A Timeline of recent events concerning the Macedonian issue

1990 - 1991 - 1992 - 1993 - 1994 - 1995 - 1996 - 1997 - 1998 - 1999


Jan - Feb - Mar - Apr - May - Jun - Jul - Aug - Sep - Oct - Nov - Dec

11 & 23 December 1990
First multiparty elections in the Socialist Republic of ‘Macedonia’. Nationalist VMRO musters relative majority.


Jan - Feb - Mar - Apr - May - Jun - Jul - Aug - Sep - Oct - Nov - Dec

25 January 1991
The Parliament of FYROM issues a ‘Declaration of Sovereignty’.
27 January 1991
Kiro Gligorov is formally elected President of the Republic Lupce Georgievski, leader of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation - Democratic Party of Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNU), is elected Vice President.

17 February 1991
The Parliament in Skopje changes the name ‘Socialist Republic of Macedonia’ to ‘Republic of Macedonia’.

7 March 1991
Nicolae Kljushev is appointed Prime Minister in Skopje.

5 September 1991
Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev declares that his country intends to recognise the ‘Republic of Macedonia’ under its constitutional name, though Bulgaria does not accept the existence of a ‘Macedonian’ nation.
8 September 1991
Referendum on the future status of the ‘Republic of Macedonia’: Voters were asked whether they were ‘in favour a sovereign Macedonian state, with the right to participate in a future union of Yugoslav states’. Turnout was 71.85% and 95.05% voted YES.
17 September 1991
Referendum results confirmed by Skopje parliament, which votes the laws of the Yugoslav Federation no longer applicable in the ‘Republic of Macedonia’.

13 November 1991
The Greek government spokesman states that ‘Greece does not intend to recognise an independent state with the historically Greek name of Macedonia’.
17 November 1991
The constitution of the ‘Republic of Macedonia’ is adopted.

4 December 1991
The Greek Council of Ministers deals with the issue of the ‘Republic of Macedonia’ in view of the European Council of Foreign Ministers in Brussels and concludes on the following three terms:
  1. The new state must change the name ‘Macedonia’;
  2. It must declare that it has no aspirations nor claims against Greece;
  3. It must acknowledge that there exists no ‘Macedonian’ minority in Greece.
16 December 1991
An extraordinary EU Council of Foreign Ministers meets in Brussels. It accepts the disintegration of Yugoslavia as a fait accompli and decides to recognise the independence of former Yugoslav republics subject to the following three terms:
  1. ‘to commit itself, prior to recognition, adopt constitutional and political guarantees ensuring that it has no territorial claims towards a neighbouring Community state,’
  2. ‘that it will conduct no hostile propaganda activities versus a neighbouring Community state’,
  3. ‘including the use of a denomination which implies territorial claims’.

1990 - 1991 - 1992 - 1993 - 1994 - 1995 - 1996 - 1997 - 1998 - 1999


Jan - Feb - Mar - Apr - May - Jun - Jul - Aug - Sep - Oct - Nov - Dec

3 January 1992
Greek President Constantine Karamanlis addresses a letter to the heads of state of the European Union (EU) on the Macedonian issue. An informal meeting between experts from Greece and the ‘Republic of Macedonia’ takes place in Athens. The talks end in deadlock owing to the refusal of Skopje delegates to discuss the name issue.

The Badinter commission opines that the ‘Republic of Macedonia’ meets the European Council conditions for recognition.

6 January 1992
The Skopje parliament passes amendments on the Constitution of the ‘Republic of Macedonia’ (articles 3 and 49).
11 January 1992
An extraordinary European Council of Foreign Ministers decides to postpone decision on the recognition of the ‘Republic of Macedonia’.
12 January 1992
Greek President Karamanlis addresses a letter to EU heads of state and government (Kohl, Mitterrand, Andreotti) urging them to abide by the European Council terms for recognition.
14 January 1992
The Badinter commission issues its report in favour of the recognition of Slovenia and the ‘Republic of Macedonia’. Turmoil in Athens sends Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis on a long tour of European capitals.
15 January 1992
Bulgaria recognises the ‘Republic of Macedonia’.
24 January 1992
Skopje Prime Minister Kljushev rejects a Serbian proposal for the formation of a ‘minor’ Yugoslav Federation.

5 February 1992
Turkey recognises the ‘Republic of Macedonia’.
14 February 1992
Several hundred thousand Greeks rally in Thessaloniki in protest against the appropriation of the Macedonian name and history by Skopje.
17 February 1992
EU Foreign Ministers meet in Lisbon. The Portuguese Presidency is given a mandate to seek an accommodation between Athens and Skopje.
18 February 1992
In an attempt to foster a common position on the Macedonian issue, President Karamanlis convenes the First Meeting of Greek Party Leaders.
21 February 1992
President Gligorov and Chief of Staff of the People’s Yugoslav Army General Blagoja Andjic agree that the Yugoslav army will withdraw from the ‘Republic of Macedonia’ by 15 April 1992.

15 March 1992
The Yugoslav Federal Army transfers its responsibilities in the ‘Republic of Macedonia’ to the local defence forces.

12 April 1992
Greek Foreign Minister A. Samaras expresses his proposals (7 points) in the Second Meeting of the Leaders of Greek Political Parties.
13 April 1992
Second Meeting of Greek Party Leaders on the Macedonian Issue. With the exception of the Communist Party leader, Mrs Aleka Papariga, those present agree that Greece will recognise Skopje as an independent state only if the three European Council terms are met, and that the name of the new state does not contain the term ‘Macedonia’.

Foreign Minister Samaras presents a memorandum on ‘seven points of action’ aimed at convincing the EU and the US that Greece rules out any form of recognition of the new state under its present name.

Disagreement is recorded regarding Greek reactions in case that the new state is internationally recognised as ‘Macedonia’. Mitsotakis dismisses Samaras and takes up the Foreign Ministry himself.

16 April 1992
German Foreign Minister Hans Dietrich Genscher meets Karamanlis and Mitsotakis in Athens. Referring to the Macedonian Question, the German Foreign Minister states:

‘The German position, within the framework of negotiations at the European Community level, as well as the discussions here, was and remains that we support a solution which can also be acceptable to Greece.’

27 April 1992
The creation of a new Yugoslav Federation is sanctioned by the parliaments of Serbia and Montenegro.

2 May 1992
During the unofficial Meeting of Foreign Ministers in Gimaraes, Portugal, the Pineiro ‘package’ is adopted. It supports the position that a name should be found acceptable to both Greece and the ‘Republic of Macedonia’. A proposal by German Foreign Minister Genscher to recognise the new state as the ‘Republic of Skopje’ was objected by France, Italy and Britain. The Meeting also expressed the desire of EU member-states to establish a ‘fruitful relationship’ with the government of Skopje and urged the parties directly involved to find a solution within the framework of the ‘package’ prepared by the Portuguese Presidency.
8 May 1992
President Karamanlis addresses a letter to the US President George Bush stressing possible grave implications arising from the ‘provocative attitude’ of the Skopje government. He also addresses similar letters to the heads of the eleven EU member states and asks for their active support.

In his first interview as Foreign Minister, Prime Minister Mitsotakis appears optimistic about the future course of the Macedonian Issue. He upholds Greece’s firm position on the name issue and claims that it enjoys EU support.

10 May 1992
Meeting in Brussels , EU Foreign Ministers set a four-week limit for the recognition of the ‘Republic of Macedonia’. Mitsotakis concentrates on obtaining further clarification of the EU commitment to Greek position.
11 May 1992
The Greek ambassador in Belgrade delivers to President Gligorov a message from Prime Minister Mitsotakis, expressing the willingness of his government to provide financial and other assistance to Skopje, provided that the three terms of 16 December 1991 are met. In his reply, Gligorov welcomes the move as one of ‘good will’, but rules out any change in the name of his state.
20 May 1992
A US Department of State official states that Washington is not prepared to recognise the ‘Republic of Macedonia’, since this would cause instability in Greece.
30 May 1992
Thousands of ethnic Greeks rally in front of the White House in support of the Greek positions on the Macedonian and Cyprus questions.

3 June 1992
The Prime Minister of Portugal discloses that the Greek government has rejected the name ‘Upper Macedonia’ proposed by the EU Presidency.
9 June 1992
The body of the Greek parliament approves a declaration with regard to the Macedonian Question in which the following are mentioned: "Representatives of all parliamentary parties, except for the Greek Communist Party, declare their decision to request the support of the democratic parliaments of the member-states of the European Community and the whole world for the enforcement of the three terms posed by the Foreign Ministers of the European Community and for the prevention of the usage of the name "Macedonia" by any novel state entity."
18 June 1992
French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas states that Mitsotakis proposed in Luxembourg that Skopje be recognised by the ‘12’ under the name ‘Vardar Republic’, while permitting its citizens to use the name ‘Republic of Macedonia’.

11 August 1992
The Skopje parliament adopts the ‘Vergina Star’ as the symbol of the state flag.
8 September 1992
In Regulations issued by the EU Council of Ministers on the restoration of Community trade with the republics of former Yugoslavia, the phrase ‘territory of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’ is put on record.

10 November 1992
On Greek initiative, the governments of Greece, Albania, Bulgaria and Serbia issue communiqués whereby they guarantee the borders of FYROM. The guarantees are rejected by Skopje.
30 November 1992
The Special Representative of the EU Presidency, British Ambassador Robin O’Neil, delivers his report proposing the name ‘The Republic of Macedonia (Skopje)’ for use in the state’s external relations.

12 December 1992
The Edinburgh Summit Meeting unanimously adopts a decision calling for the Council of Foreign Ministers to continue dealing with the Macedonian issue, though member states could act as free agents in the UN or the CSCE. The EU also decided to extend economic aid to Skopje and welcomed the deployment of UNPROFOR in Bosnia.

1990 - 1991 - 1992 - 1993 - 1994 - 1995 - 1996 - 1997 - 1998 - 1999


Jan - Feb - Mar - Apr - May - Jun - Jul - Aug - Sep - Oct - Nov - Dec

5 January 1993
French Foreign Minister Dumas addresses a letter to Prime Minister Mitsotakis and President Gligorov elaborating on President Mitterrand’s proposal to have the name dispute settled by an international court.
7 January 1993
From Geneva, President Gligorov rejects the French proposal to submit the name issue to international arbitration.
9 January 1993
The request of the Skopje government for UN membership under the name ‘Macedonia’ is forwarded to the UN Security Council.
26 January 1993
The Greek UN Delegation issues a memorandum rejecting the request of FYROM for UN membership. The representatives of the EU members of the Security Council (Britain, France and Spain) submit a plan of confidence-building measures proposing the temporary name ‘Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’.

Seeking better American understanding of the Greek position, President Karamanlis addresses a letter to newly elected US President Bill Clinton. Karamanlis claims that heeding the Greek position is the only way to avert the spreading of the Yugoslav conflict southwards.

12 February 1993
The deployment of the UN forces in the territory of Skopje commences.
16 February 1993
The Greek Parliament passes a law establishing the ‘Vergina Star’ as a Greek national symbol.

7 April 1993
The Security Council (S 817/1993) unanimously approves the accession of the new state to the UN under the provisional name ‘Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’ (FYROM) but without flag hoisting rights. It further considers the name dispute capable of influencing the good neighbourly relations and peace in the region and invites the co-chairmen of the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia (ICFY) to offer their good services towards the settlement of the dispute.
8 April 1993
Seven EU countries (Italy, Spain, Ireland, Britain, Denmark, Germany and Sweden) recognise FYROM.
26 April 1993
Albania officially recognises FYROM.

1-2 May 1993
The ICFY co-chairmen and Yugoslav, Croatian and Bosnian leaders meet in Athens in a futile effort to secure Bosnian Serb approval for the Vance-Owen plan.
14 May 1993
The Council of Europe grants FYROM the special guest status, with no voting rights.

