The Skopje nightmare

by Costas Iordanidis

(“Kathimerini”, English edition, February 20, 2001)

More than nine years after Greek diplomacy’s fruitless efforts, a PASOK government under Prime Minister Costas Simitis has finally adopted a serious approach toward the dispute over FYROM’s name, proposing a compromise name (Northern Macedonia) for this state entity which emerged in the wake of the dissolution of Yugoslavia.

The time which has lapsed since December 1991 has allowed conditions to mature. In effect, more moderate views have now prevailed preparing the ground for resolving the dispute and normalizing bilateral relations.

In particular, the NATO military campaign against Yugoslavia showcased for the Greek public the important role played by this state entity in absorbing a large part of the wave of migration by ethnic Albanians who fled Kosovo as a result of the bombings. At the same time, after Kiro Gligorov’s removal from center stage, the new leadership of the country, and particularly Prime Minister Ljubco Georgievski, have realized the need for a compromise solution as they gradually saw that it was not Greece that posed a threat but rather other neighboring states and the Albanian extremists.

It is needless to mention that it is the government which is responsible for finding a solution to the problem. The opposition should lend the government its full support—even if in a silent fashion—and no party leader, is of course, bound by the decisions of the informal council founded by the then Greek president, the late Constantine Karamanlis. The establishment of that committee was a mistake for it limited space for the government of the time to maneuver [resulting in the stand that there would be no compromise, that the neighboring state could not use the term “Macedonia” in any form].

In essence, compared to FYROM, Greece is a politically stable and an ethnically and culturally homogeneous state. It is therefore absurd to fear that its history and national identity will be abused. FYROM is a vital area and presents Greece with an opportunity to expand its influence. This fact should determine any decisions made by the Greek government.


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