Jason Miko
4 min readNov 26, 2019


“Nationalism,” “nationalists,” and Macedonia

A recent column in Greek newspaper Kathimerini was headlined “Greece must defend Western Balkans’ EU hopes.” The author went on to write “Zaev is the de facto indispensable partner Greece has every interest in supporting ahead of the April 2020 elections in the neighboring country. Zaev’s electoral defeat would bring the nationalists to power, leading to an overall deterioration in North Macedonia’s relations with Greece and destabilizing the region.”

Three immediate points: first, the author is subtly advocating interfering in Macedonia’s elections. I suppose this is the “new normal” in Western democracies but it is worth keeping in mind and monitoring exactly how certain Greek elements manage to interfere; what, exactly, will they be doing in Macedonia’s elections next year? Second, it is worth remembering that it is the official policy of the current Greek Government, and all previous Greek governments, that Macedonians — as a people and ethnicity — do not exist and that there is no Macedonian language, heritage, history, culture, etc. I don’t know about you, but I would be very wary of a people who pledge to “defend my hopes” and yet deny my very existence and everything about me, my nation, my history, culture, heritage and much more.

My third point centers on this “nationalism” and “nationalists” issue we keep reading and hearing about. Outgoing Prime Minister Zoran Zaev himself constantly warns about “nationalism” rising in Macedonia. The author of the above column warns about “nationalists” coming to power in Macedonia. Others, mostly the transnational elites in the media, think tanks, civil society, and unelected bureaucrats do this as well. But the question is: what do they really mean by “nationalism” or “nationalists?”

This is an issue gripping not only Macedonia, but the world as well. I submit that these terms are loosely defined and that the individual saying or writing “nationalism” or “nationalist” actually means “anything I don’t like.” Throwing around these terms is like saying “there is no alternative.” It is designed to stop debate. And so when somebody starts accusing Macedonians of being “nationalists” that should be your signal that they no longer wish to hear any other thought or opinion.

But let’s tackle the issue with respect to Macedonia. Who are these scary “nationalists?!” When we look at the above column the “nationalists” are clearly those Macedonians who simply want to be known as Macedonians and for their country to be known as Macedonia. This group consists of the political opposition, VMRO-DPMNE, the party that the author wants to keep out of power as well as many others, including some, likely, in the political party of SDSM. But why does the author want to keep VMRO-DPMNE out of power? Because they have pledged to reverse the so-called “Prespa agreement” one way or another if they are elected to govern. I submit that Zaev himself believes this as well, as do those transnational elites. To state it a different way, these people want Zoran Zaev and DUI to remain in power, potentially forever, because Zoran Zaev will do whatever he can to make sure his project to rename the country and people remains intact.

So, let’s look at these “nationalists,” in Macedonia, and see what they have in common:

-They reject the so-called “Prespa agreement” and the way in which it was “negotiated”

-They object to the Government’s rejection of the September 30, 2018 referendum which did not pass; they believe the Zaev government ignored them and the consent of the governed, a hallmark of any democracy

-They reject the way the agreement was implemented in Macedonia and the way in which the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia was changed, namely, through bribery, threats, arrests and intimidation

-They want to keep the name they have always used — the Republic of Macedonia — and they want to keep the identity they have always been known by — Macedonians.

-They love their country, their identity, their history, their culture, their heritage, their language, their faith, and everything that makes Macedonians, and Macedonia, unique in this world

-They believe in the sovereignty of Macedonia in particular and the nation-state in general

-They believe that Macedonia and the Macedonians should determine the direction of the country — not transnational elites, not Greece, not Bulgaria, not anyone else

Here’s something else to consider regarding these “nationalists”: the majority, in all likelihood, are supportive of Macedonia joining NATO and the EU. And — this is important — they are not “pro-Russia” any more than Zaev is — they believe in good relations with Russia — as does Zaev.

And yet they are labeled “nationalists.” Seriously?!

Macedonians wanting to control their own destiny — and are called “nationalists” which, again, to the transnational elites means “anything I don’t like.” What a load of steaming rubbish.

I happen to believe that there is a good nationalism, akin to patriotism, but more. Nationalism can also be hijacked, just as we are seeing liberal democracy hijacked by progressive transnational elites. More on the idea that there is a good nationalism in a future column. But for now, remember the words of Krste Misirkov from On Macedonian Matters:

“I hope it will not be held against me that I, as a Macedonian, place the interests of my country before all… I am a Macedonian, I have a Macedonian’s consciousness, and so I have my own Macedonian view of the past, present, and future of my country.”



Jason Miko

Proud American & Arizonan w/Hungarian ethnicity & passion for Macedonia, Hungary & Estonia. Traveler, PR man, history buff & wine, craft beer & cigar enthusiast