ATHENS – With a contentious deal to rename the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) still undone, a committee of Greek experts in archaeology, history and education said it should include requirements that irredentist claims on Greek lands be removed from textbooks in the neighboring country.
The agreement that anti-nationalist Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras reached would give away the name of the ancient Greek province of Macedonia to let FYROM be called North Macedonia and its citizens be called Macedonians, with a Macedonian language, culture and identity.
It would end a 27-year-long dispute over the name that began when a New Democracy government allowed the new country emerging from the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991 to use the name of Macedonia in what was supposed to be a temporary acronym.
But after successive FYROM governments kept claiming Greek territories, including the real Macedonia and second-largest city and major port of Thessaloniki, Greece used a veto to keep its neighbor out of NATO and opening European Union accession talks.
Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, leader of the tiny, pro-austerity, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) is opposed to the deal but as many as four of his other six Members of Parliament are leaning toward voting for it, a near-mutiny that could tip the balance as he said he’d eject of his lawmakers who defied him.
The request for FYROM to change its school books was made during a recent meeting in Thessaloniki, in northern Greece, by the committee set up as the two countries reached the agreement in June, 2018, the state run Athens-Macedonia News Agency reported.