The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) has apparently put a new name for the country on the negotiating table with Greece.
Media in Skopje quoting government sources claim that during Thursday’s meeting with Greek premier Alexis Tsipras, the country’s PM Zoran Zaev proposed the composite name ‘Ilindenska Republika Makedonija’ (Republic of Ilinden Macedonia), a proposal that makes reference to the location of two historical uprisings.
FYROM media report that this composite name would likely be acceptable to the country’s opposition parties.
Until now, it was thought that the two leaders were closing in on ‘Republika Nova Makedonija’ (Republic of New Macedonia). The proposal was among five tabled earlier in the year by the UN mediator Matthew Nimetz.
The other four were:
Republika Severna Makedonija (Republic of Northern Macedonia)
Republika Gorna Makedonija (Republic of Upper Macedonia)
Republika Vardarska Makedonija (Republic of Macedonia of Vardar)
Republika Makedonija (Skopje) [Republic of Macedonia (Skopje)]
All proposals all contain the term ‘Macedonia’, which remains a sensitive topic for millions of Greeks, who see it as an attempt by their northern neighbors to piggy-back on Greece’s cultural heritage, especially since the Greek province of Macedonia was the birthplace of Alexander the Great.
There is also a further complication over whether a new name for the state will be ‘erga omnes’ (towards all), that is, used both domestically and internationally, as Greece demands.
Government sources in Athens were quoted by the Athens-Macedonian News Agency on Friday as saying: “Erga omnes with a constitutional revision is a necessary condition for an agreement.”
FYROM argues that it should be used solely for international rather than domestic purposes, with the idea that the country’s constitutional name, currently the ‘Republic of Macedonia’ would remain unchanged.
What the latter position means in practice is that for bilateral relations between FYROM and third-party countries, Skopje would make use of its constitutional name, and so a foreign delegate would simply refer to the country as ‘Macedonia’.
Both sides appear to have set a June 28 deadline for reaching an agreement to coincide with the European Council summit on enlargement, when European leaders are expected to offer accession talks to the former Yugoslav republic.
Government sources in Athens say that if a deal is not possible by that date, negotiations will continue.
Greek media report that despite the caution exercised by Tsipras at Thursday’s meeting with his FYROM counterpart Zoran Zaev in Sofia, the basis for an agreement has appeared.