(“Kathimerini”, English edition, 2 February, 2005)
by Evangelos Kofos
However, quite the contrary is true. Crvenkovski, who was prime minister at the time of the Interim Accord of New York in 1995, has endorsed Article 11 which accords Greece the right to oppose FYROM’s participation in any organization or international event if it tries to do so under any name other than the ‘Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.’ Since when has the implementation of a contractual commitment been blackmail?
Now, the FYROM side is exploiting the inopportune and ‘unfair’ US recognition of its constitutional name to continue its foot-dragging, and has restricted itself to offering the formula of the ‘double name’one for Greece and one for the rest of the worldin the knowledge that no Greek politician will accept a solution that puts his country in a position of international ‘apartheid.’
Crvenkovski argues, clumsily, that his proposal ‘takes into account Greece’s sensitivities.’
He argues that his camp has made a series of concessionschanging constitutional provisions, replacing its ‘national flag’ with the ‘Sun of Vergina’ symbol, etc. However, he fails to mention that these ‘concessions’ were made because the young republic of 1991in the grip of intense nationalistic sentimenthad resorted to activities that were neither acceptable to the international community nor to neighboring states.
Indeed, even as recently as 2001following the Ochrid agreement with the ethnic AlbaniansFYROM was obliged to adopt even more constitutional changes.
Meanwhile, Greeceholding a genuine belief in the consolidation of peace and good neighborly relationsunilaterally adopted a series of favorable measures, such as lifting economic sanctions, offering economic support with investments that made Greece FYROM’s chief economic partner, the abolition of restrictive measures on citizens entering its territory and, most importantly, political and economic support in 1999 during the mass influx into FYROM of thousands of Albanian refugees from Kosovo and in 2001 when interethnic violence flared up.
Even on the name issue, Athens appears to have conceded 90 percent, whereas Skopje has refused to concede the remaining 10 percent.
In order to justify this stance, Crvenkovski states: ‘Under no circumstances do we see our constitutional name as the basis for any exclusive right to the name Macedonia, whether in the geographical or historic sense.’
Leniently judged, this phrase in insincere because, once again, it is argued that black is white.
Geographically speaking, the national dogma of FYROM proclaims on all levelspolitical, scientific, educational, mediathat the entire geographical area of Macedonia, up to Mount Olympus, constitutes ‘ethnic Macedonian territory’a region that is the homeland of the ‘Macedonian nation’ which was unfairly partitioned with the Treaty of Bucharest of 1913.
For this reason, the Macedonian regions of neighboring countries are referred to as areas ‘under’that is, under the rule ofGreece, Bulgaria and Albania.
This situation has created dangerous nationalistic, even irredentist, perceptions in new generations who have passed through the education system established following FYROM’s independence in 1991.
On an historical level, a quasi ‘cultural imperialism’ which began in the 1940s50s, and which was aimed at the expropriation of Bulgaria’s historical presence in the broader Macedonian region, was aggressively turned toward the usurpation of the Greek-Macedonian cultural heritage in the 1990s, with the ‘naturalization’ of the Ancient Macedonians as ‘predecessors’of those bearing their name today.
At the risk of provoking ridicule on the international stage, there were calls for erecting a statue of Alexander the Great in Skopje to follow that of the Tzar Samuel.
So, it is now becoming clear why Skopje insists on maintaining the simple name of ‘Macedonia,’ despite the fact that it occupies less than 40 percent of the broader Macedonian region.
FYROM is monopolistically claiming titles, both geographical and historical.
If in the future this trend spreads into the economic sector and FYROM seeks exclusive use of derivatives of the Macedonian name in copyright, commercial titles and product names, the name problem could create severe problemsand not just in international relations.
Consequently, during negotiations for FYROM’s name, Greek diplomats cannot fail to decisively demand:
It is time for our region to shift its energies and outlook toward the future within a common European family. And family life always demands compromises.