Monday, April 17, 2006

Broadband network is envy of the west

Macedonia usually only hits the headlines when ethnic tensions erupt. But this small land-locked nation now wants to project a more positive image as the world’s first “wireless country”.

In four years, Macedonia has vaulted from being known as one of the poorest countries in Europe to being one of the most technologically advanced.

Thanks to aid from foreign governments and commercial sponsors, Macedonia now has a computer laboratory in each of its 430 schools and a nationwide broadband network that many richer western countries will envy.

Rural schools which previously did not even have a telephone are today linked to the outside world via broadband wireless.

Macedonia claims to be the first country of its size to have a broadband wireless network covering 95 per cent of its population. The network, based on Motorola technology, uses WiFi hot-spots to bring high-speed internet access to schools and villages, while mesh technology is used to blanket urban areas.

The impetus for this project came from Boris Trajkovski, Macedonia’s former president, who died in 2003. He was a strong believer in the need for Macedonian children to learn modern IT skills.

In 2002, during an official visit to China, he secured a grant to equip the country’s schools with Chinese-made computers. Microsoft later donated more than 6,000 licences for software.

That in itself was a big leap forward. But Mr Trajkovski realised that without internet access, the children would remain at a disadvantage. He approached the US Agency for International Development (USAid) which has been funding projects in Macedonia for a decade.

USAid engaged the Academy for Economic Development (AED), a US non-profit organisation, to bring internet access to Macedonia’s schools. But the project faced a big barrier, namely the prohibitive cost of internet access in Macedonia – more than €150 a month for a slow dial-up connection.

According to Glenn Strachan, who directed the Macedonia Connects project for AED, the blame lay with Macedonia’s incumbent telecoms company, Maktel, which had the monopoly on the wired infrastructure and charged high prices.

Maktel’s monopoly ended on December 31 2004 and AED quickly invited bids to provide a cheaper high-speed internet service not just for schools – which are subsidised by AED – but for non-school paying customers as well.

“We realised we needed a sustainable model that would help the ISPs get more commercial clients,” says Mr Strachan.

A local ISP, On.Net, won the contract with a proposal to bypass Maktel’s infrastructure and blanket the country using wireless broadband. In August 2005, On.Net completed the wireless backbone and a month later it had connected all the schools.

The project has not been problem-free. China’s donation only covered hardware so the PCs were originally installed with open source software. A year later, Microsoft’s donation arrived and the teachers had to spend time installing and learning to use Microsoft software.

More worryingly, the installation of hardware in a dozen schools was delayed due to the activities of the Kosovo Liberation Army. War in the Serbian province of Kosovo officially ended in 1999, but ex-KLA insurgents still operate sporadically in northwestern Macedonia.

Mr Strachan knows that modern technology alone is not going to heal the deep wounds in Macedonia and other war-torn Balkan states. But he believes that bringing internet access to the nation’s schools will improve education and, longer term, help modernise the economy.

Today, 300,000 children and students benefit from free internet access and USAid recently agreed to expand the project to bring 50 municipalities online in remote rural areas.

Alexander of Macedonia

Alexander III of Macedon (356-323 BC)

Alexander III of Macedon, better known as Alexander the Great, single-handedly changed the entire nature of the ancient world in little more than ten years.

Born in the northern Greek kingdom of Macedonia in 356 BC, to Philip II and his formidable wife Olympias, Alexander was educated by the philosopher Aristotle. Following his father's assassination in 336 BC, he inherited a powerful yet volatile kingdom, which he had to secure - along with the rest of the Greek city states - before he could set out to conquer the massive Persian Empire, in revenge for Persia's earlier attempts to conquer Greece.

Against overwhelming odds, he led his army to victories across the Persian territories of Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt without incurring a single defeat. With his greatest victory at the Battle of Gaugamela, in what is now northern Iraq, in 331 BC, the young king of Macedonia, leader of the Greeks, Overlord of Asia Minor and Pharaoh of Egypt also became Great King of Persia at the age of 25.

