(Vilnius University and European Humanities University; vsotirovic@serbiancafe.com; vsotirovic@delijeonline.com)

“To talk of the pure origins…of any ethnie populating the Balkan Peninsula is neither justified nor serious nor scientific” (E. Ivanova, “’The Ethnic’ Conflict”, in Iztok-Iztok, № 2, 1991, p. 64)

This article has set itself the tasks to present historical development and current economic, cultural and political position in the Balkan societies of one specific ethnolinguistic group of the Orthodox religion ― the Vlachs1 ― which speaks some form of Romanian language and is called by their neighbors by different names Koutsovlahs,2 Aromanians, Armanians,3 Grammostens,4 Karakachans, Cincars,5 Arnauts, Uruks, Macedo-Romanians, Chobans,6 etc. This pastoral ethnolinguistic group is a good example of successful peaceful minority assimilation into the majority ethnic and linguistic groups. Traditionally they were nomadic cattle-breeders who were living in an extended family under a dominant headman, summering in the mountains and wintering in the plains. However, after 1918 an impact of the new economic forms created a significant shift from nomadic flocks to the area of farming. This process, nonetheless, became drastically changed after 1945 as a new economic system forbade possession of the big herds of sheep or horses in the post-war Balkan societies. Therefore, many Vlachs abandoned their nomadic style of life and settled themselves in the villages, or moved to the towns and cities, being gradually assimilated by the co-dwellers. During the last decades this process escalated by the mass migration of the young Vlachs into the growing industrial centers. This ethnolinguistic group is threatened by biological vanishing because of the negative birthrate7 and by assimilation. In some of Balkan states they are not recognized as a separate national minority and in the other regional societies the Vlachs willingly chose the national identity of the ethnolinguistic majority in order to legally improve their status within the local society. Their easier assimilation is due to the fact that this
Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović The Vlachs of the Balkans


extinguishing ethnolinguistig minority is dispersed throughout the region of the South East Europe8–from the Pindus Mt. in the south to the Transylvanian Alps in the north and from the Istrian Peninsula in the west to Dobruja (Dobrodgea) region in the east.

History and Language
The South Eastern Europe is relatively small region, which is populated by many of different peoples in the matter of culture, religion and language and is being in this point the unique part of European continent. There are members of the main churches of the Christianity, Islamic and Judaic denominations. The communities use different alphabets as the Latin, Cyrillic, Hebrew, Arabic and Greek. Outstandingly, in every regional state, there are more people who are speaking some of the European main languages than the language(s) of their neighbor(s).9 The majority of the regional peoples belong to the migrant tribes who came from the north between 6 th century (South Slav migration) and 9th century (Magyar settlement). From 14th century onward there was an influx of Turks and other Muslim pastoral tribes from Asia (who came with them) including and Gypsies who followed the Ottoman armies in their successful military campaigns in Asia Minor and South Eastern Europe. In the region, however, there are today three autochthonous (aboriginal) ethnicities who survived all of those invasions and number of migrations, preserving their language, customs and culture: the Vlachs (most probably descendents from the Thracians who have been living in the time of Antique in the eastern areas of the Balkans–from the Morava River to the Black Sea), the Greeks (who came in two migration waves– around 2000 and 1200 B.C.), and the Albanians (whose progenitors, as it is believed, are the ancient Illyrians who lived in the Western and Central Balkans). In the current ethnic situation of the Balkans there are three stateless ethnolinguistic groups: the Vlachs, the Gypsies and the Pomaks. Each of them has a longstanding experience of coexistence with the macro-communities. Among three of them, the Vlachs are the most vanishing one. This traditionally rustic people, who spoke a language, which is mostly closed to the modern Romanian, but not purely understandable by the speakers of standardized Romanian, are concentrated in mountainous terrains of Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Serbia and Bulgaria. The Vlachs undoubtedly belong to the ancient Balkan people who, because of different historical reasons (mostly migrations), are dispersed in the region creating non-territorially connected diaspora communities. The anthropological research upon the Vlach matters proves that they are one
Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović The Vlachs of the Balkans


of the earliest populations not only in the Balkans but in Europe too. Due to the lack of historical sources, there are several various theories upon the Vlach origin. The language of the Vlachs is one of the crucial points of the currently leading theory about their ethnolinguistic genesis: they descend from the cis-Danubian Thracians who have been relatives of the trans-Danubian Dacians. The same ethnolinguisic ancient community of Daco-Thracians became the progenitor of modern Romanians (on the north from Danube) and Vlachs (on the south from Danube) who are speaking similar languages. However, while the scholars agree that the Vlach language belongs to the Romance family of languages, they disagree upon more precise origin of the Vlachs. Some scholars are kin to conclude that the progenitors of the Vlachs are Roman colonists (soldiers, merchants, craftsman etc.), while the other group of researchers claim that the Vlachs are descendants of the Romanized autochthonous Balkan inhabitants who by intermarriages mixed with the Roman colonists. The Vlach self-notions in regard to their origin, based on earlier knowledge and folk interpretations of literary versions, are essentially different. Firstly, some of them think that the Vlachs/Aromanians came to the Balkans from Italian city of Rome. For this group of community members the Vlach language is Roman which is the same language spoken in Italy and France (with dialectical differences). However, other Vlachs believe that they belong to the indigenous Balkan population (they are not migrants to the region) and that their language is derived from ancient Illyrian-Thracian language with strong elements of the Latin. Nevertheless, Vlach folk mind preserved the notion that the Vlachs are people who live in diaspora, which started with the fall of the Roman Empire. According to the first hypothesis, the pivotal outcome of Vlach migration from Italy is that they adopted a nomadic pastoral style of live and economic activity of cattle-breeding.10 The new stage of Vlach diaspora started at the beginning of the 19th century with the declination of the Ottoman power in the South Eastern Europe. There are some scholars who believe that those Vlachs who today live on the southern flanks of the Danube (Northern Bulgaria, Eastern Serbia) came there in Ottoman time (particularly in the second half of the 18th century and first half of the next century) from the territories north from the Danube. The reason for their resettlement was three-fold: 1) the feudal tyranny and exploitation north from the Danube; 2) the conscription introduced in the Principality of Wallachia in 1831; and 3) the policy of Ottoman authorities, which encouraged Vlach settlement in depopulated agricultural areas after devastating AustrianOttoman wars. The Balkan Vlachs have historically been divided into two socioeconomic groups. First, majority of them were nomadic (transhumant)
Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović The Vlachs of the Balkans


sheep/horse-breeders who have been living in the countryside. The nomadic Vlachs, as a result of the nature of their profession, lived in isolation within their own community, subjugated to their traditional laws and speaking the mother language. They have been organized in special shepherd-transhumant clans, which were led by richest member who possessed the most authorities. He was at the same time a Vlach representative in community’s relations with the Ottoman authorities (especially in regard to the paying taxes) and with the local populace (in particular in regard to the trade business). The Vlach nomads did not belong to social class of the serfs since they were movable people: in summer time they lived in the mountains, but the wintertime they spent in lowland areas. The distance between the summer mountain pasture to the winter residence could be several hundred kms. 11 Second, minority dealt with trade, crafts or being employed in woodworking industry and innkeeping business and thus living in the urban environments. This socioeconomic group of Vlachs tended to obtain as better as education and knowledge of the local ethnic majority and foreign languages. Some of the Balkan macro-communities call the persons from the first group (pastoral Vlachs) as the Vlachs, while the members of the second group (urban Vlachs) are called as the Aromanians. However, the urban Vlachs accepted from the end of 19th century the ethnonym Armanians for their own self-identification due to the academic researches and studies upon the Vlach matters and Romanian propaganda concerning the ethnogenesis of Romanian nation and political unification of all “Romanians”.12 It is interesting that some of the urban Vlach communities call themselves as Cincars (Tsintsars) but they call Vlachshepherds as Vlachs. This distinction is of socioeconomic but not of ethnolinguistic nature. Today all Vlachs are members of the Eastern Orthodox Christian Church.13 Most probably, the Vlachs were formed as a distinctive ethnolinguistic group from the 14th to the 16th century. Their original homeland was the mountainous regions of the Northern Greece (Epirus and Thessaly), South West Macedonia, and South East Albania. 14 During the Ottoman rule over the region (till 1913) the Vlachs migrated from the Epirus, Pindus Mt. and Grammos Range to the north and the east. The reasons for their migrations have been of multiply economic nature: the need of new pastures, the increased number of livestock, the prosperous trade with Austria, the declining trade activities with Venice, the afforestation of the mountains (after 1918) that limited opportunities for free nomadic cattle-breeding, etc., but as well as of multiply political nature: the administrative disorder in the Ottoman Empire, the pressure by the Muslim Albanians, the autocratic rule of Ali-Pasha of Ioanina, a Romanian propaganda (after 1918) for the purpose to colonize the
Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović The Vlachs of the Balkans


Southern Dobruja, etc. The Vlach emigrants resettled themselves either in hilly areas of Bulgaria, Thrace, Macedonia 15 or found the new homeland in towns in Austria, Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria and Macedonia. Some of the urban Vlach residents became economically well-to-do citizens and even very wealthy entrepreneurs who played a significant role in municipal cultural and political life.16 As many of Vlach migrants who resettled in the towns and cities had a Greek education it became a base for potential conflicts with the local macro-community members, but in majority of cases the Vlach newcomers have been accepted by tolerance17 primarily because they shared a common (East Orthodox) denomination and similar customs with the old dwellers. The urban Vlachs became faster assimilated by the macro-community than those who continued nomadic lifestyle due to getting education in macro-community languages and mixed marriages. The mediaeval historical sources mention the Vlachs, but in two different respects: 1) from linguistic point of view as the Balkan neoLatin-speakers; and 2) from socio-professional point of view as nomadic (not sedentary) cattle-breeders. One province of the peninsula (Thessaly) was in the late Middle Ages known as Megalovlachia (Great Wallachia). Some of regional authorities (as Austrian and Venetian governments) accepted the leading mediaeval meaning of the term of the Vlachs that referred to all Balkan nomads irrespective of their ethnic identity. After the dissolution of Ottoman power in the Balkans (in 1913), when occurred a crucial change in the political map of the modern history of the Balkans as a result of the national liberation movements and national liberation wars, important changes took place in the life of the Vlachs since the free migration (for the purpose of finding pastures and do a seasonal work in the time of harvest) across the peninsula was now impossible because of the new state borders and cross-border restrictions. The physical obstacles posed by the new arrangement of the borders significantly restricted a free movement between seasonal pastures and extremely complicated administrative customs procedures. A limitation of the nomadic way of life showed the way to the sedentation and establishment of permanent places of residence. The purchase of pastures resulted in the establishment of permanent summer hut villages. A significant number of the Vlachs became urban settlers and automatically the structure of their livelihood was changed. Today there are urban Vlachs who are involved in medicine, architecture, engineering, etc. After 1913, but especially after 1918, the state policy of agricultural reform involved redistribution of pastures, meadows, forests, fields, which forced the Vlachs to reorient their economic activities. However, although the Vlachs bought the land they in many cases did not cultivate it, but leased it out.
Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović The Vlachs of the Balkans


