Friday, November 05, 2004

THE FORMER YUGOSLAV REP . . . AW, JUST SAY MACEDONIA

The International Herald Tribune reports that the first foreign policy move that GW has made with his new "mandate" in hand is to piss Greece off. Not a bad first move, I guess.

Anyway, when Yugoslavia split into its constituent countries, one of the new countries was Macedonia. However, the Greeks went nuts about this because they have part of historic Macedonia (i.e. Phillip of Macedon Macedonia) and didn't want the Macedonians claiming the entire historic Macedonia. Therefore, the Greeks bullied the Macedonians into calling their country The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. The international community went along with it. Until now.

It appears that the United States believes that it will help lessen ethnic tensions by calling the country Macedonia. In addition, it should be noted that Macedonia has 70 troops is Iraq, and Greece has not been supportive of the war in Iraq. I think the main motivator was pure laziness. The old name was just too damn long.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, this is F in ED. In the interest of accuracy, this is not Bush's first foreign policy decision in second term, that would come on January 21. Second, this is pretty much a SecState decision. Third, the decision didn't just materialize overnight. And fourth, can you believe how much time was devoted to it at ysterday's State Dept noon briefing? see below

MR. BOUCHER: Now, what was the question? Macedonia.

QUESTION: After you read the guidance, could you tell us why you've decided to
do it?

MR. BOUCHER: I'll explain why we've decided to do it and tell you what we
decided to do and why we decided to do it.
First, what we decided to do. We have now decided to refer to Macedonia
officially as the Republic of Macedonia. By recognizing Macedonia's chosen
constitutional name, we wish to underscore the U.S. commitment to a permanent,
multiethnic, democratic Macedonian state within its existing borders.

The United States, the European Union and NATO have been working for years to
bring lasting stability to the Balkans. The key to Macedonia's future remains
the Ohrid Framework Agreement signed by Macedonia's major political party
leaders in 2001. Macedonia's multiethnic government coalition has worked to
finish implementing this agreement and the final pieces are now being put into
place.

Macedonia's leadership has made a courageous decision to carry through with
decentralization, as mandated by the Framework Agreement. We want to support
its efforts to that end as part of our support for Macedonia moving closer to
Europe and to NATO and EU membership.

Macedonia's success is in our interest and in the interest of all its
neighbors. Macedonia is an important and steadfast partner of the United States
in the global war on terrorism, contributing troops to coalition efforts in
Iraq and Afghanistan.

We have taken our decision on Macedonia's name without prejudice to the
negotiations under UN auspices that have been ongoing since 1993 on differences
between Macedonia and Greece over the name. We hope those talks will reach a
speedy and mutually agreeable conclusion.

QUESTION: Okay. I thought you said you wanted to. No, no, no, it's okay. Go
ahead.

QUESTION: I'll catch him later.

QUESTION: I guess I'm just not sure. Why did you decide to take this decision
or to make this? I understand it was made by the Secretary yesterday.

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.

QUESTION: Why now? Does it have anything to do with the referendum on Sunday?

MR. BOUCHER: It was day before yesterday.

QUESTION: Does it have anything to do with -- does it have anything to do with
--

QUESTION: It was made on Election Day?

MR. BOUCHER: No, it wasn't, sorry, yesterday.

QUESTION: Yesterday?

MR. BOUCHER: Yes.

QUESTION: Does it have anything to do with the election there, the referendum
on Sunday? Are you trying to --

MR. BOUCHER: We think that this is the appropriate time to make this step. It's
something that we have obviously kept under advisement for a long time,
something that, as you know, has been in the air, under discussion, people
encouraged us to do or not to do. The fact that the referendum is coming up is
part of the equation. We are certainly looking for ways to support the full
implementation of the Ohrid Agreements, including the decentralization that's
so important to that, and we felt therefore this was the appropriate time to
take the step.

