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FYROM considers to change name and abandon “Macedonia” to join the NATO? Hardly…

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is considering to abandon “Macedonia” name claim in order to join the NATO, Financial Times reported on Monday citing an interview with FYROM Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov. 

“The Republic of Macedonia may seek to change its name to appease Greek demands, in order to join Nato,” FT wrote.

from FT

Due to the name dispute that erupted the early 1990’s, Greece has been blocking FYROM’s membership to the North Atlantic Alliance.

Athens believes the name “Madeconia” implies a territorial claim to the northern Greek province.

“Macedonia’s foreign minister is set to inform NATO officials in Brussels on Monday that it might now change its name,” FT noted.

Skopje’s intention for a great U-turn occurs two days before the official visit of Dimitrov to Athens and was hailed by the Greek media.

The new government of Zoran Zaev in Skopje has recently removed all statues of Alexander the Great, in a move Greeks understood as the end of the era of nationalist approach of Nikola Gruevski.

Dimitrov’s  alleged name change announcement was considered as an important step towards the West-orientation of the country. NATO that accepted Montenegro as its member last week, has repeatedly stressed that a membership requires the approval of all other members.

However, just hours after the FT report was making the rounds on internet, FYROM Foreign Ministry intervened and asked FT to change Dimitrov’s quotation. The FT changed the report article into FYROM is considering to “use an interim reference name.”

In the new version of the FT article, changed on request from the Macedonia Foreign Ministry, Dimitrov is quoted as saying that Macedonia considers “using the interim reference name to join NATO.”

The interim reference name is Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

“The difference is significant, as Macedonia successfully sued Greece for violating the 1995 Interim Accord, in which Greece renounced its veto right over Macedonia’s membership in NATO, the European Union and other international institutions, provided that Macedonia uses the temporary reference name “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, a FYROM website notes.

To FT, Dimitrov said he would meet Greek ministers on Wednesday to restore trust between the two neighbours after Athens vetoed the Balkan republic’s Nato application in 2008.

“I will ask Greece to reconsider what kind of neighbour they want — do they want a stable, friendly country that offers hope for democracy and justice?” he said  “If we are a good ‘neighbor, then hopefully political forces in Greece will realize this is a historic opportunity.”, the Financial Times writes.

According to FT, Greece sees the new, SDSM led Government in Macedonia, as more cooperative than the VMRO-­DPMNE led Government, but still sees no need for a hasty solution to the name issue.

“There are grounds now for more optimism and we’re hoping for progress when our foreign ministers meet in Athens next week. This is an issue that has been on the table for more than two decades and it would be rash to make any prediction”, a Greek official told the FT.

The FYROM move may trigger a dispute between Greece’s coalition government partners left-wing SYRIZA and nationalists Independent Greeks (ANEL). One part of SYRIZA has been saying FYROM may use any name it wants, another part, a more conservative one, has been rejecting any concessions. As for ANEL, their position was always known and remains the same.

So far there has been no official reactions to the issue, neither by the Greek Foreign Ministry, nor by government or opposition lawmakers.

PS I believe that new version of FT article has not reached Greece yet.

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  1. Name should be change right for both sides . Skopia small country needs Greece to export their goods from Thessaloniki port . Too many years of friction nothing to gain from both sides . I hope the new goverment agrees on a new name as republic of north Macedonia or vardaskar republic .anyway let’s make friends on the north .we have a big enemy on the east .

  2. What no articles regarding this issue mention is that Macedonia is actually a very large geographic area that was divided in 1913 between Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria. The Republic of Macedonia gained it’s independence when Yugoslavia disintegrated. Why do Greeks dispute this country? FYI, Bulgaria still has a piece of Macedonia.

    Up until 1991, when Macedonia gained it’s independence, if you mentioned the word “Macedonia” to a Greek, it would incite a harsh and often vulgar response! Why? Because…Macedonia was never “Greek”.

    Alexander the Great was Ancient Macedonian – not “Greek” – and he conquered and enslaved the so-called “Ancient Greeks”. By the way, “Greece” did not exist until 1829, yet they are claiming ancestry to the Ancient Athenians, Ancient Spartans and Ancient Thessalonians, none of who were “Greek.” Food for thought.

  3. It’s interesting to note that the Western media is accusing the Russians of interfering in Balkan affairs. The West is interfering much more! It is the West that has destabilized the entire Balkan Region over the past two decades with their attacks on Serbia, their declarations of “invalid” elections in former Yugoslav states
    (including Macedonia) and most recently their interference in Macedonia’s internal politics! What gives the West the right to institute and enforce the Przino Agreement on Macedonia?

    There is an enormous amount of political corruption in Western nations, including the USA (with three rigged elections over the past two decades), and nobody seems to care or want to do anything about that, but for some reason, the West seems fixated on interfering in the internal politics of a tiny Balkan nation whose population barely totals 2 million people!

    Macedonia has always been an extremely important strategically located nation/area throughout history since ancient times – it’s the gateway to Europe from the Middle East and vice-versa. I can see why the West is so eager to put Macedonia in it’s back pocket!

    The West needs to stop accusing Russia of “interfering” in the Balkans and they also need to butt out and let other nations manage their own affairs without the West’s “help”.

