New North Macedonian president reignites tensions with neighboring Greece by calling her own country ‘Macedonia’

New North Macedonian president reignites tensions with neighboring Greece by calling her own country ‘Macedonia’
New North Macedonian president reignites tensions with neighboring Greece by calling her own country ‘Macedonia’
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Why is there debate about the name of the country?

To understand this we must return to the Macedonian kings Philip II and his son Alexander the Great. At the end of the 4th century BC, they united the Greek city-states and expanded the Macedonian Empire into India. During that period, the ancient Greeks distanced themselves from the Macedonians, whom they regarded as barbarians.

After the death of Alexander the Great, the Macedonian Empire fell apart and Macedonia, together with Greece, was incorporated into the Roman and later Byzantine Empires. From the 7th and 8th centuries AD, Slavic peoples settled in parts of ancient Macedonia. In the southern part a kind of Greek remained the main language.

In 1991, when the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia fell apart, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYRM) declared its independence. The international recognition of the new country was immediately complicated by neighboring Greece, whose northeastern province is also called ‘Macedonia’.

The Greeks feared that confusion would arise. Alexander the Great was born in Pella, in the Greek province, and is widely regarded as one of the most important Greeks of antiquity. She also opposed the FYRM’s use of all kinds of symbols that referred to antiquity.

The Greeks feared that the country of Macedonia (FYRM) would eventually claim the northern Greek province of Macedonia, based on historical grounds. According to Greece, that was not possible. They claim that today’s Macedonians are descended from the Slavic peoples and therefore not from the empire of Alexander the Great. On the other hand, they feel their cultural pride is affected because Macedonia indeed refers a lot to the empire of Alexander the Great.

The current border runs straight through the old kingdom of Philippos II. North of there live the current North Macedonians who may not have much to do with those of Alexander. The Macedonian language is Slavic and related to Bulgarian. The country also has a large Albanian minority. Religiously, most Macedonians are members of the autonomous Macedonian Orthodox Church, while Albanians are mostly Muslim.

The article is in Dutch

Tags: North Macedonian president reignites tensions neighboring Greece calling country Macedonia

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