Feb 6, 2018

Dispute over Macedonia’s name heats up in Greece

Greece's national flag.

Protesters hold the Greek national flags during the protest of 'Macedonia is Greek.' Photo: Giorgos Zachos / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

Greeks rallied in Athens this past weekend to encourage the government to keep up its dispute over neighboring Macedonia’s name, which Greece has long-claimed expresses a wrongful claim to Greece's province of Macedonia, Radio Free Europe reports. Greece’s Prime Minister, Alexi Tsipras, is seeking a resolution to the dispute.

The political backdrop: Tsipras' willingness to consider a resolution has caused concern in both his political opposition and members of his own coalition. Tsipras’ take is that "not having a solution undermines our national interest.”

  • The solution the leaders of the two countries are discussing could include adding “Upper,” “New,” or “North” to Macedonia’s name. Previous talks have been inconclusive and the UN is mediating the conversations, per Reuters.
  • The crux of the debate: Macedonia gained independence in 1991 from former Yugoslavia, with the name sparking a dispute. In 1993 Macedonia joined the United Nations as the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM)."
  • This demonstration is the second major one over the dispute in the last few weeks. Locals claim it was bigger than those related to austerity measures, per Reuters. Greek composer Mikis Theodorakis told the crowd: “Macedonia was, is, and will forever be Greek.”
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