You Miss FYROM Already. Don’t You?

In 1991, when Macedonia broke from the collapsing Yugoslavia, it declared itself the independent Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

On a trip to Athens and then Tiranë, Albania more than twenty years ago, I recall seeing anti-FYROM graffiti in Greece. Now, finally, “Macedonia, Greece Reach ‘Historic’ Deal On Name Dispute.”

Says the Guardian, “The tiny state will henceforth be known neither by its acronym, FYROM, nor simply as Macedonia but as the Republic of Northern Macedonia – a geographical qualifier that ends any fear in Athens of territorial ambition against the neighbouring Greek province of the same name.”

Thus ends what seems to an outsider one of the needlessly longest-running disputes out there.

Welcome to the Republic of Northern Macedonia. Unclear whether the flag will change.

KNEW That Sounded Familiar

Something in President Trump’s inaugural “American carnage” speech, set off alarms in my memory, and I’ve just realized what it was. Mr. Trump instructed “all Americans,” with rhetorical flourishes about “every city near and far, small and large” and so forth, to hear his words:

“You will never be ignored again.”

 
My gratitude to Peter Maass, writing on intercept.com. Mr. Maass reported from the Balkan wars of the 1990s, and his article reminded me that a young and entirely colorless Serbian fonctionnaire named Solbodan Milošević was assigned to speak at a rally in Yugoslavia just as the Soviet Union’s unsteadiness began to infect its near abroad, in 1987.

The rally was held at Kosovo Polje, the “Field of Blackbirds” outside Pristina in Kosovo, the site of a battle between Serb in Turk in 1389 that ended in the utter defeat and collapse of Serbia. Milošević, a Belgrade politician, drew a crowd of Serbs in majority Albanian Kosovo. Predictably, the crowd grew restless and hurled stones. Police applied force. These two events may have happened in either order.

Milošević responded to the crowd, “You will not be beaten.” His words were heard by the minority Serbs, variously translated, as generally “No one will ever dare beat you (Serbs) again!” Serbian nationalism was off and running and President Ivan Stambolić, whom the gray apparatchik Milošević replaced in short order, called that day “the end of Yugoslavia.”

Perhaps Milošević was as surprised as anyone at his newfound power. Not to suggest any present day parallel.

For the record, the Milošević regime didn’t work out all that well. Many died, war swept the land and Milošević himself died in prison.

Here’s a little something I brought back from a visit to Slobodan Milošević’s Belgrade in 1997, before he decided to surrender instead of shoot himself dead, but after he’d had time to enact his economic policies:

500billiondinarssmall
A 500 billion dinar note.

MOD Women

While Michelle Flournoy has apparently taken her name out of the running for U.S. Defense Secretary, it’s worth noting that there are currently five female Defense Ministers in NATO: Italy’s Roberta Pinotti, Albania’s Mimi Kodheli, Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen, Norway’s Ine Marie Eriksen Soreide and Jeanine Hennis-Plasshaert of the Netherlands. That’s a record.

There are also female Defense Ministers in South Africa, Montenegro, Ecuador, Kenya, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Guinea-Bissau.

Reading Around the Web

Looks like my second book, Visiting Chernobyl, is on track for publication by the end of next week. The day it’s up on Amazon I’ll excerpt it here and send the first chapter to everybody who signs up over on the right (Go ahead, sign up now). While I’m tending to that, here are a few entertaining, well done or arcane things to spend some time with:

A Night under Concrete: Albanian Tourism Project Puts Beds in Bunkers

Tom Christian, Descendant of Bounty Mutineer, Dies at 77

How a high school-educated drug smuggler built a fleet of submarines—in the middle of the jungle

The Enclaves and Counter-enclaves of Baarle

I Went on the World’s Deadliest Road Trip

Bad Blood: The Life and Death of Alexander Litvinenko

Getting to Shore at Sea

Shadows in Greece

The Russia Left Behind

The death of a language

Why Navalny Is Winning

Liquid History

Rainy Day Reading

We've been a little scarce here at CS&W as we try to finish up some longer-form writing and get set for a trip to Rapa Nui that's about a month away. More on that as we get closer.

For now, here are ideas of interest from all over, if you're so inclined:

– Not long ago, my pal Rick Lewis moved to Cotacachi, Ecuador. He blogs about it at brokedownpalette.


– Alfred Molon, a Dane, has some 23,000 photos here, from much of the world.


– Albanian Tourism Project Puts Beds in Bunkers, from Der Spiegel.


– Kebabistan, a Eurasianet food blog, is worth a look.


– Update on the state of things in Ukraine, from Salon.


– The Enclaves and Counter-enclaves of Baarle, on the Dutch/Belgian border, from Big Think's Strange Maps.


– And you might have seen that the British have invaded nine out of ten countries, from an upcoming book.