Over the next eight years, in his capacity as king, commander, politician, scholar and explorer, Alexander led his army a further 11,000 miles, founding over 70 cities and creating an empire that stretched across three continents and covered some two million square miles.

The entire area from Greece in the west, north to the Danube, south into Egypt and as far east as the Indian Punjab, was linked together in a vast international network of trade and commerce. This was united by a common Greek language and culture, whilst the king himself adopted foreign customs in order to rule his millions of ethnically diverse subjects.

Primarily a soldier, Alexander was an acknowledged military genius who always led by example, although his belief in his own indestructibility meant he was often reckless with his own life and that of those he expected to follow him. The fact that his army only refused to do so once, in the13 years of a reign during which there was constant fighting, indicates the loyalty he inspired.

Following his death in 323 BC at the age of only 32, his empire was torn apart in the power struggles of his successors. Yet Alexander's mythical status rapidly reached epic proportions and inspired individuals as diverse as Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Louis XIV and Napoleon.

He continues to be portrayed according to the bias of those interpreting his achievements. He is either Alexander the Great or Iskander the Accursed, chivalrous knight or bloody monster, benign multi-culturalist or racist imperialist - but above all he is fully deserving of his description as 'the most significant secular individual in history'.

Events which are coming cast their shadow – onto multicultural macedonia

struga, one of the important cities in macedonia, where the slavic macedonians are the majority, has lost its slavic majority last week after profound legal changes meant the albanian regions near it became part of the city's municipality. the albanian majority will be dominant in the city government. the same situation will be valid for kicevo by 2008. peasants, in effect, will control the cities.

kosovo and macedonia share a common border, and after 1999 huge amounts of weaponry and albanian terrorists passed over to commence operations in macedonia. albanian fighters busily set about kidnapping and killing macedonian conscript soldiers, police officers, officials, etc. once on the verge of a decisive defeat by modestly equipped macedonian security services, they were escorted from the country by american forces to the safety of post-conflict kosovo.

there has not been one, even fictitious, news item about macedonian atrocites against the albanian civilian minority. that isn’t the issue according to the terrorist albanian army, the nla, the successor to the ‘disbanded’ kla. there is also ana, whose ramush haradinaj has vowed to fight on for a greater albania. the ana is bad cop, the nla is good cop, and the criminal is the peaceful macedonian government.

as nla leader mr ahmeti says (newsweek, march 22, 2001). "our aim is solely to remove slav forces from territory which is historically albanian." of course, slavs and albanians have lived side by side for centuries in macedonia, so no such areas exist. and tutored no doubt by the cia, mr ahmeti now professes himself devoted to macedonian unity – surprising for one who described macedonia as an articifial state that should be cut up. the ana condemns the us backed 2001 ohrid agreement/ultimatum, the framework for last week’s power transfer, and has called all albanians to join for a war in order to unify all the albanians in one state.

albanian schools may be bad, and proportionally less albanians attend university or join the police force, but that is hardly the fault of the central government, anymore than underachievement or under representation of blacks in education is the fault of the uk government, or than underachievement of malays compared to chinese minority students is the fault of the majority, muslim malaysian government. the malayasian government, bemoaning its failure, recently abolished pro-malay discrimination.

without a popular referendum, large parts of macedonia are now passing to direct albanian control. there will be universal quotas for albanian representation in education and the police. 'proving' itself a friend to muslims in kosovo and bosnia, cia-ing military support and guidance to extremist and fundamentalist groups, and undermining negotiation beetween muslim and christian politicians, the usa helped to turn those countries into mafia and terrorist basketcases. the only real power now held among albanian populations in kosovo and macedonia is nationalist-terrorist-mafia power – so what motivation have any ‘moderate’ albanian politicians?

it's noteworthy that while the usa and eu have demanded albanian power – and power rather than minority rights, which they already possess – in macedonia, they refuse to consider any serious move towards minority rights for christian or gypsy minority groups in kosovo, where albanians constitute the majority, and where albanian rule has been severely condemned by a recent u.n. report. armed albanians want devolution in macedonia, but violently oppose it in kosovo, where this year large gangs launched a pogrom against serb and gypsy enclaves.

