Abstract

The dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is a symbolic struggle concerning legitimate rights over "Macedonia"--the name, the territory, and the loyalty of its inhabitants. The dispute was created by two conflicting national narratives. In the Balkans, nation-building has emphasized particularistic over universalistic criteria. Local national narratives were instrumental in establishing the legitimate possession of a territory by a particular ethnic group. Historically, these narratives are tied to local nationalisms since their function is to designate a territory as the exclusive homeland of a particular nation. The Macedonian narrative views Macedonia as occupied by the Macedonian nation and suggests the existence of national minorities in Bulgaria and Greece. The Greek narrative does not acknowledge the existence of a Macedonian nation and considers the existence of a Macedonian minority within Greece to be a manifestation of Macedonian irredentism. The Macedonian narrative directly questions the Greek narrative's assumption of historical continuity. The strong Greek reaction against FYROM's declaration of independence is a response to this implicit threat to modern Greek identity.

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