Having completed a round of separate talks with the Foreign Ministers of Greece and FYROM, the ICFY co-chairmen Cyrus Vance and Lord Owen hand to the two parties a draft agreement on ‘Friendly Relations and Confidence Building Measures’. The draft includes the name ‘Nova Makedonija’ as the single permanent appellation of FYROM.

19 May 1993
FYROM is granted CSCE observer status.
28 May 1993
Prime Minister Mitsotakis rejects the proposed confidence building measures and the proposed ‘Nova Makedonija’ appellation. However, he leaves open the possibility for direct negotiations with FYROM.
29 May 1993
In a letter to Vance and Owen, President Gligorov expresses his disagreement with several points of the proposed draft agreement, including the ‘Nova Makedonija’ appellation.

3 June 1993
Greek Foreign Minister Michalis Papakonstantinou admits that Greece might accept the name ‘Slavomacedonia’ but not the proposed ‘Nova Makedonija’.
10 June 1993
The US government announces its decision to deploy a token military force in FYROM.
14 June 1993
Speaking at the International Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, President Gligorov refers to pressures to which ‘Macedonian minorities living in all neighbouring countries’ are subjected.
17 June 1993
A two day meeting is held in Skopje between delegations of the Chamber of Trade of Thessaloniki and the Independent Chamber of Skopje.
18 June 1993
The UN Security Council (S 845/1993) recommends the Vance-Owen proposals as a ‘sound basis’ for the settlement of the Athens-Skopje dispute and urge the two parties to resume negotiations.
23 June 1993
In an interview to a German television network, Prime Minister Mitsotakis states that Greece shall never accept the use of the name ‘Macedonia’ by FYROM, though it will continue to seek a solution within the framework of the United Nations.

6 July 1993
President Gligorov states that the Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic has attempted to dissuade him from accepting US troops in his republic. He also asks that international observers be deployed along the borders with Greece to supervise the implementation of the embargo against Serbia.

12 August 1993
A new round of contacts is initiated in New York by the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General, Vance, with delegates from Greece and FYROM.
23 August 1993
The governments of Athens and Skopje and the negotiator Vance announce their decision to initiate direct negotiations on 28 September, without mentioning a deadline.
27 August 1993
Vandals desecrate the graves of Greek soldiers who fell during World War I at the village Valandovo, near the Greek border.

2 September 1993
The US government announces its intention to establish a Liaison Office in Skopje. The State Department clarifies that this action in any way implies a diplomatic recognition of FYROM by the US.
9 September 1993
After loosing its parliamentary majority, the Mitsotakis government calls an early general election.
28 September 1993
Delegations of Greece and FYROM meet in New York under Vance.

8 October 1993
A Skopje court outlaws the Party of Serbian Democratic Action and the pro-Bulgarian Human Rights Party on charges of ‘anti-Macedonian activity’.
10 October 1993
Elections in Greece. Andreas Papandreou’s Socialist PASOK is returned to power.
12 October 1993
China recognises FYROM under the ‘Republic of Macedonia’ appellation.
23 October 1993
While presenting the agenda of his government, Prime Minister Papandreou reiterated his position against the recognition of a state under the name - or a derivative - of ‘Macedonia’.

4 November 1993
Greek Foreign Minister Karolos Papoulias communicates to the UN Secretary General his government’s decision to discontinue bilateral talks with FYROM until the latter reverses its provocative attitude against Greece (Constitution, flag, propaganda).
11 November 1993
A temporary flare-up of ethnic tension in Skopje following the uncovering of an alleged Albanian conspiracy against the State. The ethnic Albanian Defence Minister is dismissed and several Albanians are arrested.
15 November 1993
The new Defence Minister, Vlado Popovski, announces military co-operation between Turkey and FYROM.
21 November 1993
The FYROM government threatens to withdraw from the talks at the UN, if the Greek request for separating the negotiations on confidence-building measures from those on the name issue is accepted.
22 November 1993
FYROM registers the international country code ‘MK’.
25 November 1993
Bulgaria and FYROM sign a new consular agreement.

A spokesman of the Belgian EU Presidency denies that the ‘11’ [except Greece] have prepared a plan for the establishment of diplomatic relations with FYROM.

26 November 1993
Commenting on the possibility of establishment of diplomatic relations between the EU countries and FYROM, Prime Minister Papandreou spoke of a breach of solidarity among member states. The Greek Foreign Minister described any allusion to recognition of FYROM by EU countries as ‘unacceptable’.

Juri Trusin is appointed diplomatic representative of Russia to Skopje.

3 December 1993
The US Liaison Office opens in Skopje.
16 December 1993
Six EU partners (Britain, France, Germany, Denmark, Italy, and the Netherlands), issue statements of intent to establish diplomatic relations with FYROM. Gligorov refers to his country’s border with Greece as ‘permanent’ and to the need to improve bilateral relations.
17 December 1993
Finland recognises FYROM.
18 December 1993
According to the Greek government spokesman, Evangelos Venizelos, prior to an improvement of relations with Greece, the Skopje government ought to undertake:
  1. a written commitment that it does not have any territorial claims against neighbouring countries and that it will not permit irredentist activity inside its territory against its neighbours;
  2. within a short and specific period of time, all necessary steps to remove Greek symbols, such as the ‘Vergina Star’, from official use;
  3. specific actions concerning the amendment of objectionable clauses of the Constitution and its preamble, which imply territorial claims.
20 December 1993
Sweden and Norway establish diplomatic relations with FYROM. The Bulgarian government decides to upgrade is diplomatic representation in Skopje to embassy status.

1990 - 1991 - 1992 - 1993 - 1994 - 1995 - 1996 - 1997 - 1998 - 1999


1994 - Jan - Feb - Mar - Apr - May - Jun - Jul - Aug - Sep - Oct - Nov - Dec

5 January 1994
During a joint press conference with European Commission President Jacques Delors, Prime Minister Papandreou notes that it is the prerogative of his government to decide to close the borders with FYROM ‘if and when it is necessary’. He adds, however, that this is not within his intentions today. Concerning the prospect of better relations between Athens and Skopje, Papandreou states: ‘Even within the framework of non-recognition, while the name issue remains unresolved, provided that FYROM behaves properly, removes the irredentist calls from the preamble of its Constitution, stops using Greek symbols as its flag, then we will be in a position to have normal relations’.

With regard to the dialogue at the UN, the Greek Premier professed readiness to have it resumed if the above preconditions were met. Further, he does not exclude ‘other modes of mediation, all transparent’.

8 January 1994
Greek Deputy Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos, states to the French daily Le Figaro that Greece ‘must put aside the name dispute, because we are at an impasse.’
16 January 1994
Greek Foreign Minster Papoulias states that the dialogue between Athens and Skopje in New York was in the process of getting reactivated.
17 January 1994
After a meeting with President Karamanlis, Prime Minister Papandreou states that ‘foreign policy, especially concerning the issue of Skopje, is handled personally’ by him and Foreign Minister Papoulias. In a letter to the US Secretary of State Warren Christopher, thirty members of Congress request that ‘the US refrain from recognising FYROM before studying the concerns of Greece and other countries.
19 January 1994
Former Prime Minister Georgios Rallis stated that ‘it would not be realistic’ to expect that Greece could avoid a hyphenated name for the state of Skopje ‘now or in the future.’

9 February 1994
The United States government proceeds with the ‘formal recognition’ of FYROM, pointing out that diplomatic relations will be established as soon as assurances are obtained regarding matters of importance to the US, including the respect of human rights and the principles of the CSCE, and Skopje commits itself to work constructively to solve its differences with America’s ‘long-standing ally, Greece.’
10 February 1994
The European Parliament adopts with 106 votes to 38 a resolution proposed by the European Socialist Party ‘concerning the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.’ The resolution:
  1. invites FYROM to change its flag and amend the objectionable articles of its Constitution;
  2. invites the Greek government to reconsider its decision to impose a trade blockade on FYROM;
  3. invites Greece and FYROM to resume negotiations under the aegis of the UN and with the assistance of the European Union, if they so wish.

The resolution further mentions in detail the Greek positions on the name, symbols and the constitution, condemns extremism and ‘Macedonian’ irredentism, and takes note of Greece’s willingness to guarantee the independence and sovereignty of FYROM as well as its intent to promote economic co-operation between the two states.

14 February 1994
FYROM expresses its intention to participate in the ‘Partnership for Peace’ initiative.
15 February 1994
The Australian government recognises FYROM. A protest march against the recognition of FYROM by the US takes place in Thessaloniki.
16 February 1994
Prime Minister Papandreou announces that the decision of his government to ‘interrupt the transportation of merchandise to and from Skopje through the port of Thessaloniki, excluding necessary goods for humanitarian reasons, such as food and medicine’. The government also decides to close the Greek Consulate General in Skopje. US Assistant Secretary of State Stephen Oxman communicates a strong démarche to the Greek Ambassador in Washington.
21 February 1994
The Greek Presidency of the European Union informs the member-states of the measures Greece has unilaterally taken towards FYROM. Most member states are critical of this decision. EU Commission President Delors questioned the legality of the Greek decision and brings the matter to the Council of Ministers in Brussels.
22 February 1994
In a letter of protest to the Chairman of the UN Security Council, the government of FYROM denounces the trade blockade as an ‘embargo’ that violates the UN Charter, CSCE documents and International Law. During an unofficial visit to Skopje, EU Commissioner for Foreign Affairs Hans Van den Broeck offers to mediate between the two neighbouring countries. In a letter addressed to Prime Minister Papandreou, EU Commission President Delors expresses concern and questions the expediency of the trade measures taken by Greece against FYROM.
25-26 February 1994
In its replies to EU criticism, the Greek government stresses the ‘threat which the behaviour of FYROM poses against public order in and the national security of Greece and the ensuing serious international tension, which constitutes a threat of war.’ The Greek government also evokes General Exception Clause 224 of the Treaty of Rome, allowing a country to take unilateral measures.
28 February 1994
The West European Union (WEU) Council meeting in Paris expresses its ‘deep concern’ about the measures taken by Greece against FYROM. After meeting Prime Minister Papandreou and Foreign Minister Papoulias, British Foreign Minister Hurd describes the measures as damaging to FYROM and illegal, which could only damage the good name and prestige of Greece.

2 March 1994
Greece once more blocks the discussion of FYROM’s admission to the CSCE.
7 March 1994
In a radio interview in Paris, EU Commission President Delors, stresses that the Greek measures are ‘not acceptable’ and invites Greece to adjust to European mentality.
8 March 1994
A State Department spokeswoman once more condemns the Greek measures against FYROM and asks that they be repealed.
10 March 1994
In Geneva, UN mediator Vance presents the contours of an interim agreement, mostly an abridged version of the 16 May 1993 draft, to Papoulias and FYROM Foreign Minister Stevo Chervenkovski.

The Skopje government professes readiness to resume the dialogue with Greece on all issues, within the framework of the UN and through the mediation of Cyrus Vance.

18 March 1994
The Greek Ambassador to the UN delivers the Greek reply to the Vance proposals.

The White House announces the appointment of Matthew Nimetz as special envoy of the US government on the Macedonian issue.

26 March 1994
During an informal session of the EU Council of Foreign Ministers in Ioannina, Greece, the view is expressed that the political reasons evoked by Greece for imposing sanctions against FYROM are invalid.
28 March 1994
The meeting between the Greek Prime Minister with the EU Commissioner for Foreign Affairs confirms the complete discord between Greece and the other member states on the Macedonian issue. Washington will not establish diplomatic relations with FYROM until the situation is resolved in a way satisfactory to both sides, states the State Department official in charge of Southern European Affairs at the biennial congress of the AHEPA Greek-American association.
29 March 1994
After meeting with Presidential envoy Nimetz, Foreign Minister Chervenkovski states that his government will stick to its positions and will not move under pressure.

