The case for Upper Macedonia

FYROM’s efforts to usurp the historical legacy of the ancient Macedonians may have irked Greeks, but the main issue at hand is the geopolitical one. The modern-day region of Macedonia is multiethnic. It is not the homeland of just one nation and the ethnic groups that reside within it have the right to use the term Macedonia in an ethno-geographical sense (Greek Macedonians, Slav Macedonians, Bulgaro-Macedonians, and so on). But Skopje is presenting Macedonia as the homeland of a non-existent «Macedonian nation» and, by extension, «Aegean Macedonia» as being under Greek occupation. The name is their only way to legitimize what they purport to be a «partitioned Macedonian nation.» The issue at hand, therefore, is not to settle for any composite name but to impose a composite name that reflects reality. A name such as Slavo-Macedonia would be wrong because of the Albanian minority in the country, whereas a geographically descriptive name such as Upper Macedonia, is more acceptable. North Macedonia is not necessarily wrong, but it has the problem of being associated with divided nations such as Korea and Vietnam. Then there’s New Macedonia, a proposal intended to distinguish FYROM from ancient Macedonia. But «New» connotes a tie with rather than a contradistinction with ancient Macedonia. The opposition (except for the LAOS party) sees Upper Macedonia as a solid basis for negotiations. So far, the Karamanlis government has made the right moves and the results are already visible on an international level. If Skopje sees that Athens will not waver from its course, it will be obliged to choose between the fantasy of a «greater Macedonia» on the one hand, and the very tangible benefits of NATO membership soon and EU membership in the future.

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