New Macedonia ‘Naming Issue’ Proposal Emerges From UN Talks

The U.N.'s Matthew Nimetz said a new proposal to settle the 22-year debate between the Republic of Macedonia and Greece has been delivered to the two countries.
Matthew Nimetz joined by Zoran Jolevski and Adamantios Vassilakis

U.N. mediator Matthew Nimetz joined by Greece’s Adamantios Vassilakis (L) and Macedonia’s Zoran Jolevski (R) at the United Nations. April 9, 2013. Photo: Luke Vargas/TRNS

 

By LUKE VARGAS

UNITED NATIONS (TRNS) – In the latest effort to resolve the continuing diplomatic row between Athens and Skopje over the Republic of Macedonia’s country name, American diplomat and U.N. envoy Matthew Nimetz has concluded the latest round of meetings involving the two countries in New York.

The talks follow Nimetz’s latest visit to Greece and Macedonia earlier this year, in which he took a new pulse of the two-decade-long standoff.

Speaking to reporters after the conclusion of the talks today, Nimetz said he had offered a concrete set of proposals constructed around his regional meetings, and that both countries were now weighing their next moves. He declined to offer specifics of the proposal, however.

“I tried to refine those ideas [from regional meetings] and give them some new formulations that might meet the issues and objections and problems they had the last time around,” Nimetz said. “Hopefully we get a little closer to some sort of solution here.”

22 years after independence, the Republic of Macedonia is still finding its footing.

Between simmering ethnic tensions to the challenges of economic development, the government in Skopje has a number of pressing issues close at hand, but repeatedly overshadowing those concerns has been persistent diplomatic conflict over a more elementary topic: the country’s name.

After gaining independence with the fall of Yugoslavia, the Republic of Macedonia embarked on a rebranding that included a successful bid for United Nations membership, but the solidification of the country’s foreign policy has not been without significant obstruction summoned by neighboring Greece.

When years of tense negotiations concluded in 1993, the IMF and World Bank settled on recognizing the newly-independent nation by a provisional name, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,” (FYROM) and the name has been used by the United Nations and a diverse group of international governing bodies ever since.

Citing the existence of its own administrative region of Macedonia – which encompasses much of ancient Macedon – and concern about the “doctrine of Macedonianism’s” potential to subvert existing territorial claims, the Greek government has stood firm in its opposition to the word Macedonia being included in its neighbor’s name.

In a 2006 publication, the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs wrote on its website that, “FYROM is exercising a policy of irredentism and territorial claims fueled by the falsification of history and the usurpation of Greece’s historical and national heritage”

“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,” the Ministry wrote.

Asked today when and where he hoped to meet again with representatives from both countries, Nimetz would not commit to a location,  but he said, “we should be talking within the next two months.”

 

TRNS UN Bureau

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Luke Vargas
Luke Vargas is a New York-based reporter for Talk Radio News Service, anchoring world news coverage from the United Nations. Luke previously covered Campaign 2008 and 2012 for radio and television. Follow Luke on Twitter @TheCourier
  • hankz

    FYROM are Bulgarians/Slavs and speak Bulgarian. Ancient Macedonians have always claimed to be Greek and spoke Greek. All Slavs arrived into Europe 1000 years after the death of Alexander The Great. Research and you will find the truth. FYROM are all propaganda and have no truth to back its cliams..

    • Solun

      All Greeks are Christian Turks. The came to Aegean Macedonia not long ago with their Pontian propaganda.

      • hankz

        Loser!……LOL… Did you read this in the ‘Library of Marshal Tito of Yugoslav’…. How about renaming FYROM to ‘Titostan’, after the founder of FYROM……Macedonia for the Greeks only!!!

