Greece has long insisted that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) using simply the name "Republic of Macedonia" to describe itself is not acceptable as that would constitute a monopolisation of the term and encourage the territorial aspirations for the wider geographical region of Macedonia, aspirations which FYROM has exhibited since it gained independence in 1991.
The first constitution promulgated by FYROM included a clause which said the "Macedonian" state had the right to intervene on behalf of "Macedonians" in neighbouring countries
- In 1992 a banknote featuring the White Tower of Thessaloniki, capital of Greek Macedonia, was approved by the government but never circulated due to the outcry in Greece
- In 2007 Skopje Airport was renamed "Alexander the Great Airport"
- Various government websites refer to the geographical parts of Macedonia belonging to Bulgaria and Greece as "Occupied Macedonia"
- A common theme at the rallies of ruling nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party are maps of 'Greater Macedonia'
- in February 2008 Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski was photographed laying a wreath at the tomb of a 19th century revolutionary and a map of "United Macedonia" (see above picture accompanying this article)
An interesting case in point is the recent controversy in the United States when the Absolut Vodka company which, in keeping with it's advertising theme about ideal situations, ran an advertisment in Mexico featuring a map of 'Greater Mexico' encompassing Texas, California and most the western United States.
The map shows Mexico's borders as they were prior to 1848 and the Mexican-American war of that year.
This is relevant given that while Absolut Vodka's people can claim the map is merely a historical one, current Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and successive governments of FYROM which have promoted 'Greater Macedonia' cannot claim the same given no such state with those borders existed historically. The idea of a 'United Macedonia' has its beginnings in 1944 when the communist dictator of Yugoslavia, Josip Tito, renamed the southernmost Yugoslav constituent republic the "Socialist Republic of Macedonia" and went to great lengths to promote the idea of a "Macedonian" nationality.
Nonetheless the offending ad was withdrawn after a barage of complaints from U.S citizens and condemnations by politicians.
The next question is which case of territorial irredentism is more serious: a risque ad by a vodka company which was a poor attempt at humour; or a series of hostile provocations and indications of territorial aspirations against neighbours Greece and Bulgaria from an official governement level in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia?
Irredentist behaviour towards Greece has been taught in FYROM classrooms and shoved in the face of Greeks for nearly two decades now. Greece has a legitimate argument when it says this sort of behaviour threatens peace and the often tenuous security situation in the Balkans.
Links to news articles about the Absolut Vodka 'Greater Mexico' ad:
California in Mexico? Absolut-ly - Brisbane Times
Absolut apologizes for Mexican vodka ad - LA Times
Youtube video from a Greek user expressing his displeasure of the double standards between the Vodka ad and official irredentism in FYROM