The Once and Future Macedonia

Future relations between Greece and Macedonia depend on mutual interests, not new names.

Jacob L. Shapiro |September 28, 2018

This weekend, Macedonians will go to the polls to decide if Macedonia should still be called Macedonia. Assuming the referendum passes – most polls suggest it will – the deal on the Macedonia-Greece name dispute will have one more hurdle to pass to become official: ratification in the Greek parliament. Its approval is much less certain since nearly 60 percent of Greeks oppose the agreement, according to an Ethnos poll from July. Then again, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras survived a confidence motion in June called specifically to question his support for the deal, albeit by a 13-vote margin.

The reason Greece and the probably soon-to-be-called country of North Macedonia are seeking to end the name dispute is actually quite simple: Macedonia wants to join the European Union and NATO – something Greece, a member of both organizations, has long opposed. In fact, on several occasions, it has used the name dispute to block Macedonia’s accession to them. But decision-makers i

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