By Bill Nicholov
“The EU is not involved in changing the identity of people. Identity is something sacred and it should not be negotiable,” according to European Union ambassador Erwan Fouere.
So why is the EU demanding that Macedonia change its name in order to gain membership?
Mr. Fouere was responding to the latest European Commission report that removed references to the Macedonian language and used the term “state language” instead. The United Nations followed suit and removed all references to the Macedonian language. Macedonia had to demand reinstatement.
Greece claims that it wants the Republic of Macedonia to change its name to “prevent confusion” with the province of Macedonia.
Does the EU actually believe this? Then again, it is bailing out Greece after it blatantly lied about its economic situation.
The nonsensical name dispute was initiated by Greece in order to continue its policy of non-recognition and persecution of its large Macedonian minority. Former Greek Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis admitted in 1995,
“My main aim was to convince the Republic [of Macedonia] to declare that there is no Slavomacedonian [using the Greek government’s pejorative term for the Macedonians of Greece] minority in Greece. This was the real key of our difference with Skopje.”
Ironically, Greece now claims that “Macedonia is Greek”, but it was not until 1988, when Greece realized that independence for the Republic of Macedonia was imminent, that it renamed “Northern Greece” to “Macedonia.” Prior to this, Greece’s policy was that Macedonia did not exist. Now its policy is “The more outrageous the lie, the more believable it becomes”.
The question is, does the world believe it? The answer appears to be “no”. 129 countries, including four of the five permanent UN Security Council members, have recognized Macedonia. Now will these countries take the next logical step and denounce the name negotations as an unprincipled intrusion on the constitution of a sovereign nation?
Unfortunately, the United States, which has already recognized Macedonia, is calling for a “compromise”. The US views itself as a leader in spreading democracy and human rights throughout the world. So how does it justify asking a country to change its own name?
The European Union and NATO have taken it one step further. In addition to calling for a “solution”, the EU and NATO are allowing themselves to be handcuffed by Greece’s racist and xenophobic policies. Every NATO member-state supported Macedonia’s membership, yet Greece was permitted to veto it.
According to former US Secretary of State, Lawrence Eagleburger, “The name dispute is unnecessary and unfounded, since Macedonia was called the same in the time of former Yugoslavia and this did not cause any problems then”. He added, “Is there anything more immature and more foolish than ‘blackmailing’ a nation by denying its membership in international organizations, which goal is to preserve the peace and protect their members from aggression of non-members.”
Yet for two decades, the United Nations admission of Macedonia as a member under the “temporary” reference “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” persists.
If Greece’s “name dispute” with Macedonia made any sense, then where are the calls from the US State of Georgia for the Republic of Georgia to change its name? How about the Belgian province of Luxembourg demanding that Luxembourg change its name?
The first UN mediator for the name dispute, Robin O’Neil, said that “Macedonia must not and will not change its name in order to appease Greece. If Macedonia succumbs to pressures and changes its name, such events will only give more firepower to Greece until it reaches its final goal – Macedonia to vanish from the map.”
Every Macedonian government has continued the ridiculous name negotiations solely to satisfy American and Western European pressure to find a “compromise” with Greece. Instead of capitulating to countries that demand a change to Macedonia’s name and identity, the Macedonian government must immediately end the name negotiations and demand support from these countries.
Bill Nicholov, President
Macedonian Human Rights Movement International