For the last 25 years, Greece has been trapped in a diplomatic and political adventure regarding the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
We managed to create a source of tension and crisis, because the political leadership, instead of considering the broader national interest, allowed itself to be dragged into a vicious circle of nationalist hysteria.
We lost one opportunity after the other to achieve a nationally beneficial solution, thus offering an alibi to the ultra-nationalism of the leadership in Skopje, which was in search of a life vest to survive.
We considered a country that could not stand on its own feet, and which sought support and allies right and left, as a threat.
Now, after the collapse of the ultra-nationalists who ruled FYROM for a decade, the issue is returning to the international stage, on equally pressurising terms, and with Greece essentially without allies on the issue.
We have ahead of us the next NATO summit it June, 2018, where Greece again will be asked what name it will accept. The possibilities of yet another veto of FYROM’s accession, as occurred ten years ago, are narrowing incredibly, or rather have vanished, as the new leadership in Skopje appears willing to make concessions, abandoning the revanchist stance it kept until recently.
Yet, once again, we have various figures who are acting as the defenders of our nationalist interests, refusing any sort of compromise. The most prominent is Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ coalition partner, Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who wants to come across as having authentic certification of patriotism and as being nationally minded.
There is no longer any room for opportunistic political games, if we want to close this wound.
When dozens of countries have already recognised FYROM as Macedonia, it is obvious we cannot deceive ourselves any longer.
A compromise solution with a geographic or other marker is the best we can achieve now.
It is the responsibility and duty of the government to fashion a mutually acceptable national position and to put the brakes on the nationalist rhetoric of its junior coalition partner.
It is woeful after 25 years, due to partisan interest, to fuel yet another wave of futile and dangerous nationalism.