Fury in FYROM and Greece over rights to Macedonia name (videos)

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Fury in FYROM and Greece over rights to Macedonia name (videos)Greece is considered a top destination for Fyrom tourists

Any thoughts governments in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Greece had that settling a name dispute for the breakaway country were rudely disrupted when nationalists in both countries started a storm of protests over the name Macedonia.

Pushed by United Nations Special Envoy Matthew Nimetz to end a feud that began more than 25 years ago when Greece allowed the emerging country to its north to use the name Macedonia in a temporary acronym, the new moderate government in FYROM and Greece’s ruling anti-nationalist Radical Left SYRIZA were said to be closing on a deal.

That, however, would include letting the new name of FYROM include the word Macedonia, with qualifiers such as Upper, Northern or New even though Macedonia is the name Greece’s northern province abutting FYROM, which has claimed that land along with the port of Thessaloniki.

Nimetz is brokering talks in New York with negotiators between the countries amid reports it was already a done deal but trouble arose in Greece when Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, leader of the pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) who are partner in Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ government rejected use of the word Macedonia after earlier reports said he would relent.

That division has led the major rival New Democracy to say the government must present a united front. But Conservative leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis is in a tough spot if he also rejects use of the word Macedonia.

Protest marches were set in Thessaloniki on Jan. 21 after polls showed 68 percent of Greeks oppose giving away Macedonia although Tsipras and Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias have already suggested they are willing to do so.

In FYROM, Premier Zoran Zaev, who said he wants to bring his country into NATO and the European Union – both paths blocked by Greek vetoes until the name dispute is settled – said he was willing to compromise to find an answer even if it meant his defeat in elections.

Zaev has clashed over the negotiations with the country’s President, Gjorge Ivanov, a hardliner in the nationalist party of the former Premier Nikola Gruevski who kept taunting Greece for years and said he’d never give in.

Zaev is expected to meet Tsipras on Jan. 24 or Jan. 25 on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, for high-level talks above those being done by Nimetz, who has failed for more than two decades to find an answer and only now resumed discussions after a three-year break.

The Greek newspaper Kathimerini said that after talks between Tsipras and Kotzias with Archbishop Ieronymos, who opposes giving away the name Macedonia, that Greece is almost ready to accept the name Republika Vardarska Makejonija (Republic of Vardarska Macedonia).

But FYROM wants Republika Nova Makedonija (Republic of New Macedonia), the paper said. Those are two of the proposals that Nimetz suggested, along with Republika Gorna Makedonija (Republic of Upper Macedonia); Republika Severna Makedonija (Republic of Northern Macedonia); and Republika Makedonija (Skopje) (Republic of Macedonia (Skopje).

But all those still allow the word Macedonia, the name by which FYROM is already recognized by more than 140 of the world’s 195 countries, creating a dilemma for Kammenos.

If he goes along with that, it would betray his party’s principles and his own word. If he rejects it, he’d have to choose between taking his party out of the coalition and bringing down the government, or swallowing it and staying in an Administration that gave away the name he swore he would never do.

With his party hovering around the 1 percent mark and not likely to return to Parliament in the next elections, Kammenos has been criticized by rivals as so power hungry he’d be willing to give away the name so he could stay as Defense Minister as long as possible.

The linchpin of the push is said to be the United States’ wish to get get FYROM into NATO as a bulwark against Russian interests in the Balkans. Critics in Greece though – including in ANEL – have wondered why Greece is even bargaining as it has the veto over NATO and EU for FYROM and FYROM has nothing to offer in return.

Read more here.

RELATED TOPICS: GreeceGreek tourism newsTourism in GreeceGreek islandsHotels in GreeceTravel to GreeceGreek destinations Greek travel marketGreek tourism statisticsGreek tourism report

Source: thenationalherald.com

 

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