Macedonia Continues Plans to Erect Alexander Statue In Spite of Protests from Greece

The Republic of Macedonia is continuing with its plans to erect a large statue of Alexander the Great, ignoring protests by Greece and modern scholars. Alexander the Great, the famous conquerer of the 4th century BCE, was born in the Kingdom of Macedonia, a region now located in the Northern regions of Modern Greece.

The Kingdom of Macedonia ca 4th c. BCE

The Modern Republic of Macedonia is the result of the break up of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. The Republic declared its independence in 1991, forming their own, independent state. The new Republic’s naming was in and of itself controversial, as it is located outside of historic Macedonia and seemingly misleading. For many Greeks, the connection to Alexander the Great is a source of national pride. The relationship has been so caustic that Greece has successfully blocked the young country’s admission to NATO and the UN.

Map of the Modern Republic of Macedonia

Most alarmingly Macedonia has sought to perpetuate the notion that their country is connected (geographically and culturally) to Alexander the Great, most recently with the construction of a monument and statue to his honor. The situation has become so alarming that a coalition of prominent international scholars sent a letter to President Obama in 2009 and continue to protest the Republic of Macedonia’s usurpation of history. You can read about this initiative here. The Republic is moving forward with its plan to erect a statue of the famous conquerer in spite of recent protests. Read more about this recent development in this new BBC article.

If History is stripped of her truth what is left is only an idle tale

Polybius, Histories 1.14.6

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About Jennifer Carey

My name is Jennifer Carey and I am a student and educator of the human condition. I have long studied history, trained in archaeology, and found a passion in the field of education. As a long-time lover of technology (my father bought our family our first Apple IIe when I was three), I love technology and what it can bring to the classroom. I have taught at various Universities for many years as well as educating gifted teenagers through the Johns Hopkins program, the Center for Talented Youth. I am currently the Director of Educational Technology at the Ransom Everglades School (a secular independent school) in Miami, Fl. I also have a few educational podcasts on iTunes from my days teaching at TCU: The Ancient City of Rome, Classical Archaeology (2008), Classical Archaeology (2009), Introduction to Classical Myth, and Ancient Eats. They’re enhanced (so you get the PowerPoints along with the vocal), but please excuse the poor audio editing. Feel free to Email Me or follow me on twitter.
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6 Responses to Macedonia Continues Plans to Erect Alexander Statue In Spite of Protests from Greece

  1. Pingback: Macedonia Continues Plans to Erect Alexander Statue In Spite of Protests from Greece » Greece on WEB

  2. chris tavica says:

    Hi Jen,

    You write:
    “The situation has become so alarming that a coalition of prominent international scholars sent a letter to President Obama in 2009 and continue to protest the Republic of Macedonia’s usurpation of history. ”

    It’s unfortunate that you are parroting the Greek government’s line without a closer examination of the facts. “Usurpation” is not at all what’s taking place – rather, Macedonian historians simply disagree with Greek historians on the specifics of the issue. As a sovereign nation, Macedonia has every right to express itself as it wishes, without asking a foreign nation for permission. The incredible hostility of the Greek government’s response is completely out of line. The ethnic Macedonian nation originates in all of Macedonian territory, including that which Greece acquired for the first time in history in 1913, after which thousands of them were executed or forcible exiled from the own land. History does not begin in 1913! I agree that the connection between any people and any other people that precede them by a few thousand years is going to be slim, but whatever connection the modern Greeks have to the ancient Hellenes is no less tenuous. Until a few centuries ago, modern day Greeks referred to themselves as Romii, and spoke either Albanian or Turkish as their mother tongue. Further, the idea that Greece is justified in blocking Macedonia’s entry into NATO, the EU etc., and destabilizing the region as a result, over this dispute is utterly immoral and incredibly narrow-minded of you, considering that we live in the 21st Century, and there is much more at stake than academic disputes over history.

    • Jennifer Lockett says:

      I didn’t state anywhere that this dispute justifies Greece’s blocking the admission of Macedonia to the EU or NATO. No where do I state that anyone is justified in political or economic retribution.

      However, I do wholly disagree with modern Macedonia’s attempt to adopt Alexander the Great as an indigenous national hero and represents a fictionalization of history. Yes, the problems of ancient Macedonian ethnicity are many (I won’t even open the whole can of worms of the issue of whether or not Alexander was a Greek). However, the reality is that modern Macedon is not ancient Macedon. Promoting a false association is disturbing, especially when used for their own political and jingoistic reasons.

