Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia said he was open to changing the name of his country in order to end a near-quarter century dispute with Greece.
In multiple interviews ahead of his visit to Greece by FYROM’s foreign minister Nikola Poposki— the first of a FYROM foreign minister in 15 years— Gruevski said “We would like as soon as possible to go to dialogue with Greece to find a solution,” telling The Guardian that dialogue and a possible referendum on the issue could follow.
The name dispute stems from 1991 when the tiny land-locked nation declared independence from Yugoslavia. The country formally named itself the Republic of Macedonia, enraging Greeks who warned of potential territorial aggression on Greece’s northern border (Greece’s northern province is called Macedonia) and starting what would be a quarter-century long dispute.
After years of stalemate and FYROM’s insistence of using the name “Macedonia” Greece lifted its opposition to the name’s use and said it would consent to a composite name that incorporated Macedonia.
But FYROM ignored the overture and kept calling itself “Macedonia” and went on a massive building and infrastructure spree. The Slavic nation spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build statues and monuments surrounding the identity of Ancient Greece’s Macedonian kingdom and historic figures like Alexander the Great and King Philip.
FYROM’s foreign minister told Kathimerini that conditions were “more than ripe.”
Thursday’s talks between Greece and FYROM will focus on the name compromise, according to The Guardian.