|Samaras’s political clout
strengthened considerably. He hastily organized an ultra-nationalist
party under the euphemism Political Spring, which robbed New Democracy
of its narrow parliamentary majority through defection. The conservative
government collapsed and new elections were announced. The more coherent
socialist party (PaSoK), led by the late Andreas Papandreou, found itself
in a highly favorable position. Papandreou promised to stand firm
on national issues and comfortably won the sudden elections at the expense
of the divided conservatives (Balkan News 1993). Most EU states expressed
their displeasure at PaSoK’s stunning comeback, expecting little progress
to be made on the Macedonian impasse.
One by one, during the winter
of 1994, the EU countries recognized the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,
as such, and accused Athens of attempting to destabilize the region.
The US followed suit on 9 February 1994. The Greek reaction was again
swift and hostile. Thousands rallied in Thessaloniki, and, in the
Macedonian provincial town of Drama, 10,000 converged to watch the major
as he renamed all streets bearing American names (Greek Press 1994).
On February 16, Papandreou upgraded the oil embargo on the landlocked republic
to a total economic blockade. German Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel
condemned the blockade, stating that the move was “contrary to acceptable
behavior among civilized European countries” (The Daily Telegraph 1994).
Furthermore, the Greek Foreign Minister’s meeting with rump-Yugoslavia’s
Milošević, which aimed to avert NATO airstrikes against the Bosnian Serbs,
confirmed European suspicions that Athens was flaunting its pro-Serbian,
anti-Western bias (Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty 1994).
MAKING CULTURAL ARTIFACTS
The modern Greek state came
into being largely due to the intervention of the Great Powers who were,
more often than not, in hostile opposition to the Ottoman Empire.
The uncertainties of diplomacy coincided with a revival of the classics
in Europe in which many political elites and intellectuals, British and
French in particular, mingled with Greek scholars who lived abroad.
Together, they idealized classical Greece as the root of Western civilization
and dreamed of resuscitating antiquity in a modern Greek state. “Indeed
the war was reported in the western press as a virtual replay of the Battle
of Marathon and the Persian Wars. Brought up on a diet of romanticized
classicism, the West offered to the Greeks a version of their ethnic identity
they were simply in no position to refuse” (Just 1989: 83).
The Kingdom of Greece, which
emerged in 1833 poor, tiny, devoid of infrastructure and run by entrenched
local notables, found itself primed to inherit the honorific title of the
source of European civilization (Herzfeld 1986). Many members of
the Greek elite, in particular intellectuals and folklorists, treated antiquity
as an issue of positioning and strategy (Friedman 1992). They used
the past as defined by an enlightened collective of western scholars and
statesmen to forge a cultural identity which would be instilled in the
masses though the institutions of the state and would facilitate the cultural
and political shift of Greece from a waning, autocratic East to a waxing
community of Enlightened western nations.
Membership in the perceived
West, however, required that the state reach deep into the trenches of
society and lift local loyalties and identities up to the realm of the
nation-state. Identities had been tied to locale (i.e., village or
city of origin), and the peasantry had not yet experienced a unity expressed
through a nation-state (Just 1989; Kitromilides 1990). Elites and
intellectuals, both in the state and in conjunction with it, standardized
and nationalized culture through the military and pedagogical institutions
of the state. Peasants in the army, collected from all parts of the
country, now lived under the same shabby barrack roofs and became aware
of each other’s existence. Dialects were shamed out of existence
as the army operated in standard Greek (Kitromilides 1990). The schools
had a similar function, teaching children about their glorious past and
propagating a form of purified Greek known as katharevousa. Katharevousa,
the officially de-Turkified and archaizing language, was both an attempt
to win Western approval and to re-enforce the modern Greek’s awareness
of his or her Hellenic descent (Herzfeld 1986: 21).
As Hellenic descent offered
Greece a legitimate place among western states, Greek scholars were quite
protective of their theories on cultural continuity. The Falmerayer
Thesis is one case in point. Jakob Philipp Falmerayer, a nineteenth-century
pan-German nationalist, rejected the idea that Greeks had an ancient ancestry,
and alleged that they were nothing less than a heavy mix of most of the
Balkan’s ethnic groups. Scholars and political elites in Greece denounced
Falmerayer in unison and presented counterarguments to his thesis (Herzfeld
The state’s classical bearings
also brought the cultural and upper echelons of the state in conflict with
the Orthodox church. The Patriarchate had opposed the state’s aggressive
cultural connections with the pagan world. Moreover, the church was
seen as an Ottoman political institution which could impede the state’s
project to co-opt local, religious identities. The obsession of the
Greek state with the classical ancestry was relaxed as the nineteenth century
wore on. Scholars began to elaborate cultural continuity theories
which included the Byzantine Empire as a crucial link between classical
and modern Greece. Competing Slavic nationalisms also gave a sense
of urgency to the state and church to cooperate in a nation-building project.
