Of all the former Yugoslav states, none has a more difficult path to full EU membership than Macedonia — for reasons that have less to do with its economy than with its culture.
In what has to be the most inane conflict in international affairs, Greece has blocked Macedonia’s potential EU (and NATO) accession for years over a dispute involving the naming of the country. The term ‘Macedonia’ covers both the Republic of Macedonia that bears its name and a greater geographic region that encompasses northern Greece as well. Greece worries that Macedonia’s use of the name ‘Macedonia’ violates its own cultural and historical heritage. The reality is complex. What is today’s Republic of Macedonia was ruled by the Ottoman Empire from the first half of the 15th century until the empire’s collapse. Macedonia was annexed by Serbia in 1912, and it was incorporated as a serparate state in the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1944 before it emerged as an independent country with Yugoslavia’s disintegration in the early 1990s.
Even though Greek politicians have had much more to worry about in recent years than a naming contest with a small, neighboring country of just 2.06 million people, the battle lines between Macedonia and Greece have become tighter as ever following the election of Nikola Gruevski (pictured above) in 2006 on a center-right, nationalist platform that’s exacerbated the world’s silliest international dispute after Greece actively vetoed Macedonian accession to NATO in 2008. Continue reading Macedonian right seems headed for fourth consecutive win