OPINION

Tackling Greece’s name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

I read with interest the recent comments of [UN mediator] Matthew Nimetz and [NATO Secretary-General Jaap] de Hoop Scheffer on the positions of Greece and FYROM on the name issue (in «Athens braces for US pressure over FYROM,» March 3, 2008). It seems that the Greek government’s firm stance has started to bear fruit and that the pressure now is on Skopje to move from their position. Irrespective of the end result, it is of vital importance that the Greek government and its diplomatic services pursue their goals in a non-threatening, calm, confident and dignified way. There is always a tendency for Greeks to react in a panic when things do not evolve as expected, resulting in a sentimental, rather than a calculated or balanced, response. The recent preparation for the 2004 Olympic Games showed we Greeks can achieve tremendous things when we are united, organized and pragmatic, and – most importantly – when we have a clear vision of what we want and who we are. The same principles can be applied to the diplomatic efforts surrounding the FYROM name issue. A. GAITATZIS, London, UK.
The fact is that Greece will lose, as a matter of fact, we have already lost the name Macedonia [response to the March 8 commentary, «What’s in a name?»]. Even if an agreement is reached, every country will still call FYROM Macedonia. Over the next few decades, Macedonia will lay claim to Alexander the Great and history will be changed. The problem lies with Greece and it’s corrupt attitude. In order to serve the interests of a few, governments have turned a blind eye to the name problem. Greece had the opportunity to impose embargoes and do a lot more on this problem. Today we see the UN trying to resolve this issue, why? The UN feels if Greece wins the argument, then Greece will support the UN for the Cyprus problem, even if the proposal does not satisfy Cyprus. The government and all previous governments have failed to handle this problem correctly. The solution is simple. Athens should make a formal announcement publicly to all governments across the world. Their statement should be as follows: You are welcome to call FYROM Macedonia. You are also welcome to make Alexander the Great Macedonian rather than Greek. As a matter of fact, we welcome FYROM into our state of Macedonia and into Greece. As soon as Greece accepts the name Macedonia, then the new capital will become Thessaloniki, and Greece will formally take over the government of FYROM, thus you come into our country and become a Greek state. You are welcome. Greece should have made it clear that FYROM can call itself Macedonia, then Greece will take over the country and expand its borders, either by force or without it. It is time to show some power and some force. Wake up people. KERRY KOUTSIKOS, Via e-mail.
What is the problem with the name New Macedonia (Nova Makedonija) that each party cannot accept? It is ‘New’ in terms of creation and it is in the region historically regarded as Macedonia. We cannot tell people they are not Macedonians (2 million people cannot be wrong) despite our historical claims over the whole name and region. What I would like to see is the church of both countries, which is after all common to both, take a lead to resolve the issue and oversee a sensible compromise. ARI D. VLACHOS, Adelaide, Australia.