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American Chronicle 10/23/08

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The following letter was sent to the American Chronicle in response to the article
that follows.
Hellenic Electronic Center (HEC)

A Non-Profit Organization Registered in the US

with 37,000 Hellenes as members and 36 Hellenic

associations in the US and abroad

October 23, 2008

The following letter is in response to the theories put forward by Mr. Risto Stefov, who disseminates  his own ignorance as a matter of historical fact. First, with regard to his absurd allegations about the lack of Greek spoken during the period of the Greek War of Independence, Mr. Stefov should refer to the work entitled "The Great Church in Captivity" by the late acclaimed scholar Sir Steven Runciman whose research leaves no doubt as to the fact that the Greek language and Greek culture have always existed. The point of his book is not only to showcase the survival  of the Greek Orthodox Church under the Ottoman Empire, but to demonstrate the extent to which Hellenic consciousness never ceased to exist even during the centuries when Greek independence was nonexistant.
Mr. Stefov proceeds with his anti-Greek prejudice by seeming to deny that Greek was the language of the New Testament. As is well known by serious Biblical scholars, the New Testament was written in what is referred to as "Koine Greek". Therefore, the Greek language has long been in continuous use from the classical period and was the language of Alexander the Great. Mr. Stefov should refer to the work of the acclaimed New Testament scholar Raymond Brown in his book, "An introduction to the New Testament" which very clearly shows not only that the Greek language is the language of the Christian scriptures, but that Macedonia where Saint Paul preached Christianity was unquestionably Greek.
Mr. Stefov proceeds to attempt to define Greek civilization by containing it to the regions that were liberated from the Ottomans in 1821. In actual fact, Greeks lived and spoke their language in lands far outside the borders of present day Greece owing to the spread of Hellenic civilization by Alexander the Great and more closely in what was once Constantinople and Asia Minor in present day Turkey. Mr. Stefov should refer to the work of Professor Apostolos Vacalopoulos who has traced the history of Greek national consciousness and traditions in his book "Origin of the Greek nation". During the Byzantine era, when Constantinople was the capital of the Greek speaking world, Universities successfully preserved historical documents and manuscripts emanating from the classical past. (See the works "Scholars of Byzantium" by N.G Wilson and "Christianity and Classical Culture" by Jaroslav Pelikan.
Much of what is known about the Classical Greek past is known because Greek scholars who fled Constantinople in the years preceding the conquest brought with them to the West ancient manuscripts and other historical writings. Mr. Stefov claims he does not trust Greece's statistics, that is hardly an indictment of Greece coming from an individual aligned with a movement based on the falsification of the history of ancient Macedonia despite the overwhelming evidence of ancient Greek writings and inscriptions in the region, archeological evidence, and the fundamental fact that Slavs did not arrive in the Balkans until the sixth century.
Finally, pertaining to the Turkish ethnic cleansing and genocide of Greeks which resulted in the uprooting of Greeks from their ancestral lands in Asia Minor, Mr. Stefan attempts to deny the Hellenism of these Greek populations by asserting that the so called "exchanges" with the Turkish Kemalists were purely religious. Mr. Stefov should go back and find the Churches and Monasteries of Constantinople, Pontos, and Cappadocia and he will find the Greek writings on Church frescoes. During the years of the Ottoma Turkish captivity, there were numerous Greek folk songs, poems, and writings which survive to this day which affirm the continuous survival of the Greek language and Greek consciousness. Mr. Stefov should ask the descendents of the Asia Minor Greeks what their ancestry was before making bogus claims on the basis of his historically and intellectually bankrupt separatist political agenda.
Theodore G. Karakostas This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Member of HEC Executive Council


American Chronicle

Modern Greeks claim no Macedonians, Turks,Albanians or Vlachs live in Greecetoday

Risto Stefov

October 15, 2008

Modern Greek beliefs don´t include Macedonians, Albanians,Vlachs and Turks as part of Modern Greece

It is indeed a strange phenomenon for Greece to be the only homogeneous countryin an otherwise multi-ethnic heterogeneous Balkans! Is this true or has Greecedeveloped amnesia about its past?

Before we delve into the subject of 'a homogeneous Greece',let´s get a few things straight. What exactly is homogeneous? I mean in ademographic sense.

A country is demographically homogeneous when its entire population is of the same culture, speaks the same language, practices the same religion and sharessimilar customs and traditions.

Let us now take a trip down memory lane, back to a point just before Greece became a country for the first time in1829 and see if Greecewas homogeneous then.

If I am not mistaken, outside of some high ranking Christian Church clergy anda very small minority of Christian educated, middle class Ottoman families, noone spoke Greek before Greecewas a country. In fact, the language spoken by the above mentioned people thenwas not even called Greek. I am talking about the Koine language, the ancientlanguage of trade and commerce.

Koine, which has its roots in ancient Attica,was popularized by Alexander the Great when he made it his international languageof trade and commerce for his vast Macedonian Empire. Later Koine was adoptedand preserved by the Orthodox Church as the language of liturgy in some partsof the multi-ethnic Byzantine Empire. After the establishment of Ottoman rule in the Balkans it resurfaced and found itsway into the Ottoman administration, spoken by a rich multi-ethnic Christianeducated middle class people based in Istanbul,known as the Phanariots.

More recently the ancient international Koine was adopted by the Greek Stateas the official language of Greeceand was renamed 'Greek' or 'Dimotiki' as the Greeks like tocall it. Today´s so-called Greek language or 'Elinika' as the Greekscall it is nothing more than a bastardized version of ancient Koine.

So what language did the vast majority of the so-called 'Greekpeople' speak before 1821?

