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Monday, April 11, 2016

MODERN HISTORY WARS - Macedonia

THE HISTORY WARS IN MACEDONIA - SOFIA-BELGRADE AXIS
- by Sasha Uzunov


TEAM UZUNOV INTERVIEW WITH DR JOHN SCHINDLER - author of The Fall of the Double Headed Eagle - a history about World War I.
- Gavrlio Princip - assassin of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo 1914, triggered World War I. -



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1. Dr Schindler, tells us about your book The Fall of the Double Headed Eagle? You uncover some incredible material...
A: The book is the product of years of research in archives and libraries -- a lot of the archival records especially in Vienna had lain undisturbed for a century. The story here was substantially untold, so I wanted to tell it and tell it right.

2. Are you aware that there are some historians in the Balkans, in particular Macedonia who should know better, who still paint Gavrilo Princip in a positive light, even though the ideology behind him, was anti Macedonian to say the least?
A: Princip remains a hero figure to many Serbs. Witness the statues of him still going up in Serbia and in Republika Srpska, a century later. To me, this is hardly a sign of political health.
3. Why do you think there has been such a whitewash of Princip in certain quarters? He became a mini cult in Tito's Yugoslavia despite the Serb nationalist overtones.
A: Titoism was happy to embrace a Yugoslav version of Princip; Serbian nationalists have their own version of him. In truth, he was an angry teenager brimming with hate and incoherent ideologies. He was much like jihadists today -- long on hate, short on thought, easy to manipulate.
4. Tell us about the mastermind behind Princip's assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the ruthless Colonel Apis?
A: Dragutin Dimitrijevic-Apis, the colonel who headed Serbian military intelligence, was the real driver of the Sarajevo assassination plot, there's no doubt about that, despite Belgrade's efforts to destroy paperwork to hide their official involvement in the crime. Apis was obsessed with Austria-Hungary and the Habsburgs, he got the war he wanted, though he did not survive it, being executed by his own government in 1917 for alleged treason (in reality the charges were trumped up, Apis was a political liability the Serbian military and the Karadjordjevic dynasty wanted to be rid of).  
5. The start of World War I gets pinned on Austria, but what of Russia and Serbia's role?
A: Austria bears a large amount of the blame, to be sure. Vienna, especially its top generals, itched for war against Serbia. For them, the assassination was a long-awaited pretext. But Russia bears huge blame too, not least because their military attache in Belgrade, Colonel Viktor Artamonov, was funding Apis's clandestine plots, including the Sarajevo assassination. We still don't know how much the Russian government knew about Artamonov's role but that he played a large one -- Apis admitted it -- is not in doubt. And of course Serbia bears enormous blame, its spies having trained, equipped, and dispatched the assassins into Bosnia to commit acts of terrorism. Belgrade has a lot to answer for here.
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- Who is Dr John Schindler?
John R. Schindler is a strategist, author, and commentator whose security-focused career has included a couple decades as both a scholar and practitioner. He is the national security columnist for the New York Observer.
Previously a professor of national security affairs at the U.S. Naval War College, where he taught courses on security, strategy, intelligence, terrorism, and military history, before joining the NWC faculty, he spent nearly a decade with the super-secret National Security Agency as an intelligence analyst and counterintelligence officer. There’s not much he can say about that, except that he worked problems in Eastern Europe and the Middle East with a counterespionage flavor, and he collaborated closely with other government agencies who would probably prefer he didn’t mention them. He’s also served as an officer specializing in cryptology (now called information warfare for no particular reason) in the U.S. Navy Reserve.
He’s been a a senior fellow of the International History Institute at Boston University and as well as the chairman of the Partnership for Peace Consortium‘s Combating Terrorism Working Group, a unique body which brings together scholars and practitioners from more than two dozen countries across Eurasia to tackle problems of terrorism, extremism, and political violence. He has lectured on terrorism and security in over twenty countries.
He is a historian by background, with a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Massachusetts and a Ph.D. from McMaster University. His books deal with topics like the Italian front in World War I, Islamist extremism in the Balkans, and an insider’s look at how Al-Qa’ida thinks and operates. His most recent book is on the beginning of World War I on the Eastern Front.

- HISTORY WARS IN MACEDONIA?

