Matthew Nimetz, the United Nations “special” envoy on the tedious issue of what to call the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) has a better job than even Joe DiMaggio did, although it was pretty special to play center field for the New York Yankees in the 1930’s and 40’s, live in a luxury hotel with room service, be married to Marilyn Monroe and have Simon and Garfunkel make you an ever bigger legend long after retirement.
Nimetz, a New York city lawyer, has pretty much since 1995 been trying to get Greece and the FYROMians to settle on what to call the former Yugoslav Republic, a question of a single word. Except for the guy who first said “F–k!” nobody’s made a better living off a syllable, although even the low-key Nimetz, who’s so dull you can sand the rust off your car with him, must have yelled it a few times during the frustrating process of finding an answer.
Still, Nimetz has had a good life being the special envoy on a question that is apparently harder to solve than Fermat’s Last Theorem or that equation that Matt Damon’s character figured out in Good Will Hunting. Nimetz gets to fly first-class, stay in luxury hotels, file his nails while he listens to Greek and FYROMian (they’re the villains in the new Star Trek movie although not to be confused with Vulcans) negotiators drone on and go nowhere. At this point, the only guy who could bring some logic to this might be Mr. Spock.
Nimetz holds a brief meeting a couple of times a year and goes home, secure in the knowledge he can get to do it again and again and again and there will likely never be a resolution on his watch, which must be the way he likes it because the suggestions he comes up with are staler than yesterday’s news. It figures he used to work for President Jimmy Carter, who defined malaise and was the subject of one of the most famous newspaper headlines – albeit used in error and withdrawn – “Mush From The Wimp” in The Boston Globe in 1980.
This whole mess began 22 years ago, after the break-up of Yugoslavia – the key syllable here being Slav – which was disintegrating faster than the Chicago Cubs’ chances of winning a World Series. Being pretty much a non-entity neighborhood – not a country really – tucked between emerging new countries and Greece’s northern province which includes the real Macedonia, the name FYROM was born out of a political compromise, which always results in disaster.
After then-Prime Minister Constantine Mitsotakis, showing that almost nothing is worse than a vacillating politician, caved in and allowed the use of the word Macedonia, his upstart young foreign minister, a guy named Antonis Samaras wouldn’t go along with what he properly saw as weakness and walked out, bringing down the government.
Yes sir, Samaras would have none of this stuff about Greece giving up the name Macedonia, even as the last word in an acronym so silly it sounds like something you use to loosen up a stuck lug nut. “Hey, I can’t get this off. Pass me the FYROM, would you?”
MACEDONIA IS GREEK
Macedonia is Greek, or at least it was until Mitsotakis gave away the name and sold Greece down the river. Since then, Greece, trying to close the barn door after the horses have already escaped, has been trying to get it back, resulting in negotiations that have gone nowhere. Cyprus will be re-unified before Greece and FYROM find an answer to this endless feud over a single word. All this proves is that you really can’t unring a bell.
Macedonia is Greek. Macedonia is Greek. No matter how many times a FYROMian crosses his fingers, closes his eyes, and whispers, Macedonia is Slavic, Macedonia is Slavic, it’s not going to happen and when they open their eyes Macedonia will still be Greek and they’ll be cross-eyed. This is the problem with irredentists: they keep taking out the same tooth and claiming it’s theirs. It must be tough living in a country with no heroes and be next to a country which has a legion of them, which explains why the Slavs think Alexander the Great was theirs.
In yet another one of the occasional fake breakthroughs he puts on the table before someone wises up that he’s not really doing anything, Nimetz has recommended that the two sides accept a new name. Get ready because you can’t make this stuff up. Instead of FYROM, he is proposing it be called the Upper Republic of ……. Macedonia.
In case you missed it, that’s the name that Samaras said he would never accept but now is reportedly considering because he’s Prime Minister and doesn’t have a foreign minister like he used to be to stand up to him. Maybe he can beam back in time and bring himself back to give himself some advice. Someone already beat me to it in suggesting the name be Up Yours Macedonia.
But the Skopians tirelessly insist that Macedonia is Slavic and are miffed that because they won’t accept that it’s not and that Greece keeps blocking their country’s hopes to get into NATO and the European Union, where it’s had an application on hold for eight years.
Nimetz’s proposal wants to let the new name (UPM) to be used during the negotiations on FYROM’s accession to the EU, which would take at least another seven to eight years. After that, a referendum would be held and the citizens of FYROM would be asked to vote on the two issues: joining the EU and changing the name to the Upper Republic of Macedonia.
That will take this into a third decade of yapping, none of which would have been necessary if Mitsotakis stood his ground. FYROM would enter an amendment into its Constitution that would read as follows: “From the day the Republic of Macedonia joins the EU, the international name of the country will be the Upper Republic of Macedonia and will be used in all languages - except in official languages of the country.” So their country would have an official name that didn’t use the official language. Spock, get in here!
Greece has not reacted to the new proposal. According to some reports, Athens would like the geographical determinant Upper to be placed before the word Macedonia, the name being Republic of Upper Macedonia (RUM, you gotta love that one,) but still allowing the use of the word Macedonia that Samaras has always adamantly opposed. He might have to issue a civil de-mobilization order to make himself stop working.
Risking the chance that FYROM’s leaders might suggest that given its crushing economic crisis that Greece change its name to Souvlakistan or West Turkey, for your consideration here are a number of names that could be used to finally settle this. Pick one and e-mail to Matthew Nimetz, c/o the United Nations.
- Inside-Out Republic of Macedonia
- Who Dat Macedonia?
- Lower Upper Inner Outer Republic of Macedonia
- Northern Republic of Southern Macedonia
- Former Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia
- Former Yugoslav Republic of Yugoslavia
- Northern Greece
- Outer Upper Zone Of Oblivion ((OUZO)
But let’s leave the last word about FYROM to Spock himself: “If I were human, I believe my response would be: Go to Hell.”
Oh wait, good idea.