Name issue demands decisions

Objectively speaking, Athens has the power to impose an honorable settlement in the Macedonia name dispute. But this is not enough. Athens must show that it also has the will to use this power. UN mediator Matthew Nimetz has proposed five different names of which only one, that of «Upper Macedonia,» is essentially a composite name. The other proposals constitute descriptions of the country’s polity and, for that reason, must be rejected outright. The mediator is here to bargain the type of name and its scope of use. This means that in order to get the «Upper Macedonia» name, Athens will have to accept that its use will be confined to international organizations and the small number of states that will adopt it in their bilateral relations with Skopje. If Athens goes for the full scope of use, as laid out in the Nimetz proposal, then Skopje will be awarded a name that better suits its preferences, such as the «Independent Republic of Macedonia.» To avert the danger, Greece should split negotiations into two phases. First, there must be a decision on the composite name and then a discussion on the scope of use and other details. After all, «Upper Macedonia» would not be a concession to Greece. It’s a geographic term that reflects reality. Nimetz has been entrusted with finding a commonly accepted solution, not a commonly accepted name for international use. The dual name is Nimetz’s own brainchild. Nimetz’s role seems to be changing from that of mediator to that of arbitrator. This means that any side that turns down his final proposal will have to pay a heavy political cost. And this allows US diplomacy to use the name issue to put pressure on Greece. To avoid Greece being accused of going up against the UN, the Karamanlis administration must quickly draw a red line by insisting that it will only discuss a composite name with a geographical designation.