The Republic of Macedonia recently voted to change their country’s name to the “Republic of North Macedonia”.
What is the source of the dispute?
- Macedonia broke away from the former Yugoslavia in 1991 and declared independence.
- The country measures a little over 25,000 sq km, and has a population just over 2 million.
- A region of Greece bordering the Macedonian republic is also called Macedonia.
- Hence, Greece, being the neighbouring country, has objected to the adoption of this name and insisted that the name apply only to the Greek region.
- Greece also raised concerns that the adoption of this name implies the Macedonian republic’s territorial aspirations over the northern region of Greece.
- Consequently, the Greeks have been blocking the Macedonian republic’s entry to NATO and EU membership.
- Greece’s objections also forced the United Nations to refer to Macedonia as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
- Since 1991, many suggestions have been proposed and then rejected.
- But a change of government in Macedonia in 2017 finally led to the deal reached last year.
- Under the proposed agreement, the country’s language will be called Macedonian and its people known as Macedonians (citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia).
- Also, under the deal, Greece said it would drop its objection to the neighbouring country’s entry into the EU and NATO if the changes are formally adopted.
- The new name will be used both internationally and bilaterally, so that even the 140 or more countries that recognise the name Macedonia will also have to adopt North Macedonia.
What is the consequence?
- Though Macedonia voted in favour of the name change, the Greek Parliament still needs to vote.
- However, this will likely prove no easy task given how deeply divisive the issue remains in Greece.
- However, NATO and European leaders have welcomed the move.
- NATO strongly supports the full implementation of the agreement, which is an important contribution to a stable and prosperous region.
- Thus, Political leaders and citizens alike have shown their determination to seize this unique and historic opportunity in solving one of the oldest disputes in the region.