Macedonia Naming Dispute - Greek Position - Territorial Concerns

Territorial Concerns

During the Greek Civil War, in 1947 the Greek Ministry of Press and Information published a book, Ἡ ἐναντίον τῆς Ἑλλάδος ἐπιβουλή (Designs on Greece), including documents and speeches on the ongoing Macedonian issue, many translations from Yugoslav officials. It reports Josip Broz Tito using the term "Aegean Macedonia" on 11 October 1945 in the build up to the Greek Civil War; the original document is archived in ‘GFM A/24581/G2/1945’. For Athens in 1947, the “new term, Aegean Macedonia”, (also “Pirin Macedonia”), was introduced by Yugoslavs. Contextually, this observation indicates this was part of the Yugoslav offensive against Greece, laying claim to Greek Macedonia, but Athens does not seem to take issue with the term itself. The 1945 date concurs with Bulgarian sources.

Tito's wartime representative to Macedonia, General Tempo (Svetozar Vukmanovic), is credited with promoting the usage of the new regional names of the Macedonian region for irredentist purposes. Concerns over territorial implications of the usage of the term "Macedonian" were expressed as early as 1944 by US diplomats.

Greece suspects that the Republic of Macedonia has territorial ambitions in the northern Greek provinces of Macedonia. This has been a Greek concern for decades; as far back as 1957, the Greek government expressed concern about reported Yugoslav ambitions to create an "independent" People's Republic of Macedonia with the Greek city of Thessaloniki as its capital, ambitions that are now exist amongst citizens of the Republic of Macedonia.

Loring M. Danforth ascribes the goal of a "free, united, and independent Macedonia" including "liberated" Bulgarian and Greek territory to a fraction of extreme Macedonian nationalists, whereas more moderate ethnic Macedonians recognise the inviolability of the borders but regard the presence of ethnic Macedonians in the neighbouring countries as an issue of minority protection.

Greek analysts and politicians have expressed concerns that western observers tend to overlook or not to understand the severity of the perceived territorial threat and tend to misunderstand the conflict as a trivial issue over just a name.

The concerns are further reinforced by the fact that extremist ethnic Macedonian nationalists of the "United Macedonia" movement have expressed irredentist claims to what they refer to as "Aegean Macedonia" (in Greece), "Pirin Macedonia" (in Bulgaria), "Mala Prespa and Golo Brdo" (in Albania), and "Gora and Prohor Pchinski" (in Serbia).

Greek Macedonians, Bulgarians, Albanians and Serbs form the overwhelming majority of the population of each part of the region respectively.

Schoolbooks and official government publications in the Republic have shown the country as part of an unliberated whole.

In April 2008 Foreign Minister of Greece Dora Bakoyannis complained about the prime minister of the Republic of Macedonia Nikola Gruevski appearing in a photograph, by a map of "Greater Macedonia". The complaint was made inside an article published at Wall Street Journal, regarding the NATO ascension talks.

Read more about this topic:  Macedonia Naming Dispute, Greek Position

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