The public stereotype of appreciating the ethnocultural characteristics of the Vlachs is ambivalent. On one hand, the urban Vlachs are labeled with quick wit, diligence, ingenuity, enterprise, kindness, persistence, willingness to learn foreign languages and to get as better as education, honesty, love for the family,18 hard-working, and as non-drinkers. Especially the Vlach women are well known as tidy persons and thus welcomed as potential spouses. However, the nomadic Vlachs, whom the local macro-ethnic populaces hardly knew, are on “badly reputation” as lewd, vulgar, Vlach woman are “loose” with a tendency to often divorce and remarry, wilder, pinchers, and as noneducated people. The process of speed modernization, which was associated with urbanization and industrialization after the Second World War, had a crucial impact on integration of the Vlachs into everyday life, customs and holidays of the macro-community(s). The Vlachs finally rejected the tradition of endogamy and consequently there were much more interethnically mixed marriages. But, on the other hand, urbanization, education and mixed marriages irreversibly accelerated the process of linguistic-cultural assimilation of the Vlachs.19 Sedentation and urbanization of the Vlachs unavoidably changed their traditional culture since they adopted the models of everyday life of the local populace from the new environment. As a nomadic community did not exist any more, the family became only reproducer of ethnocultural traditions of the Vlachs and the main preserver of the language. The change of life brought the Vlachs to the difficult situation since it caused danger to their very existence as a separate and distinctive ethnicity.

The Vlachs in Albania
Albania’s Vlach community is living in the southern part of the country, which has its historical name – the Northern Epirus. 20 They are dispersed from the city of Gjirokastër in the south to the city of Elbasan in the Central Albania. However, the largest Vlach concentration is in the areas of the cities of Gjirokastër, Korçë and Përmet in the most south part of Albania where they live together with the Orthodox Greeks, Albanians and Macedonians.21 The number of Albanian Vlachs is estimated from 35,000 to 100,000, but some researchers raise this figure to almost 200,000 (that is around 1–2,5% of the total Albania’s population). 22 The real figure of any minority in Albania is quite difficult to realize for the matter of unreliable census records and a very little information on ethnic minorities in this country. Additional difficulty in this matter is produced by the Greek officials who claimed that all Albania’s Orthodox Christians (approximately 400,000) are ethnic Greeks (this number includes all of
Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović The Vlachs of the Balkans


those who identify themselves as Albanians, Macedonians, Vlachs, Greeks etc. but they are of the Christian Orthodox religion).23 The territory of Albania, from the geographical point of view, was extremely proper for economic activities of the Vlachs in historical perspective and like for preservation of their culture, language and identity. As the pastoral people, who traditionally have been dealing exclusively with the cattle-breeding, the Vlachs from the early Middle Ages found the land of Albania, which is the totally mountainous, as one of the most profitable in the Balkans for their professional prosperity. Furthermore, the political and economic isolation of Albania from the rest of the world, which started in 1961 (with Albania’s breaking off relations with the Soviet Union) and ended in 1985 (with the death of Enver Hoxha), also greatly participated in protecting Vlach ethnolinguistic and cultural identity. Albanian Communist government of Enver Hoxha (born in 1908 in Gjirokastër, exactly in the southern part of Albania where the most Vlach concentration has been and died in 1985 in Tiranë; he ruled Albania from 1946 to 1954 as the prime minister and from 1954 to 1985 as the first secretary of the Communist Party of Albania),24 in difference to the Greek attitude towards the ethnolihguistic minorities in Greece, did not pursue such harsh policy of national homogenization. However, there were examples that Albanian authorities have been pressing the local minorities to accept the Albanian forms of names and surnames in the 1960s and 1970s.25 The provisions of Albanian Constitution of 1976 and the Criminal Code of 1977 directly affected the Vlach community (like many others) as any kind of private or public religious activity and propaganda have been strictly forbidden.26 This anti-religious campaign weakened the Vlach ethnic identity because the Orthodoxy was, alongside with the language, the main national identity of this minority community especially in such environment (as Albanian) where the majority of local population have been Muslims (i.e. not Christian Orthodox).27 Practically, it became forbidden to have either foreign or religious names. Albania’s authorities in 1975 carried out intensive campaigned of name-changes for all citizens who did not have an “appropriate” personal names/surnames (from ideological, political and moral standpoints and had the names with religious connotation), offering to them an official list of “proper” names, which they had to choose. 28 Nevertheless, many Vlach parents registered their children with Albanian names but at home they used the Vlach names. Furthermore, the government relocated unknown number of persons and even families to different regions of the country. Transferred Vlachs and Greeks from the southern Albanian districts were sent to the northern parts of Albania

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while ethnic Albanians, mainly Muslims, have been resettled in the southern districts. The politics of state persecution of religious celebrations weakened after the Hohxa’s death in 1985 and finally the Albanian parliament and government announced in May 1990 that expression of religion is free.29 It was followed in the next year by the internal liberalization of the country, total opening of the state borders (this policy started from 1987),30 an introduction of the multi-party system and better treatment of ethnolinguistic minorities. The end of Albania’s isolation fostered the emigration from the country of the thousands of Albanian citizens among them there were only in late 1990 and early 1991 approximately 10,000 those who emigrated to Greece.31 This number includes not only ethnic Greeks but certainly and Hellenized ethnic Vlachs. The changed policy towards ethnolinguistic and religious minorities in Albania after 1990 gave significant benefits to the Vlach community, which became constitutionally recognized as a separate national minority. However, this minority is still publicly considered primarily as a member of the vast Orthodox minority of non- Albanian language in the country, but not as a separate ethnolinguistic minority. Legally, Albania’s Vlachs obtained the right to education in their own mother tongue, but because of several political reasons this provision was still not realized in the practice. Two crucial political issues postponed the legal obligation of Albania’s authorities to introduce the Vlach (Aromanian) language instruction in the schools.32 Firstly, Albanian society was in 1997/1998 preoccupied with the issue of the inner social and political revolt that paralyzed any minority policy by the state. Secondly, from February 1998 to June 1999 Albania focused her attention mainly to the Kosovo crisis and the problem of Kosovar refuges. The first problem was solved due to the intervention of the UN peacekeeping troops who were located in certain parts of Albania in order to reintroduce the political, legal and social order. Romanian government conditioned participation of her military troops in the international operation of the peacekeeping order in Albania with their deployment only in the southern districts of the country where mostly concentrated Vlach minority lives. These two events surely delayed the implementation of the current legislation in Albania what concerns the protection of minority languages and ethnolinguistic minority identity. Nevertheless, the Council of Europe and OSCE are during the last two years pressing Albania’s government to implement this language legislation as one of the crucial preconditions for international financial support of Albania’s reforms and Albanian path to the European integration.33

The Vlachs in Bulgaria
Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović The Vlachs of the Balkans


Bulgarian case in regard to the problem of finding proper information about the real number of the Vlachs and position of Vlach society in this country is very similar to that of Albania. Bulgarian sources, either official or not, usually do not make any significant difference between the minority of standardized Romanian language (i.e. Romanians), who lives in the Northern Bulgaria bordered with Romania, and those who are speaking Vlach (Aromanian) language and live in Southern Bulgaria which is on the border with Greece and in northern portions of the country alongside the Danube: both of these different minority groups are in Bulgaria put to the same category of (Vlach) neoLatin speaking ethnolinguistic community.34 A great number of Vlachs of Bulgaria came to this country in two migration waves from Macedonia, Albania and Greece; firstly, in the late 18th century and early 19th century, and secondly, in the mid-19th century. In Bulgaria they became both urban settlers (in Sofia, Samokov, Sliven, Razlog, Nevrokop, Stara Zagora, Peshtera, Plovdiv, etc.) and nomadic shepherds (settled in Maleshevo, Belasica, Struma River, Mesta River, Pirin Mt., Rila Mt., Rhodopes Mt., Sredna Gora Mt., the Balkan Range, etc.). Urban residents of the Vlach self-identity dealt with trade, crafts and inn-keepings. The real number of Vlachs in Bulgaria varied in the 20th century mainly due to the practice of minority exchange between Bulgaria and her neighbors. The main population exchange occurred after the Second Balkan War (in 1913), the First World War (1919–1920) and the Second World War (1945–1946) when Bulgarian minorities of neo-Latin language (the Vlachs and Romanians) and Greek language have been exchanged with Bulgarian speakers in at that time Romanian (Southern) Dobruja and Greek (Western) Thrace.35 However, as well as unknown number of ethnic Vlachs have been replaced across the border under the name of either Romanians or Greeks who left Bulgaria and settled themselves in Romania, Greece respectively. The first Bulgaria’s census (in 1881) recorded circa 50,000 of those who declared themselves as Vlachs (what was 2,5% of total Bulgaria’s population). Half of them lived in the district of Vidin. According to Bulgaria’s census of 1891 there were 2,300 those who have been of Aromanian identity. However, it is believed by the scholars that at that time have been circa 5000 of them, while in the first decade of the next century Bulgaria had around 7000 Aromanians including and those who came to Bulgaria in summer time. 36 The census of 1910 showed 96,502 native Romanian speakers of whom there were 80,000 Romanians. The number of Aromanians/Vlachs among them is not known. It is estimated that after 1913 there were 16,000 Aromanians in Bulgaria. Census of
Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović The Vlachs of the Balkans