The Greek government spokesman states that Greece will not repeal the measures against FYROM unless FYROM takes specific steps ‘in practice’. He also notes that Greek foreign policy cannot be under the threat of possible action of the European Commission before the Court of the European Communities.

31 March 1994
Another mass rally on the Macedonian issue takes place in Thessaloniki.

6 April 1994
The EU Commission decides to bring Greece to the European Court for violating the free trade clauses of the Treaty of Rome and to request an immediate injunction against the trade blockade. At the same time, it invites FYROM to reconsider its position on the matters of the constitution and symbols.

17 May 1994
UN mediator Vance announces the temporary suspension of talks, to be continued after elections for the European Parliament. In an interview to the Austrian newspaper Die Presse, President Gligorov repeats that the future of his country lies within the European Union and stresses that Skopje firmly intends to negotiate with Greece on all matters in order to find solutions acceptable to both parties.
27 May 1994
In his report to the Security Council, the UN Secretary General describes the draft ‘Interim Agreement’ presented by Vance to the two parties in Geneva as a basis for further talks.

29 June 1994
The European Court rejects the EU Commission’s request for an immediate injunction against the Greek trade blockade on the grounds that the Commission failed to prove that these measures are causing damage to EU trade with FYROM.

1 September 1994
In a letter to his German counterpart, Klaus Kinkel, Foreign Minister Papoulias states that his government would be willing to lift the economic measures against FYROM and to facilitate better relations, provided that Skopje proceeded with a ‘gesture of good will,’ i.e. the removal of the ‘Vergina Star’ from the state flag and the repeal of irredentist clauses from the constitution.
8 September 1994
The FYROM parliament is dissolved and early elections are announced for 16 October. Sixty parties will compete for 120 seats in parliament.
15 September 1994
At the CSCE session in Prague Greece persists in vetoing FYROM’s admission.
22 September 1994
Talking in Washington, former Deputy Foreign Minister Pangalos expresses himself in favour of ‘direct dialogue’ between Athens and Skopje, adding that both countries can live with the name FYROM and at the same time proceed with solving the other problems concerning the constitution and the flag.
26 September 1994
In a report to the Security Council the UN Secretary General attributes part of the serious economic difficulties facing FYROM to the Greek sanctions. Noting that ‘external and internal factors’ contribute to the economic and political uncertainty, as well as to the rising social tension in the republic, Boutros Ghali commits his good services through a special envoy towards the preservation of peace and stability there.

In his reply letter, Greece’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Christos Zacharakis, points out that his government’s decision to take measures against FYROM has had negative and painful effects on the Greek economy too, while the adverse effects of the continuing international sanctions against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia are still being felt.

30 October 1994
The Socialist Party, which supports President Gligorov, wins the second round of the parliamentary elections in FYROM.

7 November 1994
Gligorov appears unyielding during his meeting with Vance and Boutros Ghali in Geneva. After the meeting, the UN Secretary General admits the lack of progress.
8 November 1994
Greek Foreign Minister Papoulias states that it is for President Gligorov to reply clearly whether he accepts the rapprochement effort towards reaching a solution.
14 November 1994
According to the official results of the census carried out in FYROM in June 1994, Slav Macedonians number 1,288,330 or 66,5% of the population. Albanians are 22,9%, Turks 4%, Roma (Gypsies) 2,3%, Serbs 2% and Vlachs 0,4%. Approximately 35,000 persons (Montenegrins, Croats, Czechs, Greeks, Bulgarians, Jews, Polish) are assigned to the ‘Other’ category.
18 November 1994
Greece once more vetoed the accession of FYROM to the CSCE.
20 November 1994
In his inaugurating speech to the newly elected parliament in Skopje, President Gligorov poses two conditions which might facilitate a solution:
  1. the national identity and the dignity of his country and its people should be respected;
  2. the two parties enter the talks as equal and sovereign countries with mutual respect and good will.

He also reiterates his proposal for an agreement recognising the inviolability of the present borders between Greece and FYROM under the guarantee of the UN, the EU, the US, or anyone else.

24 November 1994
Albania declines to sign a bilateral military agreement with FYROM, because the latter refuses to have the term ‘FYROM’ in the official text. Albania has also failed to sign an educational convention in summer 1994 for the same reason.
28 November 1994
A poll conducted on behalf of the Nova Makedonija newspaper shows that 99,66% of those questioned optimistic about the normalisation of FYROM’s relations with Greece, though a three-quarter majority does not agree to a hyphenated name.

5 December 1994
In an interview to Hungarian media, President Gligorov sets the lifting of the economic sanctions as a precondition for the resumption of the dialogue between FYROM and Greece. Gligorov fails to reply to a question whether FYROM could yield on the flag issue, while leaving open the matter of possible amendments to the constitution. He adds, however, that it is unprecedented one country demanding that another change its constitution.
8 December 1994
According to Former Deputy Foreign Minister Pangalos, the recent flare-up of the Macedonian issue is the product of ultra right-wing politics and pseudopatriotism. He also describes Greek policy on the issue, particularly the economic sanctions, a ‘fiasco’, which only benefits black marketeers and party bosses.
12 December 1994
According to a poll conducted in the Athens and Thessaloniki areas on behalf of ‘Flash’ radio station, relations with Turkey are rated the primary issue in Greek foreign policy (53%), followed by the Macedonian dispute (20,5%) and relations with Albania (7%). The government’s handling of the Macedonian question rates a 26,5% approval against to 54,7% rejection.
17 December 1994
The opening of the Albanian-speaking University of Tetovo sparks ethnic tensions in FYROM. In spite of the government’s prohibition of any kind of gathering in open or closed space on this date, the Albanians did conduct the inaugural ceremony three hours ahead of scheduled time.
18 December 1994
The leader of the left-wing Synaspismos (League) Party, Nikos Konstantopoulos, becomes the first Greek politician to visit Skopje after 1991.
20 December 1994
In a speech before the European Parliament, German Foreign Minister Kinkel comes out in support of Greece on the Macedonian issue. He states that Greece has made its case clear and criticises President Gligorov for having rejected every name that has been put on the table. Kinkel adds that he expects Mr Gligorov to state that the passages implying territorial claims against Greece will be deleted from the constitution and its preamble.
30 December 1994
The evening newspaper Vecher of Skopje publishes the break down of ethnic groups in FYROM according to the June 1994 census:

Total: 1,936,877 (50,4% male, 49,9 female)

(Slav) Macedonians: 1,288,300
Albanians: 422,914
Turks: 77,252
Roma (Gypsies): 43,732
Serbs: 39,260
Vlachs: 8,467

Another twenty eight nationalities are registered, including:
Muslims: 15,315
Bosnians: 7,244
Egyptians: 3,169
Montenegrins: 2,281
Croats: 2.198
Bulgarians: 1,547
Slovenes: 391

1990 - 1991 - 1992 - 1993 - 1994 - 1995 - 1996 - 1997 - 1998 - 1999


Jan - Feb - Mar - Apr - May - Jun - Jul - Aug - Sep - Oct - Nov - Dec

5 January 1995
Following his talks in Athens with Deputy Foreign Minister Yannos Kranidiotis, US Assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrooke expressed support for the ‘triple appellation’ formula, elaborated by Presidential envoy Nimetz and UN Mediator Vance.
8 January 1995
US Assistant Secretary of State Holbrooke is received by President Gligorov in Skopje.
8 January 1995
Speaking to Greek journalists in Amman, Prime Minister Papandreou states that the sanctions are a matter of tactics, which may change depending on the assessment of the situation. According to the Prime Minister, the only issue that is a matter of principle, concerns the name. Papandreou reaffirmed that his government adheres to the 1992 decision of the Conference of Party Leaders not to accept the name ‘Macedonia’ or its derivatives for the state of FYROM.

According to Papandreou, the sanctions helped to pull the issue out of obscurity, and thus benefited Greece. The international climate has already changed and Greek positions are better understood in the US and the EU, the Premier maintained.

15 January 1995
In reply to President Clinton’s interview in the Greek daily Kathimerini, Prime Minister Papandreou expressed appreciation of the President’s special interest in the dispute between Greece and FYROM. With regard to the case against Greece pending before the European Court, he stressed that the Macedonian issue goes far beyond any decision by that Court, and it would be a mistake for the Skopje government to base its hopes on a possible favourable outcome. Greece, he claimed, is able to keep up the diplomatic front against Skopje. Commenting on his previous statement that the trade embargo is not an end in itself, the Greek Premier stated that the measures still serve their purpose. He further sees no prospect for a meaningful direct dialogue as long as President Gligorov maintains his current intransigent attitude.
17 January 1995
Speaking at an event on Greek foreign policy, former Prime Minister Mitsotakis attributes responsibility for the deadlock in the Macedonian issue to the entire political leadership, including President Karamanlis. Yet he apportioned the greatest share of the blame to former Foreign Minister Samaras, particularly on account of his insistence on priority to the name issue. Mitsotakis claimed that he wanted to draw a ‘different course’ in February 1992, but that proved impossible ‘because, unfortunately, the rest of the political leadership, including the President of the Republic, although they privately believed that the name issue was not the primary one, declined to publicly support an immediate solution of the problem on (the basis of) the Pineiro package’.

In a mild response to Andreas Papandreou’s interview of 15 January, the Foreign Ministry of FYROM argued that Skopje was not responsible for the breakdown of the UN-sponsored talks, and it is willing to resume the dialogue on a basis of equality, with or without a mediator. Significantly, there is no expressed reference to the familiar preconditions, such as the lifting of the trade sanctions imposed by Greece.

20 January 1995
In an interview to a private television network of Skopje, former Greek Foreign Minister Papakonstantinou admits that the decision reached at the Greek party leaders conference of 1992, concerning the dispute between Greece and FYROM, was not realistic.

Papakonstantinou reveals that Greece and FYROM had agreed to 24 of the 25 points of the draft agreement prepared by Vance and Owen in spring 1993. The Greek side, he says, did not exclude direct talks under the aegis of the UN, in May 1993.

Papakonstantinou also politician disapproves the Greek sanctions against FYROM.

24 January 1995
In an interview to a private television network of Skopje, Greek Education Minister Georgios Papandreou takes up the idea of a solution to the Greek-FYROM dispute through a ‘small package’ of confidence building measures, including a change in the flag, guarantee of borders, a constitutional amendment on the part of FYROM; Greece, for its part, would facilitate FYROM’s entry into international organisations and would promote economic co-operation with that state. Papandreou appeared to admit that the trade sanctions were damaging for both countries and this rendered a breakthrough all the more urgent.
28 January 1995
Commenting on the dispute between Greece and FYROM, the Bulgarian newspaper Duma, strongly criticises President Gligorov and FYROM’s diplomatic apparatus for the deadlock: instead of taking even a simple step towards a mutually acceptable solution, Skopje, the newspaper argues, pursues a diplomacy of rejection. In a statement to a private television network of Skopje, the new Bulgarian Prime Minister, Zan Videnov, notes that ‘Macedonia’ and Bulgaria, as the two Balkan nations with the closest intellectual ties, should become a model of good relations and mutual respect in the region. Videnov stressed that his government will work in order for a spirit of greater realism than hitherto to prevail in bilateral relations.
29 January 1995
President Gligorov states that, were Greece to accept the name ‘Republic of Macedonia’, his country is ready to seek a compromise on all remaining issues.

1 February 1995
The case against Greece concerning the trade measures against FYROM is heard before the Court of the European Communities. Greek government spokesman Evangelos Venizelos states that the essential point at issue is ‘the limits of the foreign policy of member states and therefore the limits of national sovereignty’.
6 February 1995
In response to an inquiry by UN mediator Vance, Foreign Minister Chervenkovski insists that the name ‘Republic of Macedonia’ is not negotiable, because ‘it is the quintessence of the Macedonian nation’. He adds that his government would withdraw the flag displaying the ‘Vergina Star’ only if Greece accepted the constitutional name of his country. Chervenkovski further claims that the Greek embargo no longer causes serious problems to FYROM, whereas it is the source of problems for the Greek government.

