Let it be FYROM, at least until we can agree

By Con Kouremenos - posted Thursday, 3 March 2011

In response to the article titled: “Will PM Gillard Deliver Foreign Policy Innovation on Macedonia?” - as it stands - the dispute mentioned is an ongoing disagreement between Greece and the neighbouring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over the rightful use of the name Macedonia. Greece strongly opposes the post-1991 constitutional name of its northern neighbour on grounds of ambiguity between this newly formed Balkan nation and the adjacent Greek province of Macedonia, and consequently of the FYROM´s continual misappropriation of the name´s historical and cultural significance.
From the outset of FYROM’s independence, Greece declared it had no claims on FYROM’s territory. Greece’s only serious grievance was, and still is, the use by FYROM of the name “Macedonia” and its derivatives. FYROM must understand Greece’s sensitivity on this issue, because for more than fifty years (since 1945) the name problem has been used as a pretext to create a ‘United Macedonia’ (originally under Yugoslavia). FYROMs leaders must accept the reality that their multiethnic conglomerate population are also Albanian, Bulgarian, Serbian and Greek. FYROM does not have the right to acquire, by international recognition, an advantage enjoyed by no other state in the world i.e. to use a name which propagandizes territorial aspirations.
There are countless examples of FYROM’s irredentism, one being the ‘Brief Historical Summary’ that Skopje posted in the Euro Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) Security Forum that speaks about irredentism as part of NATO’s activities. Some critical points were that it discusses the Greek civil war, yet does not mention that this civil war was between Greeks, but also with the involvement of the Tito Regime via the Slav-Macedonians of the Vardar region (which FYROM refers to as ‘Aegean Macedonia’). The usage of the term ‘Aegean Macedonia’ is clearly a nationalist FYROM term used to refer to the region of Macedonia in Greece, in the context of a ‘United Macedonia’. The origins of the term seem to be rooted in the 1940s, but its modern usage is widely considered ambiguous and irredentist.
Article 7 of the UN Interim Accord between Greece and FYROM (1995) states the following: “If either Party believes one or more symbols constituting part of its historic or cultural patrimony is being used by the other Party, it shall bring such alleged use to the attention of the other Party, and the other Party shall take appropriate corrective action or indicate why it does not consider it necessary to do so.” The Greek government has shown strange political patience and indigence in the ever-escalating FYROM hostile activity (symbols, names, irredentism etc.) since the Interim Accord ended back in 2002. FYROM monopolistically claim titles, names, histories and lands that do not belong to them. If in the future this trend spreads into the economic sector, and FYROM seeks exclusive use of derivatives of the Macedonian name in copyright, commercial titles and product names, the name problem could create severe problems - and not just in international relations.
This dispute has escalated to the highest level of international mediation where numerous attempts to achieve a resolution were wrought by the United Nations. These negotiations, necessitated by UN Special Representative Matthew Nimetz, warranted a mutually satisfying outcome for both countries. To date, they remain a work-in-progress and pending final resolution, the provisional reference of ‘Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’ has been adopted bilaterally by states which do not recognize the constitutional name ‘Republic of Macedonia’. Greece has made a rather generous offer (although Greek public opinion finds it unacceptable) for a solution by accepting the use of the name Macedonia for FYROM with a geographical prefix that will distinguish it from Greek Macedonia.
Australia does not recognize FYROM under its constitutional name. This official sanction complies with the stance of the UN, the EU and NATO on the matter and is to be highly commended since recognition under its constitutional name would impart lack of disambiguation, especially by insinuating ties with the kingdom of Ancient Macedonia. Here, we reference a cultural legacy to which the people of this newly formed nation have no viable claim, as confirmed by 370 classicists. In addition, Australia´s position deters FYROM from any territorial claims their government might incite against the Greek province of Macedonia in the future.
The Australian Macedonian Advisory Council (AMAC) elucidates that acknowledging this nation under its provisional name (FYROM) until a mutually-accepted resolution is wrought will prevent further ambiguity of a highly convoluted affair.

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