FYROM and Greece close to a name resolution

After decades of turmoil and political instability the FYROM Republic is keen on accepting a solution regarding changing the international official name by the former country. Greece have been rejecting any solution that includes national  definition. The problem with the official name of FYROM is not only a pure diplomatic recognition issue but also a blocking point and a prerequisite for FYROM’s path to join NATO and the EU.

Former Greece’s Prime Minister Konstantinos Karamanlis used veto during the NATO summit in Voukouresti in 2008. Till now no real progress have been monitored and FYROM still stays outside the NATO military alliance.  An EU membership would follow if Greece had given the green light. But the nationalist approach of previous FYROM’s president Nikola Gruevski (VMPO party) have been a blocking point.

After the recent elections of Decmber 2016, no political party alone won the majority of the 120 electors parliament. Even if VMRO won the majority its political views especially towards the minority’s rights isolated it from the other parties. Almost four months needed for an agreement between four parties to reach an political coalition. The Socialist Party partenered with three other parties from the Albanic minority formed a goverment supported  by 67 (out of 120) parliament members.

The strong influence of the Albanian Minority in FYROM, generated fears about a possible partition of the country. Albanians count for 25% of FYROM’s population. They have a strong influence on the northwest part of the country and they are mainly located around the Tetovo and Gostivar cities.

As of 31 of May 2017, Zoran Zaev is the Prime Minister of FYROM. To overcome political chaos due to the offensive statements of the VMRO party, the new governor is trying to solve the name dispute with Greece that is blockading its entrance to the EU/NATO . Even the USA have prompted the new government of FYROM to solve their problems with neighbor countries and especially with Greece.

Specifically, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, Hoyt Brian Yee stated that: «The solution of bilateral problems (with Greece) and the amendment in the relation between the two countries will clear the course of Macedonia (FYROM) towards a NATO/EU membership».

There are two possible solutions regarding the name Dispute:

  1.  Macedonia of Vardar or Macedonia of Vardashka. This name has a geographical definition. Vardar (or Axios Potamos in Greek) is the River which passes through FYROM and Greece reaching Greece. Its estuary meets Aegean Sea (Thermaiokos Gulf). According to sources in the Greek Department of Foreign Affairs it is a main candidate name
  2. Democratic Republic of Skopje. This name excludes the Macedonia definition from it. Even if it was rejected in the past by FYROM, it is now proposed again due to Greece’s vantage point. If accepted it will meet strong resistance from the VMRO former ruling party in FYROM, leading to a possible civil unrest.
  3. Democratic  Republic of Vardar. It is a combination of 1st and 2nd solution. It is an «evolution» of Vardar Banovima. Vardar Banovina was used during the 1929-1941 period and was a province of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Vardar as suggested before is the name of a main river. It is also a main candidate for the final name resolution

From Greece’s perspective, the first Choice even if officially covers Greek demands, it will lead to the effacement of the Vardar compound in the future, just refering to Macedonia. Thus, it would be a de facto long term defeat for Greece’s Foreign Policy. Third option could be the most commonly accepted from both sides.

In August, Greek Foreign Affairs Minister N. Kotzias will visit the FYROM. The hope for a common final agreement is more than a possibility.




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