Macedonia’s Name and Identity Are Sacrosanct – The Charade of “Negotiations” With Greece Must End Now

The Republic of Macedonia is recognized as such (or as “Macedonia”) by more than 135 nations. Nonetheless, for over 20 years, Macedonia has too patiently entertained Greece’s canard that Macedonia should “negotiate” over its name. What a waste of time and precious resources that has been. So, what to do?

UMD has the answer: Macedonia should immediately and permanently cease “negotiating” with Greece over Macedonia’s name. Going forward, Macedonia should focus on accelerating its growth as a western liberal democracy — prospering through free markets, the rule of law, and a highly educated and entrepreneurial citizenry. Greece is free – like Macedonia — to be a good and peaceful neighbor and friend, but we’ll no longer muse over what Greece (or anyone else) thinks about Macedonia’s name or identity. How liberating it is to express those sentiments. 

The 69th General Assembly of the United Nations takes place in New York City this week. It would be quite refreshing to hear Macedonia’s President Gjorge Ivanov similarly proclaim to the world that Macedonia has once and for all withdrawn from these farcical “negotiations”. UMD strongly believes that until Macedonia takes this step, misguided and/or venal actors will continue to treat Macedonia’s identity and its name – as well as its rights as a nation-state — as negotiable. They are not.

It is apparent more than ever that much of Europe’s approach toward Macedonia is unprincipled and lawless. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) voted 15-1 in Macedonia’s favor in 2011 – finding that Greece had violated the 1995 “Interim Accord” with Macedonia by vetoing Macedonia’s admission to NATO. (Only the Greek judge voted for Greece’s position.) But NATO has chosen to continue to appease Greece – allowing it to once again (this month) blackball Macedonia from entry into the Alliance. NATO’s member states certainly had (and have) more than ample leverage to convince Greece to stop its belligerent behavior. NATO’s fecklessness plants seeds of regional instability and is an insult to the virtuous ideals and proud history of this venerable organization. NATO’s “deer in the headlights” non-response to Mr. Putin’s most recent naked aggressions in Ukraine is a further indication of the depths to which NATO has fallen — giving one grave concerns that the current version of NATO is up to deterring and, if necessary, defeating evil.

NATO’s shameless policies toward Macedonia weaken the Alliance’s collective security and support Mr. Putin’s tactic of playing NATO/EU members off against each other. UMD believes that neighborly relations are a two way street: you cannot be a good neighbor if you refuse to recognize your neighbor’s right to self-determination and identity, nor are you justified in undermining his house.

UMD urges the Macedonian government, as well as its political opposition — which refuses to return to Parliament, thus alienating the voice of a large part of Macedonia’s population — to speed up reforms, thereby strengthening Macedonia economically and politically. Macedonia should not provide abusive neighbors fodder for their criticisms of Macedonia’s domestic issues.

To that end, UMD urges Macedonia’s leaders to focus on fighting corruption, strengthening the judicial system, and ensuring a robust and free press. UMD believes that the Ohrid Framework Agreement has exacerbated segregation within Macedonian society, and that the government and its coalition partners must reverse this trend in order to build a healthy, multi-cultural country.

After 23 years of Macedonian independence, we have never been more convinced of the need for Macedonians to unite and work together to build an even more secure, free and prosperous homeland. Our future is in our own hands – let’s ensure that it’s bright.

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