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FYROM seeks a new name to gain EU and NATO membership

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By Euronews
Statue of Alexander the Great in FYROM capital Skopje
Statue of Alexander the Great in FYROM capital Skopje   -   Copyright  Euronews

Many Macedonians want to call their country Macedonia but neighbouring Greece, whose northern region is also called Macedonia, objects.

Greece has challenged the name since FYROM declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, saying it implies territorial claims to a Greek province of the same name.

It has only agreed that the country be referred to internationally as FYROM until the row is resolved. That is the name under which it was admitted to the United Nations in 1993.

FYROM’s foreign minister says the government is clear in what is wants to achieve. “To make sure that the identity of the Macedonians is not touched, and second, to make sure that there's a dignified distinction between Macedonia the country and Macedonia the Region in Greece,” Nikola Dimitrov told Euronews.

When the right-wing and more nationalistic opposition was in power it pursued an antiquitisation policy that saw big statues of the most famous Macedonian of all, Alexander the Great, erected.

That has muddied the waters as Alexander ruled the ancient northern Greek kingdom over two thousand years ago.

Greeks are highly sensitive about the name issue and rallies are planned in Athens and in northern Greece in the coming weeks against any compromise that might retain the name Macedonia.

"Any solution should not touch the national identity of the Macedonians, the name of the Macedonian language, identity and culture, " the vice president of FYROM's main opposition party IMRO-DPMNU stated.

But for the current government antiquitisation was a backward looking policy that only worsened the name controversy which has rumbled on since indepence from Yugoslavia in 1991.

"I don’t think I can be proud of something that took place perhaps 2000 and more years ago. What we would like to do is to make sure that the future of the country is prosperous,” Dmitrov said.