Forever Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)?

October 05, 2009

Should the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) remain a UN member? By the signing of the New York Agreement in 1995, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) agreed to become a member of the United Nations in exchange of adopting an official name that would not be “Republic of Macedonia” or “Macedonia”. Until then it should be referred to in the United Nations as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

Macedonia has been a region in Greece and has been inhabited by Greeks for as long as the rest of Greece. Indeed 347 academics have written this year a letter to US President Barack Obama to protest the usurpation of the name Macedonia by the former Yugoslav republic:

“Dear President Obama,

We, the undersigned scholars of Graeco-Roman antiquity, respectfully request that you intervene to clean up some of the historical debris left in southeast Europe by the previous U.S. administration. On November 4, 2004, two days after the re-election of President George W. Bush, his administration unilaterally recognized the “Republic of Macedonia.” This action not only abrogated geographic and historic fact, but it also has unleashed a dangerous epidemic of historical revisionism, of which the most obvious symptom is the misappropriation by the government in Skopje of the most famous of Macedonians, Alexander the Great. We believe that this silliness has gone too far, and that the U.S.A. has no business in supporting the subversion of history.”

Macedonia Evidence Team (

In the most recent United Nations General Assembly (23-29 September 2009) FYROM President Gjorge Ivanov made a lengthy oration about his willingness to resolve the name issue with Greece. Presumably to indicate his willingness, he referred to his country not as FYROM but as Republic of Macedonia, the one name his country has agreed not to use in the UN! It has been the practice of FYROM representatives since the accession of FYROM to the United Nations. The former UN resolutions and the New York Agreement have been ignored once FYROM gained what it had wanted, accession to the United Nations. Ironically, in a speech Ivanov gave to the General Assembly on the 25 September, he said that “the Republic of Macedonia (sic) is sincerely dedicated to the process of resolving the differences within our southern neighbour within the mechanism set forth in the UN Resolutions. The Republic of Macedonia (sic) believes in law and in the justice”. A minute later, while stressing his willingness to find a solution, he referred to the dispute as “absurd”. Presumably the UN Resolutions that led to it and the New York Agreement his country signed are also to be considered absurd.

Apparently, as the New York Agreement was an “absurd” agreement, even though FYROM signed it, it can be ignored. This may explain why 14 years have passed without any proposals about an alternative name. Instead the appellation Republic of Macedonia was the only one used in Ivanov´s UN speech and was repeated 19 times, half of them in relation to the issue of the resolution of the official name of the former Yugoslav republic. This cannot be described as anything but self-contradiction, when “abiding with international law and justice”. It also shows no interest in resolving anything with Greece. Indeed FYROM has filed a law-suit against Greece accusing Greece for blocking accession of the “Republic of Macedonia” to other international organisations (

Let us be reminded here that not only in the United Nations but also within the European Union, NATO, Olympic Committee, OSCE and numerous other international organisations, including all sports organisations such as UEFA and FIBA, the internationally recognised name of the republic remains FYROM, pending a solution that appears not to be forthcoming. FYROM nevertheless seems set on a course that by ignoring the UN Resolutions and New York Agreement of 1995 and by insisting in being recognised as “Republic of Macedonia” in bilateral relations, it will somehow make international agreements and international law go away.

FYROM president Ivanov has agreed that his country is multiethnic. The history of Macedonia has been written in stone and on paper for two and a half thousand years, is stored in libraries, museums and universities worldwide and cannot be rewritten to prop up the image and territorial aspirations of former Vardarska. If President Ivanov wishes to respect the ethnicity of his co-nationals, as he claimed in his address at the UN, it should not be impossible to find a name that represents all the ethnicities in a way that has nothing to do with borrowing the names and history of his neighbours. Greece, in fact, rather than proposing the equally implausible Prussia, Provence, Asturias, Wales, Veneto, Rhineland, etc has actually gone as far as making a compromise to accept a name that includes the word “Macedonia” with a geographic qualifier ( This is a compromise that most Macedonians in Greece and other Greeks have opposed. FYROM has not made a single proposal of a geographic qualifier, instead rejected the idea of a geographic qualifier altogether. As FYROM archaeologist Pasko Kuzman bravely said in a recent interview “I think that we are ourselves a problem, and I begin to doubt a little bit that we are a state-forming people for a longer time, and that is our biggest problem.” ()

In his UN address, a third of which aimed to deflect criticism by directing accusations to Greece, FYROM President Ivanov further brought up the issue of self-determination and quoted article 1, paragraph 2 of the United Nations Chapter stating that the UN should aim “to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace”. It should not be impossible for someone intelligent enough to represent his nation as a President that the United Nations has therefore wisely aimed to safeguard peace in the region and the self-identification of the Greeks of Macedonia as Macedonians. In this light and with the past context of the invention of the Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in mind and with the past record of that former communist republic, the United Nations General Assembly passed two Resolutions which FYROM agreed to, for a change in the name. Macedonia is a name that it has no right to and finding a new word that will reflect the identity of a people who are not Macedonians after all cannot be all that difficult. If that overtaxes a politician´s brains, a geographic qualifier should not be too big a challenge. However, the inhabitants of FYROM should realise that they are making a decision as a people. A decision that would be a bad joke to eternity is a disservice to their own future. Perhaps they should be reminded not only of the opinion of the 347 academics but of US Secretary of State Edward Stettinius who when the republic was being invented as “Macedonia” in 1944 circulated an airgram to US allies saying:

“The Department has noted with considerable apprehension increasing propaganda rumors and semi-official statements in favor of an autonomous Macedonia emanating from Bulgaria, but also from Yugoslav partisan and other sources with the implication that Greek territory would be included in the projected State. This Government considers talk of “Macedonian Nation”, “Macedonian Fatherland”, or “Macedonian National Consciousness” to be unjustified demagoguery representing no ethnic or political reality, and sees in its present revival a possible cloak for aggressive intentions against Greece.”

U.S. State Dep. Foreign Relations Vol. VII, Circular Airgram [868.014]

Failing a name change, the last option, a logical conclusion seeing FYROM´s intransigence, would be that having violated the UN Resolutions, FYROM should resign from the United Nations. Rather, it wishes with the same mentality to become a member of the European Union and NATO. At the very least FYROM owes an apology to Greece and a speedy proposal of a new name that would be agreeable to all. The support of Greece in relation to admission to international organisations and indeed international support for FYROM from all directions depends on the resolution of the name issue.

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