The leader of the new political party in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) believes she has a way to solve her country’s identiy problem and end a diplomatic dispute with neighboring Greece – which objects to its name, its symbols and its claims to the past.
Gabriela Arsova-Miloshevska, founder and chairwoman of the new Republican Alliance, said in an interview to the Washington post recently that she wants to change the country’s name, flag, seal, national anthem and, she hopes, its….. future. “I believe that people are ready for something different,” she said.
Mrs. Arsova-Miloshevska, a former member of the ruling conservative party’s executive committee, noted that she supports the current government’s quest for membership in the European Union and NATO but underlined that FYROM must first solve domestic disputes and settle its disagreements with Greece.
“To achieve integration in Europe, we must first achieve integration at home,” she said,. FYROM with a ethnically diverse population of 2 million, is one of seven states to emerge from the rubble of Yugoslavia in 1991. However, it ran into an immediate conflict with Greece, which has a northern province also named Macedonia.
Greece objected to Macedonia’s membership in the United Nations until it agreed to enter under the temporary, if cumbersome, name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Greece also demands that we change our name to something acceptable to Athens before admittance to the European Union.
Greece, a NATO member, also has sway over FYROM’s desire to join the Western military alliance. “People want to get into the EU, but they don’t want to resolve the problem of the name,” Ms. Arsova-Miloshevska said. So we have to explain to them why this is important because without resolving this problem, there is not going to be economic growth.”
She also said FYROM needs a new flag. The current one was redesigned in 1995 because of a dispute with Greece about a historical symbol related to Philip and Alexander, but the ethnic Albanian minority, which makes up about a quarter of the population, has largely rejected the new flag. “We would like to ask everybody [for their ideas on a new flag] and see the different options,” she said. The national anthem also needs to go. “The national anthem we have now is from when we were fighting against the Turks,” she said, referring to the conflict with the Ottoman Turkish Empire before World War I. “It’s fixed in one period in time.”
(SMART WOMAN… Greeks might just have a friend in FYROM after all!)