Name Dispute between Macedonia and Greece

name dispute greece macedonia

After The Cold War finished in 1990, the disengagement period started in the Eastern Bloc and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. The Socialist Republic of Macedonia, the autonomous region of Yugoslavia, held a Referendum on September 8th, 1991 for independence, and the Republic of Macedonia was founded by the result of the referendum.1 Greece didn’t recognize the Republic of Macedonia because Greece claims the name of Macedonia belongs to Greek history.2

Greece asserts that the name of Macedonia refers to the Macedonia Empire in the Hellenistic period of the Greek. Therefore, Greece rejected that is used the name of Macedonia as the name of the state. Greece puts forward that there is no relation between the Macedonians and Macedonia (Ancient Kingdom) as well they indicate that the Macedonians’ ancestor is the Slavs. Because there is a region in Greece called Macedonia, Greece worried about the possibility of a land demand from Macedonia’s Government if they accept the name of the Republic of Macedonia.3

The dispute of Macedonia’s flag and Constitution was solved as a result of a temporary agreement which was signed in 1995. Macedonia removed some matters in the constitution and the symbol on their flag. However, the name dispute has still continued until today.

Greece has kept up its attitude about the name dispute and blocked the EU and NATO membership of Macedonia using their veto authority.

Until today, about 140 countries including Turkey have recognized Macedonia as the Republic of Macedonia. Newly, EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy High Commissioner Johannes Hahn who is responsible for the expansion of the EU commission explained the expansion policy of the EU Commission about Eastern Balkans. Magherini talked in a meeting and said that “Eastern Balkans are a part of Europe and have the same cultural history as EU members, and he said that 2025 is not a clear date for the EU membership but they want to include Eastern Balkan Countries in the EU.”

Macedonia and Greece’s Governments agreed about changing Macedonia’s name in June in order to solve the name dispute.4

Macedonia held the referendum to change the name of the Republic of Macedonia as the Republic of Northern Macedonia. They asked voters that ”Do you support NATO and EU membership of Macedonia and do you accept the agreement of changing the name?”

Although %90 of the voters who voted the referendum elected “Yes”, the referendum didn’t validity because it couldn’t reach to the participation level of the %50 of voters. Hundreds of people gathered in front of the parliament building in the Capital Skopje celebrated the failure of the referendum.

The Prime Minister of Macedonia Zoran Zaev said that he will make pressure to be voted constitutional amendment in the parliament despite the failure of the referendum.5  The Foreign Affairs of Greece explained they have been maintaining their loyalty to the agreement.6

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said that they are determined to insert Macedonia in the EU and NATO. The Prime Ministers of Greece and Macedonia agree that the name dispute was solved between Greece and Macedonia.7

As a result, the EU and NATO have increased pressure on two countries to keep security in the area. There is a short time to solve the name dispute.

The paper was written by Ceyda KURT


[1]Online Link:, Accessed Date: 10.01.2018
[2]Online Link: Accessed Date: 02.05.2013
[3]Emin, Nedim (2014), “Makedonya Siyasetini Anlama Kilavuzu” SETA Siyaset, Ekonomi ve Toplum Arastirmalari Vakfi, Istanbul.
[4]Online Link: Accessed Date: 06.02.2018
[5]Online Link:, Accessed Date: 10.01.2018
[6]Online Link:, Accessed Date: 10.01.2018
[7]Online Link:, Accessed Date: 10.01.2018