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And You Thought Annapolis Was Tough

At least there the negotiating parties could agree on what to call each other. Today's New York Times provides an update on the long-running naming dispute between Greece and (allegedly) Macedonia:

Most countries recognize Macedonia, Greece’s northern neighbor, as the Republic of Macedonia. But Greece has taken the position that using the name implies claims to the Greek province of the same name. Greece, long a NATO member, has also threatened to block Macedonia’s effort to join unless it agrees to change its name.

I was under the impression that they had resolved this issue by agreeing to call the country the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, under the time-honored rule that mellifluousness should always take a back seat to politics. Apparently that was just an interim solution, though, whose time has run out--at a moment when another emotionally charged conflict is exactly what the region needs.

My own view of the matter is colored by what might be called the Zagorakis Principle of international relations: any country strong enough to win a major international soccer tournament doesn't need to feel threatened by what a neighbor chooses to call itself.

--Josh Patashnik