American Hellenic Institute


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AHI Sends Letter to President George W. Bush Urging a Reversal of the State Department’s decision to recognize FYROM as the "Republic of Macedonia"
November 5, 2004—No.68 (202) 785-8430

AHI Sends Letter to President George W. Bush Urging a Reversal of the State Department’s decision to recognize FYROM as the "Republic of Macedonia"

WASHINGTON, DC—On November 5, 2004 AHI President Gene Rossides sent a letter to George W. Bush regarding the State Department’s move to recognize FYROM as the "Republic of Macedonia." The text of the letter follows:

November 5, 2004

The Honorable George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Re: The State Department’s Recognition of FYROM as Macedonia

Dear Mr. President:

The decision yesterday by your administration through the actions of the State Department to recognize the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as the "Republic of Macedonia" is an act of disgraceful proportions towards our staunch ally and supporter in the Balkans, Greece, and is harmful to U.S. interests in the Balkans.

We urge you , Mr. President in the best interests of the United States to reconsider this misinformed and ill-advised policy and to tell the State Department to withdraw recognition of FYROM as Macedonia and to tell FYROM to continue its diplomatic dialogue with Greece on the name issue in accordance with UN and EU policy.

The reason provided to AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis by the State Department in a telephone conversation yesterday is that this decision was made for the purpose of providing "stability" in "Macedonia" regarding the November 7, 2004 referendum on the law giving the ethnic Albanian minority greater local autonomy. Government Spokesperson Ambassador Richard Boucher in a lengthy exchange with reporters at yesterday’s State Department briefing confirmed the reason for the decision. We disagree strongly with States’ position. On the contrary, recognition does not help stability in the region.

Consideration was not given to the impact on FYROM’s neighbors, especially Greece, by this decision. Incredibly, State Department Spokesperson, Richard Boucher, during his press briefing yesterday stated that he wasn’t aware of any consultations by the U.S. with FYROM’s neighbors prior to recognition.

If the United States is interested in promoting peace, democracy, stability and economic progress in the Balkans, our main ally in the region in promoting these goals is and has been Greece. However, today’s action will have a harmful impact on Greece and on our relations with Greece, our long-time loyal and NATO ally, EU member and a member of the United Nations Security Council for 2005-2006.

In announcing the recognition of FYROM as Macedonia yesterday, your administration is thumbing its nose at Greece and the Greek American community. By it’s actions, the administration is in effect disregarding the approximately 1,500,000 Americans of Hellenic descent as a non-entity in the formulation of U.S. policy since we are not consulted on decisions that impact Greece.

Your administration’s action sends the wrong message to Greece that could be construed as dismissive of her sensitivities and concerns in the region. It also serves to create a climate whereby those small and extreme elements of Greek society can use this to fan the flames of "anti-Americanism."

Further, regarding Mr. Boucher’s comments, he attempts to justify the decision by stating that "Macedonia" is the name "that the government and the people of Macedonia have chosen for their country, and that’s the name we will recognize them under."

This premise is false. There is no unqualified universally accepted rule of international law that authorizes a state to name itself anything it wants. The Macedonia issue stems from the 1991 secessionist Skopje regime’s naming itself in the most provocative way possible as the so called "Republic of Macedonia" and requesting world-wide recognition.

It is not proper for a country, which is part of a region to define itself in an official manner as representing the whole region. Macedonia, like the Americas, Europe, Scandinavia, and the Balkans, is a region. Just as no country in North and South America would call itself the "American Republic," and no European country would call itself the "Republic of Europe," FYROM in naming itself cannot assume the mantle of Macedonia.

Greece and FYROM had increased their dialogue recently on strengthening bilateral relations, including the name, and this unexpected and sharp shift in U.S. policy is counter-productive. For our Government to be a party to this only serves to create instability in a volatile area of the Balkans and weaken our interests there.

We find incomprehensible the advice from the State Department to you, which, in effect, equates the FYROM, a nation of only 13 years, of little, if any, strategic, economic or political value to the United States, with Greece, a long-time important strategic, political and economic ally of the United States, who fought as allies with the U.S. in four wars in the 20th century, whose defeat of Mussolini’s forces in 1940 was a turning point in World War II, whose defeat of the communists (1946-49) was their first defeat by arms and a turning point in the Cold War and world history, who is an important partner in the war on terrorism, and who is the strategic key for the United States in the Balkans and the Eastern Mediterranean.

In a letter dated October 29, 2004 to AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis from Scott Marciel, Director, Office of Southern European Affairs, Mr. Marciel states:

"The United States formally recognizes the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia by that name."

Who initiated this action which reversed the State Department’s position as of October 29, 2004? Clearly, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman approved it, if he did not initiate the change. And Mr. Grossman recommended the change to Secretary Colin L. Powell. This action can be characterized as a diplomatic blunder at best and a betrayal of Greece to the detriment of U.S. interests.

Mr. President, we again urge you to reverse the State Department’s position on this matter in the interests of the U.S. and to call for renewed diplomatic negotiations on the name issue.


/S/Gene Rossides

Cc: Vice President Richard B. Cheney
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell
Secretary of the Treasury John W. Snow
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld
Deputy Secretary of State Richard Lee Armitage
Chief of Staff Andrew Card
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice
Senior Advisor to the President Karl Rove
Advisor to the President Karen Hughes
Director of OMB Joshua Bolten
Under Secretary of State Marc Grossman
The Congress


For additional information, please contact Georgia Economou at (202) 785-8430 or at For general information about the activities of AHI, please see our Web site at