The creation of the Bulgarian Exarchate in the 1870s – an independent Orthodox
church which began acting according to Bulgarian national interests – is
one event which further tied the Orthodox church to the nationalizing Greek
state. The tension between the secular, classical bearings of the
Greek state and the Orthodox ideals was never truly resolved, although
creating strict dichotomies between the two is difficult. What is
clear is that the state- and nation-building experience of the nineteenth
century established a set of cultural artifacts which referred to several
glorious Greek pasts, most notably classical Greece and secondly Orthodoxy.
Before discussing the uses of these cultural symbols in the 1990s, it is
important to contextualize them in the irredentist project of the Greek
state as it scrambled with other Balkan states to profit from Ottoman decline.
In nineteenth-century Macedonia,
it was increasingly difficult for the Ottoman authorities to administer
the unique blend of Greek, Slavic, Turkish, Jewish, Albanian, and Vlah
(or Aromanian) peoples. The Serb, Greek and Bulgarian nation-states,
in particular, built schools in Macedonia and allowed brigands to infiltrate
the province in order to terrorize each others’ ethnic communities and
to foster mass-based, state-oriented conceptions of nationhood among their
irredenta. Each particular ethnic group had developed its own nationalist
organizations, not necessarily connected to any proximate states, including
the Macedonians (of Slavic extraction) who sought to distinguish Bulgarian
from Macedonian national aspirations and who wanted to create a literary
language out of a chosen Macedonian dialect (Friedman 1993). Bulgarian
nationalists, concerned about the possible erosion of a Greater Bulgaria
which was to include most of Macedonia, attacked them as separatists.
The Balkan Wars of 1912
and 1913 are a watershed in the history of the peninsula. By 1913,
the Ottomans had been rolled back to Eastern Thrace, Albania had gained
nominal independence, and Greece and Serbia had annexed most of Macedonia,
leaving just 10 percent to Bulgaria and a swath of several dozen villages
to Albania.4 Assimilation to the respective ethnic group of
the annexor was the rule rather than the exception, and throughout the
twentieth century the once “bewildering set” of ethnic groups and subgroups
(Lunt 1986: 730) was steadily simplified. The Greek, Serb and Bulgarian
states, moreover, resettled refugees in their respective sectors of Macedonia
to dilute minority populations.
THE POLITICS OF IDENTITY
AND USES OF THE PAST
IN POST-COLD WAR GREECE
As discussed previously,
the Europeans quickly realized that Greece would stand firm on its Macedonia
position. As time wore on, they became increasingly irritated, dismissing
Greek policy as stubborn and unreasonable. The western press gradually
came to feel comfortable in characterizing the Greeks as uncivilized and
un-European. On many occasions, antiquity was juxtaposed with modern
Greece to show how far the Greeks had fallen. The West, perceiving
classical Greece as the source for its own civilization, delegated itself
the authority to symbolically revoke the modern Greeks’ European status
by invoking an unflattering comparison.
The Europeans perceived
an ideological and political shift in Greece toward an alliance with Christian
Orthodox states which would be anti-Western and anti-Muslim – which is
somewhat ironic, given that the Republic of Macedonia is a nation in which
the Christian Orthodox Church plays an important political role.
The West cited increasingly close Greek-Serbian ties as evidence of the
Greeks’ un-European behavior. A political commentator alleged that
“the spokesmen for the main political groupings, the most widely read editorial-page
writers and television commentators, a number of academics who should know
better, and the entire Greek Orthodox church hierarchy – have flaunted
their pro-Serbian bias” (Rizopoulos 1993: 18). The press connected
the shift in Greek foreign policy and anti-Western sentiment to Skopje’s
declaration of independence (see Hope 1994). Much concern was expressed
over ex-foreign minister Samaras and his ultra-nationalist campaign.
The European cited Samaras’s ambitious plan to form an alliance of Christian
Orthodox states stretching from Cyprus to Russia. Of particular interest
in this case is the article’s comment that “this is the first time a politician
has attempted to involve the Greek Orthodox Church in the modern political
process” (Kassimeris 1993). The Europeans perceived the massive protests,
street-name changes and nationalist politicians as clear evidence that
modern Greece was not European but instead the antithesis of its classical
heritage. According to the West, Athens had guaranteed itself “the
opprobrium of decent people everywhere” (Rizopoulos 1993: 19). And
the Greeks took such statements to mean non-European, Balkan, uncivilized,
A controversial article
by Samuel Huntington titled “The Clash of Civilizations?” offers an explanation
of the Greek-European dialogue that emerged from the Macedonia impasse.
Huntington argues that the collapse of ideologically defined states in
Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union allows traditional ethnic identities
and hatreds to reemerge with a vengeance (Huntington 1993 and 1996).
Furthermore, economic modernization compromises the nation-state as the
source and focus of identity. As a result these two processes, broader
civilizational affiliations will become the decisive components of identity.
Religion is the most likely determinant of civilization, and thus Europe
can be divided into three religious zones: Latin, Orthodox and Muslim.
The future, according to Huntington, may very well bring confrontation
and conflict between these civilizations.
Huntington’s argument, on
the surface, seems to apply to Greece. Since the demise of Cold War
political ideology, Greece has increasingly identified with Christian Orthodox
Serbia and Russia at the expense of the Latin West and Muslim Turkey.
