A rose by any other name is still a rose.
Similarly, the Republic of Macedonia by any other name is still the Republic of Macedonia

Michael Glantz
CCB, University of Colorado
May 12, 2009

Fragilecologies Guest ArticleA rose by any other name is still a rose. Similarly, the Republic of Macedonia by any other name is still the Republic of Macedonia

I have been trying to organize a meeting in Macedonia. Not in Greece’s northern region of Macedonia but the other Macedonia. The UN officially calls the other Macedonia “FYR Macedonia”, or the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Those inside the Republic of Macedonia (e.g., the ‘other’ Macedonia) hate the use of the modifier “FYR” and to tell the truth I can’t blame them.

To someone not so interested in the politics of naming a new country, I find the conflict bordering on ridiculous over the name of the other Macedonia. More than 140 countries recognize the country as the Republic of Macedonia including many European countries and four of the five members of the UN Security Council. Many cities around the globe use the same name, even cities like Athens, Georgia and Athens, Ohio in the USA hijacked the use of the name of Athens, Greece. I assume that Greece never protested the use of Athens by the US states of Georgia or Ohio.

Macedonia flagBut let’s assume that the use of such modifiers as FYR was a commonly accepted practice around the globe. The United States of America would be called the FBC America (the Former British Colony of the United States). Germany would be the FPE Germany (the Former Prussian Empire of Germany). The Republic of Mali in West Africa would be referred to as the FFWAC of Mali (the Former French West African Colony of Mali). And then we’d need to reconsider the names of the republics of the Former Soviet Union (FSU). So, FSU then become the modifier for all of the newly independent states: the FSU of Kazakhstan; the FSU of Uzbekistan; the FSU of Azerbaijan, and so forth. Seems silly doesn’t it? Almost all countries would have to modify their names adding “the Former Something in front of the ‘new’ name of the country, out of deference to an earlier name in their history.

Greece apparently did not oppose the name “Republic of Macedonia” when the republic was a part of Yugoslavia. Why now? I was talking to a psychiatrist friend of mine recently about my trip to Macedonia and reluctance to accept the newly independent country as anything other than the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia. He told me that the controversy over the name reminded him of Sigmund Freud’s 1917 concept of “narcissism over small differences”. This concept refers to the belief that individuals that are very similar to each other engage in conflicts that are more violent than those between individuals who have little in common. Most recently, Greece proposed that Macedonia be called the Republic of Northern Macedonia, but, alas, there is no such place as Southern Macedonia. Macedonians are Macedonians wherever they live. That may be the problem for Greece, worried about a possible call from the Republic of Macedonia, its independent neighbor to the north, to reunite its citizens with those Macedonians in northern Greece. Agreeing that the Republic can continue to use the name it has used since 1945 as a part of Yugoslavia would be a great gesture on the part of Greece. It would enable the Republic of Macedonia to join the European Union which if nothing else would allow Macedonians to travel freely in Europe without going through the onerous and humiliating task of filling out visa forms to enter several of its neighboring countries.

Don’t you think it is time for Greece to get over it and accept Macedonia for the independent Republic that it is, and move on to deal with much more serious issues? I do.

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