15 March 1995
UN mediator Vance submits a set of proposals to Ambassador Zacharakis and Foreign Minister Chervenkovski, including a pre-draft agreement.
17 March 1995
The governments of Athens and Skopje respond positively to the pre-draft agreement concerning confidence-building measures between the two countries. The ‘package deal’ calls, among other things, for a change in FYROM’s flag, constitutional amendments, and the lifting of the Greek trade sanctions.
21 March 1995
Commenting on the prospective resumption of talks at the UN, a government spokesman in Skopje states that direct dialogue with Greece under the shadow of the embargo is unacceptable to his government and rules out any discussion about the name issue.

6 April 1995
The Attorney General of the European Court, Francis Jacobs, proposes the rejection of the EU Commission’s case against Greece concerning the ‘embargo’. Justice Jacobs acknowledges the sovereign right of every member state of the Union to take unilateral measures in order to deal with a threat, even if the other member states do not see sufficient cause. Direct talks scheduled to begin today between Greece and FYROM representatives in New York, are cancelled. Foreign Ministry Chervenkovski dismisses the proposal of the Attorney General of the European Court as an attempt to apply political pressure and claims that the European Court ought not to judge the essence of the dispute between Greece and FYROM.

15 May 1995
The Greek government rejects the initiative of the Hungarian presidency of Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) towards the lifting of the Greek veto to the entry of FYROM in the organisation.
24 May 1995
In an interview to a private television station, the leader of the main opposition party in Greece, Miltiadis Evert, sums up the points of agreement and disagreement with the government on the Macedonian issue. Evert declares that Greece is not threatened by Skopje, though he supports the continuation of the economic sanctions, until FYROM makes a gesture of good will. He disagrees, however, with the government’s intention to negotiate a ‘small package’ and not a ‘large package’ deal that would include the name issue.

12 June 1995
Meeting with a parliamentary delegation from Skopje, Bulgarian President Zhelev states that his country has failed to assist ‘Macedonia’ to the degree it should have. ‘Macedonia’, he maintains, ‘is a reality and this must be understood by all, Greece in particular, whose embargo causes damage to Bulgaria, too.’

Zhelev, who had formerly denied the existence of a ‘Macedonian’ language, claims that ‘no one in Bulgaria tries to deny the existence of a Macedonian nation, though there are known instances that the two nations speak the same language’. He further supported the signing of various agreements, which were pending for some time, using, if need be, the English language!

21 June 1995
The EU Commission reiterates its intention not to withdraw its case against Greece at the European Court. The Commission still believes that the Greek government violates Community law with the imposition of the trade blockade, the opinion of the Court’s Attorney General notwithstanding.
22 June 1995
In an interview to an Italian journal, President Gligorov precludes any concessions on the name issue, but appears prepared to discuss a change in the flag and ‘any other problem’ in relations with Greece. Touching upon the issue of ‘Macedonian’ minorities in Greece and other neighbouring countries, Gligorov admitted that this was an internal matter of those countries, and referred his interviewer to the reports of Helsinki Watch and the US Department of State on this matter.

4 September 1995
Following the visits of US Assistant Secretary of State Holbrooke to Athens and Skopje, the two governments decide to begin Minister level negotiations in New York. This was announced by US Chargé in Athens Thomas Miller, after the Director of the Greek Prime Minister’s diplomatic office confirmed Greece’s consent.
13 September 1995
An Interim Agreement between Greece and FYROM is signed in New York. Foreign Ministers Papoulias and Chervenkovski sign the document in the presence of UN mediator Vance and presidential envoy Nimetz. Immediately after the signing ceremony, Vance outlines the basic points of the agreement:
  1. each side shall respect the territorial integrity and political independence of the other and reaffirms the inviolability of their international borders;
  2. Greece shall recognise FYROM as an independent and sovereign state; the two governments shall establish liaison offices at the respective capitals;
  3. FYROM shall refrain from using in any way the symbol which is now its flag;
  4. FYROM shall provide specific and binding assurances that its Constitution will conform to the principles of international law and good neighbourly relations;
  5. freedom of movement of people and goods is restored between the two countries.
27 September 1995
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe accepts FYROM’s request for membership in the organisation.

3 October 1995
An assassination attempt is made against President Gligorov. The President is seriously injured when a car loaded with explosives explodes as the presidential limousine approaches the Presidential Palace.
5 October 1995
The Parliament of FYROM approves the change of the country’s flag, as stipulated in the Interim Agreement.
12 October 1995
FYROM becomes the 53rd member of the OSCE.
13 October 1995
Transport of people and goods between Greece and FYROM is restored as the Greek government proceeded with the lifting of the trade sanctions in advance of the full implementation of the Interim Agreement. In fact, the talks preceding the opening of borders and the unhindered flow of people and goods came close to a breakdown, particularly on account of domestic friction in FYROM. A decisive role in overcoming the difficulties was played by the US Chargé in Skopje, Victor Comras.
24 October 1995
Talks begin in New York on the name issue. Athens and Skopje insist on their original positions, whereas UN special mediator Vance proposes the hyphenated name ‘Nova Makedonija’. In Brussels, the EU Commission withdraws its case against Greece at the European Court.

6 November 1995
In a debate in parliament on the Macedonian issue, Greek political leaders, except Samaras, express themselves in favour of an honourable compromise at the negotiating table.
9 November 1995
FYROM officially becomes member of the Council of Europe and its new flag is hoisted in Strasbourg. During a special ceremony, FYROM’s Foreign Minister signs the European Convention on Human Rights.
15 November 1995
In Brussels, FYROM formally accedes to the ‘Partnership for Peace’ project.

1990 - 1991 - 1992 - 1993 - 1994 - 1995 - 1996 - 1997 - 1998 - 1999


Jan - Feb - Mar - Apr - May - Jun - Jul - Aug - Sep - Oct - Nov - Dec

12 January 1996
The Greek diplomat Alexandros Mallias takes up his post as head of the Greek Liaison Office in Skopje.
17 January 1996
The Liaison Offices of Greece and FYROM simultaneously begin functioning in Skopje and Athens.

20 May 1996
FYROM is accorded observer status in a NATO Conference and applies for membership of the organisation. Greek Defence Minister Gerasimos Arsenis states that he is in favour of the eventual participation of all Balkan states in NATO.
28 May 1996
The members of FYROM’s parliament, Atanas Vangelov, Nikola Popovski and Amdural Prusi, take part in the parliamentary session of the Council of Europe in Thessaloniki.

10 June 1996
In New York, ambassadors Zacharakis and Ivan Toshevski engage in one more round of talks on the name issue.
17-21 June 1996
Negotiations begin in Brussels on the signing of a trade agreement between FYROM and the European Union. A disagreement becomes apparent concerning the name to be used for the signatory state in the text of the agreement: Skopje insists on signing as ‘Republic of Macedonia’, whereas the EU sticks to ‘FYROM’. The latter name is used when the agreement is finally signed on 21 June.

In Skopje, Vice President Jane Miljovski states that as soon as the agreement is enacted into law by his country’s parliament, the restriction on the name will no longer be valid.

24 June 1996
FYROM’s Prime Minister declares that his country’s strategic goal is membership in the European Union. Five Greek investors and bank representatives meet President Gligorov and discuss the possibility of extensive Greek investment in FYROM.

4 July 1996
Canada recognises FYROM. Political opinion in Skopje expresses dissatisfaction with the name under which the recognition was made.
8 July 1996
FYROM does not participate in the conference of Foreign Ministers of Balkan Countries in Sofia, because it was not accepted as the ‘Republic of Macedonia’.
11 July 1996
Talks on the name issue resume in New York. On the day before, the Foreign Minister of FYROM had appeared extremely pessimistic about the prospect of reaching a solution on this issue.

1 August 1996
The acting head of the Greek Liaison Office in Skopje, Theodoros Passas, makes an oral démarche to Deputy Foreign Minster Oken Malevski concerning the statements made by the new Foreign Minister Ljubomir Frtskovski at the gathering of ‘Macedonian’ expatriates at Bitolj. Frtskovski had stated that the government ‘carefully studies the issues of living conditions of ‘Macedonians’ in neighbouring countries and is determined not to make any concessions on this score.
6 August 1996
FYROM accuses Greece at the UN for ‘inappropriate behaviour’ regarding the implementation of the Interim Agreement. Criticism largely focuses on Greece’s reaction to the admission of FYROM to international organisations as the ‘Republic of Macedonia’.
13-14 August 1996
The Greek Foreign Ministry announces that the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Greece and FYROM, scheduled for September, is cancelled following statements by Frtskovski to the effect that the Greek positions on the name issue are legally unfounded and ridiculous. The next day, the semi-official daily Nova Makedonija claims that no meeting between the Foreign Ministers had been scheduled.
25 August 1996
In an interview to a Bulgarian newspaper, the ambassador of FYROM in Sofia, Georgi Spasov, defends Frtskovski’s positions regarding the name issue and raises the issue of the ‘Macedonian’ minorities living in Balkan countries.
26 August 1996
In reply to Spasov, German historian Stephen Troebst argues that the Macedonian question has been solved and that the real cause of instability in the area is the presence of too many Albanians outside the boundaries of the Albanian state.

11 September 1996
The head of the Greek Liaison Office in Skopje, Mallias, announces that the volume of trade between Greece and FYROM is expected to by exceed $ 100 million. He also notes that during the first eight months of 1996, 220,000 citizens of FYROM have visited Greece.

14 October 1996
Ambassadors Zacharakis and Toshevski hold their eighth meeting in Geneva. Commenting on the meeting, Greek Foreign Minister Pangalos states that Greece discusses the question matter of the name of FYROM on the basis of a single name.

13 November 1996
Further talks on the name issue are held in New York. The two parties do not make any statement concerning the results of the talks.
21 November 1996
The Constitutional Court in Skopje rejects a request by Todor Petrov, leader of ‘Macedonian’ expatriates, asking for the cancellation of the Interim Agreement of New York.

December 1996
Addressing the last session of the parliament of FYROM for 1996, President Gligorov declares that the struggle ‘to put an end to the irrational demands and pressures upon the citizens of ‘Macedonia’ not to call their country by ‘its only true and eternal name’, i.e. ‘Republic of Macedonia’, goes on.
2 December 1996
While in Lisbon for the OSCE summit, President Gligorov meets with the presidents of Turkey, Albania and Croatia. Talks focus on the construction of a motorway to run parallel to the Greek ‘Via Egnatia’. He also meets with Greek Prime Minister, Constantine Simitis.
17 December 1996
Another round of talks on the name issue is held in New York.

1990 - 1991 - 1992 - 1993 - 1994 - 1995 - 1996 - 1997 - 1998 - 1999


Jan - Feb - Mar - Apr - May - Jun - Jul - Aug - Sep - Oct - Nov - Dec

21 January 1997
Talks on the name issue resume in New York.
31 January 1997
FYROM Culture Minister Slobodan Unkovski visits Thessaloniki, following an invitation by his Greek counterpart, Venizelos on the occasion of the inaugural ceremony for the 1997 European ‘Capital of Culture’.

28 February 1997
A new round of talks on the name issue in New York. The FYROM representative insists on the name ‘Republic of Macedonia’.

