UMD Salutes the Passage of S. 494 and H.R. 987; Concerned about Use of Abbreviation

BACKGROUND

United Macedonian Diaspora salutes the passage of the Senate Bill 494 and the House Resolution 987 that support the timely admission of the Republic of Macedonia to NATO. However, our organization is concerned that at the last minute amendment to the Senate bill was introduced to reference to the Republic of Macedonia as FYROM.  This type of verbiage is contradictory to the official policy of the United States when referencing the Republic of Macedonia.  It is of great importance that Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia join NATO in 2008 in order to secure and stabilize the Balkan region. 

 

On February 6, 2007, Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) introduced legislation titled NATO Freedom Consolidation Act of 2007 (hereinafter “S.494”).  In relevant parts, S.494, both advances the enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (“NATO”) and S.494 facilitates the timely admission of new member countries into NATO; specifically, these countries are Albania, Croatia, Macedonia, Georgia, and Ukraine. 

Moreover, on February 12, 2007, Congressman John Tanner (D-TN) introduced similar legislation before the House of Representatives, titled “HR 987,” under the bill’s original textual form which did not include the “FYROM” derogation in the legislation.  Ultimately, the House bill was engrossed on March 06, 2007 without the term “FYROM” being placed in parenthesis next to any reference of the country of Macedonia.

On March 15, 2007, Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) (for Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) (for himself and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) proposed an amendment to S.494, titled “Senate Amendment 462,” which basically added the epithet “(FYROM)” after every reference to the country of Macedonia, through out the instant Senate bill.  

Quick Facts

1.  On November 4, 2004, the United States decided to refer to Macedonia, officially, as the Republic of Macedonia. According to the then Department of State’s spokesperson, Mr. Boucher, “by recognizing Macedonia’s chosen constitutional name, (the United States) wish(es) to underscore the U.S. commitment to a permanent, multiethnic, democratic Macedonian state within its existing borders.” Moreover, “this is the name that Macedonia, the government and the people of Macedonia have chosen for their country and that’s the name that we (the United States) will recognize them under.” From that point on, the United States no longer uses prior temporary UN references of “The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,” or any acronym of “FYROM” to refer to the Republic of Macedonia.

2.  Upon our inquiry, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee informed us that “FYROM” was added to make the legislation coherent with NATO language.  However, this is not valid because of at least two reasons:

  • this is a U.S. Congressional document and it should be in conformity with current U.S. policy; and,
  • in all current NATO documents it is expressly and objectively stated (under the footnote section) that Turkey recognized Macedonia under its constitutional name “Republic of Macedonia.”   

3.  “Macedonia’s success is in our interest and in the interest of all its neighbors. Macedonia is an important and steadfast partner of the United States in the global war on terrorism, contributing troops to coalition efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan,” stated Mr. Boucher on November 4, 2004.

4.  Approximately 120 countries around the world, including the United States, Russia, China, Poland, India, the United Kingdom, and Turkey, all formally and objectively recognize Macedonia under the constitutional name “Republic of Macedonia.” 

5.  House Resolution 987, introduced by Congressman John Tanner, correctly refers to Macedonia as “Republic of Macedonia,” only, as there is no mention of the epithet “FYROM.”          

6.  The Conference Committee needs to reconcile both Senate and House texts, before the bill is sent to the President for signing. 

Therefore, it remains vital that we educate policymakers on the negative repercussions of the use of the erroneous abbreviation “FYROM.”  The United Macedonian Diaspora is working to educate members of Congress over this sensitive matter.  UMD encourages all Macedonian-Americans to educate their members of Congress as well.   

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