In 1994, Greece imposed an embargo on products from FYROM (except for food, medicine and humanitarian assistance), on claims that the adoption of a Greek name ("Macedonia") for the country, a Greek symbol (the Vergina Sun/Star) for its flag and certain articles in its constitution, hide irredentist designs against Greece. For the embargo to end, the flag, certain articles in its constitution, and the hostile propaganda have to be changed ("small package"), while the name can be decided in later negotiations.
1) Why does Greece dictate to FYROM its name, symbols and constitution?
Greece does not dictate to FYROM what name or flag to adopt, just to choose any of the million possibilities that are not Greek or offensive to Greeks. Countries have to choose their national symbols based on International norms. (i.e. Can Syria employ the Nazi cross as their flag, if they choose so? Can Cuba change its name to Florida, employ the statue of Liberty as its flag and start propaganda that the state of Florida in the USA belongs to Cuba, by virtue of so many Cubans living there?)
Naming a country after a neighboring region is a de facto irredentist strategy aimed at destabilizing the region, and hoping that the country, will absorb the neighboring region.
2) Why does Greece object to the use of the `Vergina Sun' on the FYROM flag?
The Vergina Sun, the emblem of Philip's dynasty, symbolizes the birth of our nation. It was the first time (4th century BC) that the Greek mainland (city-states and kingdoms) with the same language, culture, and religion were united against the enemies of Asia in one league. At the same time the fractured Greek world grew conscious of its unity. And, in this sense, we have never been apart since then. The `Sun' was excavated in Greece in 1978, and it is sacred to us.
3) Why did Greece impose the embargo?
After talking with the FYROMian Government fruitlessly for 2 years and going nowhere, then and only then did the Greek state implement the partial embargo as last resort to advance the issue.
4) Why do you claim exclusive rights to the symbols of the ancient Macedonians?
We have linguistic, cultural, genealogical, and geographic ties to the ancient Greeks and Macedons. They (FYROM) are mostly Slavs who descended after 600 AD in the region, and have no ties whatsoever (ancient Makedonia was within modern Greece since its inception). Even after the great expansion by Philip the II and Alexander the Great in the 4th century BC, perhaps even less than 10% of the FYROMian land was part of the `enlarged kingdom'. The reader should realize that the punitive expeditions of the Macedonians in the north, as well as their imperial acquisitions in the Balkans and Asia did not necessarily produce a `wider concept of Macedonia' - a country with boarders extending to India. That would be most simplistic! Pella, the capital of the ancient Makedones, was well within modern Greek borders.
5) What proof do you have that the ancient Macedonians were Greek?
The vast majority of major historians believe that the ancient Macedonians were Greek. Those who still remain skeptical, say that they need more evidence before proclaiming the ancient Macedonians as Greek. But no one says that ancient Macedonians were not Greek.
Recent excavations close to their ancient capital, Aigai, including the discovery of the `tomb of Philip the II', reinforce the Greek identity of the ancient Macedonians categorically.
In any case, all historians admit that by Roman times the ancient Macedonians were fully homogenized with the rest of Greeks, and that Macedonia stopped existing as a separate socio-cultural entity some 600 years before any contact with the first Slavs in the Balkans.
6) How can appropriating Greece's history, be irredentist?
History is the means for laying claims on foreign lands. The Macedonian argument was promoted by the 3rd Commintern (USSR) and their allies in the region just prior to WWII, to create an independent greater Macedonia for social experimentation. Bulgarians have said that Alexander the Great was a Bulgarian while occupying Macedonia (Greek) on behalf of the Germans in WWII.
Tito sent 5,000 Yugoslavs and "Slav-Macedonians" to Greece after WWII to work with their allies in the region to annex Makedonia (Greek) while we were too busy fighting a civil war. These were the same people that now live in FYROM. 3 times in the recent past the same propaganda has been used as justification by different interests (Commintern, Bulgaria, (S)NOF-Yugoslavia) to invade (or try to) Greece. Even today, just when the name and flag were been adopted in independent FYROM, VMRO and Gligorof were talking about reclaiming "their" lands in Greece and Bulgaria.
7) Who populated the lands of modern FYROM in the past?
The ancient people inhabiting the area around Skopje, at the time of the ancient Macedonians, were the Dardanians, and their land was called Dardania. Throughout their modern history, the region now occupied by FYROM was populated mostly by Bulgarians.
The creation of "Macedonia" (FYROM, SROM) was artificial. Ex-Yugoslavs will attest to that. FYROM is comprised of Albanians, Serbs, and Bulgarians and their language is a Bulgarian dialect with a few Serbo-croatian words. Bulgarians will attest to that and understand/speak "Macedonian".
8) What about their claim of a large minority in Greece?
After usurping the name and the flag, surprise! They start claiming that Greeks in Macedonia (Greek) are a FYROM minority. After all we all identify as Macedonians. Thus, we must be the same...
Some people in the Net claim 1 million minority in Macedonia (Greek). The population of Macedonia (Greek) is 2 million. I am a Macedonian (Greek) same with other Greeks on this group. We don't want anything to have with FYROM. We are Greek. Finally the recent Euro-Elections revealed only 10,000 supporting their cause (therefore probably a FYROM minority). 10,000! Not fantasies of 1 million!
9) Why doesn't the Greek government recognize the "Macedonian" minority?
Greek parents have been sending their children to Macedonian schools for years, expecting them to learn Greek, not Bulgarian. Macedonian people (Greeks) are already a majority in Greece, with Macedonian churches, schools and cultural centers teaching Greek and regional dances and songs.
The Greek government can neither recognize a minority with the same name, as the majority, nor build non-Greek schools and churches with the same name. Greek courts have offered to open cultural centers for their minority, under a different name (than Macedonian). They have refused.
As long as they use the term "Macedonian" to describe their nationality, their minorities in Greece and Bulgaria cannot be recognized.
10) What are Greece's objections with FYROM's constitution?
There are two points of concern:
In their preamble, they define their FYROM state as a departure from the " ...historic decisions of the Anti-Fascist Assembly of the People's Liberation of Macedonia (ASNOM)... ". The problem is that ASNOM had called for the Macedonians in Bulgaria and other countries to unite under Tito's rule.
Their language in article 49 is also problematic (too extensive to go into here).
At Greece's request they have added 2 amendements stating that they have no claims on neighbouring countries. Still, that is in contradiction with their preample, and it is to their benefit to rewrite those articles to avoid contradictions and vagueries in their Constitution.
11) Does Greece have any territorial or other claims on FYROM?
In 1993, Serbia's President Milocevic, invited Greece to invade FYROM. Greece declined it.
FYROM is surrounded by claims of Greater Albania, Greater Bulgaria and Greater Serbia. Greece is the only one not interested in FYROM.
It is a poor, barren place with no Hellenic ties or history. Greece has the beach-front property (Aegean), and the economy differential between the two countries would only create problems for the richer one (Greece).
12) Is Greece really afraid of FYROM?
Presently FYROM is too weak to threaten Greece militarily or otherwise. However, considering that: