Resolution of the Greek-Macedonian Name Dispute
Sam Vaknin

The only way to resolve the seemingly intractable name dispute between Greece and Macedonia is to internationalize it. The negotiations should openly include – besides the primary parties and the hapless UN negotiator, Nimetz – the USA, the EU, and, possibly, Russia.

The final Agreement should be signed by Macedonia and Greece with the USA, EU, and, possibly Russia as witnesses and guarantors. Such an arrangement is not unprecedented: the Ohrid Framework Agreement of 2001 included international assurances and guarantees.

It is a common practice in international relations, too: Israel and Egypt signed a series of agreements in 1982 only after the USA issued side letters with guarantees and assurances to both parties.

What should such a guarantee include as a minimum? Clearly, it should cater to the needs and assuage the anxieties of both parties, the Greeks and the Macedonians. It should not be too rigid: constructive ambiguity is essential for the final resolution of the name dispute in the future.

The main elements of such an assurance side letter should be:

1. Both parties renounce all claims on each other’s territory and recognize the current borders between them as final. These borders are guaranteed by the USA, EU, and Russia;

2. The USA, EU, and Russia support the use of the term “Macedonian” to describe the ethnicity and language of the citizens of Macedonia who so choose to define themselves;

3. Article (2) above notwithstanding, the USA, EU, and Russia, together with the United Nations, will continue to collaborate with the parties to find an appropriate and lasting solution;

4. Greece will support Macedonia’s accession to NATO and the EU and will not veto its admission, nor will it obstruct negotiations with Macedonia;

5. Macedonia will terminate all legal proceedings against Greece brought by it in international or other courts.

The `name issue` involves a protracted dispute over the last 18 years between the two Balkan polities over Macedonia`s right to use its constitutional name, `The Republic of Macedonia`. The Greeks claim that Macedonia is a region in Greece and that, therefore, the country Macedonia has no right to monopolize the name and its derivatives (`Macedonian`).

The Greeks feel that Macedonians have designs on the part of Greece that borders the tiny, landlocked country and that the use of Macedonia`s constitutional name internationally will only serve to enhance irredentist and secessionist tendencies, thus adversely affecting the entire region`s stability.

Macedonia retorts that it has publicly renounced any claims to any territory of any of its neighbors. Greece is Macedonia`s second largest foreign investor. The disparities in size, military power and geopolitical and economic prowess between the two countries make Greek `fears` appear to be ridiculous. Macedonians have a right to decide how they are to be called, say exasperated Macedonian officials.

The Greek demands are without precedent either in history or in international law. Many countries bear variants of the same name (Yemen, Korea, Germany until 1990, Russia and Byelorussia, Mongolia). Others share their name with a region in another country (Brittany in France and Great Britain across the channel, for instance).

In the alliance`s Bucharest Summit, in April 2008, Macedonia was not invited to join NATO. Macedonia was rejected because it would not succumb to Greek intransigence: Greece insisted that Macedonia should change its constitutional name to cater to Greek domestic political sensitivities.

Proposed on April 11, 2010 by Sam Vaknin in preparation for a simulation-game initiated by the author and conducted under the auspices of A1 TV in Ohrid, April 23-25, 2010. Sam Vaknin (http://samvak.tripod.com ) is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East.