Rep. Maloney on Possible NATO Expansion to Include FYROM

Apr 1, 2008
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) yesterday delivered a statement on the floor of the House of Representatives expressing her view that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) must cease using the name “Republic of Macedonia,” adopt a name mutually acceptable to both countries, and end its use of propaganda before it is admitted to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).  Rep. Maloney, Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, also said that the “negotiation process among representatives from Greece and the FYROM should continue, and I hope that a settlement can be reached soon."

The full text of Maloney’s remarks follows.

Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-14)

April 1, 2008

Madam Speaker, I rise today to discuss the name dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

As a founder and co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues, this issue is of tremendous importance to me.  All historical and archaeological evidence demonstrates that the ancient Macedonians were Greek.  Macedonia is a Greek name that has designated the northern area of Greece for 2,500 years. 

In 1944, the name of the Skopje region was changed to Macedonia as part of Tito s imperialist campaign to gain control of the Greek province of Macedonia.  The United States opposed Tito s use of the name Macedonia at that time.  However, in November 2004, unilaterally and without warning, the Administration decided to recognize the FYROM as Macedonia.   

I was shocked and disappointed that the White House went against prior U.S. policy to recognize the FYROM as Macedonia just two days after the 2004 U.S. presidential election and before talks were completed among the nations most directly affected by the outcome.  Along with former Representative Michael Bilirakis, we and sixty-eight of our colleagues sent a letter to former Secretary of State Colin Powell expressing our concerns with this decision and requesting that the State Department return to the longstanding policy of referring to the FYROM as such.  I also organized a meeting with the American ambassador to discuss the situation.

I believe that the name Macedonia properly belongs to Greek culture and therefore should not be used by any other country. Greek Macedonia is one of the oldest civilizations known to man and the history of this name should be recognized and respected. 

I, along with Representatives Bilirakis, Sarbanes, and Space, have introduced legislation, H. Res. 356, which expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that the FYROM should stop the utilization of materials that violate provisions of the UN-brokered Interim Agreement between the FYROM and Greece regarding  hostile activities or propaganda  and should work with the United Nations and Greece to achieve longstanding United States and United Nations policy goals of finding a mutually-acceptable official name for the FYROM.  This bipartisan resolution has 114 cosponsors.

Just this week a billboard was erected in Skopje that depicts the Greek flag with a swastika in place of the Cross. This is just another example of the propaganda that is being perpetrated against Greek culture in the FYROM.  Textbooks used in schools contain maps showing the boundaries of a larger Macedonia that include parts of Greece.  Additionally, the government has minted currency showing The White Tower of Thessaloniki.  This unacceptable irredentist propaganda must come to an end.

This week the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will hold a Heads of State and Government summit in Bucharest, Romania. One of the major issues considered will be the expansion of NATO and the possible extension of membership invitations to Albania, Croatia, and the FYROM. In this context, I ask unanimous consent to submit for the record the March 27, 2008, article in the Huffington Post titled NATO Enlargement   The View from Athens, written by Greece’s Ambassador to the United States, Alexandros Mallias.

Greece has consistently stated its desire to have the FYROM admitted into NATO, provided that the FYROM ceases to use the name Republic of Macedonia, adopts a name mutually acceptable to both countries, and ends its use of propaganda.

The negotiation process among representatives from Greece and the FYROM should continue, and I hope that a settlement can be reached soon.  Greece is a critical trading and investment partner with the FYROM and must be involved not only with the future of the FYROM, but with the future of the entire Balkan region.

Background:

Established in 1996, the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues works to foster and improve relations between the United States and Greece.  The Caucus brings a renewed congressional focus on key diplomatic, military, and human rights issues in a critical part of the world.  The members of the Caucus introduce legislation, arrange briefings on current events, and disseminate information to interested parties.  The topics on which the Caucus focuses include U.S. aid to Greece and Cyprus, the conflict in Cyprus, U.S. relations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the status of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and developments in the Aegean.  In the 110th Congress, the Caucus has more than 140 members.

###