3 March 1997
In a interview to Nova Makedonjia, Foreign Minister Frtskovski comes out in favour of closer bilateral contacts between Greece and FYROM and the strengthening of economic relations between the two countries.
13 March 1997
Extreme nationalists set up a new organisation in Skopje, the ‘Macedonian National Council’ with the avowed aim to support the case of ‘Macedonian’ minorities in neighbouring Greece, Bulgaria and Albania. The organisation aims at initiating a process ‘which will lead to the recognition and promotion of the national rights of ‘Macedonians’ in neighbouring countries, the development of greater understanding, unity and cohesion among the representatives of the ‘Macedonian’ national minorities, while assisting and harmonising their activities on international level.’
19 March 1997
Greek Foreign Minister Pangalos pays a short ‘business trip’ to Skopje. After a long meeting with his counterpart, Frtskovski, he is received by President Gligorov in the presence of the ministers of Defence and Public Order. According to the joint press communiqué, the two governments are determined to co-operate for the peace and stability of the area so that the welfare and the rights of all citizens and all ethnic groups are protected in each country.
21 March 1997
A trade fair of Greek products is held in Skopje. It comprises some sixty Greek firms, from furniture and sanitary products to building materials and decoration.
27-28 March 1997
The leader of the ‘Synaspismos’ party, Konstantopoulos, pays a two-day visit to Skopje. Konstantopoulos proposes the setting up of a ‘Balkan Helsinki’, i.e. a forum for regional co-operation.
31 March 1997
In an interview to French newspaper Le Monde, President Gligorov expresses satisfaction with progress in relations with Greece. Emphasising the growth of trade and economic ties, he points out that Greek firms have already invested DM 20 million in his country and contribute to the privatisation programme of his government.

10 April 1997
While in Bonn for an official visit, FYROM Prime Minister Branko Chervenkovski expresses satisfaction for the current state of relations between his country and Greece. He also notes that Greece is emerging as a leading trade partner of FYROM.
12 April 1997
A concert given by Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis at the Hall of the National Theater in Skopje turns out to be a major political as well as cultural event. Among the audience attending Theodorakis ‘Zorbas’ are President Gligorov and several members of the cabinet.

8 May 1997
In an interview to Greek journalists in Skopje, Prime Chervenkovski states that the only one who can decide on a state’s name is the people themselves. While declining to comment on the formula of a hyphenated name, he says that his country takes part in the New York talks in good will. He warns, however, that ‘there are limits we cannot exceed’, without specifying what these limits are.
9 May 1997
Speaking to Greek journalists, Foreign Minister Frtskovski states that ‘the last concession which we can make on the name issue is to let Greece to call us however it wishes’.

9-10 June 1997
The new Foreign Minister of FYROM, Blagoj Hadjinski, takes part in the Conference of Foreign Ministers of Southeastern Europe in Thessaloniki. It is the first occasion that a Foreign Minister from FYROM visits Greece.
18 June 1997
A new round of talks on the name issue takes places in New York.

16 July 1997
On his return from the NATO summit in Madrid, Foreign Minister Hadjinski states that on the name issue his country can only repeat the proposal which it has recently submitted to the UN mediator, i.e. to call the country ‘Republic of Macedonia’ internationally and let Greece choose a name for its own usage.
23 July 1997
In an interview to the state television, President Gligorov refers to the need to resolve the dispute with Greece on the name issue. A solution, he argues, must respect the dignity of the Republic of ‘Macedonia’ and the ‘Macedonian’ people’s right to choose its name.’ He also brings up the issue of a ‘Macedonian’ minority in Greece, pointing out that even if the name issue is settled, the minority question will remain open. He insists that ‘it is the legitimate right of every state to look after its minorities residing in any other state’, without, however, involving oneself in the domestic affairs of the other state’.
28 July 1997
The 17th meeting of ‘Macedonian’ expatriates takes place at Tirnovo, near Bitolj. Alexandar Popovski, president of the Union of ‘Aegean Macedonians’ living in FYROM, claims that human rights are being violated in several countries, Greece in particular.

2 August 1997
Disturbances occur during celebrations for the ‘Iliden uprising’ and the 53rd anniversary of the proclamation of a ‘Macedonian’ state, when, in the presence of President Gligorov, followers of the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE take down and tread on the state flag.
27 August 1997
In an interview to a Serb journal, Gligorov dismisses rumours regarding a compromise on the name issue between Greece and FYROM. He recalls that his country has rejected the name ‘Nova Makedonija’ since the time Mitsotakis was in power. In a clear reference to nationalistic reactions on the flag issue, the President casts doubt on the presumption that the sixteen-rayed star or sun found on the larnax in the Vergina royal tomb is a typical Macedonian symbol: it is a motif, he points out, quite common among ancient cultures in the Mediterranean world.

12 September 1997
In an interview to the state television network, Foreign Minister Hadjinski praises Greek Prime Minister Simitis’ contribution to the blunting of differences and the improvement of relations among the Balkan countries. Concerning the name issue, he repeats that his country ‘does not have any room for concessions.’
14 September 1997
In an interview to the Albanian language BBC programme, President Gligorov refers to the existence of a ‘Macedonian’ minority in Greece. He reiterates the view that ‘following the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, neighbouring states divided the ‘Macedonian’ territories among themselves and everyone tried to call it its own and assimilate its population. Greece has not acknowledged the existence of a ‘Macedonian’ minority, despite its obligations under international treaties and agreements’, adding that the ‘Macedonian’ minority receives similar treatment in Serbia and Bulgaria.
25 September 1997
While in New York for the 52nd UN General Assembly, the Foreign Ministers of Greece and FYROM have a half-hour meeting. Among other things, they discuss the name issue, but the talks largely focus on strengthening the economic ties between the two countries.

3-4 October 1997
President Gligorov and Foreign Minister Hadjinski take part in the Balkan Countries Summit in Crete. Gligorov meets with the Prime Ministers of Greece, Bulgaria and Albania. After the summit, Gligorov expresses satisfaction with the summit and the contacts he has had with other leaders.
5 October 1997
In a recently published two-volume work on the history of the literature of western and southern Slavs by the Russian Balkan Institute, a branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, no separate mention is made of the literature of a distinct people, residing in the territory of FYROM. Instead, the region and its people are approached within the context of the Bulgarian literary history. This position provokes severe reactions in Skopje.
23 October 1997
Greek banks, including the National Bank of Greece and the Ionian Bank, show considerable interest in investing in the banking sector of FYROM. Ergobank seeks to participate in the increase of the share capital of the Import-Export Bank of Skopje.

1990 - 1991 - 1992 - 1993 - 1994 - 1995 - 1996 - 1997 - 1998 - 1999


Jan - Feb - Mar - Apr - May - Jun - Jul - Aug - Sep - Oct - Nov - Dec

12 January 1998
The 15/12/1997 government of FYROM decision abolishing the granting of visas at frontier posts comes into effect. According to the terms of the decision, as of today Greek citizens intending to travel to FYROM will have to apply to the FYROM Liaison Office in Athens for a visa.
17 January 1998
In an interview with the weekly newspaper Focus, Foreign Minister Blagoj Hadjinski talks about his country’s relations with the international community. On the question of the country’s international status, he notes that one third of the members of the United Nations have recognised the country with its constitutional name, adding that a number of states were instrumental in bringing this about, most notably China, as a member of the Security Council. With regard to Greece he repeats his government’s familiar position that there is no question of any concession on the name issue, pointing out that once the Security Council has revoked the resolution instituting the designation "FYROM" it will have to pass a new resolution recognising the country under its constitutional name of "Republic of Macedonia". He thinks, however, that the climate between Greece and FYROM has become more positive since the Simitis government took office.

The language issue continues to cast a shadow over FYROM’s relations with Bulgaria, which refuses to acknowledge the existence of a "Macedonian" language. During the interview Mr Hadjinski reiterates his country’s proposal that agreements signed between the two states be published in two copies: one, for ratification by the Parliament in Skopje, stating that agreements are signed in "Macedonian" and in Bulgarian, and one, for ratification by the Parliament in Sofia, stating that bilateral agreements are signed in Bulgarian and in the official language of FYROM.

30 January 1998
Under the auspices of Cyrus Vance and his deputy Matthew Nimetz, FYROM’s Ambassador to the United Nations Ivan Tosevski meets his Greek counterpart, Christos Zacharakis, at UN headquarters in New York for a new round of talks on the issue of his country’s official name. No progress is announced.

10-12 February 1998
OSCE commissioner for ethnic minority affairs Max van der Stoel visits FYROM for a personal look at the state of post-secondary education for the ethnic Albanians in FYROM and at the country’s relations with its minority communities. Van der Stohl declares himself against the re-opening of the Albanian University in Tetovo, and applauds the government’s decision to set up an Albanian section in the Teacher’s College, thus ensuring the Albanians instruction in their mother tongue.
13 February 1998
VMRO-DPMNE party leader Ljubco Georgievski affirms in an interview with the Belgrade weekly magazine NIN that Greece’s approach to FYROM is positive. On the name issue, however, he stressed that it cannot be the object of separate talks, since all political parties in FYROM are agreed that there can be no concession on the name issue. "Concessions must come from the other side, especially since everyone knows that Skopje has no designs of any kind against Greece".

Mr Georgievski, the leader of FYROM’s largest opposition party, declares that there have been radical changes in Greece’s relations with his country, especially since Mr Simitis took over the office of Prime Minister, noting that "Mr Simitis has proved to be fairly moderate and objective towards FYROM".

25 February 1998
In another unsuccessful round of talks on the FYROM name issue at the United Nations, Greek Ambassador Christos Zacharakis and FYROM Ambassador Ivan Tosevski, fail to negotiate any agreement, since Mr Tosevski states that he has no authority to accept a compromise solution.

3 March 1998
A government delegation from FYROM, headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Ognen Malevski and including Deputy Minister for Southeastern European Affairs Viktor Dimovski, Director of the Southeastern European Affairs Department Liljana Naoumova and Ambassador Stojanovski, visits Athens. This visit, the first on such an official level, follows the visit to Skopje by a Greek delegation headed by General Secretary for Foreign Affairs Ambassador Alexandros Filon. The talks cover bilateral and international matters and include an affirmation of the desire of both countries to re-establish fully normal relations, as befitting two friendly and neighbouring states.

After the talks the Greek Press Minister expressed what amounted to a wish for both sides to make progress on the name issue: "We believe that Skopje will not in the end refuse to do what it can to see that this matter is resolved, in order to eliminate this final cause of friction between the two countries. We feel that our relations with our neighbour have lately been good. And this is a very good sign, not only of flexibility, but I would say of good sense and wisdom in Greek policy". But the next day, when asked whether Greece was thenceforth going to call FYROM "Skopjian Macedonia", Mr Reppas stated that "Greece will in no circumstances accept for the state of Skopje a name containing the word "Macedonia" or any derivative thereof", and added that Greece wants the rules of good neighbourship to be respected and the Interim Treaty signed between Greece and FYROM in September 1995 observed and completed.

The Press Minister’s use of the name "Skopjian Macedonia", which he claimed was a slip of the tongue, sparked a reaction in Northern Greece, particularly on the part of the mayors on the co-ordinating committee of the association of Mayors of Macedonia and Thrace, whom Thessaloniki Mayor Konstantinos Kosmopoulos immediately summoned in extraordinary session. In their resolution, the mayors stated that: "we note that, given the tension lately created in the area by the events in Kosovo, the prolonged failure to resolve the question of the name of the neighboring state of Skopje engenders the risk that pressures and compromises may result in the imposition of solutions alien to historical truth and our national right". The resolution further notes that "on the major national issue of the name of the state of Skopje, without terms or derivatives containing our name of Macedonia, we stand firmly behind the decisions taken by the State". "Any derogation from these decisions is out of tune with the nation", continues the resolution, adding that "for all Macedonians in particular our name is a self-evident, sacred and non-negotiable element of our identity".

Similar declarations were made by PASOK deputy Stelios Papathemelis.

4 March 1998
In an interview with Puls newspaper Kiro Gligorov confirms that FYROM will make no concessions on matters of "national dignity and preservation of national identity", adding that "all our neighbours have shared "Macedonia" and will do so in the future if the need should arise". Premier Gligorov speaks in very negative terms of Bulgarian and Yugoslav policy towards his country.

