The Name IssueThe Name Issue: FYROM

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) - The Name Issue
As provided for by UN Security Council Resolution 817 (1993), which urges the parties to continue to work together to arrive at a speedy settlement of their difference, Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia are carrying out negotiations under the auspices of the UN Secretary General, with the objective of finding a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue. According to Article 5, Paragraph 1, of the Interim Accord, which was signed in New York, on September 13, 1995, the Parties agree to continue negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations with a view to reaching agreement on the difference described in Security Council resolution 817 (1993). Henceforth the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has formally accepted that the name of its State is an issue for negotiation as provided for in  UN Security Council Resolution 817 (1993)

           The signing of the Interim Accord was the departure point for the normalisation of relations between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The only issue that remained pending was that of the name of the new Republic, which was accepted by the UN with the provisional name former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The two countries began negotiations under the auspices of the UN on the final name.

Since 1995, the development of Greek-FYROM relations has been impressive. Greece is one of FYROMs main trade partners and is first among foreign investors. Bolstering development and helping to combat unemployment, Greece's economic presence in FYROM is a stabilising factor.

Although a number of efforts have been made in recent years to settle the name issue on a bilateral level, FYROMs domestic political state of affairs has hindered the settlement of the issue in a manner harmful for both sides. In various instances, however, the two sides came very close to reaching a settlement.

 Immediately following the elections, the new government publicly expressed its willingness to achieve a mutually acceptable solution, giving new momentum to the UN-mediated negotiations on the name issue.

The Skopje governments submission, on March 22, 2005, of its application for accession to the European Union is an opportunity for the settlement of the only outstanding issue between the two countries at the soonest possible time. At the first meeting of the EU-FYROM Stability and Association Council (Brussels, September 12, 2004), the European Union noted that the difference over the name of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia still persists and encouraged the finding of a mutually acceptable solution within the framework of UNSCR 817/93 and 845/93 by Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

On November 4, 2004, the US shifted its policy and unilaterally recognised FYROM under its constitutional name. This unilateral decision undermines the efforts to reach a mutually acceptable settlement, given that it reinforces FYROMs inflexibility.

There is no chance of FYROM acceding to the EU and NATO under the name Republic of Macedonia. FYROM itself has agreed to this stipulation: according to Article 11, Paragraph 1 of the Interim Accord, Greece agrees not to object to the application by or the membership of the Party of the Second Part [FYROM] in international, multilateral and regional organizations and institutions of which the Party of the First Part [Greece] is a member; however, the Party of the First Part [Greece] reserves the right to object to any membership referred to above if and to the extent of the Party of the Second Part [FYROM] is to be referred to in such organization or institution differently than in paragraph 2 of the United Nations Security Council resolution 817 (1993).

In the light of FYROMs desire to accede to the EU, it is necessary that the demands of the Stabilisation and Association Process and the obligations of the Thessaloniki Agenda regarding regional cooperation be met. In order to avoid complications, it is necessary that a mutually acceptable solution on the name issue be agreed upon before the European Commission issues its Opinion regarding FYROMs accession application.

In the Joint Press Release of the 2nd EU Ministerial Forum on the Western Balkans (Brussels, November 22, 2004), all the participants agreed that it was necessary to find mutually acceptable solutions and for their to be agreements on pending issues with neighbouring countries.

On April 25, 2005, for the first time in many years, the conclusions of the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council made reference to recent developments regarding the issue of the name of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The reference was as follows: The Council noted the recent developments with regard to the dispute over the name of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and specifically the proposals presented by the UN Secretary Generals Special Representative in support of efforts toward a solution. The Council urged the two sides to intensify their efforts, within the context of the negotiations, toward the finding of a mutually acceptable solution within the framework of UN Security Council Resolutions 817/1993 and 845/1993.

A few months ago, Mr. Nimetz, the UN Secretary Generals Special Representative, submitted the first comprehensive proposal for the finding of a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue.

Mr. Nimetz proposed the adoption for international use of the name Republika Makedonija-Skopje, untranslated. This name would be valid for use in all the organs of the UN, which would recommend to other international organizations and to states that they too adopt this name for official international use.

          Greek Foreign Minister Mr. Molyviatis stated on April 4, 2005, that this proposal does not fully satisfy our desires and aspirations, but we believe that it constitutes a basis for negotiations.

On October 8, 2005, Mr. Nimetz presented a new proposal, the contents of which have not been made public. FYROM accepted the new proposal in principle, while Greece returned it as unacceptable, as it adopts the positions of the FYROM side.

Greece continues to be in favour of the UN process provided for in Resolution 817/93, and states its willingness to reach a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue.

         Greece desires a solution that will lead to the complete normalisation of our bilateral relations, will facilitate the course of our neighbouring country towards Euro-Atlantic institutions, and will strengthen stability and cooperation in our region.

 

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece: The Name Issue. Questions and Answers

 

1. What is the problem?

 

The choice of the name Macedonia by FYROM directly raises the issue of usurpation of the cultural heritage of a neighbouring country.  The name constitutes the basis for staking an exclusive rights claim over the entire geographical area of Macedonia.  More specifically, to call only the Slavo-Macedonians Macedonians monopolizes the name for the Slavo-Macedonians and creates semiological confusion, which violating the human rights and the right to self-determination of Greek Macedonians.  The use of the name by FYROM alone may also create problems in the trade area, and subsequently become a potential springboard for distorting reality, and a basis for activities far removed from the standards set by the European Union and more specifically the clause on good neighbourly relations.  The best example of this is to be seen in the content of school textbooks in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

 

For the first time in their history, in recognition of the problem the United Nations (Security Council and General Assembly) gave the new state the temporary name of "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia" (FYROM). 

