FYROM opportunism

The controversy over the classified map of the US Defense Department intelligence unit confirmed that some circles in Washington have been playing dangerous games in the Balkans. In this light, the US recognition of FYROM by the name «Macedonia» is a cause for concern. The claim that this initiative aimed at reducing the volatility in FYROM is implausible, for the source of instability is not Greece’s effort to settle the name issue; rather, it is the secessionist hopes of the large Albanian community. One could attribute the Bush administration’s decision to its eagerness to help the new state stand on its feet; but this would be valid only if it was an isolated incident. But that it is not. Washington seems to be taking seriously the Slav-Macedonians’ expansionist fantasies. Some US officials go so far as to legitimize them with classified documents. Notably, according to FYROM ideology disseminated in schools, the broader Macedonia region is not inhabited by different ethnic groups but is the fatherland of the Macedonian nation. «Vardar Macedonia,» which coincides with FYROM territory, is the free part. The other two, «Aegean Macedonia» and «Pirin Macedonia,» are occupied by Greece and Bulgaria respectively. Without doubt, the Bush administration wanted to settle this outstanding issue in a way that would please Skopje. But its move did nothing to enhance that state’s stability. The Ohrid pact may have staved off the threat of an all-out war, but inter-ethnic coexistence is hardly harmonious. Should Kosovo gain independence, trouble will resurface. The prospect of Kosovo being divided up between Albania and Bulgaria is a remote possibility; more likely is a cantonization of the province that keeps it basically intact. Greece cannot do much to affect developments and such an outcome would not harm its interests, but it should not paint itself into a corner.