Papandreou, before his stunning comeback to power in 1993, criticized the
conservatives’ foreign policy warning that Greece “should not betray Serbia”
(Greek Press 1993b). Serbia’s defeat would deprive Greece of a natural
ally, upgrading the role of Turkey and the West in the Balkans. Furthermore,
the bitter exchange regarding the status of the Former Yugoslav Republic
of Macedonia superficially seems to verify Huntington’s thesis. The
West supported this circumlocutory republic, full of brainwashed Serbians
or Bulgarians as many Greeks alleged, to keep the Orthodox countries divided.
Many Greeks also alleged that Turkey was supporting the significant Albanian
and smaller Turkish minorities in the republic in an attempt to create
a greater Muslim sphere of influence in the Balkans.
The most hostile developments
in the Greek press, and perhaps the most noticed by the West, also support
Huntington’s thesis. One article explicitly proposed the partition
of ‘Skopje’ between Serbia and Albania. Although Albania is Muslim
and pro-American, this partition plan would extend Serbia’s borders down
to Greece, “dismembering the Muslim and pro-American arc” and preserving
Greece’s “vital interests” (Apostolopoulos 1992).5 A second article
dismisses the international vilification of the Serbs and recalls World
War II atrocities committed against the Serbs by Catholic Croatian fascists
(Ustasha) and Muslims. The Orthodox Serbs are clearly the persecuted
nation, once martyred by Ustasha and now massacred by the Muslims “who
with axe and fire are preparing the way for the spread of Islam in Europe”
(Mavroidis 1992). One series of commentaries, written by a church
official, advocated the creation of an “Orthodox Front” by tightening relations
between Greece, Serbia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Romania and Russia (Hristodoulos
1992a). Papal expansionism and Muslim domination were also treated
as threats to Christian Orthodox civilization.6
The Huntington thesis would
lead us to believe that what has transpired over and beyond the Macedonia
issue is an inherent trend where religious and cultural ties supplant Cold
War political ideology, forming tight civilizational alliances that are
bound to clash with one another. The aforementioned articles clearly
demonstrate anti-Western and anti-Muslim sentiments in the Greek press.
These articles were largely a response to European critics who called Greece
uncivilized, hysterical and typically Balkan. Mass demonstrations
likewise influenced the West’s perception of Greece. Following EU
recognition of RM, the innumerable egg-hurling protesters in Thessaloniki,
led through the streets by the city’s bishop, alarmed most western observers.
“No one came out to open the door of the consulate [where the protesters
converged],” reported one news source, “not even the US consul, James Bradford,
even though the angry metropolitan constantly banged at the door of the
consulate with his scepter” (Macedonia Information Liaison Service 1994).
The symbolism of this manifestation is unmistakable: Orthodox masses,
led by a religious leader, demanded retribution against the West.
The divisions between civilizations are deepening. Eggs and scepters,
Huntington would have us believe, will soon be exchanged for deadlier weapons.
Yet the political climate
in Greece was favorable for more than a simple revival of suppressed Orthodox
culture. Contrary to what political think-tanks, media sources and
some scholars claimed, the response to the Europeans did not consist of
primordial cultural divisions. Instead, following the collapse of
Communism, a complex political discourse emerged in Greece. The right
and left-wings negotiated their positions in Greek society and Europe
through two historically opposed cultural concepts, the ‘ancient past’
and ‘Orthodoxy’, which respectively implied being European and not European.
The ancient past has been used traditionally and for the most part by the
moderate right to legitimate Greece’s economic and cultural integration
into Europe. Despite all the work of nineteenth-century folklorists
and political elites, certain political leaders felt that Greece’s European
identity was not entirely secure. The moderate right (New Democracy)
promoted the ancient past and emphasized Europe’s passivity during the
colonels’ dictatorship (1967–74), often portraying the latter as having
enslaved Hellenism and the world’s oldest democracy. Thus, the existing
members of the EC “were soon falling over themselves to ease the path to
entry of the country which they liked to hail as the foundation of European
civilization” (Clogg 1992: 177).
One of the most unexpected
and illuminating instances in which the conservative government deployed
the ancient past was in the tourism sector. Just as the Macedonia
issue was becoming a serious concern in Greece, the National Tourist Organization
launched a curious advertising campaign that can best be described as a
hybrid of tourism promotion and political propaganda. This campaign
largely targeted European markets with the slogan “Greece: Chosen by the
Gods.” Commercials, advertisements and government sponsored trade
shows portrayed Greece as a place with “a rich cultural heritage, the foundation
of Western civilization” (GNTO 1991). Aeolos, Zeus, Dionysus, and
Athena sponsored Greece, entering the political offices, travel agencies
and homes of western Europeans. The campaign’s purpose was dual.
Besides the obvious economic benefit that upscale European tourists would
bring to the Greek economy, a political agenda underscored the initiative.
