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Macedonia: UN’s Ban Pushes For Name Dispute Solution

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By Miki Trajkovski and Goran Trajkov

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon’s visit to Skopje brought renewed hopes that the UN will help end the long-standing name dispute between Macedonia and its southern neighbor, Greece.

Ban met with the Macedonian parliament Wednesday (July 25th), and told lawmakers that he was dedicated to resolving the dispute, which has kept Macedonia out of NATO and forced it to accept the official designation “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” in the UN and international circles.

“Both sides need to demonstrate commitment by promoting a positive atmosphere through their actions and public statements,” Ban told the lawmakers. “You have to join the EU. I am dedicated to helping.”

Macedonia
Macedonia

The UN chief pledged the he and the organizations’ mediator for the dispute, Mathew Nimetz, will find a solution.

Macedonian President George Ivanov urged the UN chief to put pressure on Greece to respect the Interim Agreement of 1995, which formalised bilateral relations between the two countries, and last year’s Hague ruling, which said the Greece’s block of Macedonia’s NATO bid was illegal.

“Our future is blocked by a question that comes from the past. From the Greek authorities we seek to follow the reality,” Ivanov said.

Aleksandar Gjorgjiev, Macedonian government spokesman, presented an agenda earlier this month to further talks on forging a solution to the name issue. The agenda includes meetings between state representatives and officials, signing a co-operation declaration, organising a joint education-historical committee, a joint contact-center for the interior ministries and opening a new border crossing near Dorjane.

The future meetings will be aimed at improving the dialogue and strengthening mutual trust, Gjorgjiev said.

Former Macedonia Minister of Foreign Affairs Slobodan Casule told SETimes that Greece no longer has room to maneuver.

“Greece … will have to implement the interim agreement. The question is with which temporary name we will approach the international organisations. [UN Security Council] Resolution 817 is an agreement about the name and the membership of Macedonia in NATO and EU,” Casule said.

According to Greek media, Macedonia has presented three scenarios to solve the problem: to seek UN membership under its constitutional name, to open a new case before the International Court of Justice and to reject the interim agreement.

Bosko Stankowski, a doctorate of international law at Cambridge University, told Focus news earlier this month that Athens will try to be a step ahead of Skopje.

“Greece will try to stop any initiative in the UN, explaining that the name dispute has implications for security and as such cannot be considered by the General Assembly. It is possible for Greece to give some initiative in the negotiations and to try to present itself as a constructive party,” Stankowski said.

But, Kostas Ifantis, associate professor of international relations at University of Athens, said the timing isn’t good for any hope of settling the Macedonia name dispute given Greece’s economic crisis and with a new coalition government in place.

“I’m not optimistic, there’s no indication there is movement from either party, either Skopje or Athens. There is no progress or intention to compromise and the Greek government doesn’t want to engage in negotiation right now,” he told SETimes.

The Macedonian public also wants good neighborly relations, but is unwilling to give up their country’s name.

“My name is Saso, my best-man gave me that name and nobody absolutely nobody can call me another name … Such is the dispute with our southern neighbour, my country’s name is Republic of Macedonia, not FYROM,” Skopje resident Saso Nanov told SETimes.

SETimes

SETimes

The Southeast European Times Web site is a central source of news and information about Southeastern Europe in ten languages: Albanian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Croatian, English, Greek, Macedonian, Romanian, Serbian and Turkish. The Southeast European Times is sponsored by the US European Command, the joint military command responsible for US operations in 52 countries. EUCOM is committed to promoting stability, co-operation and prosperity in the region.

16 thoughts on “Macedonia: UN’s Ban Pushes For Name Dispute Solution

  • Avatar
    July 29, 2012 at 6:41 am
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    How can ‘organising a joint education-historical committee’ change anything when you have nationalists running the skopjian leadership and an economic crisis destroying the Greeks.

    The indigenous Albanians of FYROM would like to see the Slavs and Greeks agree on their identities but the issue is over history and who has a right over the history of the region.

    It is well known among the indigenous Balkan peoples that the Slavs came to our lands between 700-900 AD. When these Slavic ancestors settled here they came with animal skins on their backs from the Ukraine areas and received the one big gift that they never had and that was civilisation.

    To the south of FYROM have been the Greek tribes and on this land, and what is now FYROM were our Illyrian forefathers who have lived here (like the Greeks) for thousands of years.

    Most of the indigenous Albanians, local Vlachs, and Bulgarians of FYROM believe that the skopjian leadership is unable to compromise with their Greek counterparts because the local and diasporic nationalists want to invent a history that has Alexander as FYROM’s mascot.