1926 recorded only 1,550 Vlachs and 10,648 Aromanians,37 out of 83,747 Romanian native speakers. According to the census of 1992, there were 5,159 citizens of Vlach minority group, but also 6,715 those whose mother tongue was Vlach/Aromanian out of 8,487,317 Bulgaria’s citizens.38 The difference in number of Vlach spoken language and Vlach ethnicity is 1,556; i.e. there are 1,556 citizens in Bulgaria who declared in 1992 that their mother tongue was Vlach, but their official national feeling was different that of Vlach one. In addition, it is believed that in the main Bulgarian mountain range (Balkan Mt.) there are several thousands of Vlachs who are not counted in the census. Present-day Bulgarian (Southern) Dobruja is one of Vlach populated regions in the country. The Vlachs came to live to this province during Romanian administration over the region (1913–1940) from different parts of the Balkan Peninsula, but primarily from Bulgaria and Macedonia. After the Bulgarian-Romanian Treaty of Craiova of September 7th, 1940, when the Southern Dobruja was returned back to Bulgaria from Romania, significant number of Vlachs from this region migrated to Romania.39 The Vlachs in present-day Bulgarian part of Dobruja number a few hundred of people. The littoral of Varna area on the Black Sea is another one historically important part of Northern Bulgaria with Vlach inhabitants. In the time of the People’s Republic of Bulgaria the Vlachs did not have the basic minority rights in the fields of politics and culture mainly due to Todor Zhivkov’s policy of assimilation of ethnolinguistic minorities, which reached its climax from 1984 to 1989 with forced assimilation of ethnic Turks and especially in summer of 1989 when 300,000 of Bulgaria’s Turks and other Muslims emigrated to Turkey (majority of them later returned back to Bulgaria).40 This policy of forced assimilation (which includes name changes and conversion) 41 was primarily focused on Bulgaria’s ethnic Turks and to the lesser extent on Pomaks (ethnolinguistic Bulgarians of Islamic faith), but certainly it affected and the official “Vlachs” minority group (both Romanians and Aromanians). Certainly, the Vlachs, as other Bulgaria’s minorities (except the Jews and Armenians), were under the pressure of assimilation through the Bulgarization. At that time it seemed that the Vlach language would die out. It was true and about the language of Karakachans (Sarakatsans in Greece) who are like the Vlachs transhumant nomadic shepherds living in mountainous areas of Bulgaria. However, for the reason that Karakachans have many common customs and traditions with the Vlachs these two in essence different ethnolinguistic groups are usually wrongly treated as one (i.e. the Vlach group).42 In post-communist Bulgaria discrimination in access to education for all citizens, including and minorities, is legally prohibited, 43 but in
Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović The Vlachs of the Balkans


practice “successful application of these and related laws is extremely rare” (Monitoring the EU Accession Process: Minority Protection 2001, Open Society Institute, Budapest, 2001). However, Bulgaria, as an EU candidate state, is obliged to practically apply all of those instruments that Bulgarian authorities signed and ratified which anticipate the ethnolinguistic protection of the local minorities including and those of Vlach origin: for example, Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (signed on October 9th, 1997; ratified on May 7th, 1999); European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (signed on November 9th, 2000; still not ratified); European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (signed on May 7th, 1992; ratified on September 7th, 1992); etc. As a result of new (democratic) orientation of Bulgarian minority policy after 1989, two neo-Latin speaking groups (Aromanians and Romanians) who composed one legal minority group in Bulgaria (the Vlachs) became more active in establishing their own cultural (but still not political) organizations. The border between Bulgaria and Romania became more open what resulted in quite regular traveling to Romania of Bulgaria’s Vlachs. It is important to notice that the Vlachs who live in the Northern Bulgaria (closer to Rumania) 44 are in better position, in regard to preservation of their linguistic and cultural features, in comparison with those who live either in the Balkan Mt. (in the Central Bulgaria) or in the southern portions of the country (in the Struma valley area) for the very reason that the Vlachs from the areas of Danube River can receive a regular signal transmitted from Romanian national TV and listen Romanian radio broadcasting. However, the main demand of Bulgaria’s Aromanian and Romanian minority groups is to obtain legal and practical rights to use their own language(s) when they have to communicate with the local authorities. Finally, the Bulgarian Vlachs are traditionally trying to preserve their ethnic features by self-created notion that they “are more devout Orthodox Christians than the Bulgarians.”45 One of the main obstacles for preservation of the minority identities in Bulgaria (but not only in this country within Europe) is the current Bulgarian constitutional reality which does not support (allow) the foundation and existence of any political party based (by name or program) on either ethnic, racial or religious ground.46 Certainly, such constitutional provision imposes significant constraints for protection of specific rights of minorities, while; on the other hand, this judicial argumentation is based on avoiding inter-ethnic conflicts, and guaranteeing the participation of all citizens in political life. 47 Consequently, today there is no Vlach political party in Bulgaria, but only cultural-educational Association of Vlachs in Bulgaria (registered in 1992) with the main task to slow down Vlach assimilation by promotion
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of Vlach ethnocultural characteristics. For that purpose the association requires that four-year Romanian-language school (with courses offered in Vlach/Aromanian as well) will be opened in Bulgaria’s capital. The association prints a newspaper – Timpul. One of the main achievements of the association is publishing Aromano-Bulgarian Dictionary and Aromanian textbook. History of Aromanians in Bulgaria is to be published as well.

The Vlachs in Greece
Many researchers and scholars judge that the largest parts of the Balkan Vlachs are concentrated in Greece. The census of 1935 recorded 19,703 Vlachs in Greece, but according to the last census in Greece that allowed people to express their ethnic identity (in 1951), there were 39,855 Vlachs in this state.48 However, the real number of Vlachs in Greece today is up to 120,000.49 The Vlachs in post-war Greece are not acknowledged as an ethnic or national group for the very reason that Greece from the mid-1950s does not recognize an existence of any national or cultural minority on its own territory. The religious minorities are only allowed. 50 The Vlach ethnocultural self-identity became extremely disreputable as a result of Greek course of action of ethnic homogenization in the form of Hellenization of all Greece’s Eastern Orthodox inhabitants. Consequently, a great portion of the Greek Vlachs is Hellenophile. 51 The part of the policy of ethnic homogenization was a practice to rename ethnic minorities in order to make as bigger as gap between them and their home countries in the Balkans. Therefore, the Greek Vlachs have been renamed to the Vlach-speaking Greeks (similar to the Slavic Macedonians who were officially considered as Slavophone Greeks). In general, cultural and travel relations between the Greek and other regional Vlachs are limited by the government as well as connections with Romanian cultural and educational institutions. Probably the pivotal reason why the Greek authorities are not willing to open Vlach-language schools and to allow the church service in Vlach language is a unpleasant experience with the same matter from the turn of the last century when a significant part of Vlach community in Greece, following Romanian propaganda and political support, fought for Romanian-language schools and churches to be opened in the Kingdom of Greece. Although this requirement was rejected, the Greeks understood any further similar Vlach or Romanian action as interference into domestic affaires and as politically incorrect steps. Nevertheless, one significant number of Vlachs left Greece and migrated to Romania as a

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reaction to the Greek unwillingness to promote protection of the Vlach ethnocultural identity.52 During the struggle over geographical Macedonia at the turn of the th 20 century the local Vlachs were totally defenseless from military actions by Serb, Greek and Bulgarian paramilitary and volunteer detachments. There were cases that Vlach civilians have been tortured and executed by Greek, Serb and Bulgarian nationalists. After 1919 Romanian and Greek governments signed a bilateral treaty (in force till 1941) about protection of the Vlachs in Greece under which Romanianlanguage schools have been opened. Romanian sponsorship over Vlach minority in Greece climaxed in the interwar period and resulted in revival of the Vlach nationalism. From this period exists an idea to establish Aromanian Orthodox Church in Greece; the idea, which never was realized since it has been sharply opposed by both the Greek government and the Ecumenical (Greek) Patriarchate. Nevertheless, the socialist government of Romania after 1945 gave up the policy of financing Romanian-language schools and churches in Greece. Within the whole peninsula the Vlachs are mostly concentrated exactly in and around the Greek mountain of Pindus where unofficial capital of all Greek Vlachs is known to be the town of Aminciu or Metsovan. Those Vlachs from Pindus area are still today nomadic shepherds, but other group of the Vlachs in Greece is urban settlers who are employed in medicine, free services, law, taxi driving, etc. The Greek Vlachs during the time of the Ottoman Empire dealt with shepherding, transportation of the goods by caravans and usually had a dominance in overland trade within the present-day territory of Greece, while the Greeks had a primate in oversee trade business. The Vlach language, likewise any other minority language, is excluded from public use in Greece. Some Vlachs have been endangered by imprisonment for the speaking the mother tongue on the streets. The Vlach, Macedonian, Turk and other emigrants from Greece reported that they have been persecuted in the Greek army for the reason that they used their own mother tongue. The general public opinion of the Greek majority is that using minority languages is a proof that those speakers are culturally and intellectually backward in comparison with the Greekspeakers who use one of the oldest world languages in which the basic philosophical, literal and scientific works of the modern European and Western civilization have been written. An additional problem in regard to the negative attitude toward the Vlach language is that it is not standardized language and therefore is considered as the vernacular of less cultural and civilized populace. In many cases the macro-community in Greece considers the Vlach micro-community as composed by notworking-loving and irresponsible members.
Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović The Vlachs of the Balkans


From the matter of comparison, there was a significant difference between the minority position in Greece and former communist regional states before and after 1989. To be more precise, the minority and human rights in Greece till the end of the Cold War have been higher rated then those in Bulgaria, Romania and Albania. However, Greece did not succeed to mach the highest regional level of minority rights that was established in ex-Yugoslavia. However, after the political changes in the region in 1989 and 1990 the level of minority protection in Greece became lower in comparison with Romania, Albania and Bulgaria. During the last decade there are many complaints to the Greek minority policy expressed in the European Parliament, Council of Europe and OSCE, but as well by human rights NGOs. Greece is portrayed as a country where the minorities are exposed to the assimilation without enjoying some basic minority rights that are guaranteed by international community and especially by the European Union whose member is Greece from 1981.53 Nevertheless, the treatment of the Vlach-speaking Greeks (as the Eastern Orthodox community) is better than of those minorities who are not of the same denomination as Greeks are. Position of the Vlachs became after 1981 improved in comparison with Slavo-Macedonian community for the very reason that government in Athens estimated that the Vlachs are not dangerous minority for Greek territorial integrity. Additionally, after Macedonian independence was proclaimed in 1991 the Greek Macedonians are seen as serious potential separatists. Consequently, there were established several Vlach cultural societies in Greece from the mid-1980s as “Panhellenic Vlach Cultural Society” and “Panhellenic Union of Vlach Cultural Associations”. The first Vlach cultural magazine in Greece (“Aromanian Chronicle”) started to be printed from 1994, but in the Greek language. Another neo-Latin community in Greece, which is often considered as closely related to the Vlachs, is Megleno-Romanians who undoubtedly speaks a form of modern Romanian language. The linguistic difference between the Vlachs (or Aromanians) and Megleno-Romanians in Greece is only in the fact that the language of the latter is closer to the presentday standardized Romanian. The Meglens of Greece are living in the northern part of the country nearby the border with FYR Macedonia and numbering circa 15,000 people. However, there are and Meglen settlements in the Southern Macedonia as well; thus the MeglenoRomanians experienced the same political destiny as other groups of Vlach because they are divided by the borders of enlarged Christian Balkan states at the beginning of the last century. Many Meglens who live in Greece accepted the Greek national identity, but those who live in Macedonia in many cases declare themselves as the Macedonians. This double identity is a result of the community strategy to accept in civic
Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović The Vlachs of the Balkans


point of view one identity (of macro-community), but in national (cultural-linguistic) point to have another one (of their own microcommunity). Certainly, such strategy brings a variety of practical benefits.

The Vlachs in Macedonia
The territory of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM; independent from 1991) does not include the whole geo-historical area of Macedonia (FYROM includes 25,441 sq. kms. out of 67,741 sq. kms. covered by historical-geographical Macedonia). The total territory of Macedonia is stretching from the Shara Mt. and Skopska Crna Gora in the north to the Olympus Mt. and the northern range of the Pindus Mt. in the south and from Ochrid Lake and Prespa Lake in the west to the Rhodope Mt. in the east.54 The Vlach population of Yugoslav Macedonia, according to census of 1981, was 6,384 or 0,3% out of the total number that was 1,909,146 (of whom the majority have been the Slavo-Macedonians–1,279,323). The Vlachs are within Southern Balkans spread from the Western Macedonia to Thessaly and Epirus and half of them are living within the borders of geo-historical Macedonia. The official number of Vlachs in FYROM increased according to the census of 1991: there were 7,764 recorded Vlachs out of 2,033,964 Macedonia’s inhabitants. Today the Vlachs are fifth ethnic group in Macedonia according to their number (after Slavo-Macedonians, Albanians, Turks and Gypsies) and compose 0,38% of total population of FYROM. In the post-war Macedonia the biggest number of Vlachs are recorded in the year of 1948 when there were 9,511 Vlachs (0.8%), but the next three censuses (1953, 1961, 1971) did not mention Vlachs.55 Vlach community in post-war Macedonia was mainly concentrated around the settlements of Bitola (Monastir), Resen and Krushevo (all of them are located in the Western Macedonia). In this period the Vlach societies in Skopje and Bitola were most active and they fought for Vlach language rights in the schools and for opening Vlach churches in Macedonia. One of the biggest problems met the Vlachs in the Socialist Macedonia was the Yugoslav legislation that (in 1948) forbade private ownership of big amount of sheep or horses. It resulted in the practice that important number of Macedonian Vlachs abandoned nomadic shepherd style of life and became sedentary people. Probably, the crucial feature of the current position of the Vlachs in this Balkan independent state in comparison to the other regional countries is that Macedonia’s Vlachs enjoy a higher level of legal rights and practical implementation of them: they are unambiguously
Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović The Vlachs of the Balkans


recognized as a separate ethnolingustic minority community in the Constitution (adopted on November 17th, 1991); the same Constitution allowed the Vlachs, like other minorities, to obtain education in the mother tongue; the Vlach political representatives are the members of the Macedonian People’s Assembly (Собрание) in Skopje. Markedly, the Macedonia’s Constitution is the only in the region which explicitly mentions the existence of Vlach minority. The implementation of constitutional protective measures of Vlach minority identity in Macedonia is seen through the fact that Macedonian state TV and radio programs are devoted to the Vlachs for several hours every day. Namely, the second national TV channel and radio, which are devoted to the minority groups, are broadcasting programs of different cultural subjects in Vlach language with very often diffusion of the songs in Vlach language from various Balkan areas. It is recognized by the international community that the position of ethnic minorities in FYROM in general point of view is improved in recent times. However, the main pressures from both the international human and minority rights and local minority representatives on the Macedonian government still are concerned upon the execution of constitutional paragraphs on minority language education. It is true that by now there is no Vlach language school in Macedonia, likewise in Albanian or Turkish language. The reluctance of Macedonian government to open minority language schools is first and foremost based on fear that the Kosovo scenario of minority territorial separation (on the first place of Albanians) would be inspired by giving the full rights to the ethnolinguistic minorities. The example of Kosovo Albanians, who had a maximum of educational and minority rights in the former Yugoslavia, but did not give up an idea of separate Kosovo Republic, warned Macedonian government to slow down the process of establishment of minority schools for a wile especially after the terrorist actions by Albanian extremists in Western Macedonia in 2001. Nevertheless, the minority representatives, including and those of Vlach ethnolinguistic community, are constantly urging Macedonian government to start the course of action in regard to opening the minority-language school education. The local Vlachs are permanently referring to the former time when this community enjoyed this privilege with financial assistance provided by the Romanian government. Romanian government, regardless that it did not have a common border with Macedonia, made claims upon the Macedonian Vlachs and established over 30 Romanian language schools on the territory of Ottoman Macedonia at the turn of the 20 th century out of total number of 100 such schools established and financed by Romanian government in the Balkan areas settled by the Vlachs. 56 This practice was significantly
Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović The Vlachs of the Balkans


reduced in 1912 with the outbreak of the First Balkan War. However, in inter-war period Romanian government focused its financial and political schooling support to the Romanian-language schools in Bulgaria, especially to the Vlach populated areas of the Vidin district in the Northern Bulgaria, but in Sofia (where it was opened in 1924 a secondary school which was transformed in 1934 into a high school) and other Bulgaria’s regions as well. After the peace treaty of 1919 with Bulgaria the Romanian embassy in Sofia assumed the main charge of the Romanian-language schools and Vlach cultural associations in Bulgaria. The climax of Romanian influence on Bulgarian Vlachs was reached when a “Romanian Institute” was active in Sofia in 1930s, which was the main center in the whole Balkans of propagation of Romanian language, education and culture among the Vlachs, but as well and a center for promulgation of the idea of pan-Romanian political unification and a cementation of the spiritual bonds with Romania (considered as a motherland of all neo-Latin speakers in the South East Europe). For the last purpose it was also established in Bulgaria and a “Romanian Church”.57 Romanian government continued to finance Romanian-language schools and churches in Greece after 1919, which have been devoted to the Vlachs (according to the Romanian-Greek agreement) but stopped this practice definitely after 1945. After the collapse of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia Romanian government increased its influence once again in the area of Macedonia using the Vlach question as a pretext: in 1991 Romanian foreign ministry stipulated the recognition of Macedonian independence with Skopje’s giving a high level of rights to the Vlach minority. From that time up to day Romanian government uses periodically the rostrum of the Council of Europe to express its interest in protection of Vlach minority rights in FYROM. The high concern on the Vlach issue in Macedonia by Romania could be seen and from the fact that this minority group in Macedonia is usually called by Romanian officials and intellectuals as the Macedo-Romanian. This is because of the two reasons: 1) Romanians consider all neo-Latin Balkan speakers as ethnic Romanian co-nationals; and 2) many of Macedonian Vlachs emigrated at the turn of the 20 th century to Romania in order to escape a bloody struggle over the province by the neighbors.58 In the inter war period some researchers recorded circa 4,000 Vlachs in the Bitola area, 3,000 in Skopje and 1,500 in the town of Krushevo that was populated by Vlach majority.59 Additional difficulty for the Macedonian authorities to deal most effectively with the Vlachs is the attitude towards this ethnic group posed by Greek officials who interfere in Macedonian domestic affairs concerning the minority issue. The Athens claims that all Macedonia’s
Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović The Vlachs of the Balkans


Eastern Orthodox minorities (which include and Vlachs) are of Greek ethnic origin and consequently had to be protected by the Greek government. Undoubtedly, there are many regional Vlachs who obtained education in Greek language and schools and accordingly became Hellenized in the matter of cultural and even ethnic feeling. It inescapably produced in the whole 20th century certain level of tensions between those who fought for Macedonian national idea and those who became champions of “Megali Idea” (recreation of united Greek national state, i.e. some form of the former Orthodox Byzantine Empire).60 Finally, it should be considered the verity that among all scattered Vlach communities in the region (from the 2,000 of Istro-Romanians in the north-west of the peninsula to the several tens of thousand of the Vlachs in Thessaly and Epirus in the south-eastern parts of the Balkans) the Macedonian Vlachs have the best chances to preserve their ethnocultural characteristics due to the favorable legislation and practice in protection of their identity.