  3. chris tavica says:

    No, modern Macedonia is not ancient Macedon, but the association between the indigenous people of the land of Macedonia and the LAND is very real, and not fictional in the least. That includes the land that modern Greece acquired in 1913, though bloody conquest and genocide. Indeed, that is what the political dispute is really about, a manifestation of deep-seated Greek xenophobia and ethnic hatred, based on hysterical fears that it will lose the ill-gotten gains of the Balkan Wars. The dispute is also about a long-suffering, colonized people, tasting freedom for the first time, and exerting that freedom. As an American, you should have some respect for that at least, considering the great leaders of American history and their commitment to independence and liberty. As for positing a blood / DNA connection to ancient peoples, I understand your concern, it’s definitely a stretch, and modern Macedonians and Greeks probably have as much a claim to that tenuous bloodline as Iraqis do. But ultimately, it is besides the point, and a symptom of the conflict, not a cause.

    As for jingoism, the definition of that word is extreme nationalism which takes the form of hostile foreign policy. In that respect, the Republic of Macedonia is utterly innocent and the “Former Ottoman Possession of Yunanistan” is utterly guilty. Macedonia poses absolutely no threat to Greece, and since 1991, it has bent over backwards trying to appease the never-ending list of Greek demands. But what the world doesn’t understand is that the Greek government is only interested in Macedonia’s ultimate destruction, and to complete the ethnic cleansing process against all of Greece’s many domestic ethnic minorities, including the Macedonians in places like Kostur (Kastoria), Lerin (Florina) and Voden (Edessa).

    The Macedonians of the independent republic are not trying to re-define the identity of a foreign country, destabilize it, impoverish it, exert illegal embargoes or political blackmail against it, but Greece has been doing all of those things, in hopes that it can finish the job that murderers like Karavangelis, Melas, Metaxas, etc. started when they tried to ethnically cleanse Macedonia of its indigenous people. Nowadays, the Greek Army is no longer using napalm on Macedonian civilians like in the 40s, but the bloodymindedness is no different. The attitude of racial superiority is a disease, and Greek society must confront it sooner or later.

    You and other casual observers can say things like “I find that association disturbing”, but no one is disturbed, it seems, that the Greek government is intentionally and “successfully” trying to cause harm to its neighbor. What a success! By the way, did you know that my relatives who live in northern Greece today live in a police state? Did you know that their language, religion and identity is outlawed? Hellenic Democracy is a contradiction in terms, be grateful that you live in a free country called USA, it is a blessing.

    History is interesting, and I can appreciate that you are a history enthusiast, but your post is not about history, it is about politics. The political reality of the present, and the future of the region, is much more important than the protestations of Professor Miller and his band of merry men, because people’s lives are at stake. This is no game, but it is a remnant of Greece’s fascist 20th century history, and a hopelessly corrupt, bankrupt government that strategically whips the Greek people into a frenzy whenever anyone challenges their national myths, including the illusion that Greece is an “ethnically pure state”.

    I encourage all Americans will stand up for liberty and freedom, and to help Macedonia, not play into the hands of a Greek government which has lost its senses, and uses “history” as a weapon.

  4. An_Indian says:

    I agree to what was written by Chris has to say. I can very well understand his thoughts since I being an Indian have been through with this. Let us accept one thing first …. establishment of ethnic superiority by mass killing of a certain race is simply an act of devil and no god or leader should ever had professed it … I AM THE ONLY ONE AND IF YOU DO NOT OBEY ME YOU ARE DOOMED … BE WITH ME AND I PROMISE YOU HEAVEN. It seems time and again this has happened and countries have changed their cultures. India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Parts of Burma, Nepal, Bhutan all were together and we shared so much our identities. But with the Muslim kings coming in and followed by the europeans … we have lost of our identity. Bangladesh once used to call water “Jal” and now none of the bangladeshi muslims call it “Jal” since it came from Sanskrit. India once the cradle of Kamasutra is so conservative now. I am not talking about any religion but only stressing on what Chris commented that with the wars many of the traditions die. Powerful people try to impose their own culture, beliefs, traditions. After some time people start believing them and lose their own identity forever. Why do we totally forget the greek gods. Why not allow them some room as well. In any case we have seen god is definitely not playing his part in this century. So many countries are at war. So I think greeks should take the opportunity and happily accept the sentiments of Macedoneans. They had uprooted them, tortured them, forced life of misery on them. Now they have something to rejoice … so please do not take it away from them. In any case they are not claiming all the land of Alexander .. then it will be another world war.

    • Jennifer Lockett says:

      I’m a bit confused. Why does the recent tragic history of the Republic of Macedonia have to do with tolerating a whole-hearted fictionalized version of history as propagated by the Macedonian government?
      Because of the tragedy of the September 11 attacks, should New York City be allowed to falsely claim the history of the City of York?

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