    This is apparently very offensive to the Greek tribes to the south who live on Alexander’s homeland. They are, as many of the other Balkan neighbours, very suspicious of the skopjian authorities intentions especially when Gruevski builds his identity out of concrete and iron.

    In a country where 39% are unemployed, the skopjian leadership have sacrificed both its young indigenous Albanians and Slavs just so Gruevski’s swollen head will be favored among the skopjian nationalists at home and abroad.

    The UN knows that compromise will eventuate once the right people are in power. Unfortunately, we will have to wait longer for good decent people to come to power.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      July 29, 2012 at 1:11 pm
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      Sam,does tribes south of the Republic of Macedonia as you are describing are one and the same tribes as in the Republic of Macedonia,they are Macedonians!
      I believe,we had this discussion before where I explained to you the difference between your rights in Macedonia and those Macedonians in Albania and Greece.You should be very lucky to be in Macedonia!
      It is very unfortunate for the indigenouse Macedonians in Greece,Bulgaria and Albania who don’t enjoy the same rights as you do in the Republic of Macedonia.The Big Powers of 1913 dealt an unfortunate and illigal partition of our land Macedonia.Greece is fighting toth and nail to hold onto our occupied homeland,they know it does not belong to them,same thing,they are fabricating as you do the Balkan history.

      Reply
    • Avatar
      July 29, 2012 at 11:24 pm
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      Sam, the so called Slav’s that came in the 6th to 9th century AD, did they not enter Greece, did Greece haave borders in the 6th century? Did Greece have border potrol’s to stop the Slav’s entering Greece, besides 70% of the world population lives near the coast, so most likely these Slav’s would’ve migrated near the coasts and rivers were trade was easier with boats.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    July 29, 2012 at 7:44 am
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    Macedonia is a large geographical area which was expanded via centuries, and being shared by many nations .Greece has already accepted the name “northern macedonia” as a base for common deal with FYROM.Greece wants a clear geographical distinction for its historical province with the same name ” Μακεδονία”The homeland of Alexander the great, in order people around world not confusing the hellenic province of makedonia and its ancient heritage , from the slavic element of the wide region (south-slav history-culture-language)

    Reply
  • Avatar
    July 29, 2012 at 4:32 pm
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    Hey peter…. in 1913 Ottoman turkey was divided not “Macedonia”. Extreme natioalists like you confuse modern names with ancient intentionally to insinuater parts of Greece are “occupied’. You are living proof Greece has legimate security concerns in you former self-identifying ethnic buglarians renaming yourselves “ethnic Macedonians”.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      July 29, 2012 at 8:49 pm
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      Anonymous and Mitsos,once again you are distorting facts.I can’t say I am surprised,because you have nothing better to say other than distortion f facts.It is very interesting to read”Greece already accepted Northern Macedonia”.Who in the world are you kidding?Greece wants the Republic of Macedonia to change its name to “Northern Macedonia”,not Greece to change.You sound like an amature on history.You are making this absurd statement,and showing how far would you go to fabricate the truth.What a joke!
      No wonder Ban Ki Moon said in Skopje to a journalist question on the name of Macedonia”You don’t have to compromise your name”.Greek government was up in arms on this statement by the SG of the UN.The world knows the truth.Mitsotakis was right to be afraid on the recognition of the Macedonian minority in the occupied Aegean Macedonia.His statement says it all.”It will be dificualt for the external politics”.Well,like it or not,the time has come,the world knows very well the difference between Greece and Macedonia on both issues of identity and language.
      Ban Ki Moon learned about Macedonia in his grade school as he acknowledged.
      Un’s special envoy McDougal acknowledged Greece is breaking the Human Rights in Greece againts the indigenouse Macedonians.The ICJ court found Greece breaking the interim accord with Macedonia.Still you are arguing that it is not so?Who are you kidding!!
      Greeces biggest economy is tourism,what are they doing?they put labels on Macedonian markers.Macedonia offered two water bombers to help the fires near Athens,Samaras prefers to burn the people rather accept help from Macedonia.Greek politics will bring Greece even furthere deeper in debt.Why should Greek politicians worry about the ordinary citizen of Greece,they are robing the banks anyway,and let the people jump from windows,or shoot themselves because they cannot feed their families.”As me lene vojvodina,ke as pethano apo tin pina”thats the Greek motto!
      These politicians should be sent”Exoria to the Makronisos”.The Greek people should teach them a lesson,the citizens deserv better than what they are getting.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    July 29, 2012 at 4:34 pm
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    Hey Peter-the-Great-ski…. what did your former elected government officials means when they used to say you are unrelated to aancient Macedonians? How is it you’ve suddenly become pure racial decendents all of sudden after name recognition?