QUESTION: And was it worth the wrath of Greece to do this right now? I mean,
the timing of this is the first foreign policy decision since the reelection of
the President would seem to indicate that you really have no qualms at all
about antagonizing a NATO ally that-- in a situation which had been stable with
the status quo, and, you know, this decision-- it's really a symbolic decision,
it doesn't really affect your relations with Macedonia except that they're
happy, but it does affect your relations with Greece. And given the fact that
the Secretary has canceled now three times trips to Greece, I'm just wondering
if -- was the equation made that it was worth it, it was worth -- it was in the
interests of the United States to really infuriate Greece over this at the
current time?

MR. BOUCHER: First of all, the United States understands Greek feelings about
the matter. We have pointed out, as the Secretary pointed out in his
conversation this morning with the Greek Foreign Minister, that the decision is
not a turn against Greece, it's not linked to the U.S. election in any way,
it's not the first -- it's not designed to be the first decision after the U.S.
election or anything like that.

It's a moment where we thought it was important to find ways to express our
support for the full implementation of the Ohrid Agreements, for the
continuation of the process that has brought stability to Macedonia and to its
neighbors and that this was one way of doing that at this juncture. And that's
what we decided to do. It's not directed against any other country. It's not
timed in any fashion to relate to the U.S. election or anything that some other
third party is doing. It's just we felt what an appropriate and correct step at
this juncture to express our support for the implementation of the agreements
that Macedonia has reached.

Okay. We'll work from the back.

QUESTION: Before we do that, can we do one other substitute one?

MR. BOUCHER: Let's slow down. We'll do here and then we'll go to the two
gentlemen in the back.

QUESTION: Can you go back to your statement that the upcoming referendum in
Macedonia was indeed part of your calculus? Can you just make clear what
exactly you are trying to do with that? Are you essentially trying to
strengthen the government's argument that the projections for minorities within
Macedonia should be maintained and extended? Is that what you're trying to do
simply put?

MR. BOUCHER: We're trying to demonstrate, we're trying to express our support
for the full implementation of these agreements including the decentralization
that's an important part of it, and that is one of the subjects covered in the
referendum. We're trying to show that the path that the government has followed
brings stability, brings acceptance and brings recognition in the world for
Macedonia and support for the path that it's been following in terms of
implementation of the Ohrid Agreements, and so this is one, the step that we
thought was appropriate to demonstrate that.

QUESTION: There is no way you can say that without reference to the sort of
jargon of the Ohrid Agreement, I mean, so that the average person understands
what you're talking about?

MR. BOUCHER: I think, first of all, the average person in Macedonia probably,
and in the region, probably does understand these agreements a lot better than
I do. But the point is to show support for a multiethnic society in Macedonia
as they proceed in a direction that we feel contribute to their own stability
and the stability of the region, and by taking this step in terms of
recognizing Macedonia under its chosen name we feel that we bolster that
progress.

Barry.

QUESTION: I was going to ask you how this supports multiethnic understanding by
choosing a name that the populace and a next door neighbor thinks is the wrong
thing to do?

MR. BOUCHER: This is the name that Macedonia, the government and the people of
Macedonia have chosen for their country and that's the name that we will
recognize them under.

QUESTION: Did the Foreign Minister call the Secretary, or is it reversed?

QUESTION: Do you know if there have been calls related to this?

MR. BOUCHER: The--our ambassador in Greece has talked to the Foreign Minister
and then this morning the Secretary talked to the -- called the Foreign
Minister as well to talk to him. We've been in touch with the Greek Government
at other levels, people with their counterparts, principally through the
embassy.
We've also obviously been discussing the matter with the Government of
Macedonia, our Ambassador of Macedonia in Skopje met with the Macedonian
President this morning and just told him of the decision and then we've been in
touch with other people who are interested on the Hill. I think we've been in
touch with Javier Solana in the European Union, people like that, NATO
Secretary General and others who might be interested in our decision.

