Today on the homepage, I begin a “Macedonia Journal.” I’d like to throw in a few comments here.
1) For years, people have been arguing for the partition of Iraq: Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds. One problem is, there’s a great deal of intermarriage. What do you do with couples? Split them up? What do you do with their children? Slice them in half, as Solomon once proposed (in order to flush out the truth)?
How about minorities who live in given areas? Is the answer massive ethnic cleansing? You get the problem.
In Macedonia, however, there are ethnic Macedonians and there are Albanians, and they never intermarry, apparently. Such a thing is “a big taboo” on both sides, as was made clear to me. You would think there would be Romeo and Juliet stories. Evidently, no.
So, how can such a country hang together? I can ask the question but not answer it. (Currently, there’s bloodshed in the streets.)
2) Macedonia is kept out of the EU and NATO because the Greeks veto the country’s admission. The Greeks are incensed at the very name “Macedonia,” considering it Greek and Greek alone.
I have conservative friends in Macedonia who are loath to see their country join the EU but at the same time are irked to be kept out by the Greeks (who in any case are something like a failed EU state). Groucho’s familiar line is “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.” He could adapt it to the situation of my Macedonian friends: “I don’t want to belong to the club, but I’ll be damned if I’m kept out by them!”
3) In my journal, I mention the Macedonian baritone Boris Trajanov, whom I met. Care to hear him sing something local? Go here.
4) I also mention Simon Trpceski, the Macedonian pianist. Care to hear him play something local? I mean, local to us? Here is Trpceski in Rhapsody in Blue, with Mikhail Pletnev on the podium. (Pletnev himself is one of the greatest pianists of our time.)