Greek Press Minister Dimitris Reppas comments on Premier Gligorov’s positions in the following terms: "Greece is desirous of having this state exist within present boundaries", adding that such declarations are better avoided: "Statements of this sort can make no profitable contribution to endeavours currently in progress to improve relations between neighbouring states. On the contrary, they create obstacles", the Press Minister declares, noting once again that the Greek government is leading the way in efforts to create a state of peace, stability and security in the Balkans.

15 March 1998
In an interview with Skopje national radio, FYROM Premier Kiro Gligorov reviews Greece’s historical policy on the Macedonian Question, with particular reference to the period 1948–49. Adopting the view that the Greeks who fought with ELAS (Ellinikos Laikos Apeleftherotikos Stratos, "Greek Popular Liberation Army") and their families were not Greek but "Macedonian", he claims that the deportation from Greece at that time of 100,000 "Macedonians" was a clear case of genocide with regard to his people.
22 March 1998
In an interview on FYROM national television, the head of the Greek Liaison Office in Skopje, Alexandros Mallias, describes the development of relations between the two states as positive, noting that while certain questions still remain open, Greece wants to see these differences resolved as soon as possible.
28 March 1998
FYROM Foreign Minister Blagoj Hadjinski tells Vecer newspaper that no solution to the question of his country’s name that is acceptable to both sides is in view. "Talks in New York are continuing in an atmosphere of good will on the part of both sides and of mediator [Cyrus] Vance. For the moment there is no solution on the horizon that appears to be acceptable to both sides".

3 April 1998
Representatives of the Foreign Ministries of Bulgaria and FYROM agree in Skopje to work out a compact of good neighbourship, friendship, security and co-operation. But the few days of talks in Skopje between groups of experts from the two countries come to an end with no progress made towards resolution of the language issue.
11 April 1998
Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos is interviewed by Skopje daily newspaper Dnevnik - the first interview, as it is pointed out, granted by any Greek politician to any Skopje newspaper. In this interview, which is published on the front page under the headline "Enough semantics - Let’s move into the real world", Mr Pangalos replies to one question in the following terms: "I think we will have to work out some compromise on an acceptable official name that satisfies public opinion in both countries", adding that "The solution can obviously not be wholly satisfactory to both sides ".

Mr Pangalos stressed that the only problem marring relations between Greece and FYROM is the problem of the name, an issue that in his opinion had in the past been "wrongly handled by both sides, with exaggerations and campaigns and politicians exploiting the issue rather than seeking to come up with a solution. Now, however", he said, "this is no longer the case. It is a fact that the issue is not seen in itself as a major problem, but as a problem of semantics", because "there is nothing separating us, neither side has territorial claims on the other. What we have are common interests".

With regard to economic relations between the two countries, Mr Pangalos justified the absence of Greek public investment in FYROM (there is private investment) by the fact of the unresolved issue of the country’s name. "Any public investment in Skopje would have to approved by the Greek Parliament, and given the problem of the name public investment in your country becomes difficult", he pointed out.

On the subject of Greece’s proposal (made at the meeting in Crete) for regional co-operation in the Balkans, Mr Pangalos emphasised the benefits of such collaboration, while noting the opposition of certain states, such as Turkey. Commenting on the UNPREDEP peace-keeping force stationed in Skopje, Mr Pangalos noted that once its mandate is up and the Americans decide to withdraw their troops, "then we can think about setting up a multinational force", and expressed Greece’s willingness to take part in it.

The subject of the existence of a "Macedonian" minority in Greece provoked particularly harsh language from Mr Pangalos, who used phrases like "Sick minds are trying to create something of the sort". The fact that there exists in Greece "some population group that speaks another, Slav, language does not make it a minority community". He pointed out that the only minority that exists in Greece are the Muslims, who number some 120,000, and repeated that "the minority that certain sick minds in Skopje think exists, cannot be identified in Greece. There is no compact population group, we can’t start hunting for them like butterflies".

Mr Pangalos stated that language is not an essential element of national identity, citing as an example his own family which, he said, spoke a dialect of Albanian, "but that certainly does not mean that the members of my family feel themselves to be Albanians".

VMRO-DPMNE party leader Ljubco Georgievski described the interview as a "mortal blow to nationalism, that fatal enemy of all Balkan countries and peoples".

5 May 1998
Honorary Communist Party of Greece (CPG) Chairman Harilaos Florakis visits FYROM at the head of a delegation of party members, and meets with President Kiro Gligorov. The purpose of the visit is to help foster the further development of co-operation between what he describes as two friendly countries and peoples. Mr Florakis points out that the CPG has held steadfastly to the positions it adopted right from the beginning with regard to relations between Greece and FYROM, noting that his party has always stood against the nationalism cultivated in Greece, with its rallies and its policy of nomenclature, and adding that if these positions had been adopted from the outset, if a policy of friendship and co-operation on the basis of a joint declaration of mutual respect for borders, national independence and territorial integrity had been promoted, both sides would have benefitted from it.

Honorary Chairman Florakis said that the question of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia should neither become a principle issue in bilateral relations nor remain unresolved, which would leave it open to exploitation. The present situation, he stated emphatically, must be resolved once and for all, putting an end to the machinations of the imperialists who seek to divide the peoples of the Balkans.

President Kiro Gligorov, for his part, expressed his appreciation of the realistic position adopted by the CPG with regard to relations between the two countries, and stressed that he and his government see the visit of the CPG delegation as very positive. Referring to the issue of the name, President Gligorov stressed that his country "did not invent the name Macedonia but was using the name "Republic of Macedonia", which means that we are not referring to Macedonia as a whole but to the Macedonia which is a state with specific borders, a specific territory, constitution and laws". Finally, after noting his country’s desire to develop its relations with Greece, he affirmed that his country "has no claims on Greece, that it recognises and respects its borders, its national independence and its territorial integrity and that it refuses any involvement in the internal affairs of any other state ".

18 May 1998
Tito Petkovski, the Speaker of the FYROM Parliament, declares during a visit to Canada that to deny his country the right to use its constitutional name on any concession on the linguistic issue between it and Bulgaria "would immediately increase the appetites and territorial views of certain of its neighbours and would constitute a direct threat to peace and stability in his country and throughout the Balkans".

2 June 1998
The ambassadors of Greece and FYROM meet in New York for a new round of talks on the name issue, talks that once again conclude with no progress made.
5 June 1998
Athens Mayor Dimitris Avramopoulos visits FYROM at the head of a group of representatives from municipalities all over Greece and meets with President Gligorov, Premier Branko Chervenkovski and a number of government officials, including Health Minister Petre Ilievski and the Director of the Bureau of Privatisation, Veritsa Hatzivasileva. Afterwards, Mayor Avramopoulos states that through contacts between the cities of Athens and Skopje "we hope to bring the two peoples and thus the two countries closer together, for the development of collaboration in all sectors". He also says that during his meeting with Premier Chevrenkovski they talked about matters of interest to both sides, particularly in the economic sector, including privatisation, investments and the Greek business activity in FYROM.
16 June 1998
A delegation of officers of the Thessaloniki Bar Association meets the leaders of the FYROM Bar Association in Skopje. The meeting results in a commitment on the part of the former to work for the admission of the latter to the Union of Balkan Bar Associations.
22 June 1998
A unit from the FYROM armed forces participates for the first time in NATO exercises held in Polykastro Kilkis, in the framework of the NATO "Partnership for Peace" programme.
22 June 1998
A group of residents in Monastir (FYROM) want to establish a Greek consulate in their city. According to Dnevnik newspaper, a citizens’ movement under the leadership of Eva Darda-Stefanovski has already begun to collect signatures on a formal petition to this end..
22-23 June 1998
FYROM Foreign Affairs Minister Blagoj Hadjinski pays an official visit to Greece for talks with his Greek counterpart Theodoros Pangalos on improving bilateral relations in all sectors, with particular emphasis on economic co-operation between the two countries. A border co-operation agreement is signed.

On the name issue Mr Pangalos declared that it was noted as a problem that could come up in various areas of collaboration, and stated that the two ministers had agreed to continue the process currently on-going in New York. Mr Hadjinski declared that the resolution of the problem must leave both countries feeling victorious. "We are", he said, "against a hasty solution, because the issue of the name is bound up with the entity of my country". He added, however, that "we are seeking some flexibility within the framework of the limits that exist on both sides".

The two ministers stressed that the positions of Greece and FYROM on how to deal with the crisis in Kosovo are identical. Any solution must be based on the principles of the unity of the Yugoslav republic and respect for existing borders in the region, and both Athens and Skopje will discourage any activity along other lines.

Mr Pangalos declared that the Albanians in Kosovo must enjoy autonomy and equal rights. "We have much to lose and little to gain from any expansion of the crisis" the Greek Foreign Minister said, and advised those who have a penchant for war games to curb their assertiveness because enough blood has been spilled by the amateurs in Bosnia and enough economic damage done to its neighbour states. He also noted that Greece supports the territorial integrity of FYROM and its gradual integration into the European Union.

Mr Hadjinski said that his country would welcome any NATO endeavour in Kosovo that was within the framework of international law. He called for condemnation of Serbian actions, and described the Yeltsin-Milosevic agreement as a first step towards a solution.

26 June 1998
FYROM President Kiro Gligorov addresses the congress of resistance fighters held in Skopje. Speaking on the subject of the Macedonian Question, he criticised the positions adopted by the VMRO-DPMNE during the war: in his view, Tito’s units should have advanced southwards to liberate Thessaloniki rather than fighting in Serbia and Slovenia. He noted that logic fortunately had prevailed and stressed that demanding territory or moving borders does not change things. He also noted, however, that the name issue had not been resolved and that the "Macedonians", wherever they lived, "would fight for their freedom or at least for the realisation of their minority rights in accordance with international rules".

10 July 1998
In an interview with Skopje weekly magazine Makedonski Expres, the head of the Greek Liaison Office in FYROM, Alexandros Mallias, says among other things that that one of the top priorities of Greek foreign policy is stabilisation of the Balkans and close co-operation among neighbouring states, pointing out that the security of the Balkan peoples will be strengthened by collaboration among the Balkan states.

"Greece will do everything in its power, not only on the bilateral level but as a member of the European Union, the Western European Union and NATO, to safeguard the independence and territorial integrity of FYROM", Mr Mallias said. Commenting on the progress of talks between Greece and FYROM on the issue of that country’s name, Mr Mallias stressed that Greece is in favour of a solution that will leave neither side feeling defeated.

16-19 July 1998
Skopje hosts the 2nd international meeting on the "child-exiles" that during the course of the Greek civil war were driven to the former Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, and particularly to the Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, as well as to a number of the other Socialist Republics of the former Soviet Union. The congress is attended by about 5000 people from the USA, Canada, Australia and many European countries, to "commemorate the 50th anniversary of their departure from Greece". Addressing the inaugural session of the meeting, FYROM President Kiro Gligorov notes among other things that "for his country the name "Macedonia" is not negotiable, because it is the identity of the "Macedonian" people." Referring to the most recent proposal by Greek Foreign Minister Pangalos, suggesting adoption of the name "Republic of Macedonia-Skopje", President Gligorov notes that a similar proposal was made five years ago under the British presidency of the European Union, and declares that the name "Macedonia" cannot be combined with the name of the capital.
19 July 1998
120 of the 5000 delegates to the 2nd international meeting on "child-exiles" in Skopje, members of the "Union of Child-exiles from Aegean Macedonia", organised an excursion to Edessa. Some of them were refused entry into Greece because their passports record their places of birth (in Greece) with their old Ottoman names and not with their present Greek names. The rest of the group were admitted without problem, and drove on to Edessa where a meal awaited them beside the falls. Forty or so of their number remained in Greece to visit friends and relatives in various parts of Northern Greece and the remainder, after a pleasant day’s outing, late in the afternoon returned to FYROM.

The excursion was organised by members of the Greek party "Ouranio Toxo".

