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Diaspora 3:3 1994 National Conflict in a Transnational World: Greeks and Macedonians at the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe Loring M. Danforth Bates College 1. Introduction In the present era of globalization, ethnic nationalism can no longer be understood simply as a relationship between an ethnic minority and the dominant nation of the state in which it lives. The deterritorialization of national communities, brought about by large-scale population movements, combined with recent developments in the fields of communications and transportation, has enabled diaspora communities to become deeply involved in the political affairs of their homelands. As a result, transnational communities are being constructed, not only by the nations that dominate some states, but also by the smaller, "ethnic" nations that live within and across the boundaries of such states. Together with international organizations like the United Nations and the European Community, these transnational communities are becoming increasingly important participants in nationalist struggles throughout the world. Nation-states are being challenged simultaneously from above and below—from without and within—by international organizations, on the one hand, and by ethnic minorities, on the other. National conflicts are being fought, in other words, on a transnational level. This essay explores the transnational phenomenon by examining the way the issue of the human rights of the Macedonian minority of northern Greece was dealt with at the 1990 meeting of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE). There, for the first time, a transnational Macedonian human rights delegation played an active role on the international political scene. This delegation was made up of representatives from several venues: first, from what was then the Socialist Republic of Macedonia, a part of the former Yugoslavia, which is now the independent Republic of Macedonia (also known as the Former Yugoslav Republic ofMacedonia ); second, from Macedonian minorities in Bulgaria and Greece; and third, from Macedonian diaspora communities in Canada and Australia. This transnational delegation was able to shift the balance of power in its favor, and away from the Greek nation-state, by Diaspora 3:3 1994 appealing to the universalist and pluralist definitions of national identity and human rights that prevail in the context of international organizations like the CSCE.1 2. The Macedonian Question in Balkan History The Macedonian Question has been a source ofconflict in the Balkans for over a hundred years. During the Ottoman period, which lasted from the fourteenth century until 1913, the population of the geographical area known as Macedonia included as amazing number of different ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups, including Slavic- and Greek-speaking Orthodox Christians; Turkish- and Albanian-speaking Muslims; as well as Vlachs, Jews, and Gypsies. Toward the end ofthe nineteenth century, the population ofMacedonia was increasingly being defined from various external nationalist perspectives in terms ofnational categories such as Greeks, Bulgarians , Serbs, Albanians, and Turks. Ottoman authorities, however, continued to divide the population ofthe empire into administrative units, or millets, on the basis of religious identity rather than language , ethnicity, or nationality. The hegemony that the Greeks exercised over the Orthodox Christian millet was seriously challenged for the first time by the establishment of an independent Bulgarian Church in 1870. Orthodox communities in "Macedonia" now had the choice of affiliating with either the Greek or the Bulgarian national church. This choice marked an intensification of the "Macedonian Struggle" in which Greek, Bulgarian, and, to a lesser extent, Serbian claims came into conflict over who would gain control over the people and the territory of Macedonia. By the 1890s, these three Balkan peoples were each fielding irregular bands of guerrilla fighters who attacked the ruling Turks and also fought each other. In addition, through the construction of churches and schools and the assignment of priests and teachers, each state was conducting an intense propaganda campaign, whose goal was to instill the preferred, or "proper," sense of national identity among the Orthodox Christians of Macedonia (see Perry; Dakin ). The Macedonian Struggle reached its climax in the Balkan Wars of 1912-13, which ended with the partitioning of Macedonia among Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia (later a dominant part ofYugoslavia ). Since 1913, the fates of the Slavic-speaking inhabitants of Bulgarian (Pirin) Macedonia, Greek (Aegean...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1911-1568
Print ISSN
1044-2057
Pages
pp. 325-347
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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