NEWS

FYROM

The pending issue over the name continues to haunt Greek relations with the Slav-Macedonians and has hindered the signing of bilateral educational and other agreements that would foster cultural ties between the two nations. There is no anti-Greek feeling though in the country. Citizens of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) believe their future is tied to that of Greece and have shown it by showing a preference for all things Greek, ranging from the language to music to holiday destinations, not to mention products and, of course, investments. Everyone wants to learn Greek, in particular in the south and east, and they do so at institutes run in Prilep, Stip, Bitola, Gevgeli and in the capital. Even FYROM’s Parliament has organized Greek seminars for parliamentary delegates and government officials. There is a growing interest among young people from FYROM to study in Greece. Many young people from Skopje and other towns study at private colleges in Thessaloniki and Athens and the number is on the rise due to staff openings in Greek companies in FYROM. FYROM’s formerly anemic economy has tied its future to the Greek presence. Greeks have invested in key sectors such as petrol, banking and steel to the tune of 850 million euros spread over 250 companies that employ 20,000 workers. Greek entrepreneurs hope to reach Kosovo, whose population currently stands at 1.8 million, but there is still a great deal of mistrust due to the Greeks’ pro-Serb stance. As long as the name issue is pending, the Slav-Macedonians will think that the Greeks want to devour them, while the Greeks fear that Skopje will make claims on Greek Macedonia in the future. This is the first of a two-part series.