2 August 1998
The Bulgarian nationalist organisation VMRO (Interior Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation) celebrates the 95th anniversary of the Ilinden Uprising with a series of events in Southern Bulgaria. During the course of the celebrations the President of the organisation, Krasimir Karakatsanov, called for "the rapid abolition of the artificial boundaries in the Balkans", and a "search for common elements in Bulgaria and FYROM". The Speaker of the Bulgarian Parliament, Iordan Sokolov, declared himself in favour of the abolition of the boundary between Bulgaria and FYROM. Mr Sokolov stated that the fact that many residents of FYROM "feel themselves to be Bulgarian" should not be a cause for alarm, adding that the futures of Bulgaria and of FYROM are one and the same: "A future of free peoples, free countries within a united Europe".
7 August 1998
The President of the "Association for Bulgaro-Macedonian Friendship", Ivan Kalchev, petitions the Attorney General of Bulgaria, Ivan Tatarchev, for a judicial review and prohibition of the activity of the Bulgarian nationalist organisation VMRO ("Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation"), because in his view the VMRO violates Bulgarian law and the country’s constitution, because it develops a political activity which it is not entitled to do. Attorney General Tatarchev rejects the petition and accuses the Association of being a "branch of the OMO Ilinden Organisation", which is banned in Bulgaria, and of being a paid agent of a foreign organisation.
10 August 1998
The Sofia Court of First Instance ratifies the constitution of the independent Bulgarian organisation VMRO-TMO (VMRO&0150;Traditional Macedonian Organisation). This is the fifth offshoot of the VMRO, and is led by "Macedonian nationalist" Georgi Solounski, a former officer of the illegal OMO Ilinden Organisation. The new organisation will use cultural means to fight on the political front for the human rights of the Macedonians in Bulgaria, and will seek to collaborate with other "Macedonian" organisations for "cultural collaboration and the spiritual unity of Macedonians everywhere".

10 September 1998
VMRO-DPMNE leader Ljubco Georgievski tells a BBC Radio journalist that his party has no intention of calling for a review of the Interim Agreement, saying that "We accept the agreement signed in New York and will work in accordance with it. It has produced many positive results, especially under the Simitis government. We have no intention of blocking these results. On the contrary, we intend to promote them".

2 October 1998
In an interview with Nova Makedonia newspaper, the head of the Greek Liaison Office in FYROM, Alexandros Mallias, expresses Greece’s willingness to support FYROM’s application for accession to the European Union and admission to NATO.

Commenting on FYROM’s desire for integration into European and Euro-Atlantic structures, Mr Mallias stressed that "The stability, territorial integrity and independence of your country are significant parameters for the entire region, and Greece will make every effort, within the limits of its capacity, to promote your admission to the EU and NATO".

With regard to Greece’s economic policy in the Balkans and whether it is designed to foster the exercise of political influence or even, as the interviewer suggested, to facilitate the resolution of outstanding problems, Mr Mallias was categorical: "Greece collaborates with all the Balkan states on an equal footing. It is an insult to your politicians if you think they think otherwise".

7 October 1998
Speaking to the Vecer newspaper, "Democratic Alternative" party leader Vasil Toupourkovski does not rule out the possibility of changing FYROM’s flag: "For the moment no such thing is under consideration, but if we felt it to be necessary we would open a public debate on the matter. If the people decide to change the flag, then that is what will happen". "Such symbols", he continues, "should have the broad support of the people, unlike the current flag, which was chosen by Parliament with the approval of a small number of members, that is, only those from the government party".
8 October 1998
FYROM President Kiro Gligorov, speaking on national television, declares that there will always be problems in relations with Greece in connection with the name issue.
31 October 1998
VMRO-DPMNE leader Ljubco Georgievski announces that, in the event of his party’s winning the elections, one of its main priorities will be to seek UN ratification of the constitutional name "Republic of Macedonia" and abolition of the designation FYROM.

1 November 1998
General elections (in two rounds: 18 October and 1 November) are held in FYROM. The victor is the coalition of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organisation - Democratic Party of Macedonian National Unity (VMRO-DPMNE) and the Democratic Alternative Party (DP), which win 28.1% and 10.7% of the vote respectively, giving the coalition a total of 39 seats. The SDSM (Social Democratic Union of "Macedonia") wins 25.1% of the vote and 29 seats, the coalition of the PDP (Party of Democratic Prosperity), the PDPA (Albanian Party of Democratic Prosperity) and the NDP (Popular Democratic Party) wins a total of 19.3% of the votes and 25 seats, the LDP/DPM (Liberal Democratic Party/Democratic Party) 7.0% of the votes and 4 seats, the Socialist Party of "Macedonia" 4.7% and 2 seats, while the Union of the Rom in "Macedonia" wins 1 seat.

Ljubco Georgievski, the leader of the VMRO-DPMNE, forms a coalition government with the Democratic Alternative Party and the Democratic Party of Albanians (DA), with the following members:




Prime Minister

Ljubco Georgievski


Vice President

Dosta Dimovska


Vice President

Radmila Kiprijanova


Vice President and Minister of Labor & Social Policies

Bedredin Ibraimi


Ministry of Finance

Boris Stojmenov


Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Aleksandar Dimitrov


Ministry of Defense

Nikola Kljusev


Ministry of Internal Affairs

Pavle Trajanov


Ministry of Economy

Zhanko Chado


Ministry of Development

Milijana Danevska


Ministry of Culture

Dimitar Dimitrov


Ministry of Sport and Youth

Georgi Boev


Ministry of Transportation & Communication

Bobi Spirkovski


Ministry of Ecology

Toni Popovski


Ministry of Construction and Urbanism

Dushko Kadievski


Ministry of Agriculture

Vladimir Dzhabirski


Ministry of Health

Stojan Bogdanov


Ministry of Education

Nenad Novakovski


Ministry of Trade

Nikola Gruevski


Ministry of Emigration

Martin Trenevski


Ministry of Justice

Vlado Kambovski


Ministry of Local Self-Government

Xhvedet Nasufi


Ministry of Science

Marie Rushani


Ministry of Information

Rexhep Zlatku


Minister w/o Portfolio

Ernad Fejzulahu


Minister w/o Portfolio

Gjorgji Naumov


Minister w/o Portfolio

Adnan Kjahil


2 November 1998
The Regional Court of Blagoevgrad (Bulgaria) refused to accept the legal existence of the organisation "OMO (United Macedonian Organisation) Ilinden", which is active in southern Bulgaria, because its charter violates the Bulgarian Constitution, the law on political parties and the law on persons and families. The Court ruled that the objects of "OMO Ilinden" as expressed in its charter prove it to be an organisation whose activity is directed against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bulgaria and against the unity of the nation, that it contributes to rekindling national strife, and that it does not categorically condemn violence.

1-4 December 1998
The Bulgarian Parliament passes a law revising the administrative divisions of the country, raising their number from 9 to 28. In the context of a debate organised by the members of parliament from the governing "Union of Democratic Forces" party, the leader of the VMRO, Krasimir Karakatsanov, speaks in favour of the unity of the Blagoevgrad district and asks that it be called "Pirin Macedonia", a name also proposed by the historian Konstantin Donchev. In the end, the government decides to divide Bulgarian Macedonia into three districts, each taking the name of its administrative seat

21 December 1998

The head of the Greek Liaison Office in FYROM, Ambassador Alexandros Mallias, was interviewed on FYROM national television on the issue of bilateral relations between FYROM and Greece. Mr Mallias described collaboration between Athens and Skopje as "exemplary", pointing out that "we have overcome a great number of obstacles to reach this level". He described economic relations as "blooming", noting that in the past three years the amount of Greek capital invested in FYROM has exceeded 80 million dollars. "More than six thousand people are employed in businesses operating with "injections" of Greek capital. This is one of Greece’s contributions to the social and economic stability of this country", he noted, adding that the volume of trade is already satisfactory and, in his view, is capable of further growth.

With regard to Greek investment in the industrial sector, he cited the Mihailidis tobacco company, which bought "Stroumnica Tabak", and the Titan cement group, and noted the potential and prospects for investment in the textile and electric appliance sectors.

The Greek ambassador also touched on the still unresolved name issue, noting that "both sides have let slip many opportunities for settling the matter". He stressed that this issue is a "very delicate" one, and insisted that "its solution must not create winners and losers". A solution must be found that is acceptable to both sides and "that will not be a cause of friction in the future".

In conclusion, he invited the people of FYROM "to have confidence in their neighbour to the south, to have self-confidence in their proximity to Greece. My country is a member of the European Union, and FYROM therefore in some sort shares a border with the EU".

22 December 1998
Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos pays an official visit to Skopje at the invitation of his opposite number Aleksandar Dimitrov. The two ministers discuss the whole range of relations between the two countries. These talks reveal an identity of position on all points, except for that of the prominence given by the media in FYROM to the so-called violation of the rights of the Slav-speakers living in Greece, and the refusal of the government to advise the state television channel to refrain from poisoning relations between the two countries by its screening of dubious films.

The following quotations are taken from the joint press conference given by the two Foreign Ministers to the local and international media, as reported by the Macedonian News Agency, "Eleftherotypia" newspaper, and others.

At the beginning of the interview Foreign Minister Dimitrov expressed his great satisfaction with the wide-ranging and open exchange of views between Mr Pangalos and the entire leadership of FYROM since, as he said, "we saw that relations between the two countries are improving, that it is in the interest of both countries to make proposals for the further improvement of our friendly relations and for multifaceted collaboration in all fields, and especially in the economic sector, defence, increased investment, culture, transport and communications and matters of mutual interest".

"The new government", Mr Dimitrov said, "is steadfastly oriented towards making a greater contribution to the development of relations with all neighbouring states, and we do not lose sight of the fact that Greece is a member of the European Union. Our unchanging strategic interests lie in this country’s integration into Europe, into a united Europe, and into the North Atlantic structures" said Mr Dimitrov, adding that "we are aware that there are problems and differences between the two countries. In the future we see a more complete development of the relations between us, and we have discussed specific regional situations, the stabilisation of peace, security in this region, development. I would like to express my satisfaction with the possibility of open, frank and cordial discussions between our two countries".

After this Greek Foreign Minister Theodoros Pangalos told the journalists that in his talks with FYROM Premier Ljubco Georgievski "we discussed all the issues ".

"The Prime Minister assured me that new government sees Greece as a strategic ally, and that initiatives must be taken in the fields of transport, communications and energy that will change the shape of this region". Mr Pangalos stressed that "our goal is, and we discussed this, to create between Skopje and Thessaloniki a pole of development that will enhance the entire region and will be a new field for productive relations".

"I am persuaded", continued Mr Pangalos, "that they want to work with us. We also discussed matters that have from time to time occupied the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. One of these is the name issue, and I said that the Interim Agreement calls for a mutually acceptable solution. This name cannot be the initial position of either of the two sides. We must continue our talks at the United Nations and bring them to a conclusion as soon as possible. The name issue is for us not the principle aspect, but in the future it could lead to a political problem." Continuing, the Greek Minister said that "Greece supports Skopje’s European prospects, supports the country’s democratic and peaceful development".

Mr Pangalos also spoke of his meetings with former Premier Branko Chervenkovski and former Foreign Minister Blagoj Hadjinski, to whom on behalf of the PASOK party leadership he extended an invitation to visit Greece.

Turning to the subject of the talks in New York on the name issue, Mr Pangalos expressed his thanks to Ambassadors Zacharakis and Tosevski, both excellent diplomats, and added "Great progress has been made. There is still some exploration to done with regard to the name. It is getting to the point where the experts have done what they can and it is up to the politicians to assume their responsibilities. What we need now is courage and the support of the Press to encourage both peoples to look ahead and get past their suspicions and the pettiness of the past", Mr Pangalos said.

