Knee-jerk reactions

If Costas Karamanlis were to give the go-ahead for the NATO accession of Greece’s northern neighbor with the provisional name FYROM, he would be relinquishing his only bargaining chip. Ironically, such a huge blunder would meet with little resistance from the main opposition or inside his own party. As for the ultra-nationalist LAOS, they will protest any decision. And New Democracy’s dissidents? Well, their reflexes are Pavlovian rather than political. Thus, the dilemma is between a composite name or plain «Macedonia.» The issue has from the outset been trapped between two counter-productive views. On the one hand, there are those who claim the name does not really matter. On the other, there are those who reject «Macedonia» or any of its derivatives. What is important, however, is to invalidate Skopje’s state ideology of a «fragmented Macedonian homeland.» Macedonia is not a one-nation state. It has always been a multiethnic region. There is a Slav-Macedonian nation, but no Macedonian. There is a Slav-Macedonian language, but no Macedonian. The campaign of Slav-Macedonians to usurp the name «Macedonia» has expansionist connotations. It is a «part» pretending to be a «whole.» It’s as if Greece suddenly started calling itself «Europe.» Greece is part of Europe, but it can’t be Europe. The question is not whether Athens will accept a composite name, but whether we can come up with a composite name that indeed reflects reality. The presence of ethnic Albanians in FYROM prohibits an ethnogeographic name such as Slav-Macedonia. Rather, we need a purely geographic description such as Upper Macedonia (GornaMakedonja) so that no side is forced to compromise. Had Athens coupled its veto threat with a name proposal along these lines, it would have found a more receptive ear among the international community.