08 Aug 2018

Names can change. But what about hearts and minds?

Macedonia will hold a referendum on its proposed name change on September 30, 2018. If the "yes" votes prevail, the country could be one step closer to joining NATO and the EU.  

Lidija Pisker
Lidija Pisker NewsMavens, Balkans
Names can change. But what about hearts and minds? - NewsMavens
Macdedonian flag, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

There's still a long way before Macedonia's new name is used -- that is, if Macedonians decide to support the name change. Constitutional changes, revisions of formal documentation and clearing the air with opposition forces are only a few of the steps the country will need to take. 

But what will take even more time than the formal name change is changing the hearts and minds of citizens of potential North Macedonia about a matter that involves a strong sense of identity and pride.

In an interview for Al Jazeera Balkans, Macedonian correspondent in Athens Sanja Ristevska said that her Greek colleagues don't think new political deals will influence old habits. "We will call you Skopje (which is how Greeks informally refer to Macedonia) and you will continue to call yourself Macedonians." 

And that might be the preferred solution on how to resolve the dispute between Greece and Macedonia for citizens of both countries. 

Details from the story:

  • "Do you support EU and NATO membership by accepting the agreement between the Republic of Macedonia and the Republic of Greece?" will be the referendum question. 68 out of 120 parliament members voted in favor of the referendum. 
  • Macedonian and Greek governments have settled on the new name "Republic of Northern Macedonia" in June this year.
  • The change of the name could unblock Macedonia's chances to join NATO and the EU.
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