        • JCUK

          I take an avid interest in history both ancient and modern, I have learned of the feuding City states of the ancient Hellenic world, how the ancient Greek languages were spoken by many across continents and time, how much philosophy, and modern concept and theory comes from that period of history. Nothing I have seen or read negates the fact that there is a modern European state called Macedonia, with modern borders where after many struggles there are those who identify themselves as Macedonians. Nothing I have seen or read negates the fact that there are those from many regions that feel an undiluted link back to over 2000 years ago. Nothing I have seen or read negates the fact there is a modern state The Hellenic Republic or Greece declared January 1st 1822 with modern borders that 91 years later eventually included part of the region known as Macedonia.
          I don’t think the links between modern identity and the ancient world are as simple as you might believe. I have seen that the region, and identity of Macedonia has been very fluid, in Roman times for instance the region of Macedonia extended far further north than I expect you’d be personally comfortable with. I have seen the the ebb and flow of Macedonia as region, concept, identity and yes state. The Macedonian language, region, country, people, ethnicity, and culture (across many borders and identities) is about far more than the brief history of a self proclaimed god and despot from over two thousand years ago. There wasn’t a cut off point for Macedonian history with the death of Alexander The Great. As with all the peoples of Europe from two thousand years ago The Macedonians evolved; assimilation, annexation, liberation, and migration have all had a profound effect on what makes up a state; religion, region, culture, language, and ethnic identity. The entire world is and always has been in a state of constant flux; whether it be the movement of people, language or ideas, definitions of all have changed throughout time. I am willing to accept that there used to be an ancient kingdom called ‘Macedonia’ or ‘Macedon’, and there is a modern European state called ‘Macedonia’ where they speak ‘Macedonian’ (amongst other languages). The fact that the language, culture, and the ethnic make up of ancient Macedonia and modern Macedonians across all borders has changed shouldn’t surprise anyone at all.
          In the same way that The Hellenic Republic didn’t magically appear on January 1st 1822, The Republic Of Macedonia has also had a long road to self determination and independence. Reference to Tito, 1944 and the proclaimed People’s Republic of Macedonia ignores all those who had previously strove for and in many cases died for the right to their identity and recognition. For example what of the complex history of the Ilinden Uprising and resulting Krushevo Republic of 1903 (a decade before Greece
          gained a region called Macedonia)? A rebellion led by the Internal
          Macedonian-Adrianopolitan Revolutionary Organization with its motto of “Macedonia for the Macedonians”. This expression of national identity amongst others is often ignored by those who would simplify the complex history, culture and identity of a vast region and peoples.

      • http://twitter.com/cka1970 DW(Info Slayer)

        You have no idea about History do you? When the Ancient Greeks were around there were only Mongols and they were in Asia.

      • http://www.facebook.com/constantine.pavlou.5 Constantine Pavlou

        Wow, you really have no idea what you’re talking about man. Get your facts straight. I’m sure its hard not having a cultural identity, however, you will not take ours. You Slavs are living in a world where facts don’t hold any precedence to your claims. Ancient Macedonians we part of an over-arching Greek civilization, in fact at the time, the Greeks we’re speaking of unification. What’s even more disheartening is that many of you think Alexander and his people spoke Slavic- ridiculous.

  • hankz

    The name ‘Macedonia’ and its Hellenic history belongs to the Greeks only.. FYROM must find another name and culture for it tiny country that has a population of less than 2 million, 37% are Albanian, 48% are Slavo/Bulgarians and the rest mix.

    • JCUK

      There are no ancient Macedonians living in the modern world; there are
      however people across the world from The United States to Australia,
      from Skopje to Athens who still feel they have a link to this extinct
      civilization. You might disagree with this assertion, but that is their
      base human right of self determination. There are Ancient Macedonian
      sites in both The Macedonian and Hellenic Republic; from the towns of
      Styberra (Prilep) and Heraclea Lyncestis (Bitola) in Macedonia to Pella
      in Greece all have an ancient and shared history. However does this mean
      that only those with this perceived undiluted link back to the ancient
      world can call themselves Macedonian? Of course not, thousands of years
      and many historical, religious, ethnic and cultural groups have
      contributed to what it means to be a Macedonian in a modern world. I am
      English, a Briton, living and working in the UK and yet by the strange
      paradigm expressed in your posts because I don’t speak the language of or
      trace my roots back to The Beaker people or Celts of ancient Britain I
      can not express my modern cultural, ethnic, or national identity. My
      human right of self determination is seemingly negated by your very
      specific narrow minded view of what determines identity.

