Thursday, August 21, 2008

Macedonia’s Border Authorities Hassle “Unpatriotic” Travellers to Greece

Macedonians headed to Greece for the holidays complained that they are being singled out and harassed by Macedonian border authorities, national media reported on Thursday.

All buses with Macedonian tourists entering or exiting Greece are being stopped on the border and people’s baggage gets thoroughly checked, the Dnevnik newspaper reported. While Macedonians face delays of about three hours, Serbian and other foreign tourists entering Greece through Macedonia are being let across the border without any hassle.

Greek border authorities, according to information published in the national newspaper Express, are letting through all visitors, including Macedonians, without any problems.

The Macedonian border authorities’ move is part of the long-running dispute between Greece and Macedonia over the latter country’s constitutional name, which has been a thorn in Greece’s side since the People's Republic of Macedonia was established as part of the newly proclaimed Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia in 1946.

The dispute resurfaced again when the country became independent in the early 1990s and has gotten even more heated in the past several months. A failure to find a name that is acceptable to both Macedonia and Greece led to Greece’s veto over the Macedonian NATO candidacy earlier this year. Negotiations between the two countries recommenced in July in New York and are still on-going.

Although Macedonian authorities are in the spotlight for their actions now, Greece has also had its fair share of strong reactions against Macedonia and Macedonians. For example, as reported in May, the country put an embargo banning trains coming from Macedonian territory on average every other day for 80 work days.

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