Macedonias name change – what does the country have to do

SKOPJE, Macedonia — Macedonia is changing its name to North Macedonia in return for Greece dropping its objections to its northern neighbour joining NATO to settle a nearly three-decade dispute. But what does a country have to do, practically, when it changes its name?Greece’s parliament ratified the deal on Friday, in one of the final steps needed to end the disagreement between the two neighbours. Some procedural steps remain, including Greece signing its northern neighbour’s NATO accession protocol, before the name change comes into effect.Changing a country’s name is by no means unprecedented — many nations have done so, generally following political upheavals or at the end of colonial periods: think Burma to Myanmar, Rhodesia to Zimbabwe, Zaire to Congo and, more recently, Swaziland to eSwatini.Many things in Macedonia will have to change, from passports to government letterhead to schoolbooks. But some others, such as internet domain names, will remain the same. Here’s a look at the path ahead:____WHAT IS CHANGING?The country adopted the name Republic of Macedonia after it declared independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991. It has been recognized as such by more than 130 countries, but not by the United Nations, NATO or the European Union, due to Greece’s objections. Greece argued use of the term “Macedonia” usurped its own ancient heritage and implied territorial ambitions on its own northern province of the same name, birthplace of the ancient warrior king Alexander the Great.So the country’s official name was the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or FYROM.Once the name change is complete, that will change to Republic of North Macedonia, or North Macedonia for short.____WHAT HAPPENS NOW?Once the deal comes into effect, the country will inform the rest of the world, including the United Nations, that it is now called North Macedonia, and will apply to join NATO and the European Union.The U.N. step could prove tricky. Russia, a U.N. Security Council member, has slammed the name change process as a crude violation of Macedonian law under pressure from the West so the country can join NATO. Russian officials, however, have stopped short of saying whether Moscow will recognize the new name.____WHAT ELSE WILL CHANGE?The government in Skopje will have a five-year grace period to implement practical changes, such as altering official letterhead, and changing passports and car license plates. The deal stipulates two transitional periods, one technical and one political.The five-year technical period is for official documents and materials for international use, while the five-year political period is for documents and materials used domestically. The latter process could actually take many more years.Passports will have to be amended, and the new versions are expected by the end of this year or in early 2020. Car license plates, which until now bore the international code MK, will change to either NM or NMK within five years.However, the country will retain its current codes of MK and MKD, assigned by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), for all other purposes, such as internet domain names and sports events.____STATUES AND MONUMENTSThe construction of monuments has played a big role in the dispute with Greece. Macedonia’s former prime minister, Nikola Gruevski, ordered a plethora of statues and monuments, including of ancient Greeks, to festoon the capital, Skopje, and other areas. Skopje’s main square is dominated by a towering statue of a rider on a horse — and few had any doubts it was of Alexander the Great. A statue of Alexander’s father Philip is a short walk away.Once the name change takes effect, Macedonia will have six months to “review the status of monuments, public buildings and infrastructures on its territory, and insofar as they refer in any way to ancient Hellenic history and civilization …. shall take appropriate corrective action.”Within six months it will also have to stop using the sixteen-rayed Sun of Vergina, a symbol in ancient Greek art and associated with Alexander’s dynasty, which Macedonia formerly displayed on its first national flag after independence.____COMMERCE AND TRADEHere the issue becomes less clear. For usage in commercial names, trademarks and brand names, the deal says Greece and Macedonia agreed to encourage their respective business communities to ” institutionalize a sincere, structured and in good faith dialogue … (to) seek and reach mutually accepted solutions.”An international expert panel is to be established including representatives of both countries to implement this.____SCHOOLBOOKS AND HISTORYThe two sides have a year from the signing of the agreement in June 2018 to ensure that school textbooks or other materials such as maps, atlases and teaching guides do not contain any irredentist or revisionist references. A committee of experts on historic, archaeological and educational matters, supervised by the foreign ministries of each country, is to review the materials.____Becatoros reported from Athens, Greece. Vladimir Isachenkov in Moscow contributed to this report.Konstantin Testorides And Elena Becatoros, The Associated Press read more

Forced displacement in Somalia shows no signs of easing UN agency warns

“Insecurity was the main cause of internal displacement, with some 38,000 people fleeing their homes because of military conflict,” Babar Baloch, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), told journalists in Geneva.According to Mr. Baloch, approximately 7,000 people have fled the ongoing military offensive in South Central Somalia in the past eight months. While the displacement is likely to be temporary, assistance is still largely in need. However, due to military activity, access to towns is so limited that using expensive airlifts is often the only way to reach people. “UNHCR is engaged in dialogue with its counterparts in the Somali authorities to ensure that such evictions did not violate basic human rights,” said Mr. Baloch, given the fact that almost 33,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been uprooted from private and Government owned land and buildings. In the port city of Kismayo, where some 15,600 have been affected, UNHCR has distributed basic relief items to 3,000 displaced families in recent weeks. However, additional distributions are required. “Many people are living in sites lacking basic services in shelters made of sticks, grass and empty cardboard boxes,” said Mr. Baloch, adding that “incidents of gender based violence, and rape of young girls and women by militias operating outside the settlements had been reported.”In this regard, Corinne Momal-Vanian, Director of UN Information Centre in Geneva, said that the UN Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) is committed to the respect of human rights and the protection of Somalia’s most vulnerable communities, especially women and children. She added that the UN and the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) have been working closely to tackle such issues, and AMISOM troops have undergone a human rights pre-deployment training.In addition to those internally displaced in the Horn of Africa nation, some 23,000 have fled across its borders to Yemen, Kenya, and Ethiopia in the previous eight months. Yemen, for example, has received 11,000 new arrivals from South Central Somalia, mostly affected by drought, food insecurity and poverty. About 9,000 Somalis have arrived in Kenya while Ethiopia has registered over 3,000 refugees. There are a total of 957,000 Somali refugees in the region. read more