Macedonia - What's In A Name?
I read an article in the Washington Times called “Name Dispute or Ethnic Misdeeds?” by Metodija A. Koloski, in which the case was put forward that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia [FYROM] has every right to use the name Republic of Macedonia.
Further, Metodija proceeded to claim a sort-of Macedonian genocide by the Greek state [An independent Macedonian state is anathema to Greece because it is an embarrassing reminder of Greece’s failed attempts to wipe out the Macedonian people” in Metadojia’s own words].
What Metodija failed to mention in the article, amongst other things, is the whole issue of the name “Macedonia” and it’s origins.
Macedonia was an ancient kingdom based around the city of Pella. Alexander the Great and his people were Hellenised prior to 400BC and remainded a Greek speaking region right through to the present day. That’s a history of over 2,400 years of being Greek and part of the Greek world. Alexander the Great himself ruled from Pella, and spread the Greek civilisation throughout what is now the Balkans, Middle East, northeastern Africa and into northwestern India.
Now to the issue of FYROM and it’s desire to be called the Republic of Macedonia. Metodija claimed that FYROM has made every effort to appease the Greek government, including “mended its constitution to unequivocally disclaim any “territorial ambitions,” and it changed national symbols to remove “Greek” connections.”.
Blindness is one thing, but that comment is full of potholes wide enough for anyone to fall into. FYROM’s capital Skopje renamed its airport to “Alexander the Great” and they still use the ancient star-burst symbol [Vergina Sun] of Alexander the Great as their flag. Sure, they amended it in 1995, but only a half-wit will not notice the similarities.
If FYROM truly wanted peace with Greece over the name of the republic, then why not chose something else? The people who reside in FYROM are Slavic in origin, and have no connection with ancient Macedonia and Alexander the Great. Further, the bulk of the geographical region called Macedonia, falls within Greece’s borders. For the Greek government to allow FYROM to be called Macedonia, would not only confuse the status of the region, but will also bring it at odds with Bulgaria, who also has a region called Macedonia. To make matters worse, part of geographical Macedonia falls into the territory of Albania as well.
The Greek objection is a fair one, and one that looks not only to the present and immediate future, but also into the distant future. If FYROM is allowed to call itself the Republic of Macedonia, then what happens to not only the part of Macedonia within Greece, but also the regions in Bulgaria [who call it Vardar Macedonia] and Albania? Lets not forget that within FYROM there is a vibrant organisation called United Macedonia, which calls for the union of all lands within the geographical region named Macedonia.
By accepting the name Republic of Macedonia, Greece implies that it recognises the republic as not only by name, but by implication that it is the “true” Macedonia. These fears are held not only by the Greek Government, but also by Bulgaria where they have raised concerns over the UMO Ilinden–Pirin movement and its “united Macedonia” philosophy.
What’s in a name? In this particular case, the name Macedonia is one that is a powder keg ready to be ignited. For FYROM to be allowed to adopt the name Republic of Macedonia, it will create a lot of tension and hostility in the region, destabilising the Balkans. It is in everyone’s interests that FYROM adopt a name other than Republic of Macedonia and people like Metodija need to look beyond their own self-interests and agendas.