Todor Alexandrov -photo left -(-1924 )- set up his 1919 version of VMRO (Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization) with funds from Italy and later became a pawn in Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini’s machinations during the 1920s before his assassination at the hands of rival Vancho Mihailov. It remains puzzling why he has been rehabilitated in Macedonia?

SOFIA - BELGRADE AXIS: What's wrong with Macedonian historiography?
We've had to endure the malicious influence of the late Dr Zoran Todorovski, the Director of the Macedonian state archive, and his kooky obsessive desire of turning a pro Bulgarian historical character, Todor Alexandrov (-1924), into a Macedonian hero. His powerful patron was Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski who also has a fascination with Macedonian historical figures whose pedigree is questionable. see link. The paradox is that Gruevski gives succour to controversial figures which is at odds with his support for the Holocaust Museum in Skopje, the capital of Macedonia.








VMRO-DPMNE’s leader Nikola Gruevski’s burning passion for Todor Alexandrov - see link 













CASUALTY - Has been eminent Macedonian historian Dr Todor Chepreganov, a critic of Alexandrov. The historian has been deliberately sidelined by the Gruevski government.
BULGARIAN nationalists today are eager for Macedonians to give up their legacy, of the World War II Partizan Resistance movement, because by doing so it absolves Bulgaria of certain nasty episodes in its history that it refuses to come to terms with, such as its role in the Holocaust.
There are naive people in Macedonia who have fallen for simplistic labels of levica / desnica (left and right wing), ignoring the fact that partizan Resistance movement was an unofficial alliance of Macedonian communists and nationalists fighting against Nazi and Bulgarian occupation during World War II.

The Macedonian Partizan Resistance movement (right) during World War II was an unofficial alliance of Macedonian communists and nationalists grouped together in the National Liberation Army of Macedonia (NOV na M), and fought against Nazi Germany and its allies Fascist Italy and the Kingdom of Bulgaria. 

It was only later after the war had been won that some pro-Belgrade Macedonians communists, acting on orders from Marshal Tito, turned on their own independent minded communist comrades and also nationalist allies and started locking them up, including a hugely popular Resistance leader Metodija Andonov Cento, who was the victim of Stalinist political show trial in 1946.


 



“...fought for the liberation of their [Macedonia] nation rather than for any communist ideology…”

link

link
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Belgrade-Sarajevo-Skopje?

Macedonia became independent in 1991 - but there seems to be this obsession of placing it still within a Yugoslavist narrative, even though Yugoslavia has ceased to exist, and as prominent Serbian Human Rights Activist Sonja Biserko explained in her ground breaking book (link) ended up being used as vehicle for Serbian nationalism.

2014 - THE YUGOSLAVIST NARRATIVE CONTINUES - minus Slovenia! - Balkan Insight story by Sasha Uzunov 



GAVRILO PRINCIP ? Interpreting History in Macedonia.

BALKAN Insight Reporter Sinisa Jakov Marusic, a staunch critic of alleged Macedonian "ultra nationalism" has this quaint fascination with Serbian nationalist figures… He seems to have this obsession with apportioning blame on a mythical creature, the alleged “ultra Macedonian nationalist” for the ethnic tensions between Macedonians and Albanians when it has more to do with Serbian cultural hegemony via Yugoslavism (defacto Serbian cultural hegemony), as British journalist and historian Misha Glenny explained (link). That there are people, such as pundit Borjan Jovanovski, a scion of a political dynasty established in Yugoslavist times,  in Macedonia today who call for the return of the Socialist Republic of Macedonia, the clear inference being Yugoslavia, is alarming. 






Borjan Jovanovski’s call for a return to a one-party state, where opposition was banned, is strange to say the least. It sounds very authoritarian:

Mirvet Muca - fled Enver Hoxha’s Albania in 1956 and found refuge in Yugoslavia, which he later fled in 1960 ! see link . In 1977 (1979 in some accounts), Macedonian dissident Dragan Bogdanovski was kidnapped by Yugoslav secret police in Paris and smuggled back into the Socialist Republic of Macedonia, where he was sentenced for “anti-Yugoslav activities.” He was adopted as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International. see link 





Staggering Statistics from the "Yugoslavist utopia" - 1984 - Amnesty International Report - Political Prisoners in YUGOSLAVIA

Figures - 64 per cent of the 1981 total of Yugoslav political prisoners were Ethnic Albanians; 62 per cent of the 1982 total of Yugoslav political prisoners were Ethnic Albanians.

