Tuesday, 27 June 2017 | News today: 12

The Times: Macedonia tries to join Nato under a new name

Macedonia is considering adopting a new name to counter Greek resistance to its membership of Nato amid growing concerns over Russian interference in the Balkans, writes London-based The Times.

The text further states:

Macedonia’s new government, which was sworn in last month, told Nato leaders yesterday that the former Yugoslav republic was ready to compromise in the long-running dispute with its neighbour to improve the stability of the wider region.

Greece vetoed Macedonia’s application to join Nato in 2008 over the republic’s name, which it shares with the northern Greek province. Athens regards Macedonia’s name as a challenge to its territorial integrity, implying a claim to the area of the same name within Greece’s borders. It also accuses Macedonia of appropriating Greek culture and symbols, including the ancient Greek hero Alexander the Great, whom Macedonia’s previous government sought to recast as its national hero.

Macedonia shares its name with its dominant Slavic ethnic group and its language, a source of discord with the millions of Greeks who also identify as Macedonians.

A grumbling source of annoyance after the breakup of the Ottoman Empire, the dispute took on new potency after the break-up of Yugoslavia and Macedonia’s emergence as an independent republic.

Macedonia compromised to join the United Nations, using the qualifier of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Its nationalist government, however, refused to use that name for applications to join Nato, and the European Union and Greece vetoed Macedonia’s bid in 2008 to join the military alliance. Macedonia became more resolute, erecting a vast statue of Alexander the Great in the capital, Skopje, and naming airports, stadiums and motorways after the warrior.

The swearing in of a new, multi-ethnic coalition government, coupled with fears of Russian attempts to stir trouble in the western Balkans, have opened up room for compromise.

Macedonia’s foreign minister travels to Athens tomorrow to open discussions on the dispute amid revelations over Russian interference in the country. Leaked intelligence documents showed that Russian spies and diplomats have been involved in efforts to stir up ethnic tensions in Macedonia between dominant Slavs and minority Albanians. Russia has openly pushed the notion of pan-Slavic identity and shared Orthodox Christian faith, with which it kept Serbia as an ally.

The leaked documents suggested that Russia’s efforts to stop Macedonia moving closer to the West had helped to spur on the political and ethnic crisis that the new coalition government now hopes to resolve.

Montenegro, the tiny Adriatic nation that endured bombardment by Nato as part of Serbia in 1999, formally joined the military alliance last week.

From Nato’s perspective, Montenegro’s accession denies Russia a foothold for its warships in the Adriatic. Membership remains controversial, with political disagreement over the veracity of claims of an attempted Russian-backed coup last year before elections.

Macedonia has not indicated what alternative name it might adopt, only its willingness to explore the issue with the Greeks. Sputnik, Russia’s state English-language news agency, greeted the news with the headline: “Macedonia ready to lose identity to join Nato.”

This is not the only text in a foreign media that talks about the attitude of Macedonia to change its name. The Guardian and the Financial Times, both renowned newspapers, sent identical messages on the same day over Macedonia’s considering proposals on its name change. It is obvious that the international propaganda is getting louder. The question is what did SDSM and Zoran Zaev accept?

A few days ago the Financial Times published an interview with Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov entitled “Macedonia considers changing its name to join NATO”. Only a few hours later, probably after an intervention by the Macedonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the paper changed the title into “Macedonia considers using provisional name to join Nato”.

“Macedonia will consider new proposals for the provisional name in an attempt to unlock Greek opposition to NATO membership”, said Dimitrov, adding that it was too soon to discuss any specific name proposals.

What did SDS and Zoran Zaev accept? International propaganda louder, the Guardian and the Financial Times with identical messages to change the name