A new episode in the saga of the relations between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) takes place in the last few days.
According to Athens the FYROM violated the 1995 agreement that normalized bilateral relations between the two states after officials of the Balkan country’s women’s under-17 National handball team showed up wearing “Macedonia” insignia on their jerseys for a game against their Greek counterparts in Skopje.
The Greek Handball Association withdrew its players in protest at the incident Tuesday after which FYROM scored a technical victory of 10-0. As a result, the European Handball Federation (EHF) excluded the Greek women’s handball team from the competition and imposed a 25,000-euro fine on the federation.
The Greek team has the right to appeal the decision.
Athens and Skopje signed an interim agreement in 1995 under which FYROM would be referred to internationally as the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”. In exchange, Greece lifted its embargo and recognized the provisional name.
The Greek Foreign Ministry in a statement Thursday stated that:
“According to the interim accord of 1995, FYROM can join international organizations only under its provisional name. We witness once again that FYROM, after gaining membership to an international organization, attempts to violate the interim accord and participate under its constitutional name.
The Foreign Ministry expresses its support to the members of the women’s under-17 National handball team, who were forced to withdraw from the European Championship match with FYROM, due to FYROM’s violation of the interim accord”.
Greece and FYROM have a longstanding dispute over the right to the name “Macedonia” since the beginning of the 1990s. According to Greece the name “Macedonia” inherently suggests territorial ambitions beyond its neighbor’s existing borders into the northern Greek province with the same name.