The April 9 article “NATO meeting sends dangerous signals” portrays Greece as the aggressor and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as the victim. The provisional name of FYROM was not selected by Greece, as the author states, but was part of an interim agreement suggested by others so FYROM could enter the United Nations.
For years Greece has not wanted the term Macedonia in the name of FYROM. It has since compromised and agreed to the term, but wanted a geographical qualifier such as Upper Macedonia. What was the position of FYROM? It rejected all compromises presented by Matthew Nimetz, the U.N. negotiator, and insisted on the Republic of Macedonia.
Furthermore, FYROM stated its willingness to forgo membership in NATO and the European Union. Rather than pressure FYROM, Greece was pressured to settle the issue prior to the NATO summit. Greece was expected to ignore the fact that FYROM claims to be descendent from the ancient Macedonians, a Greek people, and to ignore recent history as well. While Greece has tried to deal with the issues in a sober manner, FYROM has continued provocative behavior such as insisting that there are “Macedonians” in Greece who are being repressed. Furthermore they have printed maps showing Aegean Macedonia and western Bulgaria as occupied territories to one day be liberated.
Until 1944, the FYROM region, then part of Serbia, was known as Vardar Banovina. It was at this time that Marshall Tito invented the Socialist Republic of Macedonia, and from this area that he supported the communists in the Greek civil war, which cost over 100,000 Greek lives, in his quest of an outlet to the Aegean via the northern Greek province of Macedonia.
Finally the author states that Greece should have confidence in its NATO allies, and that any adventurous policies by FYROM would be stopped in its tracks if they were in NATO. Are these the same allies who have refused to guarantee Greece’s territorial integrity in its dealings with Turkey, another member of NATO? It is true that FYROM is a minor nation, but conflicts in the Balkans rarely remain between two combatants.