The Europeans would come to see Greece as part of Europe through the emphasis
on their common Hellenic underpinnings.7
As the political situation
in the Balkans deteriorated, the campaign intensified, and the political
agenda usurped the primacy of tourism development. One government
poster designed for international promotion carried the title “Macedonia:
4,000 Years of Greek History” and emphasized the Hellenic qualities of
Alexander the Great and Macedonia.8 The “Chosen by the Gods” logo
appeared at the bottom of the posters, yet in the place of the usual clichés
on warm hospitality and crystalline seas, other themes appeared: historical
fragments on the Greekness of Alexander the Great and his tutelage under
Aristotle.9 Under the guise of tourism promotion, the moderate right
set out to justify the Greek stance on the Macedonia issue while reminding
the Europeans that, as borrowers of Hellenic thought and culture, they
ought to support Greece against the un-European and un-Hellenic Slavs to
the north.10 1993 being the European Year of Solidarity, the government
was eager to remind the Europeans of their roots, thus compelling a conflation
of political and cultural solidarity. Fittingly, across the bottom
of the poster the logo “The Year of Solidarity … come to Greece and visit
Macedonia” appeared, reminding the Europeans that the Greeks shared the
formers’ continental identity.11
An overview of the moderate
right press confirms the assumption that New Democracy’s political officials
and sympathetic media organs used the ancient past to affirm the European
orientation of Greek identity as a response to Western criticism.
In Eleftheros Tipos, a conservative newspaper, Yiannis Lampsas angrily
rejects the Danish Foreign Minister’s criticism of the Greek position on
Macedonia (recall section 2 on Greek diplomacy). The correspondent
bitterly responded to the Minister’s demand that the Greeks “behave like
Europeans and not like Balkan people.” “What kind of racism is this
distinction between European and Balkan?” writes Lampsas, “Does the Danish
Minister forget that the word ‘Europe’ and all it symbolizes came from
ancient Greece? Or maybe he believes that Homer was a Turk and Aristotle
a Slav?” (Lampsas 1992). Implicit in the journalist’s response is
a connection with the ancient past. Although Lampsas rejected European
versus Balkan as a racist distinction, he nevertheless attached the former
identity to Greece by emphasizing that the ancients were neither Turks
nor Slavs (i.e., Balkan people).
were preoccupied with the European-Balkan distinction which they hoped
to solve in favor of the former by emphasizing cultural continuity and
thus Western affinity. In a Kathimerini article written around the
time when Greek officials were calling for a boycott of European goods
in response to proliferating criticism, one writer suggested that a more
beneficial course of action would be to teach the Europeans that the Greeks
were not Balkan mongrels and that Hellenism and the Hellenes never disappeared.
Rather, the Greeks simply replaced the name Hellene with Rum since the
Church equated the former with paganism and idolatry.12 Ethnic and
cultural purity was maintained under a different name until 1821, when
“with every right” the name Hellene was revived (Gheorghountzos 1992).
The author suggests that a correction of history, rather than a hasty anti-European
boycott, is the best way for Greece to make its case for Macedonia.
By emphasizing the continuity of Greek civilization and distancing Greece
from the Skopjans, which the author describes as a bastardized soup of
Albanian, Slav and Muslim blood, the Greeks can extricate themselves from
the Balkans and rightfully join the Europeans.13
Much to the embarrassment
of the moderate right, the Europeans began measuring Greece’s unwieldy
diplomacy against the allegedly more tempered, civilized and rational ancient
past. Eleftheros Tipos, a pro-government paper, criticized New Democracy
for not addressing European concerns effectively. To say or print
“Macedonia is Greek” is not enough. That Alexander the Great embodied
Hellenism is self-evident. Rather, “we must convince [the Europeans]
that we are reliable European associates, that we can play the role of
a stability factor in the area, with responsibility and credibility.
In this both the government and the opposition must show political accord
above and beyond national consciousness. In this way Greek society
will be seen as healthy and mature” (Eleftheros Tipos 1992; emphasis mine).
This article assumed that the Greek character of Macedonia and historical
descent was not in doubt. However, what was in doubt was the modern
Greeks’ ability to live up to the standards of the ancient Greeks and the
Europeans who internalized classical civilization. In short, the
decisive factor in the Macedonian impasse was not the degree of philhellenism
in a particular European country but the degree of classical (and thus
European) demeanor of the Greek polity.
The Greek response to European
criticism demonstrates that Greek identity was in a period of intense renegotiation,
a process that is poorly explained by arguments which insist that a type
of intrinsic Christian Orthodox affinity is resurfacing in the post-Cold
War era. Western politicians and the media have made the same mistake,
and it is for this reason that they have perceived even the highly pro-European
New Democracy government as tilting towards a Serbian-Greek axis (e.g.,
Pettifer 1992: 194). It cannot be denied that the conservatives were
sympathetic toward the Serbs. After all, Belgrade steadfastly defended
the Greek stand on the Macedonian affair. Yet despite the harsh and
condescending criticisms emanating from European capitals, the primary
goal for most moderate-right political elements is to ‘become a part of
Europe’. European ‘kinship’, economic and cultural, can come only
with the permission of the Europeans who, much to the dismay of the right,
see Greece as a Macedonia-crazed, Balkan backwater whose Christian Orthodox
characteristics are a far cry from classical civilization.
