The dual name trap

(‘Kathimerini’, English edition, 21 February, 2007)
[link]

by Stavors Lygeros

The proposal of UN mediator Matthew Nimetz includes five different names for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Four of them are descriptive of the polity (Democratic Republic of Macedonia, Constitutional Republic of Macedonia, Independent Republic of Macedonia and New Republic of Macedonia). Nimetz is thus trying to sweeten the pill. But the fifth alternative, the Republic of Upper Macedonia, is a geographical designation that reflects reality on the ground. If the Slav-Macedonians wish to be a separate nation they have every right to be so. But they cannot portray FYROM as their fragmented homeland. Macedonia is a multiethnic region, not the land of a nonexistent Macedonian nation. The part cannot lay claim to the whole.

Greece accepts the name Upper Macedonia. But there is another crucial issue: Will the composite name apply in all cases or selectively? In other words, will the neighboring state have one or two official names? Nimetz is pushing a two-name solution, keeping the “Republic of Macedonia” as a constitutional name while using the composite name at international organizations.

Initially, Athens wanted a composite name for all uses. Then the Foreign Ministry abandoned this position, without getting anything in return. It asked that the composite name apply only for international use. But Greece also wants the composite name to be used in Skopje’s bilateral relations. And even a Security Council resolution could not ensure this.

Instead of pursuing impossible guarantees and the use of the composite name on passports, Athens should demand a new constitutional name such as the “Republic of Upper Macedonia.” If Athens agrees to a dual name, it will end up running after third states urging them to adopt the new name in their bilateral ties with Skopje. The old problem will go. But a new, bigger one will emerge.

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