Much anticipated, even apocalyptic to extremists in both nationalist camps, today’s referendum in Macedonia sort of just meandered around and then wandered on back home:
“The referendum results for the change of the name of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia went as expected, with 90 percent of voters saying “Yes” to North Macedonia, but only 34.76 percent of them went to the polls.
In order for the referendum results to be valid, at least 50 percent plus one of registered voters needed to participate. Out of the nearly 1.8 million registered voters, only about 630,000 casted a ballot.”
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.
The Middle East was the center of the universe last weekend, as the world watched the Egyptian election results and Syria's downing of that Turkish F-4. Tomorrow the North Atlantic moves to the center, with the Obamacare ruling on this side of the ocean and the 1,437th Euro summit on the other.
As the potential first country out of the Eurozone, you'd think Greece would be under enough pressure. But consider its geographical position.
To the east: The Aviationist blog has published a video alongside an article that contends that,
“It is almost a daily practice for the Greek artillery that its radars lock Turkish fighter jets as they illegally enter Greek airspace. However Greeks do not push the button….”
Hard to see how they sort that out anyway, since the distance between many Greek islands and the Turkish mainland is trivial. The island of Samos, for instance, lies scarcely a mile off the Dilek National Park on a tip of Turkish coast.
Then consider Greece's long unhappy relations with its northern neighbor, The Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia, a name Greece insisted on at FYROM's independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, because it felt that "Macedonia implies a territorial claim by Skopje to a province in northern Greece with the same name." Not that anybody calls Macedonia "FYROM."
Now Macedonia and Greece are in an argument … over license plates. RFERL suggests that this photo from the internet suggests that Greek officials are covering the Macedonian "MK" with FYROM stickers on cars admitted over the Greek border.