Monday, July 20, 2009

The Name Issue between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)

Το διάβασα στο ταχαλια και το θεώρησα σημαντικό να το αναδημοσιεύσω. Το θέμα όμως είναι να φτάσει στα "αυτιά" των πολιτικών μας. Εμείς, οι απλοί πολίτες, ξέρουμε την αλήθεια - τόσο δύσκολο είναι να ξυπνήσουν και αυτοί?

Since the United Nations Security Council Resolutions of 1993 and the New York Interim Accord of 1995 in relation to the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, FYROM has not made a single proposal for a name that would be mutually acceptable or any real progress in relation to the United Nations Resolutions and Agreements. Its foot-dragging and insistence on the name "Macedonia" in bilateral agreements rather displays a disregard for the United Nations resolutions and a feeling that consecutive FYROM governments seem to feel free to take the UN and Greece "for a ride".
At the Interim Accord of New York, 13 September 1995, it was agreed that...FYROM should try to approach the present and future with a will to change it for the better, rather than attempt the impossible: to change its past. Enough theories of who were the ancient FYROMians and the ancient Macedonians have been proposed since its independence in 1991. As former speakers of several mainly Bulgarian idioms, some closer to Serbian, they should accept an identity that is realistic and honest to themselves, considering their language, culture, customs, etc. I would humbly suggest Macedonian Slavonia, knowing it is not perfect – and one would rather see that a name that reflects themselves not their neighbours (Greeks or Hellenic Macedonia) is used. In any case it is a name that would probably leave room for reconciliation with the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Bulgarians (Eastern Bulgarians), who are joint inheritors of the Slavonic tradition. The Slavonic liturgy was indeed practiced in medieval Bulgaria and the area of modern FYROM in a language called Old Church Slavonic which was based in regional idioms of the period. Therefore it has a real history associated with it, an old and historically important language and the roots of a history that truly goes a bit further back than the Republic of Macedonia and its quasi-artificial language invented in 1944-45.
The name Macedonian Slavonia would probably remove many or most diplomatic obstacles with Greece. Moreover, the Slavonic tradition is indigenous to FYROM even if it seems to have temporarily lapsed in favour of pseudomacedonism since 1944-45 and especially (and paradoxically) since the signing of the New York Interim Accord in 1995. There remains a small problem in that in the ethnic sense it may be argued that Slavonians may be understood not to be potentially Albanians, hence it leaves the Albanian community somewhat unreported, but this is no different should one use the name Macedonia which is not acceptable to anybody, including the Albanians. A truly neutral name geographically speaking would be Vardarska or Povardarje, which would be acceptable to the Greeks at least. "Recalling the principle of the inviolability of frontiers and the territorial integrity of States… The Parties agree to continue negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations pursuant to Security Council resolution 845 (1993) with a view to reaching agreement on the difference described in that resolution and in Security Council resolution 817 (1993)"
The last of these two Resolutions states among else that the UN:
1. "Urges the parties to continue to cooperate with the Co-Chairmen of the Steering Committee of the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia in order to arrive at a speedy settlement of their difference;
2. Recommends to the General Assembly that the State whose application is contained in document S/25147 be admitted to membership in the United Nations, this State being provisionally referred to for all purposes within the United Nations as "the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" pending settlement of the difference that has arisen over the name of the State;"
It is evident that the name FYROM is a mutually agreed name (not a name the Greeks "want") and one recognized by the United Nations. It is also clear that the two states should be striving for a mutually agreed name, which OBVIOUSLY CANNOT BE Macedonia or the Republic of Macedonia. Since 1993, FYROM has not made a single proposal. Instead, once admitted to the UN, it has striven to sign bilateral agreements under the name Republic of Macedonia or Macedonia. This is a ridicule of the UN Resolutions and the Interim Accord, seeing also the claims made constantly that Hellenic Macedonia belongs to FYROM. That the discussions are continuing and that Greece has indeed lately shown a willingness to accept the word Macedonia or Macedonian within a composite designation of the new republic has still met with no single proposal from the FYROM side. The ancient and modern Macedonians of Hellenic Macedonia were and have remained throughout history without interruption Greeks. The speakers of Western Bulgarian or "Macedonian" dialects of Bulgarian rechristened "Macedonians" by the Yugoslav dictator Tito, have little to do with the tiny Slavic community in Greece and nothing to do with the Macedonians as such. Ethnicity cannot jump from one people to another as an act of free will. A proposal of a name that describes the identity and ethnicity of the people of FYROM is 16 years overdue.
The spirit of the United Nations Resolutions and the New York Accord is that the name should not be "Macedonia" or "Republic of Macedonia" or indeed suggest territorial interests against the country´s neighbours. In the context of the FYROM propaganda that Macedonia has been dismembered into Vardar, Pirin and "Aegean" parts that should be reunited (a total historical fiction), a name such as Vardar Macedonia is not completely agreeable. It would not clearly signal the end to the current clouded irredentism about a "United Macedonia" under a non Greek but essentially Yugoslav government - Tito's dream. Macedonian Slavonia or something like that is really about as neutral and non-offensive as it could be, with the word Macedonia still contained in it.
The Nimetz proposal of "Northern Macedonia" has one or two defects. Seeing how FYROM has striven in bilateral relations to subvert the New York Interim Accord of 1995 and insist on the name Macedonia and to use it internally and in its press releases, news channels, missions, etc, it is inevitable that in the absence of a Southern Macedonian state, the ethnicity and language will be certainly labeled Macedonian and soon enough the international name for the people will become Macedonian. The name Northern Macedonia also tacitly implies that the "Southern" Macedonians are of the same ethnicity and the difference is essentially a geographic one.
Moreover names such as East and West Germany, North and South Korea, North and South Vietnam, etc were and are seen as temporary, owing to cold-war divisions that ought to be patched up, leading to eventual reunification. In this case there was never a Macedonia as a state or administrative division outside a Greek-speaking state entity until the invention of the Yugoslav dictator Tito at least partly as a pretext for the annexation of Hellenic Macedonia. An honest solution should honestly recognise the clear difference from the historical Hellenic Macedonia and its Greek inhabitants, their Greek traditions and history.
American chronicle, July 19, 2009, Tymphaios

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