QUESTION: Richard --

MR. BOUCHER: Can I get a gentleman in the back who have been anxious --

QUESTION: Any representation prior to this decision with the European Union?

MR. BOUCHER: We've certainly -- this is a topic that we've handled over a long
period of time in conjunction with the European Union and we've had a lot of
discussions with the European Union about the Macedonia name, the Greek
question of Macedonia and Greece, so it is certainly a subject that both they
and we are familiar with. In terms of the actual decision to do this, we had
been in touch-- we were in touch with the European Union to tell them of the
decision.

QUESTION: Otherwise, the European Union is agreeing with your policy? Excuse
me?

MR. BOUCHER: You'll have to ask the European Union what their position is on
this issue.

QUESTION: You made the statement. You said you have discussed this matter a
long time and you give account of detail, so I would like to know what is what
is the European Union statement about this.

MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry. If you want to ask what the opinion of the European
Union is, you'll have to ask a spokesman for the European Union.

QUESTION: No, I'm saying is your presentation on your part --

MR. BOUCHER: You can ask 20 times. If you want the European position, you have
to ask a spokesman for the Europeans.

QUESTION: Why did you totally --

QUESTION: Did you ask the European Union whether they agree about it, with it,
or did you just notify them what you're doing?

QUESTION: Exactly.

MR. BOUCHER: As I said, we told the European -- we were in contact with
European Union to tell them of our decision.

QUESTION: In advance?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah, I'm pretty sure it was in advance.

QUESTION: What did you totally agree on the UN talks and proceeded unilaterally
yesterday (inaudible), any communication, consultation with the UN negotiator
Matthew Nimetz prior to that?

MR. BOUCHER: I know we were in touch with him. I don't know the exact timing on
it, but the point I think we make, this is a decision the United States made
because we believe it's the appropriate decision at this time for a policy that
we want to pursue, that we want to show support for the path that is being
followed by the government in Macedonia towards more stability and a
multiethnic society.

The uh--at the same time, we would certainly welcome any progress that can be
made in the UN discussions and would accept the outcome of those discussions if
Macedonia agrees and the UN work out -- you know, can work things out, and we
certainly would hope those talks would reach a speedy and a mutually agreeable
conclusion.

QUESTION: Do you recognize the so-called "Macedonian ethnicity nationality
language?"

MR. BOUCHER: Those issues are, I think, dealt with in the agreements. I don't
have anything different to say here.

QUESTION: Did you have consultation prior with -- besides with Greece --
Bulgaria, Albania, Serbia and Montenegro?

MR. BOUCHER: Not that I'm aware of, no.

Sir.

QUESTION: According to the Greeks, you didn't tell them that you are ready to
recognize FYROM, that you didn't have any consultation with them. It seems to
me that you consulted with everybody except the Greeks.

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think I've described any particular -- I mean, it depends
on how you -- what you describe as consultations. I think I've tried to be
frank with you and say that this is certainly a subject where we've talked many
times with many people, and people know our views, we've all discussed the pros
and cons of this kind of step, and certainly the Secretary is personally very
familiar with the issues, has been dealing with it for many, many years.
And so I think we all sort of know the pros and cons. We balance the views. But
this was a decision that the United States took because we felt it was the
appropriate decision to us. And for those who we've been in touch with in the
last 24 hours or so, we've really been telling them about our decision, not
engaging in some further consultation.

QUESTION: Not before the 24 hours. For example, did Secretary discuss it with
the Foreign Minister of Greece in New York in September?

MR. BOUCHER: No, I don't think it came up there.

QUESTION: There is a feeling in Greece that you want to punish them.

MR. BOUCHER: I think I've said, and I'll make absolutely clear once again, as
the Secretary did in his phone call with the Greek Foreign Minister this
morning, that this step is being done because we think it's the right thing to
support a path of stability and openness and democracy in Macedonia. It's not a
decision that's made in any way with reference to neighbors or other countries,
but we do think it's a decision that can help support a path that has brought
more stability to Macedonia and to the region.