so why is the usa falling over itself to hand power to the very forces which are against multiculturalism, against brotherhood and unity, and for mono-ethnicity and separateness? why does it pander to an albanian culture of victimology and bloody narcissism? is it perhaps the typical american strategy of promoting fascist inclined, muslim clients at the expense of any state which might otherwise look to the ex soviet union for international guidance – a strategy that won america two huge military bases in kosovo and bosnia, and geographical control over future oil pipelines? or simply, like in cyprus, attempting to hand disproportiate powers to one ethnic group, stirring up future trouble, and allowing the usa to ‘put its hand in’, economically or politically, whenever it pleases? one thing for certain, macedonia, congratulated by bush for its troop contribution to iraq, will soon be a client, sweatshop and market of both nato and the (anglo-german) eu – and one effectively forbidden to tackle its own terrorist problems.

Why is Greece Stealing the Macedonian History?

Historian and Professor Eugene Borza who is credited as "Macedonian specialist" by the American Philological Association, and who have done extensive studies regarding the ethnicity of the ancient Macedonians, had also presented in-depth analysis on the modern Greek position which claims that the ancient Macedonians "were Greek". In his In the Shadow of Olympus (p.91-92) Borza writes:

"Thus, long before there was a sufficient ancient evidence to argue about the ethnic identity--as revealed by language--of the ancient Macedonians, there emerged a "Greek" position claiming that the Macedonian language was Greek, and that thus the inhabitants were Greek."

The modern Greeks have therefore, developed a position that the Macedonians were Greek, long before there was sufficient ancient evidence to argue about their ethnicity. Yet although modern historiography had long abandoned this prematurely established "Greek" position, modern Greeks are still its most zealous defenders despite the overwhelming evidence available today, which overwhelmingly shows that the Macedonians were not Greeks but a distinct nation. Borza continues:

"For example, recent work describes the funerary stelae found in the tumulus covering the royal tombs at Vergina. These stelae date from the fourth and early third centuries, and the preponderance of names are Greek… The excavator of Vergina, Manolis Andronikos, in a useful summary of the epigraphic evidence, writes: "In the most unambivalent way this evidence confirms the opinion of those historians who maintain that the Macedonians were a Greek tribe, like all the others who lived on Greek territory, and shows that the theory that they were of Illyrian or Thracian descent and were hellenized by Philip and Alexander rests on no objective criteria." Manolis Andronikos Vergina:The Royal Tombs, 83-85."

Here is Borza’s answer to the Greek archeologist Manolis Andronikos:

"This argument is true enough only as far as it goes. It neglects that the hellenization of the Macedonians might have occurred earlier then the age of Philip and Alexander, and can not therefore serve as a means of proving the Macedonians were a Greek tribe."

Indeed, not only Andronakis was obviously wrong to conclude that the Macedonians were Greek, but also notice how the Greek archeologist does not point that the Macedonians might have been a separate nation. Instead he prefers to call it if not Greek, either Illyrian or Thracian, two ancient nations that can not be associated with the Balkans politics surrounding Greece, resulted from the 1913 partition of Macedonia (see below). Also notice how Andronikos used the term "like all the others who lived on Greek territory". It’s like he wants to convince the reader that Macedonia has always been a "Greek territory", which is exactly what he uses as a base for his inaccurate conclusion.

Another Greek writer, Michael Sakellariou, in his Macedonia 4000 years of Greek History, 44-63 (quite questionable of accuracy title to begin with), "proves" that the "Macedonians were Greek" although he purposely avoided all evidence that does not suit such conclusion. Borza has a line for him as well:

"It is indicative of the strength of Badian’s case that his critics have succeeded only in nit-picking: e.g., Sakellariou, Macedonia, 534-35 nn. 52.53" (Borza, In the Shadow of Olympus p.96.)

Borza is talking about Ernst Badian from Harvard University who in his extensive research Greeks and Macedonians presented all evidence and soundly concluded that the Macedonians were distinct nation from the Greeks, which neither considered themselves to be Greeks nor were considered by the Greeks to be Greek. That is precisely what the Greek writer Sakellariou had completely and purposely avoided, and lacking any base for a well-balanced criticism, choused instead to nit-pick Badian's argument.