    Reply
  • Avatar
    July 29, 2012 at 10:49 pm
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    Sorry Mr Peter but to use indigenous for the Slavs of FYROM or in Greece is very naive if not incredulous. Your people came here between 700-900AD still wearing the animal skins so accustomed among Slavic peoples in the Volga at the time.

    It is so fortunate the Bulgarian settlers of the time to learn civilisation from the Balkan peoples of what is today FYROM like the indigneous Albanians and from Greek tribes to the south.

    The skopjian nationalists have built an identity out of concrete and iron which is at the cost of the regional peoples. This disgrace we have to live with in FYROM as both indigenous Albanians and Slavic citizens.

    Hopefully this digrace will subside as the concrete cancer sets in to these poorly built buildings housing a facade, an illusion, and distoriton of reality. The Slavs have lived here for no more than several centuries but to claim ancient ties is as stable as your DNA theories Mr Peter.

    Nevermind when we the indigenous Albanians soon become the majority in FYROM and are the new skopjian authorities we will correct this Balkan fallacy and what our old people call the ‘YugiSlavic conundrum’ or as our young call it the ‘skopjian tragedy.’

    Human rights in FYROM are at atrocious lows. One skopjian newspaper said, “our pigs get better treatment than our fellow Albanian citizens.’ I think this skopjian newspaper defying the skopjian nationalist government spoke the truth, though he was arrested later.

    This Mr Peter is how your skopjian leadership treats us, so please stop blaming Albania, the Greeks, Bulgarians and anyone else for your fellow Slavs of FYROM’s deep seated racism.

    There is much confusion among the majority Slavs of FYROM about their identity but in the end this confusion will turn into either global plastic ID’s or embarrasing confessions about intentional fabrication.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    July 29, 2012 at 11:00 pm
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    One last word Mr Peter!
    Please don’t use the sacred word INDIGENOUS in your comments for Slavs, as this belittles the original Balkan and Aegean peoples who unlike your Bulgarian ancestors have lived here for Millennia.

    Remember Mr Peter the real evidence is in the ground and in our stories. Both show the Slav presence appeared thousands of years after the indigenous Illyrians and Paeonians and I would be certain to say much later than the Greek tribes to the south.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    July 30, 2012 at 4:37 am
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    I am just a dumb American. If the Macedonians were Greeks then why did Alexander conquer Greece? Also we have advances in science where today we can see from genes where people came from and who are the real Macedonians. I think the Greeks are worried about losing what was given to them. On a final note the Greeks should worry about there real problem that they are broke and western Europe is tired of financing people that are worried about history and not the future! If Greece continues as it does it’s people will be hungry and even history won’t save you! People in the Balkan seem to dwell in the past. Worry about the future!

    Reply
  • Avatar
    July 30, 2012 at 7:25 am
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    I don’t know if you are really an American or a FYROM natioanalist pretending to be American but I agree you are dumb.

    You arguments about ancient Macedonians is based on ignorance. Ancient Athenians and Spartans also tried to conquer Greece too but no one argues how they weren’t Greeks?

    Furthermore… lets supposed for some unfathomable reason the founders of the Hellenistic period weren’t Greeks. Does anyone claim they have anything to do with today’s Slavic inhabitents of the region that was ancient Paeonia? I think you know the answer to that.

    I also think people like should worry about your own business rather than the business of Greeks. Greeks are getting very tired of listening to patronizing foreign bigots that dishonestly pretend not to notice FYROM’s sudden change into ancient Macedonians and irredentism.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    July 30, 2012 at 7:29 am
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    @Peter-the-Great-ski

    You are all narrative and no facts. Why is it you, and your Greek hating apologists, never mention “minor” details like this about your “Macedonian” heritage guy?

    “The political and military leaders of the Slavs of Macedonia at the turn of the century seem not to have heard Misirkov’s call for a separate Macedonian national identity; they continued to identify themselves in a national sense as Bulgarians rather than Macedonians.” – US Anthropologist Loring Danforth, “The Macedonian Conflict: Ethnic Nationalism in a Transnational World”, Princeton Univ Press, December 1995

    “Prior to the creation of a Macedonian republic in 1944,most Macedonian immigrants viewed themselves as ethnically Bulgarian and often referred to themselves as Macedonian-Bulgarians or simply Bulgarians.While immigration records failed to list Macedonians as separate category,approximately three-quarters of those listed as Bulgarians were‍ from the regions of Kostur and Bitola in Macedonia.” – James R. Grossman, University of Chicago

    “It should be noted that there is NO CONNECTION between the Macedonians of the time of Alexander the Great who were a GREEK tribe and today’s so-called ‘Macedonians’ of the ‘Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’ or FYROM, who are of SLAVIC origin and related to BULGARIANS.” – David H Levinson, ‘The Encyclopedia of Ancient Cultures’