    And if the West thinks that Macedonia will stand by and allow their name to be changed without major political upheaval, violence and very likely some assassination attempts, they are greatly mistaken.

    Or, maybe they aren’t and maybe that’s what they are counting on…

  4. Martin Baldwin-Edwards

    @Peter. Alexander the Great was a Hellene by education (he was a student of Aristotle) and his military successes led to him ruling all of modern Greece and most of the Middle East. He was therefore both a Macedonian and a Greek — even if his own father was not considered fully Greek.

    The problems now are several. First, we have no link with ancient Macedonia other than through modern Greeks and the peoples of the region. Secondly. the association of territory (nation states) with a linguistic group is a modern one, that does not correspond with the history of the Balkans, including the entire Ottoman period. Therefore, the process of creating a modern nation state — as Greece did in the early 19th century — is long and painful. Thirdly, there is only a modern history of the Republic of Macedonia — dating to Tito’s federal republic as a constitutent territory and to 1991 with the disintegration of Yu. Most of the population of the new country is either SLavic or Albanian, and really does not have any connection with Alexander.

    So, FRY Macedonia needs a national identity, an older history to make sense of itself. Essentially, it is asking to share some of the history of the region with Greeks. In my opinion, for what it is worth, that is achievable: the mistake was to claim that older history and even Greek territory in the early 1990s. Greece also made mistakes — Samaras in particular caused a lot of trouble. Now there is an opportunity to reach a compromise, especially as Greece is the biggest investor in FRY Macedonia. Pragmatism is the key: can both countries avoid the traditional Balkan quarrelling and focus on their shared futures? Let’s see.

  5. @Martin. You have a very pragmatic outlook on this situation!

    Let’s see if all parties involved will share this good sense.

    But you are still basing a lot of your philosophy on the common modern Western myth of “Hellenism”, “Ancient Greece” etc. which was created by the British and Germans to help support the new Greek state they created.

    There were no such thing as “Hellenes” or “Greeks” in ancient times. That saying has been back dated and has been used by the British, Germans and the modern state of Greece to justify their culture, nation etc.. The Ancient Athenians, Spartans, Thessalians, Thessalonians etc. were not Hellenes and they were not linked with these modern “Greeks”. They were individual groups of people who had some very notable differences in language, culture and ideologies – and for the most part, they hated each other.

    Alexander was not a Hellene. Philip certainly was not. Artistotle and Pindar the poet were Macedonians, born in Macedonia.

    As far as the Republic of Macedonia goes…Tito didn’t just affix the name “Macedonia” to that region. It is part of the three regions of Macedonia that were subdivided between Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria in 1913. That area has every right to call itself “Macedonia”, just as Greece has every right to call their northern province (that was awarded to them in 1913) Macedonia.

    Just so you know, in 1878, ALL of Macedonia was awarded to Bulgaria by way of the Treaty of San Stefano.

    It is interesting to note…before 1991, no Greek consented to the existence of Macedonia. They did not call that territory in their northern regions Macedonia. They did not revel in any association with Alexander – in fact, they always made a point of calling him a his Ancient Macedonians “barbarians.”

    Bulgaria still has a sizable piece of Macedonia – why are they not complaining about the name issue?

  6. All of the comments are truly bullshit. The USA is the only reason FAKE Macedonia exists. They have no rights to the name or the associated history. Greek politicians sold out under Western pressure. You don’t have to be a sharp negotiator to know that Greece,if ruled by Greek patriots, would not have accepted any interim name, FYRoM, they would have left the abomination to rot outside the U N. Everything they have done after the first interim accord to attack Greek culture shows they should be relegated to the waste bin Moffat history.

  7. There is no politician in Macedonia who will ever dear change the Macedonian name of our country. It would affect him/her worse than only putting an end to his/her political career. The right to a name and self-identification is fundamental human right, guaranteed to every individual and country, anywhere on the planet by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Freedoms and by all the universally valid legal international documents. This is why the Greek blackmail on Macedonia to change its name conveys the rise of Neo-Nazism in Greece. Fine if we can join NATO and EU as Macedonia. However, if we are blackmailed to change the name, then simply we WON’T join. Our Macedonian name and Macedonian identity is not on sale. Greece is in the European Union, yet the Greek country is going bankrupt. So we are fine as we are: Macedonia to the Macedonians!

  8. For the ignorami: the term “Pan-hellenes” was first found in Homer to declare the unity of all the Hellenic peoples. It has also been used by Isiodos. This is how the term “Helennes” and its derivatives ended up being used as declarative of all those speaking the same language and abiding by the same customs and religion, living in the wider geographical area.
    The idea that the term was “invented” in the 19th century is … I’d rather not say what.

  9. To Sanja.

    I will keep it short.Bulgaria has accepted skopland as “macedonia”but never you slavs as Macedonians or your language as Macedonian and they are your best friends.zaev has removed alexander statues and has even placed flowers on Tsar samuels monument in Bulgaria..well known as a Bulgarian leader in all history which you slavs of skopland call “Macedonian”.

    Nows as for Albanians in your borders they think you are nothing but Bulgarians and and wish to take your land totally away from you. Considering that your protectors and founders , usa appear to be swapping their allegiance to albania and that it is Greek money that invests most in you,i think we will see lots of politicians in skopland becoming mire amenable: even that turncoat Gruevski!