November 4, 2009

(Some) Progress in Macedonia

Some good news in Greco-Macedonian relations:
Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov Wednesday sent an invitation to his Greek counterpart Karolos Papoulias to visit Macedonia, a move seen as a positive step towards resolution of the long standing name spat between the two neighbors.
The rapprochement gets a boost from the fact that the European Commission recently recommended that Macedonia begin the process of applying for EU membership, though no start date has been given. I was worried that the nationalist government in Skopje would continue to be intransigent after the last election, but perhaps the obvious benefits of joining the EU are trumping other priorities. Of course, it's not clear at all that there's been any progress on the name dispute with Greece -- short of changing the name from "Republic of Macedonia," I don't know what else Skopje could offer the Greeks to mollify them.


  1. Ridiculous! Intransigent? About our own name? How many other countries are intransigent about their own name? All of them?!? Why we shouldn't be?

    The bullying of a bigger neighbor is inexplicably tolerated by UN, EU, NATO. There's no other example when one country is allowed to meddle in choosing the names of the other country's stadiums, streets, highways, language, ethnicity, nation. How come 7 billion people have that right but 2 million Macedonians are denied that right?
    I will tell you what Macedonia can offer to Athens - to disintegrate as a country. That's how they will be free to fondle their newfound love for the things Macedonian (a forbidden name in Greece before 1989).

  2. I actually favor the name "Republic of Macedonia" -- I'm half-Macedonian myself. But the Macedonians have been hurting their cause by appropriating Greek cultural symbols as their own (Alexander the Great, for example), even though the Macedonian ethnic group really only came into being in the late 19th century. Yes, the Greeks have been pretty unreasonable about the name issue, but the VMRO–DPMNE government has (at least until recently) made the case for "Republic of Macedonia" sound even more unreasonable -- and it doesn't have to be.