Facts about Macedonian History Schoolbooks

In response to House Resolution 521 , the Embassy of the Republic of Macedonia to Washington presented a document on the facts about Macedonian history schoolbooks at a briefing it organized in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday, March 9th, 2006. 


Macedonian History Books: Facts and Arguments 

In regard to the contents of House Resolution 521 introduced in the US House of Representatives on October 27, 2005 and the paper entitled “Propaganda and Irredentism: The Republic of Macedonia – present trends”, being distributed prior to the introduction of the Resolution, the following facts and arguments should be presented in view of clarifying this issue: 

– The history textbooks mentioned in both documents impartially present historical facts that correspond with the findings and archive materials collected in several European capitals, by European scholars and historians.

– The maps in these textbooks, showing where Macedonians lived throughout history, are also drawn by non-Macedonian authors — and in general, they are older than the Republic of Macedonia itself. All of them are entitled as “ethnic maps” and there is no any implication that the present borders are “temporary”, or that they can, or should be changed.

– Having in mind that the borders all over Europe were so frequently changed during the last few centuries, and large ethnics groups wound up living within different states, numerous examples can be presented to illustrate the irrationality of the objection on the use of such historical ethnic maps. These shifts of population and changes of the borders are historical facts that neither can be changed, nor should be hidden from the view of history and students.

 — A review of history textbooks for grades 5-8 indicates that there are no maps or texts claiming that any Macedonian territory is now under Greek control, nor that Greek territory should be ceded or returned to Macedonia. Also, there are no texts suggesting the existence of a “Greater Macedonia”, or texts that could be considered nationalist or hostile toward Greece.

– On the other hand, there is not a single case in any history book in the Republic of Macedonia, where neighboring people and nations are presented in a hostile way, or existence of any negative stereotype with present implications. On the contrary, throughout the entire educational system, the good-neighborly policy and cooperation are presented as one of the basic principles and values of the Republic of Macedonia.

– The example often used by Greek analysts is the Balkan wars of 1912 and 1913. In the Macedonian textbooks these events are presented in a very unbiased and simple manner – they did happen; they did end with a change of existing borders; and the population of Macedonian ethnic origin did end up living in different countries. As for the feeling of injustice done by the Balkan wars, it is to a much greater extent stimulated in the educational system of other Balkan countries involved in these wars.

– The terms assimilation, propaganda, etc., are used only to describe the fact that the population of Macedonian ethnic origin, was and still is, forbidden to express its ethnic identity in Greece. These facts are confirmed in numerous Governmental and NGO’s reports (such as State Department Annual Human Rights Reports, Council of Europe reports, Human Rights Watch Reports, Amnesty International Reports, etc.) and regional court’s rulings (European Court of Human Rights).

– The implied “irredentist attitude and propaganda” does not exist in any textbook, unless the expectation for recognition and respect of the rights of the Macedonian minority in Greece and other neighbouring countries is considered as such.  

– Having in mind that the analyses and accusations in the paper are based on the persistent denial of the existence of the Macedonian nation and respectively, of Macedonian ethnic minority, it is not surprising that the Macedonian textbooks will be called unacceptable.

– The facts about the existence of ethnic Macedonians in Greece can never be presented differently in the Macedonian history books. The expectance for the respect of European standards about minority rights can not be treated as irredentism. Based on these relevant standards and related documents, all European countries are obliged to uphold and improve the rights of their ethnic minorities.

Greece remains one of the few countries in Europe that have not yet ratified the Council of Europe Framework Convention on the Protection of National Minorities, although Greece signed it 9 years ago.


— The Republic of Macedonia’s signature on the 1995 interim agreement (Article 4) and the Government of Macedonia’s subsequent amendment of the Constitution (Amendment 1 to Article 3 – “The Republic of Macedonia has no territorial pretensions towards neighbouring states”), rule out changes of borders or irredentist claims toward Greece.

— The Government of the Republic of Macedonia has never made any official statements suggesting irredentist claims toward Greece, nor has it taken action to instil in the population hostile attitudes toward that country. On the contrary, the Macedonian government has repeatedly emphasized its will to further the friendly relations with Greece.

— The Republic of Macedonia has strong trade relations with Greece. Greek companies are among the most prominent investors in Macedonia. Greece is a favoured tourist destination for Macedonians, and many Greeks vacation in southern Macedonia.

— Even though the mentioned textbooks do not include any of the alleged nationalist propaganda, it has to be known that they are no longer in use, since a new history curriculum was developed for all grades in 2003.

— The new curriculum was drafted in accordance with guidelines of the Council of Europe’s EUROCLIO, an association of European instructors of history, which emphasize the use of historically accurate maps to illustrate political, ethnic and other developments during the specific historical period.

– Since the claim that the name – Republic of Macedonia – is a threat to Greece can not be justified, the arguments contained in the aforementioned paper are just another attempt to raise a non-existent issue of Macedonian school textbooks, in order to support an unsupportable cause – to demand from a sovereign country and its people to change their name.

This kind of initiative only hinders the efforts of both Governments, helped by the United Nations and supported by the US, for a just and timely resolution of the name issue that will further strengthen the stability and security in the Balkan region.

Previous RIP Andrej Zdravkovski


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