The New Republic of North Macedonia


Skopje in 2011. Photograph by Francoise C

From Le Monde Diplomatique:

The Republic of Macedonia reached a deal with Greece on 12 June to change Macedonia’s name: it will now be known as Severna Makedonija, or the Republic of North Macedonia. The country will use the name both domestically and internationally, and will change its constitution to reflect the change. Although the Macedonian population and Greek parliament must still approve the deal, a new diplomatic horizon in the Balkans is within sight.

The conflict over Macedonia stretches back to the turn of the 20th century and the ethnic and nationalist conflicts between Greeks and Slavs. Greece had been an enemy of Macedonia since the country achieved independence in the early 1990s. A northern province of Greece is also called Macedonia (as was the country of Alexander the Great fame) and Greece saw an irredentist and cultural threat in the name Macedonia. Though the country had agreed to remove the Argead sunburst, the symbol of Alexander’s dynasty, from its flag in 1995 in response to a crippling Greek embargo, the name issue lingered on. In response, Greece prevented Macedonia from joining European and international bodies and kept it politically and economically isolated.

But during the last six months, negotiations progressed in earnest under the young, liberal prime ministers of Macedonia and Greece, Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras: North Macedonia was a simple compromise, but one with high expectations.

“Welcome to North Macedonia”, Michael Goodyear, Le Monde Diplomatique