OPINION

An unacceptable proposal

«Republic of Macedonia (Skopje),» which is the name proposed by UN envoy Matthew Nimetz, is not a mutually acceptable solution and Greece has turned it down. The government in Athens has repeatedly made clear that it wants to become the neighboring country’s strongest political and economic partner. Nevertheless, international mediators should not ignore the fact that Greece is a NATO and EU member and that it has the power to veto FYROM’s accession to both organizations. In fact the very survival of FYROM depends on Athens. Unless FYROM manages to join the transatlantic alliances, it’s set for a very grim Balkan future. Many commentators have warned that the unity of the state will be at risk. Hence it’s hard to explain why FYROM Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, a man with very few friends in Washington and Brussels, is making demands on the big powers while issuing warnings to Athens. From this page we have previously backed several settlement proposals, including the names «Upper Macedonia» and, albeit less enthusiastically, «New Macedonia,» on the grounds that they at least contain some element of differentiation and that they would be used by the international community. As a name, «Upper Macedonia» contains a clear geographic description that separates FYROM, the part, from the whole, i.e. the entire Macedonia region. It also reflects the fact that FYROM covers some 40 percent of historic Macedonia compared to 50 percent that lies in Greece and Bulgaria’s 10 percent. The name «New Macedonia,» preferably in Slavic (Nova Makedonija), also helps to distinguish the new state from the historic region of Macedonia while being the most user-friendly. The UN proposal for a «Democracy of Macedonia (Skopje)» does not meet the above requirements. US officials suggest that there is some room for bargaining. In April 2005, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis accepted «Republika Makedonija Skopje» as a basis for negotiations. To approximate this latter proposal, the parentheses of Nimetz’s proposal must be removed and the name rendered in its Slavic form. The name would also have to be written as such on passports and used by all at all times, including in FYROM’s bilateral ties with all states. A UN Security Council recommendation to third countries will not suffice. They might be useful if the proposed name were very different from the constitutional one, which is not the case here. Finally, the proposal would stand a better chance if the new state were classified under the letter «R» (for Republika) rather than «M» (for Makedonija) and was officially referred to as «Republika Makedonija Skopje» by all and at all times.