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The new president of North Macedonia begins the name dispute again

The new president of North Macedonia begins the name dispute again

As of: May 12, 2024 at 7:51 p.m

For years there has been a dispute with Greece over the name of Macedonia. In order to become a candidate for EU membership, the country adopted a new name in 2019 – North Macedonia. But now the new president has started the conflict again.

North Macedonia's new president, Gordana Seljanovska Davkova, reignited the old name dispute with Greece almost immediately after her inauguration. Instead of “North Macedonia”, as the country has been called since reaching an agreement with Greece, it used the country's old name “Macedonia” in its oath of office.

Then the Greek Ambassador, Sofia Philippidou, left the hall in protest. The Foreign Ministry in Athens later said that the behavior of the new head of state endangered bilateral relations and North Macedonia's path to the European Union. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called on the country to adhere to the agreements concluded if it wanted to remain on its path to European Union membership.

Get up Election winners want to use old names

Last Wednesday, Siljanovska-Davkova clearly won the runoff election against incumbent Social Democratic candidate Stevo Pendarovski as the candidate of the nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party. In the parliamentary elections held on the same day, VMRO became the strongest force. Its leader, Herstegan Mycoski, is expected to form the next government.

Siljanovska-Davkova, Mikovski and other VMRO politicians announced during the election campaign that they no longer wanted to use the official state name, but rather the historical name Macedonia.

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Years of conflict

North Macedonia has been a candidate for EU membership since 2005. Admission has been blocked for years by neighboring Greece due to a dispute over the country's name. The Social Democrats, who have been in power since 2017 and have now been voted in, agreed with Greece on the name change, which was implemented in February 2019.

Athens had insisted on this because a region in northern Greece had the same name. The name change was a prerequisite for the small Balkan country to become a member of NATO in 2020. This also paved the way for accession talks with the European Union.