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The Washington Times Prints AHI Commentary Article
October 9, 2007—No. 65 (202) 785-8430

The Washington Times Prints AHI Commentary Article

Washington, DC—On October 7, 2007, The Washington Times published AHI Executive Director Nick Larigakis’ Commentary article, on page B4, entitled “A Macedonia misnomer?” The text of the article appears below.

October 3, 2007

The Washington Times 
3600 New York Avenue, N.W. 
Washington, DC 20002

Last week’s unfortunate incident, in of all places the U.N. General Assembly, only serves to underscore the provocative and intransigent attitude of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) towards a member of NATO and the European Union, its neighbor, Greece.

On September 25, 2007, the President of the 62nd United Nations General Assembly, Mr. Srgjan Kerim, a national of the FYROM, while introducing the President of his country, Mr. Branko Crvenkovksi, compromised the credibility of the UN General Assembly by proceeding to introduce Mr. Crvenkovksi as the “President of the Republic of Macedonia.”

UN spokeswoman Ms Marie Okabe stressed that within the United Nations, the Secretary-General and the Secretariat observe the practice of using the name “The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,” as referred to in Security Council resolutions.

Stability in the Balkans is precisely what we should be advocating, not only for the greater U.S. interests, but also because it serves the interests of every country in the Balkans.

The continuing unresolved issue between Greece and the FYROM over the name of the latter contributes to potential instability.

Mr. Kerim’s action contravenes Security Council Resolutions 817 (1993) and 845 (1993), and the recommendations contained therein regarding the provisional name under which this State was unanimously admitted to the United Nations “the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.”

Mr. Kerim, has severely damaged his standing and credibility as President of the General Assembly of the United Nations, as he did not respect the Resolutions of the Body over which he is presiding as well as of the Security Council of the United Nations, the Organization he has been called upon to serve.

In addition, his actions further undermine the efforts being pursued by the United Nations to facilitate the bilateral negotiations entered into by the two countries through the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy, Mr. Mathew Nimetz, to seek a mutually acceptable solution on the name issue.

Following this unfortunate incident, Mr. Nimetz stated that this “…demonstrates why a permanent solution is needed.”

FYROM is the intransigent party in this regard, not Greece. Greece is the biggest investor in FYROM and literally helps to sustain FYROM’s precarious economy and reduce its large unemployment.

This latest action is only one in a series of such provocations. Unfortunately, the irresponsible decision by the United States in the fall of 2004 to recognize FYROM as the “Republic of Macedonia” has contributed greatly to FYROM’s increasing intransigent stance and has helped to facilitate other western countries to follow in this path, including most recently, Canada. This is a disturbing trend.

If FYROM truly wants a solution and greater stability within its borders it needs to first stop engaging in irredentist propaganda against Greece, which violates the UN-brokered Interim Accord, as stated in Article 7 paragraph 1 of the Accord, signed in New York on September 13, 1995 between FYROM and Greece.

Unfortunately, in addition to the latest incident, actions over the years such as distortion of geographic maps, naming its airport “Alexander the Great,” revisionist textbooks in schools, encourages new generations in FYROM to cultivate hostile sentiments against Greece. Further, this continuing systematic government policy will hinder FYROM’s accession to both the EU and NATO. This is the real threat to stability in the Balkans and by extension, U.S. interests there.

There is no unqualified universally accepted rule of international law that authorizes a state to name itself anything it wants. 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.

The usage of “Macedonian” as a nationality was an invention of Tito in 1944. Tito, the communist dictator of Yugoslavia, created a false “Macedonian” ethnic consciousness among his south Slavic citizens for a number of reasons, including his campaign against Greece to gain control of Greece’s province of Macedonia and the main prize of the major port city of Thessaloniki. Until Tito changed the name, this province was named Vardar Banovina.

U.S. policy at that time was to oppose the use of the name Macedonia as a threat to Greece stated in a Circular Airgram on December 26, 1944 by Secretary of State Edward R. Stettinius, Jr.

The U.S. today has at its disposal the influence to bring to bear persuasive arguments upon FYROM to resolve this long outstanding issue which, unresolved, compromises U.S. interests in the region.

On September 24, 2007 Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, Nick Burns, following a meeting in New York with Greece’s Foreign Minister Mrs. Dora Bakoyannis stressed that “…the time has come for progress on the FYROM name issue…this is our message to Skopje, and the spirit of our meeting today with the foreign minister…We wish to exercise our influence and urge Skopje, as we do with Athens, that the time has come for progress…”

This comment is welcome. The question remains however, will the U.S. apply its political will, which is essential for real progress to occur?

Nick Larigakis 
Executive Director 
American Hellenic Institute


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