The Greek political system
is truly polarized, and a seemingly anti-Western, statist left can easily
capture the loyalty of a plurality or even an absolute majority.
Greece has long extricated itself from the Ottoman Empire, and the European
appeal, given myriad interventions and occupations by Western powers (Clogg
1992 and Psomas 1978), is no longer quite so obvious. PaSoK’s rhetoric
arguably served a domestic purpose: Papandreou’s confrontational
diplomacy had a certain therapeutic effect on the national psyche, as the
general public came to believe that Greece’s sovereignty was being restored
after 150 years of Great Power bullying (Rizopoulos 1993: 21). During
the rushed election campaign in September 1993, Papandreou extensively
used anti-Western (and anti-capitalist) rhetoric stating, “the homeland
falters, democracy is being tested, the economy is being dismantled, our
national wealth is being sold off” (Balkan News 1993). Implicit in
this is a condemnation of Western economics as well as European intervention.
It is significant that as an anti-welfare-state political climate spread
throughout Europe and Greece, PaSoK attempted to stem the anti-welfare-state
tide by hitching it to a nationalist campaign that merged state organizations
such as telecommunications with national interests. Subconsciously,
the public was to associate the future of the state sector and public industries
such as OTE with the survival of the nation which was being threatened
by a monolithic West.
Also worthy of note is the
somewhat disappointing performance of Samaras’s Political Spring Party
in the 1993 election and its gradual slip into mediocrity thereafter.
Samaras’s relative lack of charisma and his party’s competition with highly
institutionalized parties certainly contributed to his lackluster electoral
performance. His marginalization, however, arguably was a consequence
of the Socialists’ ability to bundle together a convincing anti-European,
nationalist, welfare platform and the relative ease by which New Democracy
monopolized a nationalist, Europeanist, anti-welfare state platform;
Samaras in the end was left with a rather redundant and unappealing nationalist,
Orthodox front platform, which also campaigned for economic reform and
In concluding, this article
will briefly touch on the following three points: the use of culture
in crafting identity and positioning identity in an international context;
the uses and conceptions of being European at the level of the individual;
and the post-crisis period beyond 1994.
The position taken here
is that identities which “become relevant for politics are not determined
by some primordial ancientness. They are crafted in benign and malignant
ways in print and electronic media, in textbooks and advertising … in all
the places and all the ways that self and other, us and them, are represented
in an expanding public culture” (Rudolph and Rudolph 1993: 29). The
cultural and religious symbols which appeared in response to European criticism
of Greece’s foreign policy are a reflection of the renegotiation of political
and economic power and status. To legitimate Greece as European,
the moderate-right responded to criticism by reference to the ancient past,
whereas the left tended to respond with angry distancing comments, placing
Greece in a non-European association of Orthodox underdogs. In the
process, both parties selectively emphasized their respective values and
symbols and standardized them for both domestic consumption and the international
response. These symbols were selected among a set of cultural artifacts
which are residues of the state and nation-building processes begun in
the nineteenth century. The general lessons from the Greek case are
that nationalism and cultural identity are contested from within a given
nation by groups that have different goals in mind. Particular groups,
such as political parties, use historical properties selectively to move
identity in a direction they see as favorable. It is short-sighted
to treat nationalism or cultural identity as coherent blocks. They
are open to discourse and, consequently, do not fit predictably in primordial
If we take into account
political affiliation, we discover that individuals who identify with the
left political spectrum tend to be more hostile toward an imagined collective
of European states while rightists tend to engage in rhetoric which laments
Greek corruption and disorder, the very things that, in their eyes, Europe
has brought under control. At the same time, ethnographers who focus
on Greek society are quick to deny such simple compartmentalization.
Peoples’ conceptions of the European and not so European can be rather
fluid. In a study of the residents of a Cretan coastal town, Herzfeld
discovers that “European culture is both a goal and an imposition, a dream
of incorporation into the civilized West and a nightmare of cultural colonization”
(Herzfeld 1991: 25). A partial explanation for this might be
that European life has penetrated Greek society and has altered many patterns
of interaction. Herzfeld uses the ‘European’ model of family life
as a case in point.
Until a few years ago, for
example, people thought it ‘completely unnatural’ for a man to sit in the
street with the women. It was the women who, with their gossip, would
probe the defenses of each other’s domesticity; men had no place in this
exchange except as objects of rivalrous discussion. Today, a husband
may spend long hours at home and may sit with his wife and her friends
in the street on the long summer evenings when such social gatherings still
occur. This urban, ‘European’ model of family life is a new idiom
and, to many, still a source of unease. (Herzfeld 1991: 43)
One possible conclusion
to draw about local society and individual conceptions of European identity
is that on a personal level, people are less constrained by the camera’s
eye and the standard platform than journalists and politicians who must
appear consistent and engage in generalizing rhetoric. Individuals
are not required to maintain the same consistency toward their Europeanness,
or lack thereof; they are actors who are both influenced by the rhetoric
of the parties with which they are affiliated and by the ‘European’ social
forces which have changed their everyday lives.15 Individuals are
ultimately able to spin the rhetoric of being European in ways that fit
the nuances of the daily routine.