Amnesty International noted also the increase in Yugoslav citizens being locked up for "non-nationalistic" reasons as in voicing disatisfaction with the Yugoslavist system. see link

Prominent and respected Serb dissident Mihajlo Mihajlov was also locked up for criticising the Soviet Union. Also Montenegrin Milovan Djilas (Gjilas) and a whole heap of Croats, including Dr Franjo Tudjman and Macedonian Dragan Bogdanovski (pictured) were political prisoners.

If anything, as European Union mandarin, Erwarn Fouere, has correctly pointed out, the Nikola Gruevski government has used “Milosevic tactics.” As far as I know, Slobodan Milosevic was a Serb nationalist, who at one time flirted with the idea of taking over Macedonia. He didn’t strike me as a “Macedonian nationalist.” see link. Gruevski and his crew have offered up a hodge-podge of “Macedonianism" with a heavy sprinkling of Belgrade and Sofia, rather than a truly independent culture drawing from the past. Instead we have hundreds of statues in Skopje, the Macedonian capital. 

To those who don’t understand the cleavages in Macedonian society: Macedonians outside the capital city regard those in the capital as being arrogant, aloof. Hence, ex Interior Minister Gordana Jankulovska’s snide remarks about ethnic Macedonians from Albania; and journalist Olivera Trajkovska ridiculing Opposition leader Zoran Zaev’s “provincial background."

You have pro government mouthpiece and media loudmouth Milenko Nedelkovski who says he is a “patriot” but flies to Belgrade to partake in conferences about a so called “neutral Balkans.” He talks in Serbian, interestingly enough so does Sinisa Jakov Marusic when discussing Macedonian statues. It’s a strange way to boast about being a patriot, don’t you think?




He then accuses others of treason - and in doing so he throws in Serbian words - the irony is hilarious:

“The time has come for a bullet to the head. There is no other way. We must rid ourselves of this scum”.

„Дојде време за метак у чело. Нема друг лек. Мора да се исчистиме од баграта“

Serb words found in the City of Skopje dialect.
У = u
Баграта= Bagra / bagrata.

Метак = metak.

Then we have Milenko’s arch nemesis, the aforementioned Borjan Jovanovski, who uses “salty language and inciting violence:

“abe ebete im majkata na site…gazete gi.” Citat: “koj gi eba be..."

Translation: "oh, go f--k all their mothers. Go stomp or trample on them. Who gives a f--k about them !"





During last year’s demonstrations agaisnt the Gruevski government - Borjan made the very interesting admission that [extremist nationalist] Serb tabloid journalists were inciting hatred between Macedonians and Albanians:



It’s interesting to note that he refers to these people as Poshtovane Kolega [respected colleagues] but in the English version he has deliberately dropped the respected. It’s strange to be associating with such people; to be dignifying them by calling them colleagues. You will notice that he is polite to these extremists but reserves vile swear words, misogynistic insults, for Macedonian critics. That sounds like cultural deference or submission?

Furthermore, Borjan Jovanovski, some months later, in a throw away line - whitewashes this extremism by saying that concerns about certain things being prohibited in Serbia are largely exaggerated. These are odd statements to make, highly contradictory, unless it is someone deliberately sitting on two chairs !


Again the use of Serb words such as U and vise, which are also found in the
 City of Skopje dialect as a sign of “coolness” and “sophistication."


- Sinisa Jakov Marusic’s strange interpretation of “ultra Macedonian nationalism?”

Bulgarian extremists, such politician Kressimir Karakachanov, have been able to operate freely on Macedonian soil by the Macedonian government.

Should Sinisa locate this species of “ultra Macedonian nationalist," I am hoping he will drop me a line.
Hmmmm, how odd?! There is a quote from Dositej Obradovic (an early 19th century oddball ex monk turned philosopher who believed in dictatorship) as Sinisa's Facebook profile photo (see link) and surprise, surprise a journalistic "enthusiasm" for finding people in SKOPJE, the Macedonian capital, to say nice things about Bosnian Serb Gavrlio Princip, the 19 year old who assassinated Austro-Hungarian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife in Sarajevo, Bosnia, in 1914 and triggered the start of World War I.

