In anticipation of Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to the United Kingdom, in which he will implore the UK to stay in the European Union, London mayor, Boris Johnson, said that, “…coming from Uncle Sam, it is a piece of outrageous and exorbitant hypocrisy.” True. No nation has the right to tell another how to run its internal affairs.
The perfectly glib sarcasm by Johnson continues, “The British people will be told to be good to themselves, to do the right thing. We will be informed by our most important ally that it is in our interests to stay in the EU, no matter how flawed we may feel that organisation to be. Never mind the loss of sovereignty; never mind the expense and the bureaucracy and the uncontrolled immigration.”
The “loss of sovereignty”. Johnson hits the nail on the head. Apply any of his arguments to the US and EU demanding that Macedonia change its name to appease Greece. Just ask fellow Brit Robin O’Neil, the first UN mediator for the Macedonia-Greece name dispute, “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.”
As Boris Johnson says, “There is no country in the world that defends its own sovereignty with such hysterical vigilance as the United States of America.” So why is it acceptable for the US to threaten Macedonia’s sovereignty by demanding a name change? Back to Johnson’s hypocrisy point. The US, much like the UK and the vast majority of the world, have already recognized Macedonia using its proper name. Yet, one can only explain the United States’ actions as foolishly believing that it knows best, and that it has the right to interfere in foreign affairs as it sees fit.
The Macedonia name issue comes down to common sense. No nation has the right to name another. Macedonia’s name has always been Macedonia. Greece denied its very existence until 1988 and, as admitted by former Greek PM Constantine Mitsotakis, initiated the name dispute as an excuse to keep denying the existence, and persecution, of its large Macedonian minority. The West partitioned Macedonia in 1913 among Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia (a portion later went to Albania) and Macedonians have endured over 100 years of various governments trying to eradicate or forcibly assimilate them.
A part of Macedonia declared independence in 1991, and now the West, led by the US, as usual, and epitomized by the farcical UN-sponsored name negotiations, is demanding that Macedonia “compromise” on its own name. In the “interim” (over two decades), the UN refers to Macedonia as “FYROM” (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia). How fun it must be for Macedonian athletes to walk in Olympic opening ceremonies behind the letter “F”. How would it go over if the US was called “FBCOA” (Former British Colony of America). They would declare war before accepting any negotiation of its name and invade a country that has nothing to do with it.
One would imagine that if any of Boris Johnson’s points were applied to Macedonia’s situation, we wouldn’t be in this mess today. Let’s see if the UK can teach its American younger brother some good judgement and denounce the Macedonia name negotiations as an attack on human rights and common sense.
*Bill Nicholov, President, Macedonian Human Rights Movement International