The Vlachs in Romania
The territory of Romania is considered by significant number of Balkan Vlachs as their motherland (because it is the only state of neoLatin speakers in South Eastern Europe) or the national state of Vlachs regardless on awareness that they are not originating from Romania. Outstandingly, the Romanian intellectuals (especially the linguists) and politicians expressed during the last century and a half a high level of attention to all neo-Latin speaking groups in the South Eastern Europe claiming that all of them belongs to the Romanian nationality. Accordingly, the leading theory about ethnogenesis of Romanian (i.e., neo-Latin speakers) in the region is framed as in the next paragraph. Romanians are descendents from old Thracians who inhabited a vast portion of the Central and South Eastern Europe in the pre-classical age (from Poland to Greece). The language of ancient Thracians was of the same kind as ancient Baltic, Slavic, Iranian and was a part of the language group that is known for the linguists as satem. During the Roman period the Thracians within the South Eastern Europe lived on the territory of present-day Romania, Moldova, Eastern Serbia and Bulgaria. The Greco-Roman geographers and historians named the Thracian tribes who lived between the Carpathians, the Balkan Range and the Black Sea as the Dacians or Getae. These ancient Geto-Dacians, who had their settlements on the both banks of the Danube, were the ethnic base for the formation of the present-day neo-Latin speakers in this part of Europe who call themselves as Romanians or Aromanians (Vlachs). In any case, the Latinity became the main feature of Romanian nationality and it
Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović The Vlachs of the Balkans


resulted from the process of Romanization. As the language is the essential aspect to define an ethnic identity and since the old Latin language creates the core of modern Romanian language it is understandable why Romanians call themselves by this ethnonym. Finally, there is a long tradition that the Romanian people considered the ethnonyms Vlach and Romanian as the synonyms: for instance the representatives of Transylvanian Romanians sent to the Habsburg emperor Leopold II (1790–1792) in March 1791 and in March 1792 the written requirements upon the political status of Romanians in Transylvania under the title Supplex Libellus Valachorum. The territory of present-day Romania had a great attraction for Vlach migrants from the Balkans in the Middle and New Ages since the two semi-independent principalities of Romanian-speakers existed: Wallacia and Moldavia. Both of them have been considered as the countries with flourishing economic activities and unwavering central authorities. One of the crucial national-political institutions that played a decisive role in Vlach migration from the Balkan Peninsula to the independent state of Romania (which was made by unification of Wallachia and Moldavia in 1859 and internationally recognized as independent in 1878) was the “Macedo-Romanian Committee”. It was established in the early 1860s in Bucharest, financed by Romanian government, with the prime political goal to work on national renaissance of “Romanian language speakers” for the unification with their “motherland”. The most remarkable success of the committee was opening of circa 100 Romanian schools within the Ottoman Empire and attraction of the Vlachs to migrate to Romania, particularly to the region of Dobruja. For instance, Romanian authorities granted privileges to all Vlachs from the Balkans in 1925 to resettle in the province of Dobruja where the Romanians composed less then a half of all inhabitants. However, the local population in this province, either of Romanian origin or not, expressed a certain level of antagonism toward the new (Vlach) colonists that compelled many of them to migrate to other parts of Romania. Today, Romania’s Vlachs make a community of some 50,000 to 70,000 people, but majority of them accepted Romanian national identity although with a sense of having a distinctive vernacular in comparison with the literal Romanian language. The Romanians regard their language customarily as a (not standardized) dialect of the Romanian. The Vlachs as a population are considered as a cultural minority of Romanian kinship. Romanian Vlachs are in comparison with all other Vlach communities in the region mostly exposed to the assimilation due to the linguistic similarities with members from the macro-community.

Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović

The Vlachs of the Balkans


The Vlachs in Serbia
Within the whole territory of the former Yugoslavia the Vlachs have been most numerous in Serbia. In the Cold War period the Yugoslavia’s Vlach enjoyed the highest level of minority protection in comparison with other states in the South Eastern Europe. Nevertheless, some of Vlach representatives complained at the end of existence of ex-Yugoslavia for of the lack of language and religious rights for this community especially in Socialist Republic of Macedonia. The ex-Yugoslav authorities developed the so-called “three-tier system” of ethnonational rights according to which all ethnonational groups have been classified into three levels of rights: a) the nations of Yugoslavia (Slovenes, Croats, Serbs, Muslims, Montenegrins and Macedonians); b) the nationalities of Yugoslavia (Slovaks, Turks, Czechs, Italians, Romanians, Gypsies, Ruthenians, Hungarians and Albanians); and c) the ethnic groups of Yugoslavia (like Austrians, Greeks, Jews, Vlachs, Ukrainians, Russians, Poles etc.). Officially, the minority status was not recognized and all citizens of Yugoslavia had been equal in terms of culture, language and political rights. However, some, practically minorities, enjoyed the right to have a territorial and administrative autonomy (Albanians and Hungarians), while others did not. The majority of Serbia’s Vlachs live in the easternmost part of the country around the river of Timok (the so-called “Timok Vlachs”). 61 According to some scholars, majority of them have been resettled from Principality of Wallachia, Transylvania and Banat to this area (Тимочка Крајина) by the Ottoman authorities in order to repopulate the region. The majority of inhabitants of the lands along the Danube of this portion of Serbia, which is on the border with Bulgaria and Romania, are Vlachs: 151 settlements are purely Vlach; while in 42 settlements they mixed with Serbs and Bulgarians. The Romanian authorities claimed that in the interwar period there were approximately 120,000 “Romanians” (Vlachs of neo-Latin language) in the Bulgarian part of Timok valley, which separates Serbia from Bulgaria.62 According to official Serbia’s statistical data, at the end of the 20th century (1981) there were 135,000 speakers of Vlach language, but only 32,000 of them declared themselves to be of Vlach ethnicity. The rest of Vlach speakers identified themselves as Serbs. 63 The Serbian authorities called them as Serbs of Vlach language. However, some researches increase the number of Serbia’s Vlachs to 200,000. Many of Timok Vlachs, who came to the area from Banat, and Transylvania, called themselves, and are known by the local populace, as the Ungurens (i.e., the Hungarians) since they migrated from historical lands of Kingdom of Hungary. However, those Vlachs who migrated from Principality of
Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović The Vlachs of the Balkans


Wallachia (which had an ancient name of Tara Romaneasca) are known as the Tarans. The latter are living as well in the Vidin area of northwestern Bulgaria. During the Ottoman rule the Vlachs from Timok area (in Serbia) and Vidin district (in Bulgaria) maintained intensive relations and were considered as a single compact group of Vlachs. The establishment of new political borders in the area (firstly between Serbia and Turkey in 1830/1833 and later between Serbia and Bulgaria in 1878), which followed the process of liberation of Serbs and Bulgarians from the Ottoman mastery, separated the Timok Vlachs from those who lived in the vicinity of Vidin. Consequently, many of Vidin Vlachs accepted either as first or second ethnic identity to be Bulgarians,64 while majority of Timok Vlachs identified themselves as Serbs (but of Vlach language). It is very often that Timok Vlachs would listen and perform Serbian folk songs and respect Serbian national customs and culture. The Serbia’s Vlachs have been quite positively considered and high rated by the Bulgarian Vlachs in the time of Socialist Yugoslavia due to their economic prosperity, right to free express their ethnic self-nomination and greater individual freedoms. The census of 1981 showed that the Vlach ethnicity was not understood as very deep identity, at least not enough rooted in order to survive on the political scene, but it is perceived as a strategic choice (for practical reasons) of majority of the community, who have been chosen to belong to another identity group (but preserving the mother tongue) in order to obtain more privileges and better position within the society. 65 From this example is clearly seen that for some Vlach communities the ethnic group66 and linguistic group can be differentiated from each other. From Vlach perspective, to be at the same time ethnic Serb (or Bulgarian as it is aforementioned) and linguistic Vlach does not affect the Vlach self-identity, but for sure it finally leads to the Vlach silent assimilation.67 Finally, it should be said that Vlachs participated in the process of ethnogenesis of the Serbs in the point that certain percentage of the Vlachs who lived in the Middle Ages in the Kingdom (Empire from 1346 to 1371) of Serbia and later in the Ottoman times within the borders of jurisdiction of revived Serbian Patriarchate of Peć (1557–1766) became included in the process of Serbization of not originally Eastern Orthodox Serbs. Consequently, it is extremely difficult to define the balance of ethnic Serbs and those Vlachs who accepted Serb national feeling within the population of Eastern Orthodox believers who emigrated from Ottoman provinces of Montenegro, Serbia, Herzegovina and Bosnia and resettled themselves on the territory of former Habsburg Monarchy and Venice (present-day territory of Republic of Croatia). In the other words, Venetian and Austrian provincial and central authorities very often mentioned in the sources and official documents these migrants as the
Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović The Vlachs of the Balkans


Vlachs (in Austrian case) or the Morlacchi (by the Venetians). However, in the same sources these Vlachs or Morlacchi are recognized to be of Serb customs and language.68 Historical presence of the Vlach population on the territory of Serbia is preserved in the names of the rivers, villages, mountains etc. For instance, at the end of the 19th century there were 25 villages in Serbia with the name derived from the Vlach ethnonym. At the same period of time Vlachs have been the biggest minority in Serbia with 7,47% of the total Serbia’s inhabitants living between the rivers of Grand Morava, Danube and Timok. Majority of them originated from the migrants from the north of Danube.69

The status of Vlach minority in the South Eastern Europe is characterized with a shortage of authoritative resources, cultural, linguistic and political subordination to the ethnolinguistic majority environment, social, economic, and territorial (administrative) marginalization and finally with a long-standing process of tranquil assimilation especially by the Orthodox majority(s) due to the long-term cohabitation and familiarization. Ferdinand Toennies, a primordialist theoretician of phenomena of ethnicity, divides modern ethnonational groups, according to their selfidentity criteria, into community of blood, community of place and community of spirit (F. Toennies, “Community and Association”, in Sotsiologicheski Problemi, № 4. p. 103). However, Vlach self-identity apprehension does not fit to these three patterns. The Vlach pattern of self-identity could be called as community of language. For them, their language became the last stronghold of the ethnic spirit and a shield of their group self-identity. Therefore, the preservation of Vlachs of the Balkans, as a separate ethnolinguistic minority in several regional states, primarily depends on successful self-saving and maintenance of the Vlach language. However, the attempts to preserve the Vlach language and culture could not be fruitful without improved legal provisions and real practical help by the governments of the Balkan states. In this study we considered the Vlach minority in cultural terms, i.e. as ethnolinguistic minority group in different Balkan countries, rather than religious, or other one. The reasons for that are two-hold: firstly, the Vlachs are identifying themselves in cultural terms (primarily by the mother language as a vital minority cultural identity issue and crucial “distinct character”), and secondly, they in recent times claim special collective cultural rights within the regional societies in order to preserve their collective cultural identity and authenticity as a specific way of life
Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović The Vlachs of the Balkans


