What Role Has Identity Played in the Fyrom-Greece Naming Dispute?



Miceli-Farrugia, Mark

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The role of identity in the naming dispute between FYROM and Greece is critical. The three main parties – the ethnic Macedonians and the ethnic Albanians in FYROM and the Greeks - each have their own identity needs: 1.1 the Christian Orthodox, ethnic (Slavophone) Macedonians wish to be finally recognized as a sovereign people after having been dominated by fellow-Slavs and Ottoman Turks for over 1,400 years; 1.2 the Muslim, ethnic Albanian Macedonians wish to be granted the political and economic rights of a minority group within Macedonia after 600 years of subjugation, first under the Muslim Turkish Ottoman Empire, later under the Orthodox Christian, Slavophone Macedonian majority; and 1.3 the Christian Orthodox Greeks wish to be recognized as the sole propagators of Hellenism, created and diffused worldwide by Kings Philip II and Alexander the Great of Macedon 2,400 years ago. The Muslim ethnic Albanian Macedonians are involved only indirectly in the naming dispute: firstly, because their support is essential to FYROM’s ruling, nationalist VRMO-DPMNE government; and secondly, because they are especially keen on securing protective rights as a minority community via FYROM’s accession to NATO and the EU. As we shall see, identity as “part of an individual’s self-concept,” generates emotional defensive or even offensive responses, when frustrated. The interplay of such emotions with the economic uncertainty prevailing in both countries can create incendiary circumstances. Under such circumstances, politicians might resort to scapegoating - unfairly blaming external third-parties or – often - discernible, internal minority groups.



Social identity, Intergroup conflict, Ethnicity, Nationalism, Populism, Sovereignty