 

2. What caused the problem?

 

The problem arose when in 1944 the then Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia under Tito formed a federal state from scratch, to which it gave the name of a large neighbouring administrative region of Greece - Macedonia.  The present-day independent state has evolved from the calculations and steps taken in the 40s.

3. How has the problem evolved?


In 1992 the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia tabled an application to join the United Nations under the name of Republic of Macedonia.  On 7th April 1993 the Security Council noted that although the country fulfilled the criteria for accession to the UN, there was nonetheless a dispute over its name, which needed to be resolved in the interests of maintaining peace and good neighbourliness in the region.  The country was consequently accepted under the temporary name of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

 

Security Council Resolution 817/7.4.1993 officially states that the difference over the name of the State needs to be resolved in the interest of the maintenance of peaceful and good-neighbourly relations in the region and calls upon the parties to work together for a speedy solution to their dispute.  The process for solving this dispute is indicated in Security Council Resolution 817/7.4.1993 and Resolution 845/18.6.1993, which calls upon the parties to continue their bilateral talks under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General with the objective of solving outstanding bilateral issues as soon as possible.  Also, on 8th April 1993, the General Assembly unanimously accepted the accession of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the United Nations with this name.  Consequently, both the Security Council and the General Assembly recognised the validity of the Greek arguments on the name issue.

 

On 13th September 1995, Greece and FYROM signed an Interim Agreement which constituted the point of departure for normalisation of their relations, with the only pending issue being that of the name.  According to the Interim Agreement, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has officially accepted that the name of the State is a subject of bilateral negotiations with Greece, as provided for by the two Security Council Resolutions, in other words 817/93 and 845/93, and Article 5.1 of the Interim Agreement.   It is therefore clear that the object of the exercise is to replace the temporary international name of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia with a permanent name acceptable to both parties. 

 

4. Why has the issue not been settled so far?

 

Over the past decade the two countries have many times been on the brink of reaching a solution.  Unfortunately, FYROMs intransigence and more specifically that of the present government has not enabled us to reach a mutually acceptable solution.

 

5. Does Greece maybe feel threatened by a small country such as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia?

 

There is no question of a military threat to Greece by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.  On the contrary, cooperation between the two neighbouring countries is developing in many sectors. The fact, however, that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia insists on achieving exclusive use of the name Macedonia, or Democracy of Macedonia on the one hand, is not in accordance with the respective UN Resolutions (Security Council Resolutions 817/93 and 845/93) and, on the other hand, is directed against the cultural heritage and historical identity of the Greeks. The visible risk of future destabilisation in the region should therefore not be ignored.  Moreover, since the Ohrid Agreement, FYROM has changed its constitutional form and no longer sees itself, as foreseen in the 1991 Constitution, as the state of the Macedonians.

 

6. Will FYROMs European prospects help settle the issue?

 

It is a good opportunity for settling the issue, since good neighbourly relations are a requirement of states wanting to join the European Union and do not square with the FYROM Slavo-Macedonians insistence in standing by their intransigent and negative stance towards efforts to resolve the issue.

 

7. Does recognition of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by the United States under the name of Democracy of Macedonia make it more difficult to solve the dispute?

 

The United States recognise the need for a mutually acceptable solution within the United Nations framework, irrespective of the reasoning that led to their unilateral recognition. As they have repeated on many occasions, the United States support Mr. Nimetz efforts.

 

8. What is the current state of play?

 

For the first time on 29th March, the UN Secretary-Generals Special Envoy Mr. Nimetz tabled a global proposal for finding a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue.  Mr. Nimetz proposes that for international use the name Republika Makedonija-Skopje should be used in untranslated form.  This name would be valid for all UN bodies, and the UN will propose to other international organisations and states that they also adopt it for official international use. On 8th April, Greece announced that she accepted the Nimetz proposal as a basis for negotiations despite the fact that there were many points in the proposal which needed to be clarified and amended.  The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, on the other hand, rejected the proposal and insisted on a double name. 

 

On 25 April, 2005, for the first time in many years, the Conclusions of the E.U. General Affairs Council referred to recent developments on the issue of the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as follows: The Council noted recent developments concerning the dispute as to the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and, in particular, all of the ideas put forward by the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations, whose efforts it supports. The Council encouraged Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to intensify their efforts with a view to finding a negotiated and mutually acceptable solution within the framework of United Nations Security Council Resolutions 817/1993 and 845/1993 as quickly as possible.

 

On 8 October, 2005, Mr. Nimetz presented a new proposal, the contents of which have not been made public. FYROM initially accepted this new proposal. Greece, however, declared it unacceptable as it adopted FYROMs position.

 

Greece continues to support the procedure stipulated in UN Resolution 813/93, stating her readiness to reach a jointly acceptable solution on the name issue.

Greece has demonstrated her desire to reach a solution that will lead to the full normalisation of bilateral relations, facilitate the course of her neighbour towards the Euro-Atlantic institutions, and consolidate stability and cooperation in our region, which would be conducive to solving the issue of Kosovo. Greece has also made it clear that there is no question of her neighbour acceding either to the European Union or to NATO under the name Republic of Macedonia.

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