Are Macedonians and other Greeks ethnically different

EU - Balkans

Björn Opfer-Klinger

To person

Dr. phil., born 1972; Textbook editor at Ernst Klett Verlag; Lecturer at the TU Dresden, Institute for Political Science; Ernst Klett Verlag, Leipzig branch, Braunstr. 12, 04347 Leipzig.
Email: [email protected]

The Republic of Macedonia is about to join NATO and negotiations to join the EU. Before that, she has to overcome the name dispute with Greece and find a way out of the power struggle of her Albano-Macedonian elites.


The small Balkan country Macedonia, which was founded by Josip Broz Tito after the Second World War, initially as a socialist republic within the Yugoslav state and which finally declared state independence in 1991, could not appear more diffuse in the European external perception. This already begins with the ethnic classification of the "Macedonians" or the question of the existence of an independent Macedonian language. Behind this are conflicts that have repeatedly shaken Europe and kept it in suspense since the formation of the first south-eastern European nation-states in the 19th century. If some scholars in Germany propose the thesis that there was no Macedonian language and no Macedonian nation before 1944 - such as the Southeast European historian Stefan Troebst - vehement advocates of the opposite thesis - such as the Giessen Balkan expert Wolf Oschlies - attest the Macedonian one to History going back to the 9th century, which from 1944 only underwent its ultimate codification in high-level and standard language. [1] Even if a rapprochement on this issue has not yet emerged, there is no doubt that the majority of the inhabitants of Macedonia today identify with their state.

The perception of the country since the collapse of Yugoslavia has been and is no less contradictory. Long dismissed by many as a non-viable small state, Macedonia finally mutated after the Kosovo crisis in 1998/99 into a showpiece of the European Union (EU) for a seemingly successful European foreign and security policy. Macedonia was suddenly seen by many as a haven of stability in a region torn by crises and conflicts. Although the country is now in the middle of the European integration process, this stability again appears more than questionable - and presents the EU and NATO with new challenges.