Stanley's blog

What’s in a name?

Will the NATO summit in Bucharest in April invite the (Former Yugoslav Republic of) Macedonia to join NATO, together with Albania and Croatia? The answer is ‘No’ unless Greece lifts its veto on the country joining NATO.

The strategic reason for the veto is that the dispute over its name should first be resolved. The country’s entry into the United Nations was delayed until 1995 and after the lifting of a complete economic embargo by Greece, under the name accepted by Greece, namely ‘Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)’. Over 100 countries, including China, Russia and the US, have effectively recognized Macedonia as Macedonia.

Athens argues that ‘Macedonia’ is an exclusive part of its historic and cultural heritage and that FYROM, by using the name ‘Macedonia’ on its own stealing its history and perhaps even displaying territorial pretensions. The UN has proposed five possible names: Constitutional Republic of Macedonia, Democratic Republic of Macedonia, Independent Republic of Macedonia, Republic of Upper Macedonia and Republic of New Macedonia.

The dispute may be difficult for us to understand, but emotions run high on both sides and, in recent weeks has given rise to a wave of nationalist hysteria in both Greece and ‘Macedonia’. This is after all the Balkans.

On the other hand, it is all the more disturbing that the potential stability of this accident prone region should be dependent on a name

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  1. I totally agree. Why would the stability of a region be dependent on a name. Every country has a right to choose its name. It has been chosen and 100’s have recognized it as such. I see no problem. Greece is hurting its reputation and the reputation of NATO as well as hurting the stability of the region with no grounds to its objections.

    Let it go!

  2. I think that the EU should have negotiated the problem and not the US.

    I remember that originally nobody wanted to drag the division of Cyprus into the EU, but Greece threatened with a veto over nine other candidates, should the EU reject the application of Greek-Cyprus. Ever since that we have an EU member state that does not have control over its sovereign territory, and the Greek-Turkish-Cypriot problems need a by-pass in a number of EU internal issues.

    It seems that the countries of the former Ottoman Empire have many unsettled issues with each other. I hoped that the EU was once founded to prevent the French-German rivalry and its aim should be to resolve such conflicts and help preventing newer ones.

  3. I can understand that for people outside the dispute it may seem strange-not to say ridiculous- that such controversy exists over a rather self-evident matter.
    However, as only briefly stated in the blog, there is more to it than the name.Indeed, Greece and FYROM share strong financial bonds and beyond that, friendships have grown over the years across the borders. The dispute has several layers: Macedonia is an ancient geographical region, whose territory is nowadays shared by FYROM, Greece and Bulgaria. As a first layer (purely historical), the largest geographical region of Northern Greece, at the borders of FYROM,is called Macedonia, where Alexander the Great lived and thrived. Then, if one goes deeper, children in schools in FYROM are taught that their country’s borders reach the Aegean (!) and that the southern part of their country (so-called Aegean Macedonia) is occupied by Greece – no FYROM government has ever understood the need to change school textbooks, so probably they consider this to be correct (?!). Cultivating such ideas of occupation (and possible future recalamation?)in young people can cause serious future problems in an area as volatile as the Balkans. Moreover,on FYROM banknotes one can see the White Tower, a monument located on the promenade of Thessaloniki, Greece (coincidence?). A third layer, which is not unimportant in the whole equation, is Bulgaria: Part of the UN proposals -except for the name-is that a Macedonian ethinicity and language are recognized, something that Bulgaria (and of course Greece…) are contesting.
    Make no mistake, Greece is not fond of disputes: they cause loss of time, resources and cause political upheaval, both internally and externally. As Greeks, we would be more than happy to see the issue resolved and set our minds at ease, but not at any cost. All we are asking is that our partners take the necessary steps to meet us halfway.

  4. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece is optimistic about the name issue with Skopje.

    Sources from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece, have claimed to be optimistic about the future outcome of the name issue with Skopje.

    The Greek side, they claimed, is flanked by experienced diplomats, well known for their accomplishments in modern diplomatic history.

    The Greek interlocutor in the past had been entrusted with the task of solving the issue of the pending parking tickets issued by the Mayor of New York to Greek Diplomats, for illegal parking, which amounted to $550.000.

    The Greek Side, claimed that “the diplomats wouldn’t be obliged to pay, because no measures could be taken against them, due to Vienna Convention for Diplomatic Relations”.

    The Mayor of New York sent the bill to the State Department. The Greek side continued to be confident. The State Department transmitted the bill to Ministry of Defense. The Greek side started questioning “There is something fishy about it..”.

    Then they heard the news “All scholarships to Greek military personnel for training in the U.S. is suspended until the $550.000 parking ticked is paid to the Mayor of New York”.

    The Greek side became anxious about the turnout of the issue. The charged the experienced interlocutor to start negotiations about the amount to be paid. “How about paying you $400.000 and we stop talking?”, “how about paying you $400.000 now and the remaining $150.000 is paid in 99 years?”, “how about paying now the whole amount minus 10%?”, “how about paying you in Panama Canal bonds?”, “how about not paying, but you to be free to park where you like in the center of Athens without getting parking tickets?”.

    After receiving “No”s about a hundred times (2005-2006), the Greek side paid $550.000. The illegally parked cars’ owners were never called to reimburse the Greek tax payers money of $550.000 corresponding to their respective illegal parking practices.

    The other strong weapon of the Greek diplomacy is the Supreme Service Council (“Anotato Ypiresiako Symboulio). It is comprised of high ranking diplomats (even retired ones, some of them very old, invalid or close to dying). The new clauses of the reformed status Law of the Foreign Ministry stipulate “that the low rank officials whose case is brought before the Supreme Service Council, have no right whatsoever to be represented before such a council even is the said council is ready to kick them out of the service for grounds of incompetence. In such cases, even the Foreign Minister cannot modify the Council’s decision”.

    Retired ex diplomats, aged between 70 and 87, (experienced in persecuting young diplomats) that constitute “the Greek Foreign Minister’s elite advisory group”, have claimed that Greece shall come victorious in the name dispute with Skopje, if the latter ever decides that the issue shall be discussed and determined exclusively within the “Supreme Service Council” of the Foreign Ministry of Greece.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘1055386704 which is not a hashcash value.

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