Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Macedonia has no 'name issue'

In her piece, �Macedonia: What is in a name?� published in the Turkish Daily News on March 31, Ms. Ariana Ferentinou touched upon the �name issue� of the Republic of Macedonia (RM), a question raised by Greece 15-16 years ago.

It was difficult to understand from Ms. Ferentinou's article whether she supports the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic (HR), Mrs. Bakoyiannis, or whether she was just warning her of the complexity of the issue.

Perhaps we should first note that the Republic of Turkey is one of the first countries that recognized the Republic of Macedonia, under the constitutional name (February 1992). In other words, Turkey respected, according to international law, the historical right of our country to the name.

Our constitutional name is actually recognized by over 120 UN member states as well, including most members of the Security Council (China, Russia, Canada), and the U.S. among them. As a matter of fact, before the announcement of the recognition, in 2004, official U.S. Web sites published a long report on Macedonia and the Republic of Macedonia, with facts and arguments on the roots of our nation and its centurial strive for an independent state and with a very clear message � that the U.S. recognizes the historical right of the Republic of Macedonia to that name and that it is not a mere political decision.

Fact about the �problem':

There are a few more facts considering this, artificially imposed �problem�:

1. The Hellenic Republic changed the name of its northern province (Northern Greece and Trace) to Macedonia and Trace in 1989, when the Republic of Macedonia was a federal republic in the former Yugoslavia, since 1944. It could be estimated that this was done in order to meet the future dissolution of Yugoslavia and the independence of the Republic of Macedonia, which occurred in 1991.

2. When our country initiated the procedure for U.N. membership and its process of international recognition, Greece started its obstacles, �fearing� territorial claims from the northern neighbor, the Republic of Macedonia. The Republic of Macedonia demonstrated its willingness for good neighborly relations by several painful step-backs � changing the flag and an article in the constitution � to assure Greece of no intentions, as alleged by them. That was not enough for our neighbors and marathon talks on the name started under the mediation of a U.N. representative.

3. So, a lot of energy and time is spent on that, and Macedonia suffered a tremendous slow down of its Euro-Atlantic integration, the isolation of its citizens because of the visa regime, and lower than possible economic growth accordingly, which affected the right of Macedonian citizens on global mobility and economic development as the precondition of a faster and democratic development.

4. Not to forget, at the same time, the Republic of Macedonia, was the key factor in resolving few regional security and humanitarian crises and proved to have the highest level of minority and human rights in the region, even compared to EU member states.

5. Just few days before the �historic� NATO enlargement summit in Bucharest, it seems as if the NATO invitation for the RM, depends of the mercy of the HR to veto or not, despite the RM's accomplishment of all NATO standards and criteria. In this extent, Greece opposes all the other NATO members, who seem to be tired of this �name issue,� but have to follow the principle of solidarity of the Club, which our southern neighbor is misusing by imposing new benchmarks day by day besides others. Macedonia is/was prepared for further talks and to offer a bilateral compromise, but is not prepared for new demands and conditions from the partner, whose goal is to transform the bilateral issue into an international one!

6. In 1995, again under pressure from Greece, Macedonia was obliged to step back and sign an Interim Agreement where it was stipulated that both countries will negotiate on a bilateral basis for the use of the name between them, but that it is no obstacle, to sign and become member of international organizations.

7. You may agree with some analysts and diplomats, who state that the name is the facade, but the real reason for the Greeks is something else. Whatever is behind, the consequence is there � Greece is limiting the right of the RM on integration with the international community, thus limiting the collective and individual rights of our citizens.

8. We are encouraged by some Greeks, actually many, who do not support the policy of their government, fully aware that the �issue� is senseless. We are free to mention one of the Greek former ministers, T. Pangalos, who called the name dispute an �artificial issue,� created during the nationalist policy of Samaras and pointed out that modern Greek policy is today a hostage of this situation.

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