Back to the future

December 16, 1991, the day Greece at a crucial meeting of the EU’s Council of Ministers backed a German proposal regarding the launch of a European campaign to recognize the breakup of Yugoslavia, marked the beginning of a long diplomatic battle against the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia that ended with a clear Greek defeat. The FYROM name dispute reached unjustified proportions on the domestic political scene and gradually became a key issue in Greek foreign policy. The temporary appellation «FYROM» subsequently agreed upon had suited Athens. Politicians and the public came to acknowledge that the maximalist views over the name issue voiced back in 1991-1992 were unrealistic. Constantine Mitsotakis’s aphorism that in 10 years’ time the name dispute would no longer be an issue was seemingly vindicated. However, the Balkan history factory is still in operation. Most importantly, the future of the disputed province of Kosovo is at stake. Inevitably, Greece shelved the FYROM name issue. In the beginning, it seemed that Athens would have a chance to respond in a sober and unemotional political climate. But it was not long before things started to heat up – after a newspaper report leaked some unsavory details about UN mediator Matthew Nimetz’s proposal. The opposition accused the conservative government of withholding the proposal’s nitty-gritty elements. Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis was forced to hand the document to all party leaders as televised talk shows hosted verbal brawls between political figures and celebrities. All sense of moderation was lost. All that despite the fact that the proposal was not even up for discussion, as Skopje rejected it out of hand. The government is fully responsible for the fiasco, and the leak to the press is also the government’s problem.

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