In response to a question from Nova Makedonija newspaper on minority communities in Greece, Mr Pangalos replied that the accusations of violations of the human rights of the Slav-speakers in Greece were circulated by ‘Ouranio Toxo", an party that took part in the elections under a common banner with the Stalinist "Organisation for the Reconstruction of the Communist Party", and the "Movement for the Liberation of Homosexuals". The nation-wide support for this coalition totalled exactly 1840 votes. At this point Mr Pangalos asked whether "it is really worth our while to talk about 1800 people and create a minority problem". He commented that "if we start getting into this area we will unearth minorities that you have never even imagined". If these people thought that their rights were being violated in Greece, they could go to the Council of Europe - of which Greece is a member - and seek justice, the Foreign Minister said.

As Mr Pangalos noted, "there is a decision of the Council of Europe, which is respected in Greece and which adjudged the Right to be on the side of the appellant". Consequently, said Mr Pangalos, "the same is true for groups of people who live here and who have a special sensitivity towards Greece", and he mentioned the "Pelagonia" association, a delegation from which he had met with in Skopje.

On the same subject, FYROM Foreign Minister Aleksandar Dimitrov stated that he and Mr Pangalos, in the context of collaboration between their two countries, had talked about respect for human rights and the agreement on the human rights framework, looking towards the future in order to build up a climate of confidence and solve all problems.

Finally, in answer to a question on whether the border between Greece and FYROM is open, Mr Pangalos replied that it was. At this point there was an intervention from Mr Mallias, the head of the Greek Liaison Office in Skopje, who said that since 1995 Greece had issued 1,300,000 entry permits for Greece from Skopje and Mr Pangalos added that there were specific difficulties with the Schengen Accord and that the Greek Liaison Office in Skopje had issued 50,000 Schengen visas.

1990 - 1991 - 1992 - 1993 - 1994 - 1995 - 1996 - 1997 - 1998 - 1999


Jan - Feb - Mar - Apr - May - Jun - Jul - Aug - Sep - Oct - Nov - Dec

22 January 1999
The Bulgarian press reports that the private Bulgarian radio station "Darik" will soon start broadcasting from Skopje. According to Programme Director Vladimir Tanev, broadcasting will be in Bulgarian in order "to preserve the Bulgarian element".
22 January 1999
The head of the Greek Liaison Office in FYROM, Alexandros Mallias, is transferred to the Greek Embassy in Tirana. He is replaced by Ambassador Georgios Kaklikis. The media in FYROM comment favourably on his term of office in Skopje and his work, and praise his great contribution to the development of relations between the two countries.

According to Vecer newspaper, "Mr Mallias is the first Greek diplomat to come to Skopje after the signature of the interim agreement and work towards improving relations between the two countries, and especially towards development of economic collaboration".

In an article headlined "Alexandros Mallias - The Great Icebreaker", Devnik newspaper described the former head of the Greek Liaison Office as an "exceptional diplomat", noting that he played a direct role in all the initiatives that led to the smoothing of relations between Athens and Skopje.

In an interview with the Skopje periodical Makedonski Expres, Mr Mallias expressed his thanks for the hospitality he had enjoyed in Skopje and his conviction that the three years he had spent there had paved the way for the development of relations of good neighbourship between the two countries.

22 January 1999
FYROM’s Ambassador in Washington, Mrs Ljubica Acevshka, gave a speech on the present situation in the Balkans, in which she notes that the century is ending as it began, with trouble in the Balkans. FYROM sought its independence by peaceful means, and holds fast to its strategic goal of seeing all the Balkan states integrated into Europe. Although of the 2,000,000 people in her country 65% are "Macedonians", 25% Albanians and 10% other minorities, there are no noteworthy problems within the country. FYROM does, however, face problems with its neighbours.

Between FYROM and Greece there are three "minor issues": the name of the country, the flag and the constitution. "The Greeks do not need to worry, for our constitution states that we have no territorial claims, and our flag has been changed. We do not claim to be descendants of Alexander the Great", said Mrs Acevshka.

"Greece is FYROM’s second largest trading partner, and its number one investor. Instead of opting for war, we have chosen the mediation of the United Nations, with talks on the ambassadorial level under Mr Vance and Mr Nimetz".

In answer to the question of what right FYROM has to call itself "Macedonia", since its inhabitants do not consider themselves descendants of Alexander the Great but are Slavs who arrived much later in ancient Macedonia, which moreover is a Greek word (Makednos>Mekos=tall), the ambassador replied that they are called "Macedonians" because they have lived in Macedonia for a very long time, and recognised the right of others to call themselves Macedonians as well.

In reply to another question about the ethnic origin of the people of FYROM, Ambassador Acevshka stated that "we are Slavs and we speak a Slav language".

16 February 1999
The Sofia Court of First Instance accepts the registration of a wing of the illegal organisation "OMO Ilinden" as a political party, based in the city of Blagoevgrad in southwestern Bulgaria. Under Bulgarian law the decision must be published in the Government Gazette, after which the organisation "OMO-Ilinden - Pirin" (to give the new party its full name) will become a legal political party.

The "OMO Ilinden" organisation first appeared in 1990. The wing that has now been registered by the court in Sofia does not support the secession of Pirin from Bulgaria, but hails the recognition of the so-called "Macedonian language", and its members consider themselves to be "Macedonians" rather than Bulgarians. The new party’s constitution states that it is a party for the economic development and incorporation of the population of Pirin and for the protection of the rights of regional communities.

Attorney General Ivan Tatarchev intends to appeal the court decision on registration of the new party, as does the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party.

17 February 1999
FYROM has not to date succeeded in joining the World Trade Organisation. The reason is the insistence of the former government (the Chervenkovski government) on using the code name MK (that is, Macedonia), which Greece, invoking both the Interim Agreement and the UN-sponsored talks in New York on the question of the definitive name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, vigorously opposes.

FYROM’s new Trade Minister, Blagoj Gruevski, declares that Ljubco Georgievski’s government will submit a new memorandum with certain alternatives relating to the code that represents the main obstacle to his country’s entry into the WTO.

17-18 February 1999
One day after the legitimisation of the "OMO-Ilinden-PIRIN" organisation, the residents of 14 villages in the Petric and Sandanski districts receive letters warning them to "resign from the VMRO. Otherwise you will be killed and your houses burned".

These threats rouse the furore of the Bulgarian VMRO, whose leader, Krasimir Karakatsanov, declares that "Anyone who threatens any member of the VMRO will be punished in such a way that neither the Helsinki Committee nor Premier Gligorov will be able to help him".

22 February 1999
The Presidents of Bulgaria and FYROM, Ivan Kostov and Ljubco Georgievski, sign a joint proclamation designed to improve relations between their two countries. The statement underlines the intention of both states to contribute to the development of collaboration among the countries of southeastern Europe, to the consolidation of peace, co-operation and stability in the region, and to the implementation of joint regional programmes.

Both sides engage not to advance territorial claims against the other, not to attempt, encourage or support hostile actions aimed against either state, and not to permit their territory to be used for activities by organisations or groups whose purpose is to break up the other country or to undermine or threaten the safety of the other state.

In addition, FYROM confirms that no point in its Constitution can be interpreted as a basis for interference in the domestic affairs of Bulgaria for the purpose of protecting the rights of persons who are not citizens of FYROM.

The Proclamation is signed in the official languages of Bulgaria and FYROM. Also signed at this time are seven bilateral agreements on double taxation, promotion and protection of investments, trade co-operation, co-operation in the international freight and passenger traffic sector, air transport, plus a protocol on co-operation between the Foreign Ministries of the two countries and an agreement on consulates.

24 February 1999
In an interview with the Ottawa Citizen, Gyordan Veselinov, FYROM’s Ambassador to Canada, admits that "we are not related to the northern Greeks who produced leaders like Philip and Alexander the Great. We are a Slav people and our language is closely related to Bulgarian". He also comments that "there is some confusion about the identity of the people of this country".

On the question of international recognition of his country, he accepts that this has been delayed and attributes this to Greek objections to the name, symbols and certain articles in the constitution, adding that "In 1995 my country agreed to remove the Greek symbol from its flag and modified the controversial phrases in the Constitution".

25 February 1999
Ten Albanian schoolchildren attack Slavo-Macedonian contemporaries with knives, iron bars and clubs, leaving two of them seriously injured. The episode took place in a city bus in Skopje. According to the principals of the schools, the incident is serious and is not an isolated occurrence. Many similar episodes have taken place between Albanians and Slavo-Macedonians in recent years, none of them, however, on such a scale. The episode is condemned by all parties in the country as tending to create the impression that Albanians and Slavo-Macedonians cannot live together in the same country.

4 March 1999
Representatives and cadres of the Greek Radio Corporation and the FYROM Radio Corporation meet in Ochrid to discuss the development of collaboration between the two bodies. Both sides agree that collaboration is possible, especially in the sector of technical equipment, and in the development of joint programmes on cultural events, business encounters and exhibitions.
4 March 1999
Sixty-one members of the Bulgarian Parliament, from the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party and the government Union of Democratic Forces coalition, appeal to the Constitutional Court of Bulgaria for the revocation of the legalisation of the wing of the "OMO-Ilinden" organisation known as "OMO-Ilinden-Pirin", because the existence of this party violates the constitution of the country.

"OMO-Ilinden-Pirin", for its part, threatens to appeal to the European Court of Justice, the Court of Human Rights or the United Nations if the Court of First Instance in Sofia revokes its registration as a political party.

P.I.R.I.N. is a Bulgarian acronym, standing for "Party for Economic Development and Population Incorporation". The party known as "OMO-Ilinden- P.I.R.I.N." was founded on 28 February 1998 in Gotse Delchev and is based in Blagoevgrad. It was registered on 12 February 1999 by decision of the Court of First Instance in Sofia, in accordance with the law on political parties. It is preparing, under the leadership of Ivan Sigartijski, to contest the municipal elections to be held in Bulgaria in the autumn of 1999.

5 March 1999
OSCE Commissioner for ethnic minorities Max van der Stoel proposes that the FYROM government found a private Albanian-language college, with funding from foreign organisations, for the purpose of preparing ethnic Albanian children for examinations for admission to the country’s post-secondary institutions.
5 March 1999
According to Eleftherotypia, Foreign Minister Dimitrov, speaking at the inauguration of a "Canada-Macedonia Business Council" in Toronto, states that FYROM is a powerful country because it has the backing of the USA, condemns Greece’s attitude to the "Macedonian minority living in Greece" and, most important of all, invites "Macedonian" organisations abroad "to continue the struggle for a united Macedonia".

At the same event, Vasil Toupourkovski attempts to restore a certain balance, stressing the need for friendly relations with Greece, but this only produces a strong reaction from the "Macedonians" present.

Dimitrov’s line was followed by VMRO party member and Emigration Minister Martin Trenevski who, meeting with members of the "United Macedonians" organisation on his visit to Canada, tells them (among other things) that Skopje has many enemies with plenty of money to spend, citing as an example the Greek Pan-Macedonian Organisation.

This meeting, which was shown on the private TV channel "Sitel" in Skopje, took place in a room decorated with flags displaying the star of Vergina and maps of "Great Macedonia".[which includes Greek Macedonia].

Trenevski used this occasion to attack the government in Skopje which "changed the flag of the Macedonian people in 1995", adding that he belonged to "a party that has never recognised and will never recognise the new flag that has been imposed upon us and which will change after the next presidential elections".

11 March 1999
Greek Foreign Minister Giorgos Papandreou pays an official visit to FYROM and meets his opposite number, Aleksandar Dimitrov. After the meeting, he tells a journalist from FYROM national television that he believes a new period in the relations between the two countries is beginning and that the climate during his visit to Skopje was very good. He expresses the hope that the spirit of good relations between the two countries will facilitate resolution of the name issue which, he said, is the last unresolved problem between the two countries. He also promises that Greece will do all it can step by step to ensure FYROM’s accession to the European Union.


Home | Opinion | Contributions | Maps | FAQ | Timeline
Library | Archive | Bibliography | Unpublished Literature | Institutions | Contacts

powered by FreeFind

© Macedonian Heritage 1997–