typical of their particular group, which distinguish the Vlachs from the others and forming its unique ethnic image. However, the members of macro-ethnicities have impression that Vlach minority culture is insignificant. Nevertheless, the political changes in the region after 1989/1990 did away with obstacles to free profess religion and express of ethnic identity that would lead to slow down Vlach assimilation. The process of modernization, especially its features of urbanization and industrialization, meant various forms of cultural, and even ethnic, assimilation of the Vlachs in the South Eastern Europe. Assimilation of Vlachs in many cases was done under the policy of suppression of their cultural identity. However, the opposite case might lead to selfsegregation and even conflict with the majority of society. The future task of the regional administrations and communities is to find a proper policy to provide the best conditions under which the Vlach minority (and other minorities) would express its specific cultural features, but without antagonizing the other members of the society. The exercising cultural rights of minority communities have to be framed and respected within the set of general human rights. As a final point, intercultural dialogue is needed in order to overcome mutual suspicion and enable the joint participation in power of representatives of the majority and the minorities. This will ensure a political protection of the interests of minorities, which would not confront them with the rest of the population. Thus, minority cultural rights will not antagonize, but harmonize political and other interests. References and used Bibliography A. J. B. Wace, M. S. Thompson, Nomads of the Balkans, Methuen, 1914. A. Krasteva, “Ethnicity”, in Communities and Identities in Bulgaria (ed. A. Krasteva), Longo Editore Ravenna, Ravenna, 1998, pp. 11–40. Amnesty International, Albania: Political Imprisonment and the Law, AI EUR, April 11th, 1984. BBC, Summary of World Broadcasts, Eastern Europe/0983 I, January 30th, 1991. C. Noe, M. Popesco-Spineni, Les Roumains en Bulgarie, Craiova, Ramuri, 1939. “Constitutional Court Judgement № 4 of April 21 st, 1992”, in Official Gazette, № 35, Sofia, 1992. Cowell, “A Hint of Change in the Albanian Air”, New York Times, June 220th, 1988.
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D. Crystal (ed.), The Cambridge Encyclopedia, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1994. D. Dakin, The Greek struggle in Macedonia 1897–1913, Thessaloniki, 1966. D. Ens, “Growing religious freedom in Albania”, News Network International, May 17th, 1990. E. Ivanova, “’The Ethnic’ Conflict”, in Iztok-Iztok, № 2, 1991, pp. 63–66. European Parliament Working Document, 2–119/1985. F. Toennies, “Community and Association”, in Sotsiologicheski Problemi, № 4. pp. 98–110. F. W. Carter, H. T. Norris (eds.), The Changing Shape of the Balkans, University College London, London, 1996. G. Castellan, History of the Balkans. From Mohammed the Conqueror to Stalin, East European Monographs, Boulder, New York, 1992. G. Genov, The Legal Status of Minorities, Sofia, 1929. G. Weigand, Rumanen und Arumunen in Bulgarien, Leipzig, 1907. H. N. Brailsford, Macedonia: Its Races and their Future, Methuen & Co., London, 1909. H. Poulton, The Balkans. Minorities and States in Conflict, Minority Rights Group, London, 1994 (first edition in 1991). H. Poulton, Who are the Macedonians?, Hurst & Company, London, 1995. Human Rights in Albania: Hearing Before the Sub-Committee on Human Rights and International Organizations of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, statement by Nikolaos A. Stavrou on January 25th, 1984. I. N. Ghiulamila, “Romanii macedoneni din Bulgaria”, in Graiul romanesc, № 2, 1928. Information, Federal Union of European Nationalities, Flensburg, Austria, March 29th, 1990. J. B. Schechtman, European Population Transfers (1939–1945), Oxford University Press, New York, 1946. J. Fishman, Language and Ethnicity in Minority Sociolinguistic Perspectives, Multilingual Matters Ltd., Clevedon, 1989. J. Pettifer (ed.), The New Macedonian Question, St. Martins Press, New York, 1999. K. Kanev, “Law and Politics on Ethnic and Religious Minorities in Bulgaria”, in Communities and Identities in Bulgaria (ed. A. Krasteva), Longo Editore Ravenna, Ravenna, 1998, pp. 55–93.

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L. M. Danforth, The Macedonian Conflict. Ethnic Nationalism in a Transitional World, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1997. L. Wolff, “Disciplinary Administration and Anthropological Perspective in Venetian Dalmatia: Official Reflections on the Morlacci from the Peace of Passarowitz to the Grimani Reform”, in Constructing Border Societies on the Triplex Confinium (eds. D. Roksandić, N. Štefanec), Central European University Budapest, History Dept., Working Paper Series 4, pp. 47–56. M. Banton, “The Actors’ Model of Ethnic Relations”, in Ethnicity (eds. J. Hutchinson and A. Smith), Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1996, pp. 98–104. Monitoring the EU Accession Process: Minority Protection 2001, Open Society Institute, Budapest, 2001. N. Costa, Albania: A European Enigma, East European Monographs, Boulder, New York, 1995. P. Poutignat and J. Streiff-Fenart, Théories de l’ ethnicité, PUF, Paris, 1995. P. Prifti, Socialist Albania since 1944: Domestic and Foreign Developments, Cambridge, Mass., London, 1978. P. Stefanag, A. Puto, The History of Albania from its Origins to the Present Day, Routledge, London, 1981. R. Clogg, A Concise History of Greece, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1992. R. Petrović, Etnički mešoviti brakovi u Jugoslaviji, Beograd, 1985. S. Ladas, The Exchange of Minorities: Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, Macmillan, New York, 1932. S. M. Horak, “National Minorities in Albania, 1919–1980”, in East European National Minorities: 1919–1980 (ed. S. M. Horak), Colorado, 1985. S. Pawlowich, The Improbable Survivor–Yugoslavia and its Problems: 1918–1988, C. Hurst and Co., London, 1988. S. Skendi, The Albanian National Awakening, 1878–1912, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1967. Statistical Yearbook of Yugoslavia 1988, Belgrade, 1989 (in SerboCroatian). T. G. Tatsios, The Megali Idea and the Greek-Turkish war of 1897: the impact of the Cretan problem on Greek irredentism, 1866– 1897, Columbia University Press, New York, 1984. T. Winnifrith, The Vlachs, Duckworth, 1987. V. Andreev and others, The Republic of Macedonia, Skopje, 1995. V. Hristu, “Aromanii din Bulgaria”, in Graiul romanesc, № 6–7, 1931.
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W. Kymlicka, The Rights of Minority Cultures, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2000 [1995]. Westermann Großer Atlas zur Weltgeschichte, Braunschweig, 1985. В. Карић, Србија. Опис земље, народа и државе, Београд, 1887.

Dr. Vladislav B. Sotirović

The Vlachs of the Balkans



It is believed that the Vlach means either “free people”, “shepherds” or former worshipers of the pagan god of herders – Volos. 2 In Greek language Koutsos means “lame”. The Vlach is considered as a synonym for the shepherds. 3 This ethnonym is used by the community itself in most cases. According to the Vlach tradition, the Armanian means “a free man”, “a person who has remained in one place” and “a non-Romanian”. 4 It means those who have been living at the Grammos Mt. that is on the border between Albania and Greece. 5 The ethnonym Cincars or Tsintsars is given to the Vlachs probably because the specific pronunciation of the phoneme “c” which sounds in Vlach language as “ts”. Nevertheless, Cincar means a man who is “miser” or “skinflint”. According to one of the hypotheses, tsintsars is derived from the Roman Fifth Legion (tsintsi means five) since it is believed that the Vlachs are descendents of the Roman soldiers from this legion, which operated in the Balkans. 6 The Choban means a “herder” in Albanian and South Slavic languages. The term is of Oriental origin. 7 During the last half of the century the natural increase of the Vlachs is negative since the parents (remarkably from the urban environments) opted to have a single-child family. 8 Besides the Vlach geographical dispersion across the peninsula, the fact that they traditionally migrated in summer and winter makes one of the pivotal difficulties to fix their real number. 9 Traditionally, the attitudes and policies of regional majority groups towards their own minorities have been more emotional than rational. Participation of the members of minority communities into state’s institutions was all the time limited and restricted especially in the periods of political troubles. In general, the idea of widespread and broad minority rights is not very popular among the macro-communities in the Balkans. One of the crucial reasons for such attitude (especially toward those minorities who live territorially in compact masses) is a fear of “Cyprus syndrome”. 10 They were breeding the horses and sheep on natural pastures in the two main seasons (summer and winter). The food, cloths, furnishing and transportation were provided primarily from the horses and sheep. One of the main characteristics of Vlach livelihood and lifestyle was that they had in most cases a permanent summer and winter camps, which have been the only territorial communities (independent and isolated from both one another and settlements of other ethnic groups). 11 For instance, they were summering on the Osogovske Mt. (2084 m.) in Eastern Macedonia, but wintering as far as area of the city of Salonika. 12 As a result of Romanian-language and school curricula education and propaganda a huge number of educated Vlachs received at the start of the 20 th century a Romanian ethnocultural feeling. It produced the Vlach (Aromanian) national revival movement that was based on the self-awareness of Romance origin. This trend brought the Vlachs closer to the Romanians who formed in the mid-19 th century a national state. Consequently, there was a deep distinction concerning the Vlach self-determination since some of them identified themselves as Aromanians while others did it as Romanians. In the course of time a trial self-identity was present in many of the Vlach families: Aromanian in the private sphere, Romanian in intra-community sphere, and as a member of macro-community in the public sphere. 13 The Christianity was always one of the crucial ethnic determinations of the Vlach selfidentity. Consequently, there were some cases that Vlach women from nomadic communities had been tattooing crosses on the foreheads and hands. The most important

