25 Jahre Theater: Making history? Macedonia and Elysium

Im Steinmeier – Destani Verbrecher Imperium von Tetova, gab es natuerlich auch heute wieder Schiessreien von Verbrecher Clans, was ein NATO Modell ist

Making history? Macedonia and Elysium

und noch eine Schiesserei in Tetova: 1 Toter, 2 Verletzte

Alexis Tsipras, Nikos Kotzias, Zoran Zaev, Nikola Dimitrov

„To the Elysian plain…where life is easiest for men. No snow is there, nor heavy storm, nor ever rain, but Oceanos sends up blasts of the West Wind that may give cooling to men.“

Homer, Odyssey

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Dear friends,

Will they make history this month? Will Alexis Tsipras and Nikos Kotzias, Zoran Zaev and Nikola Dimitrov succeed where a whole generation of their predecessors have failed?

At a time of grim political news from around the globe it would be remarkable to have an inspiring message from South East Europe; to be reminded that diplomacy can overcome distrust and that effort and enlightened leadership can set aside grievances of the past. Today Athens and Skopje are close to a breakthrough on a dispute that is a quarter-century old, with roots of tensions that go even further back.

Things can still go wrong. Here are three suggestions how to make success more likely.


1. Beware of over-reach

The list of leaders who tried to resolve deep conflicts and fell dramatically short in the end is long. Recent additions to the gallery of diplomatic failure include Ehud Barak and Yasser Arafat (2000); governments in Yerevan and Ankara (2009); successions of leaders in Athens, Ankara, and Nicosia (2004, 2017).

Camp David Ankara and Yerevan
Athens Ankara Nicosia
Gallery of failure

For Athens and Skopje to succeed in 2018 where their predecessors failed both governments need a mutually beneficial breakthrough they can defend in front of their domestic audiences. They need to help each other to deliver.

A breakthrough should focus on three things: on a new name of the country and its use; accession to the EU and NATO; and confidence building measures to bridge a gap of mutual mistrust between two societies over time. Focus is an essential prerequisite for success. Other, less urgent, issues can be addressed once there is trust; some will go away as relations improve.


2. A roadmap and a virtuous circle

The key is to agree on a roadmap for the use of a new name of the country. In recent months ESI presented a concrete proposal in Athens, Skopje, Paris and Brussels, building on a proposal first developed in 2010:

The two governments agree, as soon as possible, on a mutually acceptable name for the Republic of Macedonia. This will include a qualifier, most likely geographic („Northern“; „Upper“; alternatively: „New“). There are international precedents for each: Northern Ireland, Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), New Zealand.

Both governments agree that this name immediately replaces „Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia“ in all international organisations.

At the same time the government in Skopje commits to change its constitution, as follows:

„On the day the Republic of Macedonia joins the European Union the name of the country will be X [Republic of North/Upper/New Macedonia], to be used erga omnes in all languages other than the official language of the country for internal use.“

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