Sending the wrong message? Sinisa’s strange selection of a Facebook profile photo ? A provocative quote in Serbian from an early 19th century Serbian ex-monk turned philosopher, Dositej Obradovic, who called for dictatorship. see link






Hmmmm.
I've taken a closer look at how controversial figure Todor Alexandrov, a pro Bulgarian Macedonian leader, has been bizarrely rehabilitated by certain sections in Macedonia... 

GAVRILO PRINCIP is a very very minor character in Macedonian history and talking about him in the context of the other ex Yugoslav republics is very odd, very Yugoslavist....very Belgradist by Sinisa and by BALKAN Insight. I don't know why the obsession in a collaborative report; it sounds like the old SFRY approach, with a cast of reporters:

Denis Dzidic, Marija Ristic, Milka Domanovic, Josip Ivanovic, Edona Peci, Sinisa Jakov Marusic BIRN Sarajevo, Belgrade, Zagreb, Pristina, Skopje.

The story was a profile of Princip in light of the centenary of the First World War (World War I or the Great War).

However, the hilarious thing was Slovenia had been left out of this neo-SFRY-ist examination of Princip. Princip is not a major Macedonian historical figure and would be of more importance to Slovenia which was then a part of Austro-Hungary. Moreover, Macedonians are not Serbs. It is insulting and chauvinistic for Macedonian reporters and intellectuals to be using a Serbian cultural hegemonistic (albeit a Yugoslavist one) approach.

In regards to World War I in Macedonia

I personally would hold both SERBIA and BULGARIA culpable for the events that transpired in Macedonia before and during and after World War I. They together with GREECE partitioned the country in 1912-13. So it's largely irrelevant who started World War I or not, from a Macedonian perspective as all three - SERBIA, GREECE, & BULGARIA were equally brutal in forced assimilation of Macedonians.

Getting back to the BALKAN Insight "collective" report from 2014: 

QUOTE: 

"Macedonian school textbooks describe the conflict as “the first world imperialist war” and focus on the division of Macedonian territory that followed. However, Macedonians blame neighbouring Bulgaria in particular for aggressive expansionism, not Serbia.

"Macedonian historian Novica Veljanovski was also keen to exonerate Serbia. “It has been proven that the Serbian state had no intention or plan to kill the Archduke Franz Ferdinand,” he explained. “Serbia cannot be blamed for the start of the war.”

"The Macedonian school textbook says Austria, Italy and Germany were the instigators, using the assassination by Princip’s “secret revolutionary organisation” as a pretext.

“Austria-Hungary used this event to accuse Serbia of organising the assassination, sending an ultimatum to Belgrade with almost unacceptable terms,” it says.

"Bulgaria is accused of conducting an “expansionist policy” and of joining the war to “take the whole of Macedonia”.

"Many people in the capital Skopje also did not blame Belgrade for WWI.

“Why Serbia? No. Everyone knows that the assassination that [Princip] carried out was only used as an excuse to start the war,” said one Skopje resident, Slavjan Radenski. “An entire country cannot be blamed for the actions of one man,” said another, Milanka Malinova."

Link: - Balkan Insight Report !

THE REAL GAVRILO PRINCIP? Used by BELGRADE?

Former US intelligence officer and historian Dr John Schindler says otherwise. He is an author on the subject  - his book is called Fall of the Double Eagle.

He paints Gavrilo Princip in a very negative light:

"They [Franz Ferdinand and his wife] were murdered by a misguided teenager who really was no more interesting or compelling than young spree killers are today. Had Gavrilo Princip been blessed with the Internet, one suspects that he would left us semi-coherent screeds explaining that this was all necessary to validate himself to a cruel world that somehow had failed to misunderstand his cosmic importance. Princip, a Serb, was a maladjusted yet fanatic nineteen year-old from a poor, one-horse town in western Bosnia, which had been a province of Austria-Hungary since 1878. He was radicalized into hatred of the Hapsburgs during high school, and he drifted into a circle of radical young Bosnians, mainly but not exclusively Serbs, devoted to overthrowing Austro-Hungarian rule in their country. Their ideology was an amalgam of anarchism and South Slav nationalism, mixed with adolescent angst and anger.