collective celebrations of the Vlachs are Christmas, Easter, St George’s Day and St Peter’s Day. The cults of the Mother of God and St Petka are also very much celebrated in majority of the Vlach nomadic communities. However, it should be stressed that coming to the churches and having regular contacts with the priests for the Vlachs was rather complicated because their communes have been living faraway from the population settlements. Permanent contacts with the church had only urban Vlachs. 14 In this region the Vlachs developed very profitable trade that was mainly based on flourishing sheep/horse-breeding, but as well on crafts and cartage. 15 Many of Grammos’ Vlachs migrated to the region of Ovche Polje in Eastern Macedonia for the reason to escape a tyrannical rule of Ottoman governor of Ioanina, Ali-Pasha. 16 One of the negative results of these migrations was that many Vlach families became divided: elders stayed in the old environment while the young men emigrated. This breakup of kinship network dealt both a psychological and economic blows to the Vlach community, which felt a great sense of personal insecurity either in old or new environment. 17 Hostility to the urban Vlachs was primarily directed towards those pro-Greek members of Vlach micro-community who did not drop their cultural and political loyalty to Hellenism. It is true particularly at the turn of the 20 th century when Serbs, Bulgarians and Greeks struggled over territorial division of geographic Macedonia, Albania, and Thrace. In this respect, the Vlachs have been pejoratively called as “Greco-Tsintsars” who betrayed national interests of the macro-community. 18 Traditionally, the family was the main protector of the Vlach language, customs and ethnic features. 19 For instance, majority of young Vlachs prefer to speak the language of macro-community than the Vlach. 20 The Southern Epirus is part of Greece. Epirus was divided between Albania and Greece after the Second Balkan War in 1913 when the independent state of Albania became recognised by the great European powers (Albanian independence was proclaimed in the city of Vlorë on November 28th, 1912). 21 See the map on the page 194 in H. Poulton, The Balkans. Minorities and States in Conflict, Minority Rights Group, London, 1994 (first edition in 1991). The number of Slav Macedonians in Albania ranges from 4,000, according to Albanian sources, to 100,000, according to Macedonian sources. Most probably, the real figure is 15,000. 22 Albania has an area of 28,748 sq. kms. and, according to the census from 1981 it had a population of 2,752,300 with the highest population growth rate in Europe. The figure of 35,000 Vlach community in Albania is claimed in: S. M. Horak, “National Minorities in Albania, 1919–1980”, in East European National Minorities: 1919–1980 (ed. S. M. Horak), Colorado, 1985. The other two figures are put by independent researchers and international institutions and organisations for protection of human and minority rights. There are even some authors who unjustifiably claim that majority of Albania’s Orthodox believers are originally ethnic Vlachs. This claim is surely not supported by historical sources. 23 This Greek claim is based on the fact that before the Second World War there were 400,000 of Orthodox believers in Albania who have been registered as members of the Independent Orthodox Church in Albania, which used exclusively the Greek language. As well, majority of Albania’s Orthodox population attended the Greek language schools. After the Second World War Albanian society was divided according to the religious affiliation on the Roman Catholics (10%), Orthodox (20%) and Muslims (70%). The Orthodox population, according to the ethnic belonging, was composed by Greeks, Vlachs, Montenegrins and Macedonians. The Serbs officially do not live in Albania, while Montenegrins are separated from the Serbs. Nevertheless, after 1967, when Albania officially proclaimed to be the first world atheist state, there is no available records on

religious affiliation of Albania’s citizens (for the issue of political imprisonment of the ethnic minorities members see: Amnesty International, Albania: Political Imprisonment and the Law, AI EUR, 11. April 1984, p. 13). For sure, the biggest portion of Albania’s Orthodox inhabitants is that of Greek origin (according to the 1955 census, they represented 2,5% of total Albania’s population. In the 1961 census there were 95% of total population who declared themselves to be of ethnic Albanian origin. The 5% belonged to the ethnolinguistic minorities). After 1967 there were more then 600 Orthodox churches destroyed and other 600 converted to other purposes like grain store-houses, theatres, coffee shops, stables etc. (Human Rights in Albania: Hearing Before the Sub-Committee on Human Rights and International Organizations of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, statement by Nikolaos A. Stavrou on January 25th, 1984). 24 D. Crystal (ed.), The Cambridge Encyclopedia, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1994, p. 543. 25 Together with the Vlach minority all Albania’s minority as well suffered from such policy. For instance, many Christian Orthodox geographical and settlement names adopted the Albanian ones (for example, the ethnic Greek village of Agios Nikolaos, that is St. Nicolas, became renamed into Albanian Drita, what means the light). However, Muslim personal names and surnames have not been changed. It can be explained with the fact that traditionally the Islam was one of the crucial components of the Albanian national identity within the Ottoman Empire (Albanians have been surrounded with hostile non-Muslim neighbours of Christian Orthodox creed: the Greeks and the Slavs from Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro). 26 This anti-religious campaign was a part of Albania’s cultural and ideological revolution, which followed the example of the People’s Republic of China. 27 Amnesty International, Albania: Political Imprisonment and the Law, AI EUR, April 11th, 1984. The Greek national identity as minority group in Southern Albania (and other Balkan states as well), where the Greeks live mixed with the Vlachs, is closely connected with the adherence to the Christian Orthodox Church, the use of Greek language and the use of Greek forms of personal names, surnames, geographical names and names for the settlements (i.e. villages). 28 P. Prifti, Socialist Albania since 1944: Domestic and Foreign Developments, Cambridge, Mass, London, 1978, p. 164. 29 D. Ens, “Growing religious freedom in Albania”, News Network International, May 17th, 1990. 30 Cowell, “A Hint of Change in the Albanian Air”, New York Times, June 220th, 1988. 31 BBC, Summary of World Broadcasts, Eastern Europe/0983 I, January 30 th, 1991. 32 About the minority rights, including and those on the education in the mother tongue, see in W. Kymlicka, The Rights of Minority Cultures, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2000 [1995]; J. Fishman, Language and Ethnicity in Minority Sociolinguistic Perspectives, Multilingual Matters Ltd., Clevedon, 1989. 33 By now there is no specific European Union’s standards in regard to the protection of minority rights, but general European standards in the field may be found in several Europe-wide instruments which can provide the basic guidelines for minority protection of each European country as: Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (accessed on April 26th, 2001); European Charter for regional or Minority Languages (accessed on April 26th, 2001); European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (accessed on April 27th, 2001). 34 In Bulgaria there is a great and even politically coloured debate on the name of Vlach minority group: should they be designated by the accepted scientific term Aromanians or to be called as Armanians that is the ethnonym used by Vlachs themselves. 35 Romania required the northwestern Bulgarian province of Southern Dobruja (Northern Dobruja was already included into Romania according to the Berlin Congress’ decision in

1878) in 1913 as a compensation for giving up the Vlachs (Wallachians) in Macedonia, who have been considered by Romania’s authorities and intelligentsia as Balkan minority of Romanian ethnolinguistic origin. The geographic-historical territory of Macedonia was divided in 1913 between Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece. Serbia received “Vardar” Macedonia, Greece got “Aegean” Macedonia and Bulgaria included “Pirin” Macedonia. Romania did not participate in division of Macedonia. The Southern Dobruja was returned back to Bulgaria in 1940 while the Northern Dobruja remained within Romania. The region of Thrace was divided in 1913 between Ottoman Empire (Eastern Thrace) and Bulgaria (Western Thrace). However, in 1919 Bulgarian portion of Thrace became included into Greece. Bulgaria temporally occupied both portions of Dobruja in 1916 and Western Thrace in 1915 and 1941. The minority groups’ exchanges followed all of these territorial exchanges. For instance, after the First World War there were 250,000 Bulgarians who left Southern Dobruja, “Vardar” Macedonia, “Aegean” Macedonia, Eastern and Western Thrace and migrated to the territory of “Neuilly” Bulgaria; 360,000 Turks and Muslims left Macedonia and Western Thrace, 100,000 left Bulgaria and 25,000 Crete to Turkey; 650,000 Greeks from Smyrna region in Asia Minor, 260,000 from Trabzon area, 50,000 from South East Asia Minor and 260,000 from Eastern Thrace emigrated from Turkey to Greece after the Greek-Turkish War of 1919–1923 and additional 50,000 of Greeks left Bulgaria to Greece after 1919 (Westermann Großer Atlas zur Weltgeschichte, Braunschweig, 1985, p. 153, map № V; K. Kanev, “Law and Politics on Ethnic and Religious Minorities in Bulgaria”, in Communities and Identities in Bulgaria (ed. A. Krasteva), Longo Editore Ravenna, Ravenna, 1998, pp. 66–68; G. Genov, The Legal Status of Minorities, Sofia, 1929, p. 125; S. Ladas, The Exchange of Minorities: Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, Macmillan, New York, 1932, pp. 122–123). According to Greek historiography, in 1923 there were 1,100,000 Greeks who moved from Turkey to Greece, while some 380,000 Muslims were transferred from Greece to Turkey (R. Clogg, A Concise History of Greece, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1992, p. 101). The Greek-Turkish population exchange in 1923 was in accordance to Convention on compulsory exchange of population between Greece and Turkey, signed in January 1923. The war was over in July 1923 by the Treaty of Lausanne. 36 The German linguist, G. Weigand, put the number of 86,000 neo-Latin speakers in Bulgaria around the year of 1900 (G. Weigand, Rumanen und Arumunen in Bulgarien, Leipzig, 1907, p. 104). 37 The leader of Aromanian community in inter-war Bulgaria, I. N. Ghiulamila, claimed that in 1928 there were 4,000 sedentary and 9,000 nomadic Aromanians in Bulgaria (I. N. Ghiulamila, “Romanii macedoneni din Bulgaria”, in Graiul romanesc, № 2, 1928, pp. 31– 33). 38 Source: National Institute of Statistics, Results from the Population Census: Demographic Characteristics, vol. I (original in Bulgarian), Sofia, 1994, pp. 194 and 222. It is estimated that today there are circa 3,000 people in Bulgaria with Aromanian selfidentity. 39 According to J. B. Schechtman (European Population Transfers (1939–1945), Oxford University Press, New York, 1946, pp. 406–409), under this treaty it was exchanged circa 61,000 Bulgarians and about 100,000 Romanians (the latter number includes and ethnic Vlachs). 40 Before this exodus of 1989 it happened twice in communist-Bulgaria that “Bulgarian citizens of Turkish origin” migrated to Turkey: in 1950–1951 (154,000 persons) and between 1969 and 1978 (130,000 persons). 41 In the recent Bulgarian history it occurred twice between 1878 and 1945 that Bulgarian government persuaded campaigns of forced conversion and name changes among the minority groups for the sake of Bulgarization (during the wars of 1912–1913 and in 1942– 1944).

