FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has officially confirmed, after meeting with President Gjorge Ivanov and opposition leaders, that he proposed the name Republic of Ilinden Macedonia (Republika Ilindenska Makedonija) in talks with PM Alexis Tsipras.
Zaev said that he accepts that this name would be used both internationally and domestically, but that domestic use would be phased in gradually, during Skopje’s EU accession process.
Ilinden refers to a 1903 uprising against the Ottomans that also sought to unite all of the geographic territory of Macedonia in a Slavo-Macedonian state. Greek opposition parties view the proposal as the epitome of irredentism.
Zaev said that the Greek side has accepted his proposal for a referendum (if and when agreement is reached).
He said the new name will strengthen the country’s identity, and that Skopje has no territorial claims against Greece.
Zaev said the name he proposed will be translated into English as Republic of Ilinden Macedonia. His proposal calls for recognition of a Macedonian language, and for the name to be abbreviated as mk/MKD.
Hristian Mickovski, the head of the main opposition VMRO-DPME party, ruled out any constitutional amendment to change the name, which for Greece is a necessary condition for a settlement. Zaev’s party alone lacks the number of votes required to amend the constitution.
Ivanov said he will take a stand when he sees a written proposal, but he is reportedly not in favour of Zaev’s proposal.
In Athens, the PM’s office distanced itself from Zaev’s proposal, noting that a geographical or temporal marker must be attached to the name Macedonia, and said that it is positive that Skopje accepts domestic use of a new name, whichever that may be.
Tsipras’ office said that a constitutional revision in Skopje is necessary to eradicate irredentist elements and to replace the old name with the new one.