"This youthful yet ardent gang was under the influence, and eventually direction, of Serbian military intelligence, whose chief,  Colonel Dragutin Dimitrijević, colloquially known as Apis (The Bull), was a violent conspirator with impressive credentials even by high regional standards. He had played a key role in Belgrade’s 1903 palace coup, which saw the king and queen not merely murdered, but butchered with body parts cast onto the street below. Serbia thus earned a reputation as what would latterly be called a “rogue state,” and Apis was at the center of the secret cabal that actually ran things at the top of Serbia’s power structure. The members, mostly army officers, masked many of their activities through a front organization called the Black Hand. Dimitrijević ran extensive agent networks inside Hapsburg territory, mainly Serbs – there were more Serbs living in Austria-Hungary in 1914 than actually in Serbia – who were used for espionage, subversion, and sometimes terrorism. Under Apis, Belgrade was waging its own version of Special War in Bosnia, which Serbian nationalists hoped to liberate from Hapsburg rule."


Who is Novica Veljanovski? A Macedonian historian and ex-member of Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski's controversial Lustration Commission.



BELGRADE’S CULTURAL HOLD ON MACEDONIA - is still prevalent:

Stevce Jakimovski, an ally of Nikola Gruevski, the Mayor of Skopje suburb Karpos, came under criticism for spending public money in importing a Serbian turbo folk singer instead of using the money for other items.



OPPOSITION PARTY SDSM - flirted on a trial basis with controversial Belgrade Public Relations firm, Ruskin & Hunt, whose director Miljan Scekic, once spun for ultra Serb nationalist politician Maja Gojkovic, a staunch ally of extremist Vojislav Seselj. 
















Complaints that the Gruevski VMRO-DPMNE government neglecting local Macedonian artists in favour of Serbian turbo folk artists:



CULTURAL ROLE MODEL - Riblja Corba? - link


The Leader of the Opposition Zoran Zaev says he is pro-Western and pro-EU but he draws cultural inspiration from a guy, who is anti-Western, anti-EU and anti-NATO.
I refer to Bora Djordjevic of Serb hard rock group Riblja Corba. Djordjevic is a hardline nationalist politician who was sacked for threatening Serbian jourmalists.
It remains puzzling why Mr Zaev would be drawing from Djordjevic and for that matter refusing to criticise the Macedonian government being too close to Belgrade.
Citation:
Се гледа дека лидерот на опозицијата и дај боже нашиот иден Премиер Зоран Заев на интересен и несекојдневен начин се појави во јавноста. Имено на својот фејсбук профил ја сподели популарната балканска песна од Рибља Чорба. Погледај дом свој анџеле. Текстот го објави во оригинал на српски ама и на латиница, начин да ги исмее владините спинови дека пишувал писма на латиница. Тоа предизвика експлозија од подршка на народот, преку лајкувања и коментари. Емотивна припрема пред утрешното конечно крштевање со властта, со криминалните структури кои ја урнисаа Македонија.
Pogledaj dom svoj, andjele,
I skini paucinu s ociju,
Videces prizore potresne,
Videces nesrecne I bolesne,
Videces cemer, smrt I jad.
Pogledaj stado, andjele,
Sve sami bogalji I prosjaci,
Slepi tumaraju u gomili,
Svima su kicmu polomili,
Od tebe ocekuju spas.
Pogledaj bagru, andjele,
Njihova dusa je prokleta,
Svima su stavili amove,
Sebi sagradili hramove,
Ruke im ogrezle u krv.
Podigni mac svoj, andjele,
Seti se krstaskih ratova,
Seti se preklanih vratova,
Kad dodjes bogu na istinu,
Nek ti u dusi vlada mir.
Uslisi molitve, andjele,
Dabogda pocrkali dusmani,
Pa budi andjeo osvete,
Neka na svojoj kozi osete,
Sta znaci beda, strah I bol.
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Bora Djordjevic's antics:
"After the political changes in Serbia, he became the Deputy to Dragan Kojadinović, Minister of Culture in Serbian Government in 2004. However, Đorđević was forced to resign from the position the next year, after accusing the journalists of the television station B92 of treason and holding anti-Serbian politics."

HOWEVER, Bulgarian nationalism, unfortunately, is making inroads into Macedonia. So you now have a Belgrade-Sofia Cultural Axis. 



DOWN THE TRACK - TEAM UZUNOV WILL EXAMINE ALBANIAN NATIONALISM IN MACEDONIA



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