Karakachans and Vlachs have a common feature in the point of livelihood and denomination, but these two minority groups differs from one another in the terms of language: the Vlach language is neo-Latin while the Karakachan language is neo-Hellenic (it belongs to the northern dialect of modern Greek language). The Karakachans are either 1) descendents of ancient Balkan peoples (Thracians, Illyrians) who have been living in pre-classical and classical times in mountainous parts of the southern parts of the peninsula, but became Hellenized; or 2) they are descendents from sedentary Greek peasants who left their settlements in the late Middle Ages and became the nomadic shepherds. The Karakachans themselves believe that the Pindus Mt. in Greece is their original home place. Today they are living in Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Serbia. At any case, the majority of present-day Vlachs and Karakachans is bilingual especially the males. 43 Article № 36 of the Constitution of 1991 recognises the rights of ethnic, religious and linguistic minority members in Bulgaria to self-protect and develop their culture and selfidentity by using the mother tongue, along with the compulsory study of Bulgarian. 44 Undoubtedly, the claims by some experts in Vlach studies that in Northern Bulgaria can be found 400,000 Vlachs are overwhelming exaggeration (European Parliament Working Document, 2–119/1985). 45 A. Krasteva, “Ethnicity”, in Communities and Identities in Bulgaria (ed. A. Krasteva), Longo Editore Ravenna, Ravenna, 1998, p. 19. 46 “Constitutional Court Judgement № 4 of April 21 st, 1992”, in Official Gazette, № 35, Sofia, 1992. The legal provisions, which banned the establishment of political parties on ethnic basis have been included in the agreement upon creation of the Union of Democratic Forces (in 1990); in the Political Parties Act (in 1990); and in the postcommunist Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria (adopted on July 12 th, 1991). 47 Notably, the Bulgarian constitutional and legal provisions from the time of liberation in 1878 onward guaranteed the equality of all Bulgaria’s citizens regardless on their ethnic, religious or linguistic origin. It included the rights to exercise minority ethnocultural features, to practice their religion and to speak the mother tongue. However, in practice, non-Bulgarians have been often under political pressure. The first Vlach cultural association in Bulgaria was established in 1895 and the first Romanian-language school in Bulgaria was opened in 1896. Both of them have been registered with the purpose to develop Vlach education and culture (V. Hristu, “Aromanii din Bulgaria”, in Graiul romanesc, № 6–7, 1931, p. 86). 48 H. Poulton, The Balkans. Minorities and States in Conflict, Minority Rights Group, London, 1994 (first edition in 1991), p. 189. 49 Regardless that some of Vlach emigrants from Greece claim the figure of 600,000 of Greek Vlachs the “Federal Union of European Nationalities” is estimating the real number of the Vlach population in Greece up to 300,000 (Information, Federal Union of European Nationalities, Flensburg, Austria, March 29 th, 1990, p. 7). 50 H. Poulton, The Balkans. Minorities and States in Conflict, Minority Rights Group, London, 1994 (first edition in 1991), p. 175. 51 Many Vlachs who identified themselves as the Greeks, since received Greek education and had services in the Greek churches, had significantly contributed in the Greek struggle for independence from 1821 to 1830. 52 Present-day Vlachs in Greece do not have any separatist intensions since they are descendents of those Vlachs who opted to stay in Greece at the beginning of the last century, but not to migrate to Romania. 53 Vlach representatives complained several times to the European Community’s (now Union’s) “Bureau of Lesser Known Languages” upon the neglecting the usage of the Vlach language in Greece. However, some of the leading Vlach figures in Greece did not support those critics and openly defended the standpoint of the Greek government. Nevertheless,

the Vlach émigré organizations in France, Germany, USA etc. on their regular meetings are heavily condemning the Greek linguistic policy and especially the practice that Greek Vlachs are pressed to use the Greek alphabet in order not to antagonize the local authorities. The Vlach diaspora is fighting for the use of the Latin alphabet like it is a practice in Romania (after 1863). 54 Historical-geographical Macedonia was divided in 1913 between Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece. This Balkan province was occupied by the Ottoman Turks in 1371 and liberated from the Ottoman lordship in 1912. About the Macedonian issue see: H. Poulton, Who are the Macedonians?, Hurst & Company, London, 1995; L. M. Danforth, The Macedonian Conflict. Ethnic Nationalism in a Transitional World, Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey, 1997; H. N. Brailsford, Macedonia: Its Races and their Future, Methuen & Co., London, 1909; J. Pettifer (ed.), The New Macedonian Question, St. Martins Press, New York, 1999. 55 Source: V. Andreev and others, The Republic of Macedonia, Skopje, 1995, pp. 2–3. 56 Romanian struggle over Macedonia lacked in comparison with Bulgarian, Serbian and Greek efforts a national clergy, which will attract Vlachs to Romanian church but not to the Bulgarian, Serb or Greek ones. Anyway, the Ottoman authorities supported Romanian efforts at the expense of the Greek Patriarchate especially in the Bitola district. After diplomatic intervention in Istanbul by the Romanian ambassador in 1903 it was established a separate Aromanian ecclesiastical autonomy in Macedonia. 57 The “Romanian Church” was consecrated in Sofia in 1923. However, the “Aromanian Church” existed in Bulgaria (in the town of Gorna Djumaya) from 1906. Both of them played an important role in the formation and maintenance of the Aromanian ethnocultural and linguistic identity. Undoubtedly, due to the activities of aforementioned institutions, together with the Aromanian Youth Association (established in 1923), the Aromanian language, traditions and customs were very much preserved in Bulgaria. These institutions have been closed in 1948 when People’s Republic of Bulgaria became fully involved into the Soviet political-economic bloc. After 1948 the Aromanians in Bulgaria have been officially considered as Vlachs and later as ethnic Bulgarians who spoke neo-Latin language. 58 It was established in Bucharest at the turn of the 20 th century most important Vlach cultural organization under the name of Macedonian-Romanian Society for Intellectual Culture. This organization was during the First and Second Balkan Wars (1912–1913) the main proponents against territorial division of Macedonia between Serbia, Bulgaria and Greece. Instead, it fought for Macedonian autonomous province. The same Vlach organization was presented at the Versailles 1919 Peace Conference requiring establishment of the autonomous Macedonia with an independent canton of the Vlachs, which will include the area of the Pindus Mt. Italians established during the Second World War in Greece an autonomous “Pindus Principality” under their own protectorate that was considered as the Vlach ethnic state in this portion of the peninsula. The area of the Principality covered Epirus, Macedonia and Thessaly. The prince was Alcibiades Diamandi. The Principality had and its own armed forces – the “Roman Legion”, composed by those Vlachs who supported Italian fascism (see: E. Averoff-Tossizza, The Call of the Earth, New Rochelle, NY, 1981). 59 H. Poulton, Who are the Macedonians?, Hurst & Company, London, 1995, p. 94. 60 About the “Megali Idea” in connection with Macedonian question see: T. G. Tatsios, The Megali Idea and the Greek-Turkish war of 1897: the impact of the Cretan problem on Greek irredentism, 1866–1897, Columbia University Press, New York, 1984; D. Dakin, The Greek struggle in Macedonia 1897–1913, Thessaloniki, 1966. 61 For instance, according to the 1981 census, in the district of the city of Bor there were 10,29% Vlachs

C. Noe, M. Popesco-Spineni, Les Roumains en Bulgarie, Craiova, Ramuri, 1939, pp. 8688. 63 Statistical Yearbook of Yugoslavia 1988, Belgrade, 1989, p. 442 (in Serbian); R. Petrović, Etnički mešoviti brakovi u Jugoslaviji, Beograd, 1985, p. 32–36. 64 There are Bulgarian scholars who found evidences that parts of Timok and the Danubian Vlachs have Bulgarian origins. They are champions of the theory of “double migration across the Danube”, i.e., that majority of Danubian, Timok and Vidin Vlachs originate in ethnic Bulgarians who once upon a time migrated from Bulgaria to Wallachia in order to escape from Ottoman lordship. However, one part of them later resettled in Northern Bulgaria and Eastern Serbia while other part stayed in Southern Romania. Those BulgaroVlachs when resettled in the Northern Bulgaria brought with themselves corrupted Romanian language. This theory is partially confirmed in Vlach oral tradition from the area of Vidin. 65 This is an example of applying the rational choice theory to ethnic identity and interethnic relations. The proponents of this direction of thinking stress that the individuals are trying always to chose the most optimal option from the corpus of available alternatives of ethnonational identity; i.e. they are choosing such alternative which may give them the highest gains and benefits. Accordingly, the ethnic (or national) group is only a coalition of individuals and a result of their rational way of thinking, which helps them to obtain as better as position in economic and political competition (M. Banton, “The Actors’ Model of Ethnic Relations”, in Ethnicity (eds. J. Hutchinson and A. Smith), Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1996, pp. 98–104). According to many authors, the notion of particular ethnicity is a product of social relations rather than a “natural” essence. At any case, the character of ethnicity is a “variable and never ending process, through which the actors identify and are identified by the others on the basis of the Us-Them dichotomies established on the basis of cultural features, which are presumed to have derived from common origins and which are distinct in social interactions” (P. Poutignat and J. Streiff-Fenart, Théories de l’ ethnicité, PUF, Paris, 1995, p. 154). 66 In this article we regarded an ethnic group as a part of an ethnie that is living either in non-national state or in non-national-language environment but preserved its language, culture, customs and are aware of its ethnic self-identity. 67 Still the Vlachs identified themselves as different from their neighbors from the points of language, culture, tradition, customs and origin. 68 L. Wolff, “Disciplinary Administration and Anthropological Perspective in Venetian Dalmatia: Official Reflections on the Morlacci from the Peace of Passarowitz to the Grimani Reform”, in Constructing Border Societies on the Triplex Confinium (eds. D. Roksandić, N. Štefanec), Central European University Budapest, History Dept., Working Paper Series 4, pp. 47–56. 69 В. Карић, Србија. Опис земље, народа и државе, Београд, 1887, p. 92–93.

© 2006 Vladislav B. Sotirovic. All rights reserved
The paper is presented in a shorter version in the Second International Conference in Stateless Cultures, December 4–6, 2002, Vilnius, Lithuania under the title “A Stateless Minority Threatened with Extinction: The Vlachs/Aromani in the Balkans”. The conference is organized by the Center for Stateless Cultures, Faculty of History at the Vilnius University, Lithuania

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