While this country moves ahead, its name is unfortunately still stuck in a Yugoslav time-warp. The ungainly abbreviation FYROM stands for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, which has been the provisional official name for the country since 1993. After the disintegration of Yugoslavia, Greece strongly protested against the use of what it considers Greek names and symbols by the fledgling state, even imposing an economic blockade on the republic until it changed its evil ways. Greece points out that much of the ancient region of Macedonia lies within Greek borders and taking that name implicitly stakes a claim on Greek-owned territory. It also protested against the use of the Vergina Sun symbol on the original flag design, and certain passages of the new constitution, both of which were addressed by Macedonia to lift the embargo. The naming issue remains a problem, with Macedonia insisting on using the word and Greece requiring the opposite, but in practice many countries have already officially recognised the country as the Republic of Macedonia, though the UN sticks to FYROM. Although the topic is always good for heated discussion and much waving about of hands, in practice the locals on both sides of the border are pragmatic, and Greece is one of Macedonia’s most important trading partners and investors. Interestingly, the national symbol remains the Yugoslav-era one (a rising sun with a red star), as the Macedonian national symbol is a yellow lion on a red background. The Albanians of Macedonia however have a black eagle on a red background, and as there’s no compromise on a communal symbol, the red star remains.

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