A dual name, but which one?

UN mediator Matthew Nimetz seems rather dispirited as he prepares to host negotiations in New York between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) today, in what will be the most crucial round of talks on the name dispute so far. The two sides have agreed to resume negotiations, yet still remain diametrically opposed. Nimetz is set to inaugurate proximity talks and, for the time being, has no intention of upgrading the procedure. Nevertheless, an invitation for talks between the two foreign ministers must not be ruled out should the deadlock persist. Nimetz has proposed a dual name – but that’s not quite what the government in Skopje would like to see, which is to see Greece call it by a commonly accepted name while keeping the right to use its constitutional name in international organizations and in its bilateral relations with other states. Athens would never concede to that. However, Greece’s threat to veto FYROM’s entry to NATO has turned the tables. It has given Athens a strong bargaining card while forcing Washington to put pressure on Skopje. As a result, the UN mediator has had to come up with a different dual-name proposal. According to his recommendation submitted on February 9, FYROM can use any name it wishes at home, but Greece and the international community will use a different, composite name. According to the UN proposal, the above name will be used by international organizations, it will be mentioned on FYROM passports, and the UN will recommend (it cannot enforce) its use in Skopje’s relations with other states. Moreover, the UN requests a modification of the FYROM constitution so as to recognize the new international name which will also be confirmed by a Security Council resolution. Greece has every right to ask the permanent members of the council favoring a resolution to also adopt the composite name in their bilateral ties with Skopje. A similar demand will be made upon Greece’s EU peers. Greece is engaging in negotiations citing its clear preference for the composite name «Upper Macedonia.» FYROM will only discuss the names «Independent Republic of Macedonia,» «People’s Republic of Macedonia,» or «Constitutional Republic of Macedonia» and insists that any of these be used in international organizations while not in bilateral affairs. The mediator could have promoted a decent and workable solution, namely the «Republic of New Macedonia,» that would be used internationally (isolated states cannot be punished for refusing its use anyway). Even those in FYROM who insist upon defining themselves as the descendants of ancient Macedonia cannot really object to a description of their contemporary state entity as «New Macedonia.»