17° Nicosia,
19 March, 2019

FYROM and its irredentist claims

There is potential for Turkish meddling in FYROM, Kosovo and Albania

Costas Iordanidis

Costas Iordanidis

The aggressive rhetoric being exchanged by Greece and Turkey is full of perils, but the crisis between Athens and Ankara over the Aegean and Cyprus may in some odd way come to act as a catalyst for real progress on a series of ongoing issues in the Balkan neighborhood, foremost of which is the current effort to find a solution to the name dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

Even in the early years after the fall of the Iron Curtain – outside which Greece enjoyed decades of unprecedented security – various analysts had warned of the risk of Turkey increasing its influence in the so-called Muslim arc, stretching from the coast of the Black Sea to the Adriatic.

The issue has returned to the fore today because of the potential for Turkish meddling in FYROM, Kosovo and Albania.

However, concerns expressed by some of the Great Powers regarding the possibility of Moscow penetrating deeper into the western Balkans, in combination with the change of government in Skopje, have created a new dynamic for a solution to the name dispute with Greece.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras – notwithstanding the well-publicized opposition of his governing partner, Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos – has accepted the idea of FYROM being inducted into (or trapped in) the system of the West so that Greece will be in a position to expand its influence toward the north.

Whatever the mood in Skopje, though, we shouldn’t kid ourselves

Talks, however, have hit a snag in the irredentist ambitions of Greece’s northern neighbour.

With the exception of Eleftherios Venizelos’s serious error in regard to the Greek-Vlach minority in the 1913 Treaty of Bucharest, Greece has never recognized an ethnic minority, and the present government will be no exception. Otherwise, the negotiations will simply fail.

However, no Greek government has directly disputed the existence of a “Macedonian people” inside the border of FYROM, not even over the many years that it was a part of Yugoslavia.

Whatever the mood in Skopje, though, we shouldn’t kid ourselves: Even if these irredentist ambitions are not expressed formally by the state, they will be expressed.

But if Greece – with its ethnic homogeneity, its numerous universities and catalytic archaeological discoveries, its unimpeachable historical sources and its sizable population of Greeks in foreign lands – fails to deal with a country invented by Josip Broz Tito, then I’m afraid it has little future.

At the end of the council meeting, Nebenzia read a passage from the novel “Alice in Wonderland” about a trial where the Queen demands the sentence first and the verdict afterwards. “Does that remind you of anything?” he added.

Pierce responded: “There is another very good quote from Alice in Wonderland which is: ‘sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast’ so I think that’s the quote the suits my Russian colleague best.”


Comment: Latest Articles

For a strong Europe

For a strong Europe

Does the rest of Europe want to see Germany in a new leading role?
Alexis Papachelas
Marina Economides explores the nuanced slogan ‘you know why’ to uncover a fundamental lack of political culture

You know why

Lack of political culture goes back years and the alt right is on the rise because of it
Marina Economides
Eleni Xenou finds hope in a young man’s life and work on the divided island of Cyprus

This is B’s story

Man's peace effort in Cyprus speaks for itself, going above and beyond fixed notions of the past
Eleni Xenou
Andreas Paraschos sees energy opportunities that ought to give rise to a state governed by the rule of law

Game Changer

The time has come for big decisions along with a change in the Cypriot mindset
Andreas Paraschos
Greece will never be able to break the deadlocks unless its politicians come to an understanding and reach an agreement on some radical changes

Wrestling in the Colosseum

Everyone played a part in drenching Greek society in hatred. Some did it for the votes, others for the TV ratings, and others ...
Alexis Papachelas
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres speaking to the Press in Geneva

The Guterres Framework

In an era where the public can change allegiances based on one tweet, sincerity and integrity are greatly appreciated
Yiannis Kafkarides