Feature

A political setback that really hurt

It was as if a national hero had died, said Dragan Klaic in Germany

Dragan KlaicSignandsight.com (Germany)

It was as if a national hero had died, said Dragan Klaic in Germany’s Signandsight.com. I visited the Macedonian capital, Skopje, the day after Greece vetoed the former Yugoslav republic’s entry into NATO and found the city in mourning. The Greeks have long been touchy about Macedonia’s name, as there is a Greek province already called Macedonia. So Macedonia applied for NATO membership under the name “Republic of Macedonia–Skopje,” one that Greece itself had proposed some years ago. But Greece vetoed the move anyway. Macedonians, who see NATO membership as the first step toward international respect and entry into the European Union, were traumatized. Eager to curry favor with the alliance, they had sent 130 troops to Afghanistan, 30 to Bosnia, and 40 to Iraq—token forces, perhaps, but not insignificant for a country of just 2 million. They said the day they got “this humiliating and infuriating slap in the face” was “the worst day in the history of the Macedonian nation.” Their president actually rushed home, as he said, “to be with the people at this difficult time.” Now Macedonians face a choice: Give up the dream of NATO membership, or call themselves by yet another name. 

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