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Κυριακή, 05 Φεβρουάριος 2017 20:02

This is why Macedonia’s name matters! Thank you Mr. Tajani!

The “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” (hereinafter FYROM) and Greece are in dispute over the former’s name, since the time of its independence (1992). FYROM insists on using its communist era name (“Macedonia”), while Greece reacts. It is obvious that Greece did not oppose the formation and does not oppose to the existence of a state in its northern border, especially when the social and commercial relations between Greeks and FYROM’s citizens (either Slavs or Albanians) are very good. Thus here, it is not a case similar to the stance – just to mention one case – of Turkey opposing the formation of any Kurdish state outside its borders. 

On the contrary, Greece has supported the unity of FYROM in 2001 – when the country came close to a civil war – and has provided military assistance to the country’s government. What Greece simply wants through negotiations is that the name of its neighbor does not create confusion and allows the clear distinction between, on the one hand, FYROM’s history and culture, and, on the other, his own. 

It is so simple: a larger population than the one of FYROM, live in Macedonia (you see, here I have to clarify:) of Greece, study at the University of Macedonia, produce goods linked to the region (i.e., Macedonian wine), and undoubtedly speak the same language as Alexander the Great and Aristotle. For years the counterargument I have consistently heard is that everybody knows that ancient Macedonia, Alexander the Great and Aristotle are Greek. Who may be confused? 

Reality however works in mysterious ways and an EU personality, first a Commissioner and now the EU Parliament’s President, fell into the trap of the name and distorted the very basics of History. Mr Tajani, visited in February 2016 Skopje and said the following: “Macedonia is a beautiful country. Everyone in Italy knows Macedonia. Why? Because Alexander the Great and Philip of Macedon are very popular ancestors of yours. Without Alexander [the Great] we would have no Europe because he was the first king who stopped the invasion by Iran and those countries. That’s why they call him Alexander the Great. He strengthened the European borders”. 

Of course Mr Tajani, after the reactions of Greek MEPs, corrected his statement. But the point is not there! The point is that Mr Tajani got confused – as perhaps many others – with a country named “Macedonia”. From there it was rather easy for him, as for many, to slip and fall into the trap.

This event demonstrates that names do matter, and Mr Tajani has to be thanked. They matter in every day life, they matter in business (who can label his product after the name of another trademark?), and they do matter in politics, particularly international. Consequently, it demonstrates why, as Greece argues, a solution should be found in a name that clearly distinguishes among the two what is most important: their culture!

 

Πηγή:mignatiou.com

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Παρασκευή, 01 Νοέμβριος 2013 09:34

Greece should not waste opportunities

For three years now, Greece deals with the issues of its economic crisis. Parallel to them, the foreign policy issues continue to increase and need to be addressed. It seems, however, that there is no strategy for them. Even worse, the foreign policy issues seem to have being sacrificed to the crisis' alter, when Greece could just act in a smart way, by, for example, delimiting its Mediterranean Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and turn it and its resources into one of the tools that would help the country address its economic problems.

Certainly there have been meetings of Greek officials with their counterparts from FYROM, Turkey, Cyprus, Israel, and, most recently, Egypt. Yet, important questions remain unanswered. What is Greece's policy towards Turkey? Is it a policy of settlement of disputes from a position of equal strength, is it a policy of bandwagoning, or a policy of appeasement? What is the country's goal in the new round of negotiations with FYROM, regarding the name issue? Will Greece support actively the Cypriot efforts in order to end the Turkish illegal occupation? What will Greece do about the declaration and delimitation of a Mediterranean EEZ and when?

Reasonably, one could argue that when you are in debt you can not easily perform foreign policy. This is wrong in the context of Greek bilateral relations. First, to put it simply, Greece does not owe money to Ankara, Skopje or any of its neighbors. Secondly, it still maintains some other comparative advantages in relation to them, especially its participation to both the EU and NATO. Thirdly, even in lean years, foreign policy is a matter of priorities, strategy and determination; the attitude of each country towards international issues is a matter of political ability and choices.

Cyprus is showing Greece and everyone how a small country, under the threat of the invader, assessed correctly the emerging energy context in its region and moved decisively. Late President Papadopoulos allied with U.S. and Israeli economic interests in order to search for hydrocarbons in the Mediterranean. Former President Christofias, with a communist ideological background, brought Cyprus into an alliance with Israel. Their moves have begun to bear fruit, judging by the perspective of natural gas exploitation, and by the statements of powerful governments on the exploitation of the Eastern Mediterranean energy resources and the Turkish illegal occupation.

Contrary to Cyprus, it seems that Greece, although it may only gain from the emerging situation, has not done much towards benefiting from the new energy opportunities. Greece, however, may only gain by closely cooperating with Israel and Cyprus – the only democratic states in the Eastern Mediterranean. The three states may provide valuable energy resources to their partners, and offer, in comparison to other routes (i.e., via Turkey), an alternative and safe route for the streaming of energy towards the West.

Thus, Greece must define as soon as possible its foreign policy objectives, gain international support, and act accordingly. No opportunities should be wasted, especially when, in the medium-term, they can contribute to the country's exit from the economic crisis.

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