      Nationalists across all borders of the Macedonian situation do a
      disservice to those they claim to represent by trying to monopolize all
      for their paradigm of what it means to be ‘Macedonian’. Unfortunately
      questions of identity, borders & statehood are far more complicated
      than just brief individual periods of history.

      • hankz

        The first recorded Macedonian kingdom emerged around the 8th century
        B.C, under a dynasty originating from the city state of Argos (Greece), and alsoclaiming descendants from the mythical hero Herakles. According to legend, they migrated to the region and named it Macedonia, the Argeads. It should be mentioned that the Macedonian tribe ruled by the Argeads, was itself called Argead (which translates from Greek “descended from Argos”). Herodotus mentions when when Alexander I was asked to prove his Greek descent in order to participate in the Olympic Games,an athletic event in which only men of Greek origin were entitled to participate. Alexander proved his (Argead) descent and was allowed to compete by the Hellanodikai “And that these descendants of Perdiccas are Greeks. Also a historian by the name of Robin Lane Fox mentions that the Ancient Macedonians are Greek, speaking Greek, and worshiping Greek Gods..
        Only Greece should have the rights to the name Macedonia and its Hellenic history.. You think differently if these FYROMonkeys renamed their country as ‘The Real Scotland” and claimed its culture, history and then claim that the UK are occupying its territory…

        • JCUK

          So in your opinion if you can’t trace back your roots to a dead civilization from over two thousand years ago you can’t express your human right to self determination and call yourself Macedonian? If this is the case then I think you should put an exact cut off point to when and were you qualify as a ‘Macedonian’ from ‘Macedonia’. How do you intend to police the identity of those that would call themselves Macedonian (from all regions), a history test? some sort of perverse check list? or maybe you’d like something more sinister such as DNA screening? Where would you place the limit on being Macedonian? Is it a geographical qualifier or maybe you’d like to put a date on it. Does it come with the death of Alexander The Great? Does it come with the last of the Macedonian kings; Perseus of Macedon? Probably not that would presumably make you a little uncomfortable; One of his base of operations was the ancient city of Styberra found today near the modern city of Prilep, The Republic Of Macedonia. Maybe you’d want to look a little earlier how about the time before Alexander The Great? The town of Heraclea Lyncestis founded by Philip II in the middle of the 4th century was an a strategically important town during the Hellenistic period. Found on the route of the Via Egnatia, today one can see its fascinating ruins and beautiful mosaics when visiting Bitola, The Republic Of Macedonia. Do you want to go all the way back to king Caranusor or before to the time of Midas & Emathia? Perhaps we should call Macedonians Emathians as that existed first? You could look to Roman times; you could choose The Diocese Of Macedonia which covered much of the Balkans, in which case best let those who live in Crete, Albania & Bulgaria know that they are Macedonians as that’s what areas the Diocese included. Looking on we need to decide who should be ‘Macedonian Prima’ and ‘Macedonian Salutaris’ thats how the province existed around 400AD. Maybe Macedonia is the Theme Of Macedonia? This region was created by Greek Empress Irene of Athens, had Adrianople (Edirne Turkey) as its capital, and was actually found in Thrace! The region of Macedonia, on the other hand, ruled by the 1st Bulgarian Empire throughout the 9th and 10th century, was incorporated into the Byzantine Empire in 1018 as the Themе of Bulgaria! From the 14th century with the Ottoman conquest of SE Europe the term Macedonia started to disappear perhaps you would say that Macedonians ceased to exist during this period until the 19th century when there was a national revival. Perhaps Macedonians only existed after the Balkan wars in 1913 when Greece, Serbia and Bulgaria annexed the region.

