As Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) are restarting negotiations to end their dispute over the latter country’s name, which appropriates the one of the Greek region (and ancient kingdom) of Macedonia, the names under consideration have been leaked. According to a report posted on (FYROM-based website) mkd.mk and confirmed by the Greek newspaper To Vima, the Special Envoy of United Nations for the Macedonia name dispute, Matthew Nimetz, who has been mediating on the issue for 27 years, has proposed five possible options for the country’s name: Republika Nova Makedonija (Republic of New Macedonia), Republika Severna Makedonija (Republic of Northern Macedonia), Republika Gorna Makedonija (Republic of Upper Macedonia), Republika Vardarska Makedonija (Republic of Vardar Macedonia) and Republika Makedonija (Skopje) [Republic of Macedonia (Skopje)].
Although FYROM Ambassador and name negotiator Vasko Naumovski in New York, has reportedly expressed his disagreement with the options, saying that they are all “far from a dignified solution,” and that the name, Republic of Macedonia, is the basis for identity, it is understood that this is not the official opinion of the country’s government, which is eager to proceed with negotiations. Special Envoy Nimetz himself has not made any reference to the issue of national identity; he has, however, made provisions for the way citizenship will be stated, opting for the slavic rendition ‘Makedonski’ in all official passports, with an alternative being ‘nationality of the Republika Nova Makedonija’.
Weighing in on the issue, the Minister of Defense and Deputy PM, Panos Kammenos, leader of the far right party Independent Greeks, which is the partner of leftist party Syriza in the government, has expressed his support for the name ‘Vardarska Makedonija’. Vardar is FYROM’s largest river, which also passes through Greece, where it’s named Axios. Naming the country ‘Vardarska Makedonija’ would be an accurate name, given that it responds to the geography, however the name was first used by the Nazi forces during WWII and the occupation and has since been associated with one of the darkest times in the region’s history.
‘Nova Makedonija’ was the first name suggested by Special Envoy Nimetz. It is a name that was never used in any of the countries sharing parts of the ancient kingdom of Macedonia (the third one being Bulgaria), and its use aims to clear out that it refers to a new nation, not the historic one. However, some see signs of irredentism in this option.
in the ‘Pineiro Package’ of 1990. Objections to this name are due to the
‘Severna Makedonija’ complicates things even more, since part of Northern Macedonia is now found in Bulgaria, and also in the northern part of Greece. This objection is often dismissed as a technicality, by those who are in favour of a strictly geographical definition.
‘Gorna Makedonija’ is presented as an alternative to the geographical debate, however it causes even more confusion, since the term ‘Upper Macedonia’ has been used since the antiquity, in reference to completely different regions of the ancient kingdom.
Last but not least, ‘Makedonija (Skopje)’ would allow for Greece to continue officially referring to the country by the name of its capital – as it has done until now. But this would mean the continuation of the double-name problem, which negotiations are trying to resolve once for all. Nimetz proposal provides that the new name apply for all parties, erga omnes, in FYROM’s bilateral and international relations, as Greece has demanded.