    Reply
  • Avatar
    July 31, 2012 at 3:10 am
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    Sorry I’m not a nationalist from Macedonia but if you do some research the most related people to to your ancient greeks are on Crete! Most of the modern Greeks have no relation to ancient Greeks, but why are you so worried about Macedonia when they are a poor country! Also if you are so proud and don’t want other nations getting involved in your business then don’t take there money and take care of yourselves. You shouldn’t be so angry. Our opinion means nothing! It’s the ones who have the money and military control how we live.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    July 31, 2012 at 10:30 am
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    Please Mr Peter you sound like you live in UTOPIA.

    I’m sorry to say that you are either not familiar with the skopjian authorities here or you belong to those Slavs who have still to accept reality about their ancestry.

    This Allineis person you continuously refer to for his genetic theory is obviously aimed at people who have a very naive understanding of their ancestry. It is known throughout the balkans that the indigenous people in antiquity here have always been the Illyrians, Paeonians, Thracians, and the Greek tribes to the south of us.

    Your assumptions that the Slavic race was also here is utterly false. There is no Bulgarian or any other Slavic evidence before 700AD. That your Bulgarian ancestors trickled into our lands around 700-900AD shows that they accepted our Balkan culture, food, songs, dances, etc.

    For this UTOPIA you speak of, that we have the same rights, priviliges, and access to everything that the Slavs have in FYROM is very far from the truth. You may have, as an ethnic immigrant, some rights in a land that bases its wealth on the amount of so- called ‘gastarbieter’ it can lure over. But here in FYROM the skopjian leadership has never lost its Yugoslav oppressive seed to keep under foot all non-christian minorities.

    We have seen the world more than you think Mr Peter. The difference is, we love our ancient land and work hard on it. You on the other hand, have left to fabricate another. This Mr Peter is why the skopjian leadership will return to the indigenous Albanians again one day once we are in the majority again.

    Don’t forget we were the leadership here from 1389 until 1910, just before the Balkan wars. That your Slavic ancestors took over is only temporary. You live elsewhere so don’t really care! You nag, nag about some past in the Greek lands, but you never see beyond your own racism, as many of your FYROM Slavs.

    This is why so many Slavs live outside and continue to flee outside of FYROM. Nobody wants to be here when we are melting down the iron statues dedicated to those Greek and Bulgarian leaders like Alexander, Philip, Delchev, Alexandrov, and Gruev. All those baroque buildings will be turned into mosques celebrating the return of our sacred land.

    Live in your UTOPIA Mr Peter, as we will live in ours soon enough.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    July 31, 2012 at 9:20 pm
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    the above comment is hilarious.if you are so indigenous then why 600 years ago did you adopt islam from the turks that invaded.lol.oh very indigenous was there mosques there 3000 years ago.when the slavs and bulagrs did come it was under byzantine empire so stop talking crap when you know nothing about history please at least do some research about macedonia thanks.and you say fyrom are rascist what about you.you accept turks that come 500 years ago but you don’t accept slavs or bulgars that came 500 years before grow up.you talk like this becuase you are no different an islamist that talks utter crap.if it were up to you guys the whole world would be islamic and then you talk about indegenous when the majority of your people changed their culture overnight.grow up.at least make sense or stop making a fool of yourself.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    August 1, 2012 at 3:01 am
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    Silly My Tony, changing religion doesn’t change your indigneous roots only your beliefs. Like most racists from the skopjian leadership you betray your Slavic ignorance on your sleeve.

    Before Islam arrived many indigenous Albanians were also, like yourself My Tony, orthodox christians adopted from the Byzantine Greeks. This did not mean that they were any less indigenous Albanians. Before then our Illyrian and Paeonian ancestors had, like the ancient Greeks to the south and the Thracians to the east, a Pantheon religion whereby many Gods received obeisance.

    Don’t forget Mr Tony your Slavic ancestors arrived with animal skins on their backs between 700-900 AD, from the Volga area. Their primitive ways (like your racist attitude) needed a civilised instruction.

    Today you should be gratefull to have received Balkan civilisation from our indigenous Albanians in the lands in what is todays FYROM and the Greek tribes to the south. The only reason why Bulgarians were so easily assmilated in our Balkan culture was because they accepted to settle in towns for the first time, away from their primitive semi-nomadic clan groups.

    This fact is evidenced thoughout the Balkans. They can’t find a shred of evidence showing Slavic settlement before 700 AD either here in our lands or in the Greek lands to the south.

    So stop behaving like your skopjian leadership with their nationalisitc rants and racist propaganda!

    Reply

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