Greece and North Macedonia: Breakthrough in Bilateral Relations

145
DOI: 10.20542/0131-2227-2020-64-8-91-100
K. Vlasova (vlasovaksen@gmail.com),
Institute of Europe, Russian Academy of Sciences (IE RAS), 11–3B, Mokhovaya Str., Moscow, 125009, Russian Federation;
Vyatka State University, 36, Moskovskaya Str., Kirov, 610000, Russian Federation

Abstract. After the collapse of the united Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, the so-called “Macedonian question” was considered the strongest constraining and destabilizing factor to integration processes in the Balkans in general and the post-Yugoslav space in particular. It was an unsolvable problem in the bilateral relations between Greece and the neighboring Macedonia (recently known as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, FYROM). The main value of the problem is that the Greek side considered it unlawful and immoral to use its historical, cultural and linguistic features by the current Slavic state for its own purposes, which could create sufficient preconditions for separatist manifestations not only in Greece but also in Bulgaria. Furthermore, the use of ancient symbols by the Macedonian side as its state insignia (for example, the Vergina Sun, official language or citizenship) provoked resistance from the Greeks. In addition, the unresolved Macedonian question blocked Skopje’s entry into the North-Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union structures. The Greek government was able to enlist the support of not only the local population, but also its main partners among the EU and NATO member states. A long-awaited Greek-Macedonian agreement was signed near the Prespa border lake after lengthy and thorough negotiations in the summer of 2018. Undoubtedly, it was the result of a compromise solution on the main issues causing mutual discontent. As the Prespa Agreement outcome, the Republic of North Macedonia appeared on the political map of Europe in February 2019. In fact, immediately after the Prespa Agreement conclusion, a serious impetus and breakthrough were given not only to continue mutually beneficial cooperation between the Hellenic Republic and the North Macedonia, but also to intensify the negotiation process for Skopje’s accession to the NATO already in March 2020 and the European Union on an earlier date.

Keywords: Greece, North Macedonia, Prespa Agreement, Macedonian question, European Union, NATO, bilateral cooperation


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For citation:
Vlasova K. Greece and North Macedonia: Breakthrough in Bilateral Relations . World Eonomy and International Relations, 2020, vol. 64, no. 8, pp. 91-100. https://doi.org/10.20542/0131-2227-2020-64-8-91-100



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