Monday, March 10, 2008

Two countries at odds over a name

"What's in a name?," the old saying goes - well, a lot for the Greeks if that name is "Macedonia".

Greece has said that it will block NATO membership for its northern neighbor Macedonia if the former republic of Yugoslavia insists on using that name. "Macedonia" is also the name of a province in northern Greece - the historic home of Alexander the Great, and thus a source of great pride to the Greeks. Greece was originally afraid that Macedonia (the country) would one day try to annex Macedonia (the province), though Macedonia (the country) went so far as to amend their constitution to prohibit any expansion of their territory. In referring to their northern neighbor, Greece still uses the name "Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia", or FYROM, and encouraged other nations to use it as well.

Macedonia though isn't satisfied with being called FYROM (I mean really, would you be?). Greece suggested five other potential names, but the Macedonians (the FYROM Macedonians that is) were not impressed.

Meanwhile the name game could also cause problems with Macedonia's application to the European Union. For now, the two sides have agreed to keep talking.
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