There is jubilation in Skopje after the US decided to refer to the country as the Republic of Macedonia.
At Nato, the EU and the United Nations it is referred to by the acronym FYROM, the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”. That is because Greece and FYROM have held United Nations-led talks on the issue since 1993, two years after the republic broke away from Yugoslavia. Athens has consistently refused the name “Macedonia” which, it says, implies a territorial claim on the northern Greek province of that name. The Greeks have now summoned the US ambassador to protest at Washington’s surprise move. Foreign minister Petros Molyviatis cancelled a trip to the EU summit in Brussels to deal with the issue. He said: “I pointed out to the ambassador the many negative repercussions this unilateral decision will have.” FYROM President Branko Crvenkovski hailed a “great day” for his country. He said: “My message to the Greek government and people is that the Republic of Macedonia will continue to build friendly relations.” Macedonia came close to civil war in 2001 during seven months of conflict between state security forces and an ethnic Albanian guerrilla army. The US move could be aimed at deflating support for Sunday’s referendum to overturn a law giving Macedonia’s ethnic Albanian minority more rights.