Македонски центар за меѓународна соработка - МЦМС

Macedonia name dispute - Public Views in Macedonia PDF Print E-mail

Author: Sašo Klekovski
Date: October 2011
ISBN: 978-608-4617-47-1
PDF: macedonia-name-dispute-2011.pdf

macedonia-name-dispute-enThe Macedonia name dispute has become the main obstacle in the Euro-Atlantic integrations of Macedonia. In 2011, MCIC and IDSCS, led by the stand-still of the Euro-Atlantic integrations of Macedonia and the need for policies based on facts, conducted a new public opinion research on the Macedonia name dispute.

The citizens remain against any change of the name, i.e. almost half of the citizens are firmly against any change of the name, they opted for no change on the question on possible solution (45.3%), that they accept no geographic determinant (44.6%), they opt for keeping the name despite any stand-stills (39.6%), and they would vote "no" at a possible referendum for a name for overall international usage (58.4%). The majority who are for no changes is bigger among the ethnic Macedonians (57% are for no change). The views are changed very little since December 2010.

There is an on-going national uniting around the name dispute and in 2011, the ethnic differences have decreased, i.e. the views are approximated in line that the solution is between no change at all and an agreed name for the international organizations. The citizens of all ethnic and party affiliations defend the red line on identity (against completing the definition on the language) and they ask for a decision on the name at a referendum.

There is a small window of compromise, possibly after the decision of the International Court of Justice (36.9% of the citizens expect a favourable decision for Macedonia). The Euro-Atlantic integrations are important to 40.5% of the citizens and they think that a compromise should be accepted with Greece, one that would not endanger the Macedonian identity, culture and language. Possible compromises are the "double formula" (20.8%) and an agreed name for the international organizations (19.2%). The majority of citizens want a solution in a year, and most of them expect it in a medium, long term or never. The possible model for an acceptable compromise for the citizens, although with a minority support in the research is "Northern Republic of Macedonia" or "Republic of Macedonia (Skopje)", as an agreed name for usage in the international organizations (UN, EU and NATO).

The identity is the granite red line – the majority of the citizens (69.4%) and the big majority of the ethnic Macedonians are against UN defining the nationality/citizenship as "citizens of the Republic of Northern Macedonia". The big majority of citizens (74%) and ethnic Macedonians (87%) and most of the citizens of all ethnic groups are against completing the definition of the language in UN, for example as Macedonian language (official language of the Republic of Northern Macedonia).

There is a consensus that the name will be decided at a referendum. The majority of the citizens (64%) of all ethnic and party affiliation ask for a decision on the name at a referendum. The support of the referendum has increased since December 2010, including the ethnic Albanians.

58.4% at the referendum would vote against the agreed name for overall international use, every fourth citizen would join self-organised protests against the change of the name.

The fear of stand-still, the risk of new concessions and division, motives for and against the solution. The citizens fear that Greece would ask for new concessions on identity and language until it destroys the Macedonian identity (40.4%) and that there would be a division to traitors and patriots (21.7%). These two threats are threats for the survival of the nation and they are probably the main motive for refusing the compromise. Both fears of new concessions and a division could be resolved with certain solutions. The fear of new demands on the Greek side can be mitigated with the proposal of Gerald Knaus from the European Stability Initiative (ESI), that the possible agreement between Greece and Macedonia takes effect on the day Macedonia joins the EU (it would join NATO under the interim reference). In this way, Greece would transform from an obstacle to a promoter of the Macedonian membership in EU, and Macedonia would know that there are no new obstacles on the way to EU, regardless whether they are put by Greece or countries that are against new members (possible referendum in France of vetoes by EU members with extreme right wing parties influence). The latter fear of division could be overcome by a "Framework Agreement", i.e. the possible agreement with Greece should be approved in writing by all main political parties.

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