Finally, during the second
half of the 1990s, as the Macedonia issue has become relatively marginalized
both in Greek and EU politics, the selective use of cultural properties
has become less patterned, and the deployment categories such as European,
Balkan and Orthodox become more scattered throughout the political spectrum
and Greek society. Although articles on ‘Skopje’s’ intransigence
still appear in the Greek press, a host of longer and more interesting
feature articles began appearing in newspapers as early as 1996.
One of the most interesting is a lengthy feature article, titled “Travels
in the Country without a Name,” which appeared in To Vima, a left-leaning
weekly. The author reflects on the social composition of RM and its
The first impression of
this country without a name is a feeling of movement in space and time.
In space, toward the East: Colorful open-air bazaars, a bustling
population, horsecarts in the roads of the capital side by side with shiny
German-made cars … In time, toward the past: Racial harmony among
those who elsewhere dragged each other down in their own blood, churches
aside minarets, Gypsies and Albanians, such are the basic elements of a
city which reminds one of something between today’s Turkey and yesterday’s
Greece (Pretenderis 1996: A3, A4).
The Republic of Macedonia,
according to the author’s narrative, remains outside Europe even though
it struggles to become part of it. It is a strange coexistence of
Balkan culture, Islam and smatterings of Western technology and consumerism.
Its contrasts and backwardness remind one of perceptions of the declining
lands of the Ottoman Empire, annexed by proximate nation-states.
This new republic is not European and perhaps never will be. And
if this landlocked republic which has still not shaken off its Ottoman
legacy is stereotypically Balkan or Eastern, then Greece can only be European
It is tempting to end this
article with the idea that, when all is calm, Greece is confidently European,
given that a journalist of a left-leaning newspaper draws clear distinctions
between the East and Greece. Nonetheless, a closer reading suggests
that the author’s conceptions of space and time betray his indecisiveness
regarding a firm categorization of Greek identity. If subjective
continuums of space and time create distinctions between Greece, the ‘Country
without a Name’ and Turkey, these continuums certainly allow for distinctions
between Greece and an idealized Europe. And these distinctions, as
the Macedonia crisis demonstrates, are a consequence of the convergence
of international pressures and domestic socio-political actors who compete
with each other with varying cultural symbols.
Anderson, Benedict (1991):
Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism.
Andriotis, Nicholas (1991):
The Federative Republic of Skopje and Its Language. Thessaloniki:
Society for Macedonian Studies.
(1992): Ta Skopja: Polemos ke Irini. In I Avghi, June 21.
Balkan News (1993):
PaSoK Will Stand Firm on National Issues. September 12, 1994.
Braude and Lewis, eds. (1982):
Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire: The Functioning of Plural Society.
Vol. 1. New York: Holmes and Meier Publishers, Inc.
Campbell and Sherrard (1965):
The Greeks and the West. In The Glass Curtain Between Asia and Europe.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Clogg, Richard (1992):
A Concise History of Greece. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
The Daily Telegraph (1994):
Macedonia Blockade Sparks EC Protests. February 19, 1994.
Danforth, Loring (1993):
Claims to Macedonian Identity: The Macedonian Question and the Breakup
of Yugoslavia. In Anthropology Today, 9(4): 3–10.
The Economist (1993):
Last Chance, Sisyphus: A Survey of Greece. May 22–28, 1993.
Eleftheros Tipos (1992):
I ipothesi ton Skopion ke i eliniki kinonia. May 13, 1992.
ELIAMEP (1993): Memorandum
of Greece: Concerning the application of the former Yugoslav Republic of
Macedonia for admission to the United Nations. New York: Hellenic
Foundation for Defense and Foreign Policy.
Friedman, Jonathan (1992):
The Past in the Future: History and the Politics of Identity. In
American Anthropologist, 94(4): 837–858.
Friedman, Victor (1975):
Macedonian Language and Nationalism during the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth
Centuries. In Balkanistica, 2: 83–89.
Friedman, Victor (1993):
The First Philological Conference for the Establishment of the Macedonian
Alphabet and the Macedonian Literary Language: Its Precedents and
Consequences. In The Earliest Stage of Language Planning: The First
Congress Phenomenon. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
(1992): I Makedonia ke to Boikotaz. In Kathimerini, 3 December.
Greek National Touristic
Organization, GNTO (1991): Greece: Chosen by the Gods. In Worldwide
Advertising Campaign. (Rudy Rallis, campaign coordinator).
Greek Press (1993a):
Is Greece Being Betrayed?. January 24, 1993.
Greek Press (1993b):
Papandreou at Odds with Government’s Foreign Policy. May 2, 1993.
Greek Press (1994):
Greece Retaliates. February 27, 1993.
Herzfeld, Michael (1986):
Ours Once More: Folklore, Ideology and the Making of Modern Greece.
New York: Pella Publishing Company.
Herzfeld, Michael (1991):
A Place in History: Social and Monumental Time in a Cretan Town.
Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Hope, Kerin. (1994):
Greek Disgrace. In Financial Times, February 18, 1994.
Hristodoulos, S. (1992a):
Mousoulmaniko ‘Parapetasma’ sti Valkaniki. In To Vima, February 9,
Hristodoulos, S. (1992b):
O Aksonas tis Orthodoksias epitaghi ton keron … ke omos kinite. In
To Vima, February 9, 1992.
Huntington, Samuel (1993):
The Clash of Civilizations? In Foreign Affairs, 72(3): 22–49.
Huntington, Samuel (1996):
The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. New York:
Simon and Schuster.
Just, Roger (1989):
Triumph of the Ethnos. In History and Ethnicity. London: Routledge.
Karakasidou, Anastasia (1993):
Politicizing Culture: Negating Ethnic Identity in Greek Macedonia.
In Journal of Modern Greek Studies, 11(1): 1–28.
Kassimeris, George (1993):
Can He Make Spring a Party for All Seasons? In The European, September
(1990): “Imagined Communities” and the Origins of the National Question
in the Balkans. In Modern Greece: Nationalism and Nationality. Athens:
Koursi, Maria, ed. (1991):
Macedonia: History and Politics. Athens: Center for Macedonians Abroad
– Society for Macedonian Studies.
Lampsas, Yiannis (1992):
Dan(e)ikos Evropaismos. In Eleftheros Tipos, May 13, 1992.
Lunt, Horace (1986):
On Macedonian Language and Nationalism. In Slavic Review, 45(4):
Makedonien 4.000 Jahre griechische
Geschichte. [promotional poster] Athens: GNTO.
Mavroidis, Iros (1992):
Me ti Skandalodi Anohi tou “Politismenou” Kosmou: He Pnevmatiki ghenoktonia
ton Servon sinehizete. In Avghi tis Kiriakis, June 21, 1992.
Macedonia Information Liaison
Service (1994): MAK-NEWS, February 16, 1994.
Pettifer, James (1992):
Greece: Into the Balkan Crisis. In The World Today, November, 1994.
Poulton, Hugh. (1993):
The Balkans: Minorities and States in Conflict. London: Minority
Pretenderis, I. K. (1996):
Odhiporiko sti Hora Horis Onoma. In To Vima, 31 March.
Psomas, Andreas (1978):
The Nation, the State and the International System: The Case of Modern
Greece. Athens: National Center for Social Science Research.
Radio Free Europe/Radio
Liberty (1994): Daily Report, February 14, 1994.
Rizopoulos, Nicholas (1993):
Pride, Prejudice and Myopia: Greek Foreign Policy in a Time Warp.
In World Policy Journal, 10(3): 17–28.
Rudolph, Lloyd and Susanne
H. Rudolph (1993): Modern Hate. In The New Republic, March
Swidler, Ann (1986):
Culture in Action: Symbols and Strategies. In American Sociological
Review, 51(2): 273–286.
Talbott, Strobe (1992):
Greece’s Defense Seems Just Silly. In Time, October 12, 1992.
Therborn, Göran (1995):
European Modernity and Beyond: The Trajectory of European Societies, 1945–2000.
London: Sage Publications.
Zinovieff, Sofka (1991):
Hunters and Hunted: ‘Kamaki’ and the Ambiguities of Sexual Predation in
a Greek Town. In Contested Identities: Gender and Kinship in Modern
Greece. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
I am greatly indebted to professors and colleagues, both at the University
of Chicago and Columbia University, for making this project possible.
I am most grateful to Susanne Rudolph and David Sutton who directly sponsored
this work. Their respective fields of political science and anthropology
greatly influenced the article’s scope and framework. For their critical
comments and general support, I would also like to thank Victor Friedman,
Kostas Kazazis, Chares Demetriou, Jennifer Mitzen, Christine Philliou,
Tammy Smith and the anonymous reviewers at Replika. Opinions and
errors are entirely my own.
1 The decision to use the
name Republic of Macedonia to refer to the territory of the former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia reflects a general use of toponyms in this paper
according to self-designation. Items appear in quotation marks insofar
as they are alternative names given to a region, state or people by non-members.
2 For those unfamiliar with
the conflict, here is a brief summary of relevant pre-Cold War events:
Although the Balkans experienced an extended period of peace during the
Cold War, Greek, Bulgarian and Yugoslav relations wavered between ambivalent
friendship and muted hostility. The shifting nature of relations
was largely a function of the pernicious ‘Macedonian Question’ which was
perceived in Athens as nothing short of territorial design. The official
position of the Greek government and of many Greek academicians was that
the Macedonian nation and language are inventions of the Tito era.
In short, following Tito’s rift with Stalin, the Yugoslav government sanctioned
a separate ethnic and linguistic identity for the Slavs of Yugoslav Macedonia
to prevent the possibility of the local population imagining itself as
part of the (pro-Soviet) Bulgarian nation. The invention of Macedonian
nationality was also a step in the direction of creating a separate Socialist
Republic of Macedonia which would incorporate the Yugoslav, Greek and Bulgarian
regions of Macedonia and function as a satellite state under Belgrade’s
control (see Andriotis 1991; Koursi 1991).
