Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) counterpart Nikola Dimitrov are to continue negotiations over the Balkan state’s name amid serious obstacles.
Greece insists that FYROM should change parts of its constitution which contain certain irredentist claims. To this end, two committees of experts have been set up to make a historical review.
The committees are making a distinction between the historical, ancient Macedonia, which was Greek, and in modern, geographical Macedonia, which extends to three States, namely Greece, FYROM and Bulgaria.
FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has stated there should be no changes to the constitution as it is a crucial part of the country’s national identity. At the same time, it is difficult for Zaev to pass constitutional amendments in parliament as he lacks a majority.
Essential for the revision of the constitution is the participation of lawmakers from the opposition VMRO-DPMNE, the party of Nikola Gruevski.
Gruevski, the previous FYROM prime minister, has been blamed for fanning irredentist flames in forging the Balkan country’s heritage and history.
Greece’s proposal regarding the name is Gorna Makedonija in Slavic and untranslated. Athens has proposed that the name should be for all uses (erga omnes) both domestically and outside the country. Zaev, however, proposed that the term ‘Macedonia’ should continue to apply inside the country, as in the ‘Bank of Macedonia’ and so on.
The solution to the naming issue is the main condition under which the country could become a NATO member and is crucial to its EU accession. Greece, as a NATO and EU member, can veto accession to both unless the name issue is resolved.