Macedonia: what’s in a name?

Wallonie LuxembourgThere are plenty of rivalries that you could argue have some sort of justification, yet the ongoing disputes over the name Macedonia strike me as totally ludicrous. I’ve come across few issues in EU politics that contain such fire as when you tell a Greek that ‘Macedonia’ wants to join the European Union. Greece continues to insist that the country be referred to as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and that efforts to join the EU and NATO should continue to be conducted under that title, and Greece is now angered that there are plans to rename Skopje airport after Alexander the Great – see this BBC News story.

Are the Greeks so obsessed that they are the place where modern civilisation was founded, bla, bla, that other countries in the area are not allowed to use similar names? It’s not even as if this is a matter that would cause any sort of communications confusion. The country of Luxembourg and the Belgian region of Luxembourg (see image) seem to cope just fine with a similar sort of arrangement. So why can’t the Greeks come to some reconciliation with the Former Yugoslavs resident in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia [sic]?

In this article
  • Uncategorized

Join the Conversation


  1. irvin selb

    if someone has studied history
    knows that the name MACEDONIA
    was used by an amount of northern greek citizens
    of ancient Greece

    today MACEDONIA a region of the Balkan peninsula which includes:
    * Republic of Macedonia, a current state, also referred to as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)
    o Socialist Republic of Macedonia (1946-1991), a federal unit of Yugoslavia and predecessor to the current Republic of Macedonia
    o Vardar Macedonia, a region almost coterminous with the Republic of Macedonia
    * Macedonia (Greece) or Greek Macedonia or Aegean Macedonia, a region of Greece, subdivided into three administrative districts:
    o West Macedonia
    o Central Macedonia
    o East Macedonia and Thrace
    * Pirin Macedonia, the unofficial name of Blagoevgrad Province, a region of Bulgaria

    nationality means membership in a cultural/historical group related to political or national identity

    i can not see how there is macedonian nationality

  2. makis milios

    hello from greece
    i am a greek macedonian
    from the perfecture of greece
    all the north part of greece
    is called macedonia

    the name-problem is very simple
    macedonia is a geographical name
    it consists of 3 parts greece the biggest one
    the former yougoslavia part
    and the Bulgarian part

    there are no nationality called macedonian
    threre are people leave in the greater
    geographical area
    which i think have the privelege to called
    themselvs macedonians
    such as all serbians bulgarians albanians greeks
    call themselves balkans

    if you make a country in the heart of
    balkan peninsula with the name “Balkanian republic”
    then starts the problem
    here the problem is not just a name

    in greece most of the people
    including me we afraid of the biggest international powers
    start to create small countries in balkans such as
    montenegro, bosnia, fyrom, kosovo
    one reason is that there are no freedom for the minorities
    but the other one is that they want a decentralized
    system of small countries so that will be more easy for them
    to make their geopolitical policies without any resistance
    since after the existanance of the country of”macedonia”
    after the years with e.u. open borders policies
    someone will start speak about macedonian minority
    we dont want the greece to have the future of yugoslavia
    the phobia more or less in greece
    is that they will start destabilized the country
    by false opinions about minorities

    i am in favor of a solution of a name like
    north macedonia or macedonia of the vardar
    also in the constitution of FYROM thre should be
    clear crystal subject that says
    there is no such nationality like “macedonian”

  3. Nick

    Hello all. You say that Greece attempts to influence the flag and name of another independed country. However, this flag and this name are Greek and the term Macedonia is Greek. The name of the newly independed country should not be Macedonia because it is a Slavic country. The area was called Vardar, Dardania or else in the past. Why to call them Macedonians? Because the Slavs want so? Because they are good in their international propaganda? Are they connected with Alexander the Macedonian?. If we call that state Macedonia there will be a confusion that the descendants of Alexander have became Slavs Macedonians and lost their Greekness, or that they were not Greeks. This is wrong. The Slavs or Slavoids should have a Slavic name, not a Greek one.

  4. Dustin F

    The only thing I find even more ludicrous and appalling than Greece attempting to influence the name and flag of a sovereign country is that the European Union and NATO have gone along with it. Macedonia holds NO threat to Greece; the Greeks claim that the name “Macedonia” has territorial implications toward Greece. Do you see the Macedonian military waiting at the Greek border to invade? Is there even a shred of evidence that this would ever happen? NO. Is this even a priority for Macedonia, a newly independent country (relatively) still developing its own territory’s economy and infrasctucture? NO. The Greek government needs to back off and the European Union, NATO, and UN need to put pressure on making them do it.

  5. Gjore

    You are right Jon, it it ludicrous. Instead of developing healthy neighborly ties, we have come to a stalemate and developed a bitterness unprecedented for such a silly thing. Well, silly or not, it has a real impact on the Macedonian economy (probably on the Greek as well).
    Even so, we are not changing our name…I mean, would you?

  6. George K

    Hi Jon,
    i’m also not so pleased with our ‘national obsession’ and as a jefer have come to deal with the ‘name issue’ a number of times, despite my efforts to avoid it. Although I always use ‘macedonia’ to refer to the country when abroad, I do so only to avoid arguing and not because I agree with the naming.

    I won’t mention my argumentation on the issue cause i want to focus on the comparison with the region of Luxembourg : Macedonia has a recorded history of more than two millenia which i believe is not the case with Luxembourg or most of Northern Europe for that matter.

    Trust me Jon, modern day Greeks are less obsessed with their history and civilization than what, say, the Brits would be if they boasted the same.

    take a look at the greek foreign office propaganda material, you may find it interesting

    best wishes for a healthy n productive new year:)