It's been a long, long time... Had to go back in time to take care of a few matters in Ancient Greece, but I'm back now.
And guess what I find upon my return?
My descendants are fighting over one of our most famous names with those squatters up north!
Yes, I'm talking about Macedonia, of course.
Between you and me I never really liked Alexander too much. Too quick to take out his sword, too eager to get good men killed in senseless wars, too uppity for my tastes. He was, however, a good Macedonian and a great Greek. He spread the ideals and the culture of Greece throughout the known world - and that was no small feat for that time and age.
But back to our current problem. Let's analyze it in the manner we would have done back in my time, during my first incarnation.
Why would a tiny upstart "nation" want to call itself "Macedonia", and more importantly, why should Greece care?
Apparently, neither one of these questions have simple, clear-cut answers.
FYROM (the Former Yugoslavic Republic of Macedonia) was apparently named that way by Tito, with the excuse that the land area was originally part of the Ancient Macedonia. And it was.
After World War II, Macedonia was split into three pieces. One-third was kept by Greece, one-third was given to the Bulgarians and one-third was given to Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia under Tito apparently never had any serious designs to reunite Macedonia, he simply called this Province Macedonia to get on the nerves of the Greeks - and he succeeded.
Tito went a step further. Not satisfied to simply usurp the name, he patiently undertook the long task of teaching every school child born in FYROM after 1946 that they were the actual descendants of the Ancient Macedonians,ergo Alexander the Great was not a Greek but a Slav!
According to Tito's version of history, FYROM is the true Macedonia and all the people who live either in Bulgaria or in Greece are conquered people! Never mind that the Slavs did not appear on the scene until the year 800 AD, never mind that Greek was the spoken language of Macedonia in ancient times and that the Macedonians shared the same culture and the same religion as Athenians and Spartans.
FYROM youths are convinced that they are the true Macedonians - they bought into Tito's propaganda. Therefore, it's only logical that when the time came to choose a name for their newborn country, they would choose "Macedonia".
So what? you might ask. Is Greece afraid of this new, tiny country whose people would be starving if it were not for the financial aid sent by Greece and for the jobs created by Greek businessmen there? It's kind of silly, isn't it? If anything, Greeks should be flattered that their ancient civilization was of such importance that a whole nation would fight hand and tooth to be named as one of the city-states of yore. And the Greeks would indeed be flattered if FYROM was located in the US or in Australia or even in Asia. But hey, guess what? FYROM shares the Macedonian border with Greece. And Bularia next door shares the other Macedonian border with both and is keeping a close eye on what is happening. Of course, they are all gentlemen. No one would ever go so far as to imagine that there would be a dog-eat-dog fight in the Balkans over a piece of land! These things just don't happen on this peaceful Earth!
I do have a vivid imagination!!
Enter the Americans, the Russians and the Europeans. Each one of these super powers have special interests in the Balkans. The Americans would love to have a NATO military base in the heart of the Balkans to keep an eye on Europe and Russia, Russia and Europe don't much like that plan, plus they all have interest in the oil and gas pipes coming in from the Caspian Sea. Hmmm... a quandrum.
How does the silly name of such a small country manage to provoke such passions?
Here it is in a nutshell:
1. Both countries lay claim to the name and passions rise high over it.
2. No one really wants trouble, but no one knows how to avoid it.
3. None of the parties involved have any imagination to come up with an original name for this place.
I suggested "Pseudo-Macedonia" and the Greeks were enthusiastic about it, but it didn't go down too well with the Slavs!
So what's in a name? Possibly the match that will light the fuse to the biggest bomb of the 21st Century.