By Marcus A. Templar
1865: Intellectuals participating in a convention in Belgrade envisioned the Balkan Federation in a politically socialist basis, not in a religious sense as Rhigas Pheraios had done many years before.
1876: The 1876-1877 Constantinople Conference of the Great Powers (Britain, Russia, France, Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy) was held in Constantinople (now Istanbul) from 23 December 1876 until 20 January 1877. Following the beginning of the Herzegovinian Uprising in 1875 and the April Uprising in April 1876, the Great Powers agreed on a project for political reforms both in Bosnia and in the Ottoman territories with a majority Bulgarian population (Great Britain Foreign Office, 1877).
1878: From 13 June to 13 July, Russian diplomacy fails to establish a dominant satellite state in the southern Balkans at the Council of Berlin. In the Balkans, the antagonism between Serbia and Bulgaria compelled the earlier to expand south after 1878 and the latter to envision its expansion west (Templar, 2018).
1893: The Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (VMRO / Eng: IMRO) was founded in Thessaloniki, Ottoman Empire. It was a Bulgarian revolutionary national liberation movement within Macedonia (in the Ottoman territories of Europe), that operated in the late 19th and early 20th centuries (Biondich, 2011).
1900: Bulgaria promotes the expansionist map of "Macedonia" (a.k.a. "Greater Macedonia") designed by Bulgarian “ethnographer” Vasil Kŭnchov to serve the hegemonic interests of the Bulgarian Principality as the basis for its later independence by displaying almost all the population living within the territory of what he considered to be Macedonia, Bulgarians. Bulgaria’s definition of Macedonia included all lands of the area of the Pirin Mountain, the region of South Serbia (contemporary FYROM) and the entire Greek region of Macedonia. Some Bulgarian ultra-nationalists even included the Serbian Šumadija.
1903: The Macedonian Committee (a.k.a. the Hellenic Macedonian Committee) was formed in Athens, Greece, to counter VMRO activities and to strengthen Greek efforts for Macedonia under the leadership of wealthy publisher Dimitrios Kalapothakis; its members included Ion Dragoumis and Pavlos Melas. Its fighters were known as Makedonomachoi ("Macedonian fighters").
1903: Krste Petkov Misirkov, a Bulgarian socialist, born in the region of Greek Macedonia published a book in Sofia, Bulgaria, titled On Macedonian Matters. In this book, Misirkov referred the Slav population of Macedonia as Macedonian Slavs or Macedonians explaining on page 159 that the term was regional, not ethnic (Templar, 2018).
1904-1908: The Greek Struggle in Macedonia (a.k.a. The Macedonian Struggle) was a series of social, political, cultural and military conflicts between Greek and Bulgarian subjects living in Ottoman Macedonia from as early as 1893 to 1908 (the Greeks entered the battle in 1904). The dispute was part of a wider rebel war in which revolutionary organizations of Greeks, Bulgarians, and Serbs all fought over Macedonia. Gradually the Greek and Bulgarian bands gained the upper hand, but the Young Turk Revolution in 1908 ended the conflict.
1912-1913: The Balkan Wars consisted of two conflicts that took place in the Balkan Peninsula from 8 October 1912 to 18 July 1913. Four Balkan states (Greece, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Montenegro) defeated the Ottoman Empire in the first war. The primary victor of the four, Bulgaria, fought and pushed back all four original combatants of the first war along with halting a surprise attack from Romania from the north in the second war. The Ottoman Empire lost the bulk of its territory in Europe. Austria-Hungary, although not a combatant, became relatively weaker as a much-enlarged Serbia pushed for the union of the South Slavic peoples (Clark, 2013).
1913: On the 10th of August, the Treaty of Bucharest is signed. The treaty's function was to set Bulgaria's borders in relation to her neighbors.
1914: Immediately after the division of the Ottoman vilayets of Selanik and Manastir, the Greek government established the "General Administration of Macedonia" for its part of Macedonia, officially recognizing and utilizing the term 'Macedonia' first after the fall of the Byzantine Empire.
1917: The new Russian-led government realized that to spread communist ideology and encroach as many lands as possible for the benefit of the USSR; the state had to continue the foreign policies of Imperial Russia. Such a foreign policy for the south Balkans meant that the national interests of Bulgaria were identical with national interests of the USSR. The goal of the USSR was the establishment of a Greater Bulgaria, and if the plan failed due to external pressure, to create a new state that would serve the national interests of both Bulgaria and the USSR (Templar, 2018).
1919: On the 4th of March, the Central Committee of the USSR created a body that would concentrate on spreading communist ideology worldwide through a series of propaganda and indoctrination. This would include an effort to solve the Macedonian national question which had haunted the new state vis-a-vis the Marxist ideology.
1924: From 17 June to 8 July, during the Fifth World Congress, the Comintern issued a lengthy resolution titled “III Communist International, Fifth Congress - June 17 - July 8, 1924 "Resolution on National Question in Central Europe and Balkans.” In the first section under the title “Macedonian and Thracian Questions,” the resolution declared the establishment of the “Balkan Federation” to be created regarding Macedonia from territories from the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes (later Yugoslavia), Bulgaria and Greece. Regarding Thrace, the resolution called for the secession of Thrace from Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey. Both, Macedonia and Thrace, would be included in the “Balkan Federation.”
1934: On the 11th of January, the Comintern Resolution of 1934 was drafted in Moscow under the title “The Macedonian Question and the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization - United (IMRO-U).” Its purpose was the reinforcement of the previous resolution (1924) while section I recognized the Macedonian nation not as a community of descent, but as a political entity or a country per glossary of the Comintern.
1944: On the 2nd of August, the first "Macedonian" state within Yugoslavia was formally proclaimed under the name "Democratic Federal Macedonia" (Cvetkovski, 1998) at the First Plenary Session of the Anti-Fascist Assembly for the People's Liberation of Macedonia (ASNOM) during the National Liberation War of Macedonia in World War II. It was set up on 2 August 1944 in the Bulgarian occupation zone in Yugoslavia (Bechev, 2009).
1944: On the 8th of September, a month after the 2 August 1944 proclamation of the "Democratic Federal Macedonia", Nazi Germany briefly sought to establish an "Independent State of Macedonia", a puppet state in the territory of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia that had been occupied by the Kingdom of Bulgaria following the invasion of Yugoslavia in April 1941 (Tomasevich, 2001). This puppet state was short lived and was disestablished in November of 1944.
1946: The Greek Civil War was the third civil war (the first two civil wars were fought during the revolution against the Ottomans), was fought from 1946 to 1949 between the armed forces of the legal government and the “Democratic Army of Greece (DSE or ΕΛΑΣ). While the UK and the United States backed the earlier, the People’s Federative Republic of Yugoslavia backed the latter. Arguably one could consider the war as the first proxy war of the Cold War. Stalin’s USSR was against the insurrection as hopeless. One of the main Greek Communist goals was for the incorporation of the region of Macedonia into Yugoslavia according to the decision of notorious 5th Plenum of 30-31 January 1949. The civil war ended in the defeat of the DSE by the Hellenic Army. Stalin was adamant against the uprising in Greece (Djilas, 1962).
1948: On 7 March 1948, the “Interim Democratic Government” announced its decision to enact the «παιδομάζωμα» sending abducted children to the 'Informbiro' countries which excluded the USSR due to the dispute of Tito with Stalin.
The organization of the missions had begun several weeks earlier, following a decision by the KKE. According to the party newspaper “Εξόρμηση»," "from mid-February to 5 March, the parents of 59 villages “gave” 4,784 children". A total of several thousand children 5 to 13 of age (20 - 25 thousand, depending on the sources) were transported by the Democratic Army in the People’s Republics in 1948 and 1949.
The “exchange” of Greek refugee children was supposed to serve as an additional instrument for the political reconciliation of Yugoslavia and the East European countries (Ristović, 1998).
1949: In July, Yugoslavia closed its borders and its support to the communist army of Greece. On the 18th of November, the UN General assembly passed a unanimous resolution (UN Resolution 288) condemning the kidnapping of the 30,000 Greek children by the Communists of Greece, demanding their return. This and subsequent UN resolutions were not answered.
1950 – 1990: In November 1950 Greece normalized its diplomatic relations with Marxist Yugoslavia. The latter despite the normalization of relations, refused to recognize the existing international borders with Greece; all this, despite Tito's visit to Greece and visits (four times) of PM / Pres. Karamanlis to Yugoslavia.
1950: No kidnapping was reported in 1950 bringing the total kidnapped children to 29,877.
