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Macedonia's Biggest Problem: It's Called Macedonia -by Edward P. Joseph

The “Interim Accord” was supposed to function as a stop-gap solution, halting the Greek blockade on its neighbor and opening diplomatic relations between the two countries, pending a permanent solution. Twenty-two years later and there is still no final agreement on the name—and the failure to close this chapter weighs heavily on the increasingly unstable Balkans. Thanks to rare political dynamics in both Athens and Skopje, there is a fleeting opportunity to resolve the name dispute. But doing so will once again take bold U.S. leadership.

Policymakers routinely scoff at the name dispute as a “ridiculous” Balkan squabble. In fact, it’s quite serious. Solely because of its complaint that Macedonia has stolen Greek heritage—the legacy of Alexander the Great—Athens continues to block Macedonia’s membership in NATO and its advancement towards the EU. The vacuum leaves the country—and the region—in limbo. Without a clear pathway to Brussels, Macedonia’s democratic development has stalled, perpetuating anxieties that the country could be divided.

The same syndrome exists in divided Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, each of which faces structural hurdles to joining NATO or the EU. Irresponsible nationalists in those countries have made strident calls for territorial division, a step that would reopen the conflicts of the 1990s. Exacerbating these trends, Russia and Turkey have begun to actively undermine Western strategy in the region. Once thought to be an inexorable process, the incorporation of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, Serbia and Macedonia into Euro-Atlantic institutions is now open to question

In other words, “plenty” is the answer to Shakespeare’s eternal question of “what’s in a name?” .

Read more: Macedonia's Biggest Problem: It's Called Macedonia | The National Interest

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