Monday, July 14, 2008
The Greece - FYROM dispute at a dead end
Dr. George Voskopoulos in American Chronicle
July 14, 2008
The recent letter of FYROM´s Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski to Greek Premier K. Karamanlis constitutes another major hurdle to the effort of finding a mutually acceptable solution to the name dispute. It is worth looking at the semantics of the initiative at a crucial for the negotiations time.
First, it might be a sign that Slav Macedonian leadership wishes to escalate the conflict and derail negotiations over the name issue. The aggressive rhetoric used may be interpreted in different ways through descriptive or prescriptive prisms. Yet, the epitome of this policy may be a conscious choice heralding a U-turn in FYROM´s policy. Obviously setting prerequisites for the nominal at least resolution of the name issue is by default unacceptable to the Greek side and this was overtly expressed by the Greek government spokesman. He emphatically stated that "Greece will not take part in any effort to deviate the negotiation process from its original target that is finding a mutually accepted solution to the name issue".
Second, the adoption of an aggressive policy on the part of Slav-Macedonian leadership may have resulted from the externalization of domestic pressure coming from both Slav and Albanian constituencies after Mr. Gruevski´s electoral win and his radical commitments taken during his pre-electoral campaign.
Third, this might be the onset of a revised and also risky strategy adopted by Skopje. The critical and ontological question is whether this is a choice made by the Slav-Macedonian government itself or one adopted under the support of non-systemic actors. It is rather obvious that so far there has been no effort whatsoever to compromise and establish the required institutional and psychological groundwork for conflict resolution.
N. Gruevski´s efforts to undermine negotiations constitutes a puzzle having in mind that a substantial part of the Albanian constituency has been clear about the future of the country. According to Albanian political scientist Veton Latifi in Tetovo "if the name continues to poison the region politicians will set "new agendas" for the country" . The analyst of The Economist rightly points out that "by this he really means old agendas: a Greater Albania or a Greater Kosovo, and who knows what for the rest of the country".
The kernel of the problem is that FYROM´s policy has long been based on old agendas, eventually the oldest issue on the national priorities of the states in the region, namely irredentism and great idea aspirations. These were once again exposed recently in slogans over "liberation of Thessaloniki", provocations that aim at formulat-ing a zero sum policy framework in both sides.
Greece has made a rather generous offer by accepting the use of the name Macedonia by FYROM with a geographical prefix that will distinguish it from Greek Macedonia. Practically it has offered Slav Macedonians the raw material to go on with their hostile and aggressive irredentist activities despite the mass objection of the Greek public opinion. This has not been fully appreciated by nationalists in Skopje and mediators. Rhetoric and argumentation based on the logic of the Balkan Wars of the early 20th century are outdated material in the construction of a zone of peace and security in South-eastern Europe. Some choices are hard to make but the risks of megalomania have proven disastrous to all Balkan peoples.
 The Economist, 5-6-2008.