Saturday, 13 February 2016

Macedonia: Stepping on Greece's touchy toes

Macedonia is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991. As a result of an ongoing dispute with Greece over use of the name Macedonia, the country still is officially known under the provisional description of 'the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia' (shortened to FYROM).

Why do the Greek care so much about the name Macedonia?
Yes, the country that wants to call itself Macedonia today was called Paionia in antiquity. The geographic situation is made clear by Livy’s account of the creation of the Roman province of Macedonia in 146 BC. The land north of Mount Barnous (modern-day Kaimaktsalan) and Mount Orbelos was inhabited by the Paionians. Strabo, writing a few years before the birth of Christ, is even more succinct in saying that Paionia was north of Macedonia and the only connection from one to the other was (and is today) through the narrow gorge of the Axios (or Vardar) River. Source here.

So, yes, the Greek do have a point when they argue that the Republic of Macedonia is misusing the name of their Greek province of Macedonia, even if they share a common border.

But a common name and a common border could also become a great opportunity to trade. Both are virtual backwaters of Europe and are in dire need of economic impulses. Suppose both countries would embrace the name Macedonia then the pros would immensely outweigh the cons.

Greece should retract those long touchy toes and accept the great opportunities of mutual trade, friendship and prosperity.

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