1953: 5 March 1953, Joseph Stalin dies. After Stalin’s death, the normalization between Yugoslavia and the USSR took place in 1954 (Bekić, 1988).
1954: Yugoslavia under pressure from the UN and the international community returned only about 1,200 children to their parents in Greece.
1955: The first batch of transports of adults and children whose parents were already living in Tashkent took place on 28 February, 21 March, and 20 September 1955. It was part of the effort of the Yugoslav Red Cross per the directive of the UNGA to reunite them with their parents.
1990: From 20 to 22 January, the 14th and last Congress of the League of Yugoslav Communists took place; the Slovenian and the Croatian delegations left during the Congress. That move by the delegations should have been a warning to Greek politicians that something serious was going to happen.
1991: By May, despite the draconian efforts of Vasil Tupurkovski to keep the Republic together, the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia was over.
1991: On the 8th of September, the previously known Socialist Republic of Macedonia declares independence as the "Republic of Macedonia." Greece objects and argues that use of the name "Macedonia" in the name of the newly independent republic implies territorial claims on its own region of Macedonia which borders the republic.
1992: On the 3rd of January, Greek President Constantine Karamanlis addresses a letter to the heads of state of the European Union (EU) on the Macedonian issue. An informal meeting between experts from Greece and the 'Republic of Macedonia' takes place in Athens. The talks end in deadlock owing to the refusal of Skopje delegates to discuss the name issue.
1992: On the 13th of April, disagreement is recorded regarding Greek reactions in case that the new state is internationally recognized as ‘Macedonia’. Mitsotakis dismissed Samaras taking over the Foreign Ministry, an office that he held until 7 August 1992. Michalis Papakonstantinou became the Greek MFA on 7 August 1992 and held the office until 13 October 1993.
1993: On the 26th of January, at the directive of PM/FM Mitsotakis, the lawyer and Greek American lobbyist hired by Mitsotakis, Mike Manatos sends deceitful letter to Pres. Clinton telling him that Greece was ready to compromise (Spirou, 2004). That happened without giving Clinton a chance to check into the matter. At that time, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece was Michalis Papakonstantinou from Kozani. It is at this point that Greece's diplomacy effectively failed on the issue.
On the same day, the Greek UN Delegation issues a memorandum rejecting the request of the FYROM for UN membership. The representatives of the EU members of the Security Council (Britain, France, and Spain) submit a plan of confidence-building measures proposing the temporary name ‘Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’.
Pres. Karamanlis, not knowing Mitsotakis’ directive to Manatos and the Greek diaspora, and seeking a better American understanding of the Greek position addressed a letter to the newly elected U.S. President Bill Clinton. In that letter, Pres. Karamanlis claimed that heeding the Greek position was the only way to avert the spreading of the Yugoslav conflict southwards.
1993: On the 7th of April, after Greece’s approval, the Security Council (S 817/1993) unanimously approves the accession of the new state to the UN under the provisional name ‘Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’ or the FYROM (to be seated between Togo and Thailand) but without flag hoisting rights. It further considers the name dispute capable of influencing the good neighborly relations and peace in the region and invites the co-chairmen of the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia (ICFY) to offer their good services towards the settlement of the dispute.
1993: On the 13th of October, the People's Republic of China was the first major power to act, recognising the FYROM under its constitutional name "Republic of Macedonia."
1993: On the 16th of December, two weeks before Greece was due to take up the European Union presidency, six key EC countries - Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom – recognised the Skopje Republic under its UN designation "FYROM."
1994: On the 16th of February, the relations between Greece and Skopje had deteriorated; Greece was forced to impose a trade embargo which coincided with the 'UN embargo on Federal Republic of Yugoslavia' on its northern border.
1995: On the 13th of September, the Interim Accord is signed between Greece and Skopje which formalised bilateral relations. Under the agreement, Skopje removed the Panhellenic sun (also known as the Vergina Sun) from its flag and irredentist clauses from its constitution, and both countries committed to continuing negotiations on the naming issue under UN auspices. Indirectly but officially and permanently, Skopje receives the name “Macedonia”.
2001: Stojan Andov, the Speaker of the Skopjan Sobranie or Parliament, led a Slavic parliamentary delegation to the political offices of PASOK in Athens where they discussed with Panagiotis Beglitis the possibility of a federation of Skopje with Greece in case their state be dismantled if the inhabited Albanian lands seceded. They had asked for money, books, and teachers of Greek language for their children.
