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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 4,705 3,712 3,400 118
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 1,980 1,700 1,690 111
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 124 - (28/09/07)

Macedonia or FRYOM?
What's in a name. Well in this case a great deal.

The Greeks have long objected to the Macedonians ' desire to call their country Macedonia, reserving the name for their northern province. Macedonia in ancient times played a massive role in history. Its royal dynasty unified Greece under Philip of Macedon and then under his son, Alexander the Great, the greatest general of all time (he was never beaten, unlike Napoleon). It took Greek civilisation to unheard-of parts of the world, as far as the Chinese border in todays Takijistan, as well as to Egypt, Persia and Northern India, creating the vast Hellenic world, with incalculable consequences for world history. Alexander has a claim to being one of the most important people of the Ancient World, up there with Buddha and Christ, Constantine and the First Emperor of Ch'in. It is natural on that level that the Greeks should cherish his name. 

Actually, the dispute is quite silly. In the first place the Greek province of that name and the former Yugoslav Macedonia were all a part of the larger Macedonia of King Philip, father of Alexander. There is also the suspicion that the Greeks have a bad conscience about how their present day province became Greek only as late as the 20th century, as a part of the war spoils in the last war of Balkan independence against the Ottomans. Having acquired it, they set out to 'de-slav' it and to shift part of the slavic population they had inherited with the land. They certainly 'de-slavd' in terms of their own culture, like the teaching language in schools, where the slav tongue of the Balkans was banned. 

The over-reaction to the post-Yugoslav 'new guys on the block' calling themselves Macedonians, extended to the national flag, the present one being a compromise of what the new nation launched with, which was the banner of the historical King Philip. It has been suggested that the Greeks were mainly anxious to stamp on any disaffection in 'their' Macedonia, or yearnings to join up with the newest version. 

HELLENIC - NOT
Any educated Greek knows full well that today's Greeks are not closely descended from the Ancient Greeks at all, do not share religious or cultural ties with them and could hardly be more different. Where is the modern Plato or Aristotle, Euripides or Sophocles, Euclid or Archimedes? The Greeks of today are very European in fact, heavily descended from the Goths and Slavs and Albanians who invaded the Balkans more than a millennium and a half a go, or later, on top of millennia of previous invasions from the north - the same sort of people in fact, as those in the new Macedonia, and both have undoubtedly a genetic input from the Ottoman Turks who ruled over them for so many centuries. 

Still, playing on the pro-Hellenism of the civilised Western world has stood them in good stead. It greatly helped them acquire independence from Turkey in the War of Independence in 1821-31, the moment of Byron and Delacroix's Missalonghi - and more mundanely that of the Battle of Navarino in 1827, when the British, French and Russian fleets destroyed the Turkish fleet, clinching victory for the Greek cause. 

Taken to the UN
It is now second nature for the Greeks to take an intransigent stand on this issue of the name. It is a sort of Pavlovian conditioned reflex, as it is to demand, with more justice, the return of the Elgin Marbles. 

The fact that a Macedonian diplomat presided over a session of the UN General Assembly has had repercussions here. For he has gone in for a shortening of the official name used to introduce the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which is a member of the UN. 

Greece's mission to the UN hastily organized a press conference on September 25th to declare as "unacceptable" the General Assembly president's shortening the name to Macedonia when he introduced the nation's president, Branko Crvenkovski. 

Srgjan Kerim, the president of the 62nd session of the General Assembly, is the former foreign minister and UN ambassador of the Balkan nation -- a connection that was not overlooked by Greece. "Mr. Kerim, with his action today, and acting under instructions from his government, has irreparably damaged for the duration of his term, his standing and credibility as president of the General Assembly of the United Nations," Greece's Foreign Ministry said in a statement. 
But its all a bit of a yawn for other UN members - and the world generally.

"This unacceptable action of Mr. Kerim reaffirms the provocative and uncompromising position of the government of Skjope," it said, avoiding altogether the country's name by referring to the capital. 
Ever since the country gained independence after the breakup of the six-member Yugoslav federation in 1991, Athens has maintained the name Macedonia belongs to its own Greek province and not to the new republic. 

Due to Greek opposition, most international bodies -- including the UN, the EU and NATO -- use the acronym FYROM, for Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. 

But the US and many other countries have recognized the country as Macedonia. Canada became the latest to officially discard the FYROM acronym. 

Thoughts for the future
Despite the name dispute, the two neighbouring nations enjoy close political and trade relations. Greece is the main investor in the country.

The right course for the Macedonians on this vexed issue is to bide their time, let more and more countries recognise them spontaneously, as is happening. It can only be a matter of time before boredom with this as an issue, in a world full of more complicated and grievous disputes solves the problem for them. Greeks may not see this, but really lovers of their country, amongst whom we would count ourselves, do not have much sympathy with this as a great, or even an important cause. 

Let more Greek investors come in (potential advocates of their cause), join the EU (which Greece might block, if they are too precipitate) and then when their inclusion is a fait accompli ease- in the name change. To mollify the Greeks let Britain return the Elgin Marbles on that fine day - and France the Venus de Milo (but that would never happen).

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