Watching the entrance of the athletes at the Games, I noticed that there’s still the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. I understand that this name was chosen when Yugoslavia broke up and this region became independent, to reduce chances of conflict with Greece, which also has a region called Macedonia.
Is it stuck with that “Former Yugoslav” moniker forever? It’s been what, fifteen years since the Yugoslav break-up? Shouldn’t the Greeks have got used to their new neighbour by now?
Whats 15 years when compared to a name that goes back 3000 or more.
The problem is that the Greeks are pretty paranoid about some things, and more authoritarian than you would expect given that its a place very familiar to so many European holidaymakers.
To them the idea of having another Macedonia on their borders means that there might be a claim on their territory, and when you look at the history of the region, all you need do is pick your date and base your borders on that.
They are concerned about a political push for a ‘Greater Macedonia’ but when you see how Serbia tried for an expanded region, and so did Croatia, its not hard to see why they are suspicious, the Greeks are also partly concerned that there might be an Albanian plot, and at a stretch, a Turkish plot lying somewhere in the background.
You have to remember that Greece has a dictator well within living memory, along with the military junta and the state security appuratus that goes along with it, so some paranoia is to be expected.
They don’t seem to use the “Former Yugoslav” part internally, as seen on the government web page.
There’s a couple of Wiki articles on the subject. Some countries use the Former Yugoslav bit, some don’t.
To add to the background casdave describes, in the late 1940s communist-inspired unrest in Greece was supported from across the northern border, thus adding another element of worry about the intent of those across that border.
Even then to most outsiders the use of “FYROM” sounds like pandering to the insecurities of Greece. What could Greece do if the international organizations called them on it? Quit?
In the case of the Olympics, the symbolic importance that Greece has to the whole concept does tend to lend greater weight to their opinions, though.
I bought a blazer at a Macy’s that had a label saying it was made in “The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” so I don’t think it’s solely an Olympic thing.
Companies will do strange things to avoid a boycott, or the threat of a boycott, or just some bad publicity. They are betting that there are more people who would get pissed at the alternative than there are who would get pissed at what they chose.
To the Greeks I’ve talked to about this, it’s still a very sore subject. They even talk of being attacked despite the obvious mismatch in power between the countries.
It will be resolved when the people and governments of the region start living in the present and let the past be the past.
In other words, ask again in another 3,000 years.