3 Throughout 1993, the attacks
on Greek foreign policy intensified and unflattering comparisons between
ancient and modern Greece became a recurring theme. In a survey on
Greece, The Economist blasted Athens’ foreign policy using a tone replete
with condescending jokes. The article concluded with an ancient Greek
analogy. “[The Greeks] must avoid the fate of Tantalus. The
tantalizing apple just above their heads is acceptance as a full member
of the western world. The Greeks have kept reaching up for it, and
it has kept slipping through their fingers” (The Economist 1993).
4 During the First Balkan
War, Montenegro, Serbia, Greece and Bulgaria attacked the Ottoman Empire.
During the Second Balkan War, Bulgaria attacked Greece and Serbia in apparent
dissatisfaction with its territorial gains but was counterattacked and
rapidly defeated by Greece, Serbia and Romania.
5 This and all subsequent
translations are mine.
6 One article written by
Hristodoulos regarding the Orthodox struggle merits quotation: “In
Bosnia the Serbs are fighting … with a cross in one hand and a gun in the
other. They see the Muslims on the other side, trained by fanatic
Mujahedin who have come from various Islamic countries to fight in the
name of Allah, to destroy churches, to rape, to massacre non-combatants
and children without restraint. [The Serbs] see the ‘Christians’
of the West giving supplies [to the Muslims], which are actually filled
with weapons. They witness the embargo which leaves them without
medicine and fuel …” (Hristodoulos 1992b).
7 What must be noticed,
however, is that the campaign’s aggressive promotion of antiquity completely
neglected any kind of a portrayal of modern Greek culture or the modern
individuals. Ironically, the native-less slogans and photographs
of the campaign detached ancient from modern Greece and facilitated the
appropriation of antiquity by the Europeans without the inclusion of the
8 For a contrasting
view of Greek history which was not written by the winners, I refer the
reader to Olmstead’s A History of the Persian Empire. I am grateful
to Victor Friedman for this information.
9 Makedonien: 4.000
Jahre griechische Geschichte [promotional poster]. Athens: GNTO.
10 This theme constantly
appeared in government publications that were directed to the Europeans.
In a lavishly bankrolled documentary, Macedonia: 4,000 Years Greek
Civilization, the narrator spoke of Alexander the Great who carried “the
torch of Greek culture to the East: above all the language and technology,
arts and letters, and also customs, traditions, ways of life, religion
– all things which combine to constitute civilization in the broadest sense
… The Persians read Homer and children in Susa and Gedrosia chanted the
tragedies of Euripides and Sophocles … [Alexander] planted Greek ways of
life and community practices in Asia where they had formerly lived in ignorance”
(from Unit 5). Besides reaffirming the Greekness of the Macedonian
dynasty, this film reasserts the generative role of Greek civilization
in the world. The narrative might well have substituted West for
East, Europe for Asia and France for Persia. The Europeans, as most
conservative and pro-European Greeks would argue, also built their civilization
on Hellenic foundations.
11 Makedonien: 4.000 Jahre
griechische Geschichte. [promotional poster]. Athens: GNTO.
12 Rum is a derivation of
Romios, a reference to the Greeks’ being part of Byzantium, or the second
Rome. Rum was in common usage in the Ottoman Empire.
13 Victor Friedman, Professor
of Balkan Linguistics at the University of Chicago, brought an interesting
point to my attention. Ironically, the above author’s description
of the ‘Skopjans’ is virtually identical with Falmerayer’s description
of the nineteenth-century Greeks.
14 This conclusion makes
it seem ironic that both sides of the political spectrum in Greece tended
to speak of the West in monolithic terms and often did not distinguish
between Europe and West. This Occidentalism is interesting because
certain EU states were certainly more sympathetic to the Greek position
than others. Britain and France were slightly conciliatory (although as
time passed they became highly frustrated with Greece’s position toward
the Republic of Macedonia) while Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands were
hostile from start to finish. Even when responding to the statement
or action of an official from a particular European state, Greek politicians
and journalists often acted as if it was representative of a European or
Western collective. PaSoK and New Democracy had different motives
for generalizing about European hostility and conflating Europe and the
West. The moderate right, for instance, spoke of a greater West in
part because they perceived that ancient Greece had generated a western
collective to which modern Greece deserved accession. The socialists
arguably turned the West into a hostile unit largely because the concept
of a united West allowed them to justify a Balkan or Orthodox cultural
front of disgruntled states.
15 As an aside, Sofka Zinovieff
conducts an interesting study of sexual predation taking place between
young Greek men and European women at a sea-side resort. Her study
concludes that these Greeks conceptualize Europe in a variety of ways,
both negative and positive. For instance, they are highly antagonistic
toward European economic and political domination and by seducing foreign
tourists feel that they are symbolically avenging Greece. Nonetheless,
they simultaneously idealize Europe as an economic utopia which offers
an escape from their economic marginalization in Greece (Zinovieff 1991).