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Old 03-04-2011, 12:28 PM
BrainGlutton is offline
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Tampa, Florida
Posts: 78,508
Originally Posted by sassyfras View Post
Ok, I give up: There have been very emotional mass protests in the recent past by Greeks who protest against the new country of Macedonia (or FYROM, it's capital at Skopjye).

The issue seems to be because of the name Macedonia is also connected to a Greek province.

But why is it a big issue? Is Paris France upset that we have a Paris, Texas? Is Hamas angry that we have a Palestine, Texas as well? Mexico angry because we have a 'New Mexico'? (Ok maybe about the Mexican-American war, but not the name itself)
My guess is, from the way things always go in the Balkans and especially in the last 20 years, the Greeks are afraid an independent state of Macedon bordering on their own province of Macedon implies an irredentist territorial claim down the road. That's what nationalism is all about . . . even though it doesn't apply here because the Greek Macedonians are Greek-speakers, not Slavs. But the name -- and the ancient territorial associations -- might be enough to cause trouble. As Walter Lippmann wrote in Public Opinion (1922):

Now it happened in one nation that the war party which was in control of the foreign office, the high command, and most of the press, had claims on the territory of several of its neighbors. These claims were called the Greater Ruritania by the cultivated classes who regarded Kipling, Treitschke, and Maurice Barres as one hundred percent Ruritanian. But the grandiose idea aroused no enthusiasm abroad. So holding this finest flower of the Ruritanian genius, as their poet laureate said, to their hearts, Ruritania's statesmen went forth to divide and conquer. They divided the claim into sectors. For each piece they invoked that stereotype which some one or more of their allies found it difficult to resist, because that ally had claims for which it hoped to find approval by the use of this same stereotype.

The first sector happened to be a mountainous region inhabited by alien peasants. Ruritania demanded it to complete her natural geographical frontier. If you fixed your attention long enough on the ineffable value of what is natural, those alien peasants just dissolved into fog, and only the slope of the mountains was visible. The next sector was inhabited by Ruritanians, and on the principle that no people ought to live under alien rule, they were re-annexed. Then came a city of considerable commercial importance, not inhabited by Ruritanians. But until the Eighteenth Century it had been part of Ruritania, and on the principle of Historic Right it was annexed. Farther on there was a splendid mineral deposit owned by aliens and worked by aliens. On the principle of reparation for damage it was annexed. Beyond this there was a territory inhabited 97% by aliens, constituting the natural geographical frontier of another nation, never historically a part of Ruritania. But one of the provinces which had been federated into Ruritania had formerly traded in those markets, and the upper class culture was Ruritanian. On the principle of cultural superiority and the necessity of defending civilization, the lands were claimed. Finally, there was a port wholly disconnected from Ruritania geographically, ethnically, economically, historically, traditionally. It was demanded on the ground that it was needed for national defense.
There's also a matter of national pride, "Macedonia" being universally associated with Greek history and Alexander the Great. The modern Greeks regard themselves as the rightful heirs of the whole classical Hellenic heritage.