- Skopje should publicly state its readiness to accept the proposal of the UN mediator that the country’s name be qualified, whether as the Republic of North Macedonia or as Vardar Macedonia. This name should be used in all international organizations and bilateral relations. Athens in turn should respond by acknowledging the national identity and language of the majority population of its northern neighbor as Slavic Macedonian and accepting Skopje’s assurance that the use of this name does not imply any exclusivity or historical or territorial claim to the northern Greek province of Macedonia or to the Hellenic heritage of ancient Macedon.
- Given that both Athens and Skopje dispute the meaning of Macedonian identity and believe that their rivals are either denying or claiming their identity in order to pursue a hidden agenda of irredentism or destabilization, a distinction needs to be made between Slavic Macedonian and Greek Macedonian in defining language and ethnic identity. However, the “Slavic” adjective cannot be included in the country’s name, because it would potentially alienate non-Slavic Macedonian citizens, including the large Albanian population.
- The resolution of the name dispute needs to be tied to issuing a formal NATO membership invitation to Skopje at the NATO Summit in Lisbon in November 2010 or shortly thereafter. If no permanent solution is reached by November, both countries could agree that Skopje may receive a NATO invitation under the FYROM label pending a full settlement. Successful NATO integration for ROM/FYROM would help stabilize Greece’s northern border and raise Athens’ stature in the EU at a time when Greece faces its own domestic economic and social problems. NATO membership would in turn eliminate the insecurities expressed in Skopje that qualifying the country’s name would destabilize the state and eradicate its identity. On the contrary, the country’s integration in NATO would strengthen its position in all international institutions.
- To achieve these results, more high-level engagement by the Obama administration to reinforce the current UN mediation process would be helpful. It is not a question of American pressure, but of potential incentives for both parties to come to an agreement with U.S. assistance. This would also necessitate a clear message from Washington that in the absence of resolution, the Balkan region will become more insecure, to the detriment of both Skopje and Athens.
Source: Abstract (pages 88-89)Report of Western Balkans Policy -Review 2010, article (ROM/FYROM,pages 82-89) by Janusz Bugajski