Reps. Maloney, Bilirakis, Sarbanes Urge FYROM to Resolve Name Dispute

US Capitol

Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) reintroduced H.Res. 477, to address the long-standing name dispute between the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Greece.

The bill urges the FYROM to work within the framework of the United Nations process and in good faith with Greece to achieve longstanding United States and United Nations policy goals of resolving the name dispute. The resolution also encourages the United States to work with its NATO allies to uphold previous decisions at NATO Summits, with regard to the enlargement issue.

“As founder and co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, this is of tremendous importance,” said Rep. Maloney. “The United States must send a strong message, supporting a solution to the name issue and to encourage the FYROM and Greece to reach a mutually acceptable solution as soon as possible. Therefore, the United States must abide by its previous decision made at the NATO Bucharest Summit in 2008 that an invitation would be extended to the FYROM once a mutually acceptable solution to the name dispute has been reached. As the United States and its NATO allies consider the future of NATO and possible changes in membership, the United States must abide by this decision.”

Bilirakis stated, “Historically, Greece has been one of FYROM’s best friends in a sometimes thorny Balkan neighborhood; more particularly in the recent past by donating over $1 billion in aid to help bolster FYROM’s economy. If FYROM is serious about resolving the name issue and engaging in good neighborly relations with Greece, it must work with the Hellenic Republic in reaching a mutually agreed upon name resolution that comports with bilateral and international agreements.”

Sarbanes said, “We call upon the authorities in Skopje to come to the negotiating table in good faith to resolve this ongoing dispute and achieve the longstanding policy goals of the United States and the United Nations for finding a mutually acceptable official name for FYROM that accurately reflects and respects history.”

Macedonia is a Greek name that has designated the northern area of Greece for 2,500 years. In 1944, the name of the Skopje region was changed to Macedonia as part of Tito’s imperialist campaign to gain control of the Greek province of Macedonia.

Both NATO and the White House have repeatedly emphasized their support for the unanimous decision made at the NATO Bucharest Summit in 2008 (and reiterated at NATO Summits in Strasbourg/Kehl in 2009 and Lisbon in 2010) that an invitation would be extended once a mutually acceptable solution to the name dispute has been reached.