Insists on Keeping Name Macedonia

New Nation Insists on Keeping Name 'Macedonia'


Published: May 7, 1992

The New York Times

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia, May 6— The former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia, denied recognition by the 12-nation European Community and by the United States because of a dispute with Greece over its name, has rejected new pressure to compromise.

Greece says the name Macedonia belongs exclusively to the Greek province of that name, which is adjacent to the mainly Slavic republic of Macedonia that was part of Yugoslavia from the end of World War II until its declaration of independence last year.

But at a European Community meeting in Brussels today, President Kiro Gligorov of the Macedonian republic again rejected any compromise, saying, "We have been bearing our name of Macedonia for centuries."

Officials at the meeting discussed ways to end the civil war in what was formerly the Yugoslav federation of six republics, but the talks adjourned without initiatives.

European Community foreign ministers meeting in Portugal on Saturday decided to withhold recognition until Greece and the republic agree on the issue of its name.

Greece has made a major issue of the dispute, saying the Government in Skopje, the capital of the republic, is attempting to appropriate the glories of ancient Macedonia, birthplace of Aristotle and Alexander the Great, and to lay the groundwork for future territorial claims on Greece.

Many of Greece's partners in the European Community, as well as United States officials involved in the diplomatic maneuvering on the issue, have dismissed claims that recognition of "Macedonia" threatens Greek security.

The underlying reason for Greece's insistence lies in bitter history, notably the Greek civil war in 1946-49, when Greek Communists based in Yugoslavia promised to deliver the province of Macedonia to a Balkan federation of Yugoslavia and Bulgaria.

In Skopje, officials contacted by telephone explained why they would not accept a European Community proposal to use the name the Slavic Republic of Macedonia: only 64 percent of the two million residents are Slavic; 21 percent are ethnic Albanians and nearly 5 percent are ethnic Turks.

In any case, the officials said, Greece has refused to accept any name that includes Macedonia, suggesting instead the name Republic of Skopje.

Saso Ordanoski, assistant editor of Plus, a weekly newsmagazine in Skopje, said Mr. Gligorov's stand on the name appeared to have widespread public support. Last week, the Government introduced its own currency, the denar, convertible one-for-one with Yugoslav dinars, and Mr. Ordanoski said that the change had gone smoothly.

Greece has an ally in Serbia, the dominant partner in the truncated Yugoslav federation with Montenegro that Serbia proclaimed last week, which has maintained a partial trade embargo on the republic, mainly on food items.

Greece has made extensive use of embargos against the Skopje Government, blocking oil, food and other supplies for Macedonia.

No comments: