Zaev and Dimitrov give lip service to the identity…Sekerinska disavows her identity…The Greeks say Macedonians have no identity… “Gornamakedonija” is Klingon…and Ali Ahmeti threatens everyone….
Last week, Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov at the very least gave lip service to protecting Macedonia’s identity. According to Greek newspaper Kathimerini, “The Prime Minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Zoran Zaev says a solution to the name dispute with Greece must secure the dignity and identity of ‘Macedonians’ and Greeks. ‘I hope that the solution will preserve the dignity of ‘Macedonians’ and Greeks,’ Zaev said, according to the MIA agency in FYROM. Greece does not accept that there is ‘Macedonian’ nation.” According to another edition of Kathimerini, Dimitrov essentially said the same thing stating “No one can deprive us of the right to be Macedonians and to speak the Macedonian language.”
Meanwhile, Macedonian Defense Minister Radmila Sekerinska told local media that, essentially, she doesn’t like being a Macedonian stating “But if we have a proposal on the table that will provide a better future and life for the citizens, it will be a true defense of the identity.” First, there is no way she can know all of the possible outcomes of any proposal and proclaim that it will provide a better life; second, some things in life are actually worth more than mere money and membership — and your identity — in fact, the identity of those who came before you and now rest peacefully, and the identity of those yet to be born is non-negotiable.
At the same time Zaev ironically stated that not only would Macedonia hold a referendum, but that it would pass. Media reported that “Ahead of Wednesday’s arrival in Skopje of United Nations special envoy Matthew Nimetz, the prime minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Zoran Zaev, insisted that his country’s plans to hold a national referendum over the name dispute with Greece would not be an obstacle to a solution but rather will serve as a guarantee of its permanence. ‘[The referendum] will be an added guarantee to Greece that the solution will be permanent and will remain forever,’ Zaev said in remarks that were seen as part of the effort by Skopje to expedite negotiations for a settlement in its ultimate bid to join NATO.” Sorry, Zoran but only a few things last forever, and agreements are not one of them.
Another edition of Kathimerini late last week stated this identity issue would be a problem for the negotiations, noting “The national identity of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s inhabitants is threatening to become a stumbling block in the negotiations between Athens and Skopje to resolve their decades-old name dispute, as suggested on Thursday in the comments made by FYROM’s leadership….Greeks say the Slavic population inhabiting FYROM cannot claim to have a Macedonian identity or language…”
Which brings us to the Klingons of Star Trek. Many media reports have stated that the “new” name has already been decided upon by the Greek and Macedonian negotiators and that it is — in the Latin alphabet — “Gornamakedonija” as one word and, literally, untranslatable. There are many problems with this but one is that it is, essentially, a Klingon word. Last July Macedonian foreign minister Nikola Dimitrov, in a response to the suggestion a new and made-up word — “FYROM” — actually become the name of Macedonia, stated that it sounded like “Klingon.” And yet that is exactly what the made-up word “Gornamakedonija” sounds like.
And finally, DUI leader, former guerilla, common criminal, and murderer Ali Ahmeti is, once again, threatening everyone. In an interview with — wait for it — Greek newspaper Kathimerini — he stated “….it is our duty as politicians to refrain from inciting our citizens with fear and insecurity…” “If this dispute is not solved, things can go terribly wrong. If things go bad for us, then obviously this will also have consequences for Athens and could therefore rekindle the bygone ambitions of various circles that have antiquated opinions of division, of new borders in the Balkans. I believe that this would be very dangerous for all of us.” This is nothing more than mere threats and blackmail, which, I will admit, Ahmeti is good at. But it’s time to shut him up and shut him down.
But there’s just one more thing and I find this curious: Greece admits that Macedonia has already won this game. Last week Greek Foreign Minister told his domestic audience in Greece, “Let me tell you a paradox. Let’s say we don’t reach agreement today, what name is left? Internationally, we will be left with plain ‘Macedonia,’ therefore we will have no gain, and in our (bilateral) relations left with ‘Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.’” In December in a position paper on the name that I wrote for the United Macedonia Diaspora, I recommended withdrawing from the negotiations for this reason. Why? As I wrote then “Because first and foremost, the negotiations, for Greece, are an opportunity to force Macedonia into denying itself as a state calling itself the Republic of Macedonia and an opportunity to deny the existence of a distinct group of people calling themselves Macedonians. As long as negotiations continue, Greece creates an illusion that the state calling itself the Republic of Macedonia is not actually a permanent state with a permanent people, a dangerous proposition. At the end of the day, Greece does not care if the state called Macedonia is in, or is out, of NATO or the EU. Greece’s starting and finishing position has always been: there is no Republic of Macedonia and there are no Macedonians. For Macedonia to politely withdraw denies the Greeks this opportunity. Over time, if Macedonia withdrew and refused to continue negotiating, this situation would become the norm just as the situation since 1993 has “become the norm.” Nerves would calm, Macedonia would focus and expend its efforts on what is important — the economy comes to mind — and move on.”
“A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.” From the 1983 film WarGames