty mirror.

The lake gets its name from Orestes, Agamemnon's son, who according to legend founded Kastoria during a grief-stricken, self-imposed exile after murdering his mother, Clytemnestra, and her lover. Kastoria was occupied by Bulgars, Serbs, Albanians and Turks before being restored to Greece in 1912. The mountains behind the town were scenes of important battles in World War II and the subsequent Greek Civil War. " ...

...Metsovo's several thousand inhabitants are Vlachs, originally from Rumania, who speak their own Latin-based language as well as Greek. The town owes its original wealth to an incident in the 17th century, when a Turkish vizier, out of favor with his sultan, was given refuge by a local peasant. The vizier later came to power and returned the favor by granting Metsovo virtual independence and tax-free privileges, a circumstance that led many wealthy Christian families to settle here and build mansions.

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