        • JCUK

          Maybe one should look to eminent historians (as you have) for further, later evidence; for example Victor Davis Hanson, renowned U.S. historian, author and columnist in a recent interview with MIA states “As an observer, I believe the issue is ironic, since the ones studying the Greek classical period considered until 1975 that Alexander and the Macedonians were some type of simple half-Greeks, which required Hellenization in the cities-states. After 1980 they are often redefined as pure Greeks. I do not know if this change occurred due to certain archaeological research, tourism needs or political reasons”, “I am not the one to say how this can turn into cultural continuity after 2,500 years, even less with regards to claims who this heritage belongs to. Ancient Macedonians had existed and lived at territories that currently belong to several countries. However, politics makes it difficult to come to easy and simple conclusions”, “I have lived in Greece and visited the country on numerous occasions, thus having experience with its eccentricity. In brief, they live in a difficult neighborhood, separated by the Balkans from Europe, exposed to the Middle East and Turkey, in a society that had been occupied for 400 years by the Turks and used as pawn in the conflicts of the big powers in the 19th and 20th centuries. Greeks believe their spectacular classical cultural heritage has gone through untouched for 2,500 years through Macedonian, Roman, Ottoman, Venetian and European occupation, and therefore should have a status and influence far more than their numbers and unimpressive economy. Individual brilliant Greeks are far better representatives of Greece as a whole than their poor economic indicators”
          I think one can see that if you look further than only the first paragraph of a wiki answers article on ‘What is the history of Macedonia’ , or the wikipedia post on Ancient Macedonia (that you seemed to have quoted) you’ll realize very quickly that this part of European history, culture, and definition both ancient and modern is far more complicated than you make it out. If you’ve had any interaction with a citizen of The Republic Of Macedonia you’d understand their confusion and anger at being told what they are. For them it isn’t some sort of choice made during the fall of Yugoslavia, World War II, Ottoman occupation, Byzantium Europe or the long dead Kingdom Of Macedon. They are what they are, there is no place for imposed definitions of identity and race in a modern democratic Europe. As a continent we went through the ideology of supremacy, racial monopolization and human rights denial in the 1930s and 40s, there is no place in the modern world for such a discourse of hatred. However presumably someone who uses such a racial epithet as ‘FY******ys’ won’t have the intelligence, common sense, want/need for knowledge, ability to empathize, objectivity, and decency to look beyond their blinkered ignorant paradigm. Lastly I’m very interested in how would you decide whether I was a Briton/British or not? You don’t know my race, name, religion, cultural heritage, gender, birthplace, and yet I suspect through your very definite ideas on identity you would be very happy deciding what I am, whether I liked it or not.

  • Igsi

    To those who cannot stand the Macedonian nation, who are you to give anyone a name. In the 21st century you are bwing ridicilous. No one in the country has the capacity or even inclination to do any harm to anyone in todays Greece. You can debate history but there is a universal human right to your own name and self determination and there is a Macedonian nation, negating its existence makes you a worst kind of human. I would not contemplate talking about any identity issue at all at any price.

    • John

      No one is denying your right to self-determination. What’s at issue here is that thát particular name is already taken for, historically and practically. It’s not yours to freely adopt as your own as much as Bordeaux, Andalusia, Bavaria etc. aren’t. Proximity alone is not a sufficient criterium.

    • hankz

      No nation has the rights to steal another countries name, history and culture and make it their own.. Macedonia was, is and always will be Greek…

  • Juan Reyes

    In a turbulent region such as the Balkans, one has to be very careful in monopolizing names. One has to distinguish itself from another. A geographic qualifier seems a fair solution.

  • http://twitter.com/cka1970 DW(Info Slayer)

    The FYROM language was created in Australia after World War Two.

  • Ton. G

    Germany says It will be called only ‘REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA’ and that’s it. The fate of Europe is decided by Germany not by greece!!!

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