2006: Since coming to power, the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE government pursued a policy of "Antiquisation" ("Antikvizatzija") as a way of putting pressure on Greece and for the purposes of domestic identity-building. As part of this policy, stations, roads and airports were renamed after Ancient Macedonian figures, and statues of Alexander the Great and Philip II of Macedon were built in several cities across the country which infuriated Greece and further soured the already fragile relationship between the two countries.
2008: On the 3rd of April, upon Greece presenting its case for non-invitation of the republic, NATO after a consensus rejected the FYROM's accession to the alliance. Mrs. Dora Bakoyanni, as the Foreign Minister of Greece, while soliciting Greek votes publicly declared that Greece was the one which vetoed the FYROM’s membership to NATO. It should be noted that NATO does not employ the institution of veto which is an expressed decision in public, but the institution of consensus which is a decision taken in secret. Had she not made that statement, the FYROM would not be able to file its lawsuit in the UN's International Court of Justice. In addition, she refused to counter-sue the FYROM for its own violations of the Interim Accord, as if she wanted Greece to lose.
2008: In November, the FYROM instituted proceedings against Athens before the UN's International Court of Justice for what it described as "a flagrant violation of [Greece's] obligations under Article 11 of the Interim Accord signed by the Parties on 13 September 1995". The alleged violation was referring to Athens’ blockade to the FYROM's bid for NATO membership. Although the ICJ found that "the Hellenic Republic, by objecting to the admission of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to NATO, has breached its obligation under Article 11, paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord of 13 September 1995," the court did not grant FYROM's request to instruct Greece to refrain from similar actions in the future, nor has there been a change to date in the EU's stance that FYROM's accession negotiations cannot begin until the name issue is resolved.
2008: At the same year, the PM of the FYROM Gruevski declared that the issue of the name of his country will be decided by the people in a nation-wide referendum. Greece although, on the other hand, could do the same, the political elite was disinterested to offer the same to the people of Greece.
2017: After successive defeats of the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE in both the general (11 December 2016) and municipal elections (15 and 29 October 2017) of the FYROM, and the arrival to power of the pro-solution coalition led by the SDSM and the Albanian DIU, efforts for the resolution of the naming dispute gained a new momentum, with the new Prime Minister Zoran Zaev vowing his determination to resolve the decades-old dispute with Greece.
2018: On the 12th of June, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced that an agreement had been reached with his counterpart in Skopje Zoran Zaev, "which covers all the preconditions set by the Greek side". The proposal would result in the constitutional name "Republic of Macedonia" being renamed the "Republic of North Macedonia", with the new name being used for all purposes (erga omnes), that is, domestically, in all bilateral relations and in all regional and international organizations and institutions.
2018: On the 17th of June, The Prespes Agreement, which replaces the Interim Accord of 1995, was signed in a high-level ceremony at the Greek border village of Psarades on Lake Prespa, by the two foreign ministers Nikola Dimitrov and Nikos Kotzias and in the presence of the respective Prime Ministers, Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras.
2018: On the 30th of September, a referendum took place in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) with voters asked whether they supported EU and NATO membership by accepting the Prespes Agreement between FYROM and Greece in June 2018. The agreement aimed to settle the 27-year naming dispute, which had prevented the FYROM from joining both the European Union and NATO. Despite 94% of voters voting in favour, voter turnout was less than the 50 percent threshold required to validate the results.
2018: On the 1st of November, Greece resumed air travel to Skopje for the first time in 12 years. The first flight was an Olympic Air flight from Athens to Skopje, which included Skopje's deputy prime minister Bujar Osmani, who was returning from talks in Greece.
2019: On the 11th of January, Skopje's Parliament completed the legal implementation of the Prespes Agreement by approving the constitutional changes for renaming the country to "North Macedonia" with a two-thirds parliamentary majority (81 MPs).
2019: On the 25th of January, Greece's Parliament approved the Prespes Agreement with 153 votes in favor and 146 votes against.
2019: On the 12th of February, the Prespes Agreement entered into force between Greece and Skopje. (Note: The Greek and Skopje diasporas are not obliged to recognize the name "North Macedonia" under the Agreement). Article 3.1 of the Prespes Agreement recognizes the present international borders between the two countries.