Australia Urged Acceptance of Macedonia's Constitutional Name

The Sydney Morning Herald reports on the increasing pressure on the Australian Government to recognize Macedonia under its constitutional name, after several members of Parliament, from both leading parties spoke in Parliament in favour of this move.

"FYR Macedonia is used by the international football federation and other global sports organisations, and by most European nations too. Yet Britain, Canada and the United States have gone the other way, brushing off Greek concerns about territory in northern Greece also known as 'Macedonia', and formally abandoned references to Yugoslavia in their diplomatic relations with Skopje.

The government maintains Australia's use of FYROM is 'temporary', and will continue only until Skopje and Athens find a resolution. That stalemate seems unlikely to soon break", correspondent Daniel Flitton writes in the Sydney Morning Herald. Flitton notes how western Australian members of Parliament Luke Simpkins and Alannah MacTiernan recently called on the Tony Abbott Government to join Britain, the United States and Canada in using Macedonia's constitutional name.

Earlier in March, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop wrote that the position of the Government remains to continue using the interim reference until Macedonia and Greece come to a solution to the naming dispute. This has angered the 100.000 strong community of Macedonian Australians, who say they are personally offended by the way Australia refers to their native country. "Common sense tells us that we should not continue to burden a country with a name that it hates", MacTiernan is quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald, which also quotes Macedonian Ambassador to Australia Vele Trpeski as saying "Yugoslavia died a long time ago", but is still mentioned in the reference used to name Macedonia.


The paper notes that Greek Ambassador to Australia Charalampos Dafaranos, on the other hand, is satisfied with the way Australia calls Macedonia. The two countries shared a friendly football match in Skopje recently, ending in a goalless draw, during which Macedonia had the letters FYR before its name. "The letters stand for 'former Yugoslav Republic'. Croatia, Serbia and the other remnants of what was once Yugoslavia each bear names of their choice – but more than two decades after declaring independence, Skopje remains locked in an interminable dispute with neighbour Greece over the right to be known simply as 'Republic of Macedonia'.

The dispute is more than symbolism; Greece has refused to accept Macedonia into NATO or the European Union until the name question is resolved", Flitton writes. This is not the only naming dispute Australia faces. An official tried to remove "occupied" from the way Australia calls eastern Jerusalem, prompting satisfied responses from Israel and calls for boycott of Australian agricultural goods from Arab countries, leading the Government to announce that no change is being made in the way it calls this part of the Holy City.

In the 1970ies Australia was divided over the way it calls "Kampuchea" or "Cambodia", and recently it began calling Burma ­ Myanmar, but with the Abbott Government, Minister Bishop interchanges the two names. "Britain resolves naming disputes by taking advice from the little­known 'Permanent Committee on Geographical Names', established in 1919 and made up surveyors, water experts, diplomats and military officials. The committee is hang­over from days of Empire, where Britain had naming responsibilities across the globe. On Burma, the guidance is 'Myanmar'. On Macedonia, the committee states: 'This is the name used by the state itself and is used by the UK for all bilateral purposes'. Britain continues to refer to FYROM in international forums, such as the UN", the Sydney Morning Herald adds.


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