If history serves me right, in 1821, just before Greece was liberated, its peopledid not speak Greek. In 1829 when Greecebecame a state, for the first time, it was a small country covering the regionof Morea, modern day Peloponnesus (Greece proper). The majority ofpeople living in Morea at the time spoke Albanian, Turkish, Vlach and Slav.Athens itself, the cradle of the ancient civilization, was nothing more than anAlbanian village.

So if 'Greece proper' was not linguistically 'pure Greek'why would anyone expect Epirus, Thessaly, Thrace, or Macedonia, regions thatwere never Greek, to be linguistically 'pure Greek'?

The argument for 'a pure Greece' used by modern Greeks today is thateven though Greece was not pure at its inception, it was purified after thepopulation expulsions in 1913 and after the population exchanges with Turkey in the 1920´s.

If Greece was not 'pure Greek' why would it release statistics in1928 claiming 98% of its population to be 'pure Greeks' and 2% of itto be Muslim Greeks?

This is a strong argument if one trusts Greek statistics! Unfortunately Idon´t!

Many Greeks today believe that Greecewas purified after it expelled a large number of people in 1913 during thesecond Balkan War.

Many Greeks today also believe that the population imported from Asia Minor andother parts of Turkeywas 'pure Greek'.

The fact is the population expelled from Greece in 1913 was not expelledbecause of its ethnicity, but rather because those people refused to beassimilated into the Greek fold. They simply refused to become Greeks by force.

The population remaining in Greecewas labeled 'Greek' only because it agreed, mostly out of fear, topledge loyalty to the Greek State.

The population imported from Turkeyin the 1920´s was not imported because it identified with Greece. It wasimported because it was Christian. Christianity and Islam were the onlycriteria separating the so-called Greeks from Turks. The vast majority of theAsia Minor Christian settlers settled in Greek territories, culturally andlinguistically identified more with the Turks than they did with the Greeks.That however did not stop the Greek State from turning theminto Greeks.

So who were the original so-called 'pure Greeks'? Was it the Slavs ofMorea, the Albanians of Epirus, the Vlachs of Thessaly, the Turks of Thrace, orthe Macedonians of Macedonia?

You see I am having difficulty identifying these elusive 'pureGreeks'. If they were not Albanian, Vlach, Turk, or Macedonian who werethey? What criteria can we use to separate the 'pure Greeks' from theAlbanians, Vlachs, Turks and Macedonians living in the pre-Greek Ottoman territory of Modern Greece?

Obviously not language, since only a very small minority of the totalpopulation of Greecespoke Koine, which was later renamed Greek.

Religion? Greeceat one time used religion alone to distinguish Greeks from Turks.

Greece expelled Muslims to Turkey because they were thought to be Turks andimported Christians from Turkeybecause they were thought to be Greeks?

This criterion unfortunately is also flawed. If Orthodox Christians were Greekthen everyone in the Balkans who was Orthodox Christian qualified to be Greek!This included Bulgarians, Serbians, Albanians, Macedonians, Vlachs, Turks, etc.Are Bulgarians and Serbians Greek? They don´t think so!

Obviously religion alone was not a good criterion to separate Greeks from therest!

So back to the original question, 'who were the pure Greeks before1821?'

The ethnic composition of modern Greece today is made up ofassimilated Albanians (Arvanites), Vlachs (Vlahous), Turks (Turkous) andMacedonians (Makethones). There was no pre-19th century Greek ethnicity. TheGreek ethnicity was artificially created by some Phanariots with the assistanceof the Great Powers!

The Phanariots were a multi-ethnic group of Koine speaking Christians belongingto the rich and educated Ottoman middle class. They were the high rankingChurch clergy, the Ottoman bankers, the sea captains, the language interpretersand the traders who did business for the Ottoman Empireoutside of Ottoman territories.

When Greecebecame a nation for the first time in 1829, it faced an identity crisis becauseit could not cope with its multi-ethnic, multi-cultural demography. Greecestruggled for years to find an identity until one was created for it by itsBritish and French philhellene patrons.

After adopting ancient Koine as the language of its nation, Greecefabricated a mythical past with a lineage stretching back to the Ancient Greeksand initiated a denationalization and assimilation process. Through intensive,sometimes violent propaganda campaigns Greece began to assimilate thevarious ethnicities making Greeks out of Albanians, Vlachs, Slavs, Turks andlater out of Macedonians.

As I mentioned earlier, the various people Greece expelled from its newlyconquered territories were those who refused to be assimilated into the newGreek identity.

The majority of Muslims Greece evicted during the population exchange with Turkeywere ethnic Macedonians.

The people Greece importedfrom Asia Minor, Istanbul and other places in Turkey were notGreek, they were Turkish Christians. A large number were prominent businesspeople who owned various businesses and estates in Turkey. Unfortunately when theywere displaced they lost everything and became second class citizens in Greece. Eventhough Greecepromised them homes, after nearly eighty years, some still live in Governmentowned shacks and shantytowns. These people too were forcibly assimilated andmade into unwilling Greeks just like the rest of the indigenous ethnicitiesthat lived in the territory of where Greece is today.

So is Greece'truly pure and homogeneous' or has it developed amnesia about itspast? You decide!

Worse than pretending to be who they are not, modern Greeks are now interferingwith Macedonian affairs, telling the Macedonians they can´t be Macedonianbecause according to Greek logic Macedonians don´t exist! In reality however,it´s the Greeks who don´t exist, not the Macedonians!

Here is a question for our neo-Greek friends: Please tell me, ethnicallyspeaking, who are the 'Maniates', the most loyal of Greeks, where didthey come from and what language did they speak before they were made intoGreeks?

Hint: The Maniates are a tall blond people now living in the Peloponnesus.Before they were turned into Greeks they lived in Mani in the region known as the Morea. They were/are supposedly the most loyal and trusted of all Greeksbut in reality they are the purest of pure Slavs.

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