The Balkans for centuries were the place of a cultural mixture, the so called ‘cultural melting pot’. There even exists the term ‘balkanization’ which means the process of fragmentation into smaller parts. That process best describes what was always the case with Balkans especially after collapse of Ottoman Empire. Balkans are now divided into very small countries. What is most interesting that some of them are not even based on the national identity of all members. Montenegro, Bosnia, Kosovo, Albania and Macedonia are composed of variety of nationalities, religions, cultures and even languages. Their national identity awareness is very fragile.

The problem with Macedonia is very complex and comes from many angles. First of all there is a problem of territory. Macedonia was declared an independent country in 1991. Unfortunately not all of the nations accept the territory and the name of this newly formed country. The biggest concern has Greece because of their historical connections and nowadays existence of region Macedonia in Greece itself. Territory of Macedonia includes around 38% of the territory which was a part of historical, ancient Macedonia. In Greeks consideration after three thousand of years during which in history already existed Macedonians why should anyone, not even connected with those ancient people adopt their name? This brings only confusion. True Macedonians were not even Slavs so why Slavic nation should have the right to ‘steal’ this valuable, from the historical point of view, name?

From 154 countries which have political connections with Macedonia 29 does not accept the name Republic of Macedonia. Not only Greece but also France, Germany and Spain. Poland agreed to use name the Republic of Macedonia but not on the international arena. Because of controversies that the name evokes the countries agreed that during international meetings like the ones of United Nations the name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia commonly used as an acronym FYROM. We can only imagine what it is like to live in the country that not all of people accept. Does it make their national identity weaker? Or maybe even stronger? Macedonia is not the separate case. Nations and ethnical minorities around the world are refused to be identified.

Second problem which is also connected with the core on which most of nations are formed considers language. This part of controversy comes mostly from Bulgaria. Macedonia for a long time was a part of Bulgaria, has a common history. For years Macedonian was perceived as a dialect, something in between Serbian and Bulgarian language. Since gaining independence Macedonians not only started underlining their distinctiveness from Bulgaria but also, in Bulgarians mind, stealing parts of purely Bulgarian cultural elements. One of them being the creation and influence of Old Church Slavic language which gave the foundations for all of the Slavic languages. One of the two centers of its cultural development is now in Macedonian territory – Ochrid. Authors who were for centuries considered Bulgarian now are described Macedonian because they were born on nowadays Macedonian territory. All of that creates a tension between two countries that used to have more in common than any other in Balkans. Now the conflict is not so intense but still visible, especially while Macedonian-Bulgarian conversations.

All of those aspects may make many people wonder what is the sense of formation those small countries which national identity isn’t even clear? The history will verify their existence and the value of their culture and language.


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