Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The FYROM name issue

The FYROM name issue is not simply a dispute over historical facts and symbols. It is a problem with regional and international dimensions, given that FYROM is exercising a policy of irredentism and territorial claims fuelled by the falsification of history and the usurpation of Greeces historical and national heritage.

In its current form, the FYROM name issue arose in 1991, when FYROM declared its independence under the name Republic of Macedonia.

Historically, the Greek name Macedonia refers to....

 the state and civilisation of the ancient Macedonians, which beyond doubt is part of Greeces national and historical heritage and bears no relation whatsoever with the residents of FYROM, who are Slavs by descent and arrived in region of the ancient Kingdom of Macedonia at a much later stage.

Geographically, the term Macedonia refers to a broader region that includes portions of the territories of various Balkan countries (mainly Greece, FYROM and Bulgaria). However, the greater part of geographical Macedonia coincides with the area covered by the ancient Greek Macedonia, which lies within the boundaries of modern Greece. Some 2.5 million Greek citizens currently live in the Greek part of Macedonia, whose inhabitants have called and considered themselves Macedonians since time immemorial.

The name issue originated in the aftermath of the Second World War, when Josip Broz Tito separated the area then known as Vardar Banovina (now FYROM) from Serbia, granting it the status of a Republic within the new federal Yugoslavia, under the name Socialist Republic of Macedonia, concurrently promoting the doctrine of a separate Macedonian Nation. Obviously, the most important reason for opting to promote the doctrine of Macedonianism at clear variance with the geographical reality of the broader region of Macedonia was his desire to gain access to the Aegean Sea by cultivating the notion of reunification of all Macedonian territories.

This is the context of the irredentist efforts that have been mounted by FYROMs political leadership to nurture in the countrys citizens via school books and propaganda the notion that they are the descendents of the ancient Macedonians, thus cultivating the concept of a United Macedonia, a portion of which is FYROM, with other parts under Greek, Bulgarian and Albanian occupation. It is clear that the irredentist doctrine of a United Macedonia opens the way to claims on occupied territories.

Against this historical background, FYROM was admitted to the UN in 1993 under a provisional name, as the Security Council (Resolution 817) noted that a difference has arisen over the name of that state which needs to be resolved in the interest of the maintenance of peaceful and good-neighbourly relations in the region( Security Council Resolution 817 of 1993).The Security Council further called on Greece and FYROM (Security Council Resolution 845 of 1993) to enter into negotiations on a definitive solution to the problem. The obligation undertaken by both parties to negotiate an agreement on the name issue was set down in the Interim Accord signed by Greece and FYROM in 1995, establishing, at the same time, a code of conduct between the parties.

Since then, Greece has made every effort to arrive at a mutually acceptable solution on the name issue. Unfortunately, 13 years later, no significant progress has been achieved, due to FYROMs intransigence, bad faith, and provocative attitude, as it holds to the maximalist position of rejecting any name other than the constitutional Republic of Macedonia, thus rendering the negotiations under the UN aegis an interminable exchange of views.

At the same time, FYROM is systematically violating the bulk of the provisions of the Interim Accord,

-pursuing the imposition of its constitutional name, bypassing the obligation to work for a negotiated settlement, and
-proceeding to a number of irredentist and provocative actions and statements directed against Greece
The most recent examples of this conduct include  putting up posters in FYROMs capital showing a Greek flag with a Nazi swastika in place of the Christian cross. A few months later, the Greek diplomatic mission in Skopje suffered serious damage perpetrated by a fanatical crowd, which enjoyed the tolerance of the countrys law enforcement authorities.

FYROMs political conduct constitutes a severe injury to good neighbourly relations and a destabilizing factor in the wider Balkan region, as the countrys leadership has chosen the treacherous path of extreme nationalism, in violation of the principles of international law.

At the April 2008 NATO Summit in Bucharest, the member states of the Alliance agreed with Greeces position on the need for FYROM to comply with the principle of good neighbourly relations and collectively decided (paragraph 20, Bucharest Summit Declaration) that an agreement on the name issue is a necessary prerequisite for FYROMs accession to NATO. The Summit Declaration states that an invitation to the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia will be extended as soon as a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue has been reached.

In a follow-up to NATOs Bucharest decision, the European Council stated in its Conclusions of 20 June 2008 and for the first time explicitly that the resolution of the name issue is essential for the opening of accession negotiations with FYROM.

Unfortunately, the calls of the international community have gone unheeded by FYROMs political leadership, which though strengthened by the outright majority achieved in the June 2008 elections has chosen not to show the political will to resolve the longstanding name issue, but rather to attempt to derail the negotiations under the UN, raising issues in no way related to the provisions of Security Council Resolutions 817 and 845.

For Greece, the definitive settlement of the matter and the finding of a mutually acceptable solution remain the sole objective. Greeces shift from its initial negotiating position accepting the idea of a compound name that includes the term Macedonia on the condition that there is also a geographical qualifier is proof of the constructive spirit and good faith in which Greece has approached the negotiations under the UN to date.

The Greek side calls for:
1. the adoption of a definitive composite name with geographical qualification of the term Macedonia, for all purposes (erga omnes) and for all uses, so as to avoid confusion with Greek Macedonia and to put an end to the irredentist policy and territorial aspirations of FYROM,
2. that FYROM genuinely renounces the usurpation of historical and national heritage of the Greek people,
3. Endorsement of the definitive solution by the UN Security Council, so as to ensure respect for its implementation.
Source: Hellenic Ministry of Foreign Affairs

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