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The Problem With “North Macedonia”

New Name, Same Old Delusions

A boy in front of a map showing parts of southeastern Europe in Idomeni, Greece, May 2016. Kostas Tsironis/REUTERS

This summer, Greece and Macedonia—known internationally by its UN designation, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or FYROM—made headlines with an unusual announcement: under a provisional deal known as the Prespa Agreement, FYROM would change its name to “the Republic of North Macedonia.” Proponents of the deal argued that adding the qualifier “North” would dispel Greek fears that the word “Macedonia” implied a territorial claim on Greece’s own homonymous region, thus settling a long-standing dispute. But the identity dispute between the two countries is far from over: after a recent referendum on the matter in FYROM failed owing to low voter turnout, the country’s leaders are struggling to scrape together enough votes to push the name change through parliament. Things do not look brighter in Greece, where parliament has yet to ratify the deal and 72 percent of the public disapproves of the agreement. It is unlikely

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