Will SDSM change its name? How about Foundation Open Society-Macedonia?
These are entirely legitimate questions and they must be asked — and answered. Assume, for a moment, that Greece gets its way, that Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev caves in to Greek demands — let me repeat that: Greek demands — and somehow manages to change the Macedonian constitution to reflect the “new name” he apparently has agreed to with Greece — “Upper Macedonia” or “Gornamakedonija” depending on who you ask. Assuming he does this, meaning that it will apply within Macedonia and for all time, what does this mean in practical terms? Your passports and internal ID cards will certainly reflect this. But what else? If this happens will his party, the party that he leads, the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM) change its name? Behold! — “The Social Democratic Union of Upper Macedonia” or the “Social Democratic Union of Gornamakedonija.” For that matter will the civil society organization that did so much to put him and his party in power — Foundation Open Society-Macedonia — will they change their name? Behold! — “Foundation Open Society-Upper Macedonia” or “Foundation Open Society-Gornamakedonija.”
For that matter, even if the name remains the same, internally, and domestically, will you visit new websites — www.sdsum.org.rum or www.sdsum.org.rgm or www.fosum.rum or www.fosum.rgm because the Greeks have demanded — and the Macedonian government has accepted — a new Internet domain suffix? The most ironic thing about this issue is that if you visit the host organization’s current webpage, you will learn, among other things, “When he named the Foundation Open Society–Macedonia in 1992, George Soros became one of the first international figures to recognize the newly independent state by its constitutional name. He subsequently personally lobbied for international recognition and support for the new state — and its name.” I do not like George Soros’ beliefs and positions and know he is wrong on almost every issue and that he will spend eternity separated from God, but I’ll give credit where it is due — he did the right thing in this situation. But will he change his position after the name changes?
Let’s keep going with this: Who gets to dictate to the Macedonian Orthodox Church — and to Macedonian Orthodox believers — that they must now be called the Upper Macedonian Orthodox Church or the Gornamakedonijan Orthodox Church? Will their website go from www.mpc.org.mk to www.umpc.org.rum or www.umpc.org.rgm? What about other faith institutions of Macedonia?
Who will dictate to the producers of Macedonia’s products — food, beverages, literally everything produced in Macedonia — that they can no longer say “Product of the Republic of Macedonia” on their products and what will happen to them if they continue to do so because almost all of them will want to? What about for products produced in and used only in Macedonia (meaning not for export)? Must these products be labeled with the “new name?”
What about sports clubs? What about cultural associations that focus on music and the arts? What about humanitarian organizations? What about economic groups like Macedonian Chamber of Commerce, Macedonia 2025, and others? Will they change their name? Will they be forced to change their name?
What about the other political parties? How about VMRO-DPMNE? Will their name now become “Internal Upper Macedonian Revolutionary Organization — Democratic Party for Upper Macedonian National Unity” or “Internal Gornamakedonijan Revolutionary Organization — Democratic Party for Gornamakedonijan National Unity?” How about all of the other political parties?
What about private individuals who own websites with the .mk domain or the word “Macedonia” (in English or Macedonian) in that domain? What about educational institutions in Macedonia? What about international Macedonian Diaspora groups? What about the hundreds — or perhaps thousands — of Macedonian churches, cultural groups, sports associations, and other civil society organizations around the world that are Macedonian? Will the Greeks insist that all of these churches, groups, and associations change their names? (The answer is yes — the Greeks will fight this battle forever). Granted the Greeks won’t be able to legally force them to change their names — but I promise you the Greeks will use every tool and law they can to try to force a change in every country around the world.
How about the many universities around the world that teach the Macedonian language? Will they be challenged and forced to change the name of the language they teach? What about all of the books already published on Macedonia that contains the word “Macedonia?” Will they be forced to change? How about maps?
Many if not most Greeks will continue referring to the Macedonians as “Skopians” and “Vardarians,” and Macedonia as “Skopia,” “Vardarska,” and other insults no matter what happens in these talks and no matter what the outcome. So why not just stick with what most of the world and most thinking people around the world already call the country and the people — Macedonia and the Macedonians?
Even if this issue is “solved” to the satisfaction of the Greeks the international community, any bloody ignorant fool who then claims that it is “solved” will be just that — a bloody ignorant fool because the issue will go on forever. Forever. Macedonians will never give up their identity and the Greeks will continue figuring out ways in the attempt to deny that identity. Which is why, as I wrote the other week, that a future government — it would have to be a future government — should withdraw from the name talks. Right now the government of Macedonia is actually agreeing that the name, identity, language, everything Macedonian is up for negotiation. And your name, your identity, your history, your culture, and your language should never be negotiable. In negotiating the Macedonian government has basically said that all of this — all that makes Macedonia special and unique — all of that has a price. And it should not. There is no price for your name and your identity.