We can see a trend among the Greek scholars (Andronicos, Martis, Daskalakis, Kallaris, and Sakellariou) who desperately want to show the world that the Macedonians "were Greeks", though unsuccessfully. Martis' Falsification of Macedonian History was handed out to the foreign journalists in Greece and translated into many languages. Sakellariou’s Macedonia 4000 years of Greek History was even donated for free to the libraries throughout the United States. This exposes a well-developed propaganda strategy, to influence all those unaware that the "Macedonians were Greek." Yet the Greeks are showing the world that the "Macedonians were Greek" by avoiding all ancient and modern evidence that does not suit their purpose, and in that process they try to pass books so full of historical errors and distortions:

"The fullest statement of the "Greek" position, and also the most detailed study of the Macedonian language, is by Kallaris, Les anciens Macidoniens, esp. 2: 488-531, in which alleged Greek elements in the Macedonian language are examined exhaustively. A more chauvinistic (and less persuasive) point of view can be found in Daskalakis, Hellenism, esp. pts. 2. and 3. The most blatant account is that of Martis (The Falsification of Macedonian History). This book, written by a former Minister for Northern Greece, is an polemical anti-Yugoslav tract so full of historical errors and distortions that the prize awarded it by the Academy of Athens serves only to reduce confidence in the scientific judgment of that venerable society of scholars. The most sensible and scholarly Greek position is that laid out by Sakellariou, in Macedonia, 44-63. Lest it seem, however, that the "Greek" position is held only by modem Greeks" - (Borza, In the Shadow of Olympus p.91)

It is ironical that the book of the former Greek politician Nicolas Martis is named The Falsification of Macedonian History, when in fact he is the one who is falsifying the history of Macedonia with his historical errors and distortions. It is worrisome that the students of the countries who have nothing to do with the modern Greek politics, must be exposed to the Greek historical fabrications against one of the most dynamic powers of the ancient times - the Macedonians. But why is Greece doing this, what is behind it, why do they steal the history of the ancient Macedonians, and attempt to appropriate it as theirs?

The answer lays in the year of 1913 when Macedonia was partitioned after the Balkan wars and Greece swallowed the biggest part - 51%. There was nothing in Macedonia then that connected that land with Greece, apart from the small 10% Greek minority scattered in southern Macedonia among the overwhelming majority of Macedonians who lived throughout the country (for complete statistical evidence see the "Macedonian-Greek Conflict"). Since in 1913 it acquired foreign territory populated by non-Greeks, Greece had to provide a link that would justify its claim on that half of Macedonia. That is exactly why the Greeks claim that the ancient Macedonians "were Greek", so that if in ancient times there was a Greek tribe (Macedonians) living in Macedonia, then that land therefore is Greek (just like Andronikos points above). What is not disputable however, is that since 1913 till today, the modern Greek state continues to oppress the ethnic Macedonians who now find themselves living in Greece (see Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International evidenced in the "Macedonians in Greece"). The other northern part of Macedonia, today’s Republic of Macedonia, broke out of Yugoslavia and became independent in 1991. That brought addition fuel to the Greek nationalists who are afraid now that one part of the ethnic Macedonian nation is independent, the partition of 1913 can be seen as illegal, which could lead to eventual loss of their Greek Macedonian part and subsequent reunification of one Macedonia. That is exactly why they claim that there is no modern Macedonian nation, not in Greece not anywhere, and continue to deny the basic human rights of their Macedonian minority through politics filled with paranoia, politics which without the revision of the ancient history could not breathe.


1. Michael Sakellariou, Macedonia 4000 years of Greek History
2. Nikolaos Martis, The Falsification of Macedonian History Nicolaos Martis
3. Kallaris, Les anciens Macidoniens
4. Daskalakis, Hellenism
5. Manolis Andronikos, Vergina:The Royal Tombs
6. Eugene Borza, In the Shadow of Olympus