UMD: Macedonia’s Leaders Have an Obligatory Constitutional Duty to Preserve Our Name and Identity

The United Macedonian Diaspora’s continued support for the inclusion of the Republic of Macedonia into both the EU and NATO does not in any way concede a name change. Greece has been a decades’ long adversary in Macedonia’s quest for greater regional stability and security. Time and time again Macedonia has been willing to address Greece’s stated concerns – most notably by altering its flag and reaffirming the peaceful intent of its Constitution — in genuine attempts at reconciliation; but to no avail, as Greece has proven illogically inflexible towards Macedonia’s struggles for rightful inclusion and recognition.

Macedonia’s leaders have an absolute duty to uphold the constitutional and rightful name of our homeland, Macedonia. UMD will not recognize a “mutually-acceptable solution” — a euphemism for a name change — nor efforts by any leader in Macedonia to conduct a referendum on the country’s name. Macedonia’s name is at the core of our identity; we have no other name, and it is an integral part of our centuries-old struggle for self-determination and sovereign independence that cannot be negotiated away by convenient politics. Macedonians within its own borders, as well as those deprived minorities living in Albania, Bulgaria, and Greece, along with our Diaspora communities globally, will not accept the bartering of our name and identity.

The Republic of Macedonia has proven itself an ardent and committed supporter of NATO and the EU, despite its official non-member status. For example, given its shared border with Kosovo, Macedonia was a key ally in supporting NATO’s efforts there, accepting 400,000 refugees in 1999. This increased Macedonia’s population by 16%, an influx that was indisputably burdensome to accommodate; but Macedonia did so in the interest of humanitarianism and regional stability. Moreover, this was not the only instance in which Macedonia stepped up and sacrificed when called upon. Macedonia was the fourth largest contributor – as a percentage of its population — to NATO’s ISAF mission in Afghanistan. And currently, the Syrian refugee crisis has initiated an influx of over 42,000 refugees into Macedonian borders, as well more than one million refugees who have transited through Macedonia en-route to EU and non-EU member states. In dealing with this emergency, without significant EU or international aid, Macedonia has acted in accordance with its historical commitment and resolve towards refugee crises. Yet, despite the aforementioned actions of Macedonia to benefit both regional stability and European security, Greece has continued to use the name issue to obstruct and attempt to delegitimize Macedonia’s efforts to join the greater alliances of Western democracy.

Consequently, with 135 countries, including four of the Permanent Five UN Security Council members, fully recognizing Macedonia by its one and only rightful constitutional name, and in consideration of the significant sacrifices for (and commitment to) peace and regional stability that Macedonia has unceasingly demonstrated, UMD strongly reiterates its view that the Republic of Macedonia has earned the right, without provisions, to join the vitally important institutions of NATO and the EU under its constitutional name. Such entry would not only serve as a symbol of unity in a time of increasing regional instability, but would also represent a firm commitment to the principles of self-determination, sovereignty, and democracy.