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American and European Fears for the Name Issue

March 4, 2012

By Stavros Lygeros


Translated from Greek: Kathimerini, 26.02.2012.


Although it appears that the visit of the Special Envoy Matthew Nimetz was of an investigative nature and aimed at restarting the negotiation procedure, it did however illustrate that Gruevski is determined to take advantage of the desicion of the International Court to demand the entry of his country into NATO. To this end he is diplomatically preparing the terrain so as to formulate the demand at the summit of the Alliance in Chicago this coming May.


Because Skopje is conscient that it is impossible that it be accepted as “Republic of Macedonia” they ask to be allowed entry under the temporary name FYROM. It should be recalled that wherever this has happened, the Slavomacedonians tried arbitrarily to impose the use of their constitutional name.


For the time being Gruevski’s policy has not had results. Institutionally there is the obstacle of the summit of Bucharest (April 2008), which states that the solution of the name issue is a prerequisit for the entry of FYROM. The institutional obstacle is important, but it alone is not sufficient if it is not accompanied by the corresponding political will of the great powers. In this case it appears that for their own reasons, Washington, the member-states of the Eurozone and the Secretary General of NATO Rasmussen, all appear to have decided not to broach this subject at the Chicago summit.


The Europeans and the Americans fear that a humiliation [t.n.: of Greece] on the Macedonian question could set fire to the fury that Greek society has been accumulating provoking an explosion. Such an explotion ould not be limited to internal reversals, but would probably have destabilising consequences on the other weak links of the Eurozone, resulting in a worsening of the already acute Euro crisis.


This is the basic reason why Washington is not responding to the calls of Skopje. This is the reason why Merkel, when she met with Gruevski a few days ago in Berlin, advised him to find a compromise with Athens before he knocked on NATO’s door again. The evocation of the decision of the International Court is not sufficient, althought it gives an undeniable argument to Slavomacedonian officials when they discuss with Westerners. The Secretary General as well as the Americans, however, do not want to transform a decision of the Hague Tribunal into a deciding factor. Such a move would create an undesirable precedent.


The member states of the alliance might not be encouraging the Gruevski government, but they are also not discouraging it in a decisive manner. This is why Skopje is trying to create a breach in the Secretary General’s position. Having the support of Turkey (something confirmed during the recent meeting of the president Ivanov with Gül and Erdogan in Istanbul) and of Slovenia, they are trying to secure the support of other states-members of the Alliance, so that at the Chicago summit the subject of entry be discussed, or at least an upgrading of the existing relation between FYROM and NATO be achieved.


Skopje also seems to be counting on the support of London, which has not for the time being showed its hand. Greek sources, however, do not esclude the possibility that British diplomacy will in the end move in favour of Skopje. Some link such a move on Britain’s part with geopolitical games that surpass the Balkan horizon and concern the Eurozone itself. Time will tell.

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