QUESTION: How long has it been being batted around? I notice that as recently
as October 14th you were up here on the podium saying that the name is the
Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and that any references to it in official
-- U.S. official documents or otherwise to it as simply Macedonia or the
Republic of Macedonia were mistakes or errors. In fact --

MR. BOUCHER: No, I didn't say they were errors. I said they were --

QUESTION: Well, you said it was shorthand. You had --

MR. BOUCHER: It was shorthand, yeah.

QUESTION: You -- in response to the question, you said that the Department had
gone back and corrected the transcript of the briefing --

MR. BOUCHER: That was a transcript that said "formerly known as" instead of
"formally known as," an index. So that was a mistake. It was not consistent
with the policy at the time.

QUESTION: Okay. Well, so, as a -- on October 14th, when you said that the
official name was the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, was the review
underway?

MR. BOUCHER: This is not the product of some formal committee review process.
This was a policy recommendation that was arrived at by consultations with
different people in the Department. In-- I don't know exactly when they started
discussing it, but the decision was just made in the last few days --
yesterday.

QUESTION: Was it a wise decision to make?

MR. BOUCHER: It was, as any decision, it has a lot of factors that have to be
weighed.

QUESTION: So I assume there were people who thought maybe you shouldn't do
this, is that fair? You've been very candid, but can you go that one step
further and say there were people who thought --

MR. BOUCHER: No, I can't because I'm not aware of anybody who said don't. They
just looked at it and said, is it -- should we do this now, and they discussed
the pros and cons and reached agreement on doing it and made a recommendation
to the Secretary.

QUESTION: When was the first time Greece was told of the decision, and at what
level?

MR. BOUCHER: Our Ambassador told the Greek, I think, Foreign Minister, if not
his office, if not him then his office, yesterday afternoon, our time.

QUESTION: Well, is this -- were these discussions that you did a preemptive
notification of them: this is what we're planning to do? Or did they hear that
you had done this and then they called you, and you gave them an explanation? I
mean --

MR. BOUCHER: We called people up and said we've made a decision, here's what
we're going to do.

QUESTION: The Greeks?

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.

QUESTION: Richard, your reference to your weighing different factors in
response to Barry's question, can we not necess-- assume from that that you
decided that the anger and the hostility that you're facing right now from the
Greeks was more than overcome by whatever benefit you think this is going to
give to the Macedonians?

MR. BOUCHER: It's not just a two-part equation so I can't really phrase it the
way you did. I tried to phrase it earlier in my own way by saying we were
certainly aware of the likely reaction in Greece.

QUESTION: And --

MR. BOUCHER: And we have, I think, tried to go out of our way to make clear to
the Greek Government and the Greek people that this is not a decision that's
any way directed at them or intended to offend them; it's what we thought was
the right thing to continue a progress of stability in the region.

QUESTION: Okay. And as you have said, this is a U.S. decision. It's a
unilateral decision, which, of course, is completely contradictory with all of
your multilateral efforts in every other area of diplomacy for the past four
years. And I'm wondering what does this mean, if anything, for how the country
is referred to, not at the UN where the negotiations are underway, but at NATO,
for example, where everything has to be footnoted or asterisked to refer to
Macedonia as FYROM.

Do you envision trying to bring NATO around to -- or do you just think that
that's hopeless because the Greeks, who have been in NATO for a long time and
were supposedly your good friends, would object?

MR. BOUCHER: This is not a decision intended to disrupt our very positive work
with Greece in -- bilaterally as well as multilaterally. It's not a decision
intended to in any way disrupt the smooth workings of NATO. And I expect that
we'll continue cooperation there, as appropriate, with the Government of
Greece, which remains one of our best allies.

QUESTION: And --

MR. BOUCHER: Exactly how we will handle questions of language and footnoting in
other documents, I don't have an answer for you at this point. But the United
States, when we refer to this country, will refer to it as the Republic of
Macedonia.

