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James D. Clark

Abstract

This article looks at the challenges faced by Macedonia in creating a national identity since independence. After briefly reviewing the region’s history since the 7th century, the revolt for independence at the end of the 19th century, the interwar period when it was part of Serbia, and the Yugoslav era when Macedonia first attained a separate political existence, the article addresses the challenges the Slav Macedonians faced in creating an identity for the new state. Some of those challenges came from Serbia and Bulgaria, which claimed that the Macedonian Slavs were actually part of their respective nations, and from Greece, which objected to the symbols and the name they had adopted. The greatest resistance inside Macedonia to an exclusively Slavic national identity, however, came from the Albanian community, located mainly in the eastern reaches of the country and in Skopje. An unwillingness to share power or to make concessions by the Slav nationalists eventually resulted in armed insurrection by the Albanians in 2001. Though the Ohrid Accords signed the same year ended the fighting, tension between the two communities has continued on and off until the present, despite some examples of peaceful coexistence.