QUESTION: But you do acknowledge that while it's not intended to disrupt the
relationship that it has. Don't you?

MR. BOUCHER: I would say what I've said before. We understand there are some
strong feelings about this and that's why we have tried to make very, very
clear it's not directed against any other nation.

QUESTION: Well, you may have tried to make that clear, Richard, but there are a
lot of angry people in Greece.

MR. BOUCHER: Well, Matt, I'm trying to make it clear right now, and I'll do it
again through you, the able representatives of the press, who I'm sure will
report to the people in Greece, that this is not directed in any way against
them.

QUESTION: Yeah, but that's all well and good for you to say that, but I just
want to make sure that you understand, you've taken into account, the Greek
reaction to this, what you knew would be the Greek reaction to this --

MR. BOUCHER: We understand the feelings in Greece, yes.

QUESTION: -- and decided that it was still the right thing to do so --

MR. BOUCHER: We understand the feelings in Greece, and for a variety of reasons
we decided this was the right thing to do.

Sir.

QUESTION: According to a map in my possession, appearing in the U.S. Marine
Corps Country Handbook November 2003, under the title "Macedonian Occupation,"
includes unfortunately the entire Greek Macedonia with a very, very provocative
and undiplomatic front-page text against the territorial integrity of Greece. I
was told yesterday by a DOD source that this map was drafted during the era of
Richard Holbrook when he was Under Secretary for European Affairs in 1999 and
it's still valid even today. And it was also verified by Ambassador Nicholas
Burns to a group of Greek Americans who (inaudible) to the departure from
Athens to Brussels and it was also confirmed to the same group by DOS official
-- I have his name -- saying to them specifically, "Nothing has been changed."
Any explanation since the text of this language is a diplomatic one and you
told us the other day that you, as the Department of State, has had the last
word in many diplomatic exchanges?

MR. BOUCHER: I think you just had the last word. This is a Marine handbook?

QUESTION: Yes, it's --

MR. BOUCHER: With a map --

QUESTION: That's correct.

MR. BOUCHER: -- that you think was drafted by Mr. Holbrook?

QUESTION: It's Country Handbook Macedonia United States --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm sorry. I can't account for something in a Marine handbook. I
assume almost every map I've seen that the U.S. Government produces has a
footnote on it saying this is not the definitive statement of borders or
recognition issues. I don't know if there was such a footnote on it or not, but
I'm not going to be able to account for every map in a Marine handbook.

QUESTION: Well, I'm saying when the Department of Defense is drafting a
document, something like that, I know it's coming from --

MR. BOUCHER: I, frankly, don't know --

QUESTION: Who is in charge?

MR. BOUCHER: I don't know who the author of the map is.

QUESTION: Who did the diplomatic language, you or the DOD?

MR. BOUCHER: It could be from the Defense Mapping Agency. I don't, frankly,
know where they get their maps.

QUESTION: And why they are saying, "Macedonia Occupation" --

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not going to tell you about the Marine Corps Handbook. You're
going to have to ask the Marine Corps about that one.

QUESTION: One more, Mr. Boucher. How do you explain the fact that the U.S.
Government totally ignored the policy expressed by the former Secretary of
State once upon the time, Stettinius, December 26, 1944, who first opened our
eyes, saying inter alia, "The Department of State has noted (inaudible)
apprehension that (inaudible) Macedonia with the (inaudible) intention and
Greek territory would be included in the Baltic state. The U.S. Government
considers talks part of Macedonian nation," "Macedonian motherland,"
"Macedonian nation (inaudible)," to the unjustified demagogues representing
(inaudible) insists that is a possible cloak for aggressive intention against
the territorial integrity of Greece."

Any comment, since you are making this decision today?

MR. BOUCHER: First, what date was it in 1944?

QUESTION: It was December 26, 1944.

MR. BOUCHER: Okay. Almost six years -- 60 years, right?

QUESTION: So what?

MR. BOUCHER: Well -- (laughter). First of all, I would note there have been
some changes in Europe --

QUESTION: World War II, you mean?

MR. BOUCHER: There have been some changes in Europe in the last 60 years. There
is a nation known as Macedonia which we have decided to call by the name that
they have chosen for themselves, as the Republic of Macedonia. And you are as
familiar as I am of the fact that this nation, these leaders, this government,
have expressed many, many times that they have no territorial aspirations,
their use of the name Macedonia for themselves does not have any implications
for any neighbors or neighboring territories or peoples. That is certainly a
policy the United States has maintained, that they have maintained, and we
don't see that those factors that were discussed 60 years ago come into play in
any way with our decision today.

QUESTION: Was there any reference to the Greek territory in the Ambassador's
discussions and the Secretary's discussions? You obviously don't think there's
any need to --

MR. BOUCHER: I don't think the issue -- the issue does not arise. This is
merely a question of how we will call a country, whether we call this country
by the name they have chosen for themselves in their constitution.

QUESTION: So the Greeks have no basis for any anxiety about the Greek
Macedonia?

MR. BOUCHER: As we have said, we think that the process underway in Macedonia
has been a very positive one, not only for that nation, but for the region, and
that, in fact, it has brought stability to the region.

We have more back there or not?

QUESTION: One --

MR. BOUCHER: Moving right along?

QUESTION: What was your response to the Greek protest which has been defined
today by the Greek Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis, to your Ambassador, your
esteemed Ambassador to Greece, Tom Miller?

MR. BOUCHER: Our Ambassador has spoken to the Greek Foreign Minister twice,
once yesterday, once today, and then the Secretary spoke to the Foreign
Minister again today. We understand Greek concerns, but we also explained why
we think this is the appropriate decision at this time, and, second of all, we
explained that this is a not a step that's directed against any third country.

QUESTION: Regarding the Macedonia, as you call it, received yesterday the
recognition that they wanted from the United States. Why, in your opinion, they
are going to continue the talks with Greece to change their name?

MR. BOUCHER: I think we're all interested in stability and harmony in the
region. To the extent that these are issues that different people in the region
feel strongly about, we would hope that they can be worked out, and we think
that they would too.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) was closed for security reasons, I believe. Do you have
anything on that? Do you know how long it will be closed for?

MR. BOUCHER: Well, they closed yesterday and then again today in order to
review their security posture. They have reiterated, I think, in a message to
Americans that the overall situation for Americans in Syria has not changed. We
do have a -- they said the general threat level to American citizens in Syria
remains unchanged. We do have a Public Announcement on the Middle East and
North Africa and the Worldwide Caution, of course, that do cover that region as
well.

But the Embassy decided that they needed to close yesterday and today in order
to reassess their security posture, and so they've done that, and then they'll
be closed Friday, I think, for the normal weekend -- Friday, Saturday --
weekend in Damascus.

QUESTION: Is there a particular threat to the Embassy, then?

MR. BOUCHER: I'm not able to go into the reasons for which they decided they
wanted to look at their security posture, but that's essentially what --
they're looking at their own security posture at this moment in time.

QUESTION: Well, you know, they've done that quite frequently. In fact, it's an
ongoing review all the time in all embassies everywhere.

MR. BOUCHER: Yeah.

QUESTION: So --

MR. BOUCHER: We have also made clear in public announcements and elsewhere
that, from time to time, embassies may decide it's appropriate for them to
close their public functions in order to assess their posture, and that's what
this Embassy has decided it has to do.

Sir.

1:24 PM  
Blogger David said...

Well, technically I did not say "in his second term," but rather "with his new mandate in hand." To hear him tell it, that mandate is actually a few days old.

1:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm of the opinion that if Greece felt they had some rights to the name & didn't want anyone else to use it, they should have gotten off their lazy butts & used the name. Use it or lose it.

Macedonia (you know, the old Greece)

Frank

3:53 PM  

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