The first problem arose in 1991, at the very moment in which Macedonia declared independence. Greece did not want a neighboring state with the name of one of its regions (with the capital Thessaloniki). It was as if Switzerland had called itself Lombardy. Macedonia in order to exist had to take the name of FYROM, English acronym of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. In alphabetical order at the UN, it ranks after France.
The border is not bland. The two republics do not like it and the controls are there. You exit the EU with a jump back in time.
Macedonia was the southernmost and poorest of the six Yugoslav republics. Entering from Greece, which of these times is not the Bengodi, is like disassembling the bike and climbing a mule. There is a melancholy and beautiful difference.
The M1 motorway leading to Skopje takes the name of Alexander the Great. As with all the former communist countries, everything that was devoted to the roots of real socialism has resumed its names once.
Who better than Alexander the Great could relaunch the national image of an ancient country?
In Macedonia square, in the center of Skopje, the leader stands enormously on a prancing horse (the statue was made by an Italian, ed.) Needless to say more.
Between homogenous identity and national pride, between rocky countryside and empty valleys, Macedonia seems an uninhabited Umbria. There are no cars of Yugoslav manufacture that are only a few miles south. There is little more than three hours between the Thessaloniki sea and the suburbs of Skopje, but the distance is actually huge.
Macedonia is a small but complex country because as it always happens in the Balkans, History puts us in our hands.
Right next to the central square of the small capital, there is the stone bridge symbol of the city. Leads to Carsija, the old city with Ottoman architecture and mainly Albanian Islamic architecture. Between wooden loggia balconies, cobbled paths, cafes, shops, seated men, minarets that come out like missiles towards the sky, you can see the Turkish imprint that peeps out from time to time in the Balkans. Skopje is reminiscent of a little Sarajevo.
Macedonia is a mountain tangle: only 25 km from Skopje begins Kosovo, a cross and delight for the people of these parts.
The western part of the country is inhabited by Albanians mainly Muslims; about 500.000 are about 2 millions of Slavic and Christian Orthodox population. Between the Slavs and the Albanians it has been bad air for eight centuries and nothing has explained it better than the 99 Kosovo War.
NATO bombs lasted little, but the effects of the mistakes made were lengthy. They have joined atavic problems that these parts are to solve.
Two years after the war in Serbia, civil war broke out in 2001 between the central government and ethnic Albanian Macedonians. In the end everything remained as it was and the idea of a Greater Albania so dear to the US and the EU dried up in the sun.
In the western villages of Macedonia there are still red flags with the eagle instead of the Macedonian ones. The old ones wear the qaleshe typical of the Albanian ethnicity, which is also distinguished for smaller and breviline traits. The mountains and the woods that lead to Lake Ohrid have been the UKK's rest of the rest, not the boyscout on the way ...
Needless to deny: Albania lies on every side and clashes with a backward Slavic roots of fashion. The Orthodox monastery of Sveti Naum (Holy Naum) on Ohrid Lake explains everything: it is a sentinel to Christianity and a Slavic culture that does not want to succumb to the Turkish-Islamic demographic pressure.
One meter is the source of the Black Drim River, which rises after Lake Ohrid. Like all the rivers in the Balkans, it could tell many pains of these battered lands: Neretva, Sava, Drina, Vrbas, Bosna, Morava, Iskar, Ibar, Vardar ... the same Danube. For every drop of water, millennia of death, honor, blood and history.
In Macedonia passes an eternal border that the Union and the United States have underestimated. Blowing on the fire without understanding the local balances was a gamble that forces things back to the comb.
Manifestants of the VMRO-DPMNE (Democratic Party for the Macedonian National Unit), inspired by the national and Christian identity, April 27 occupied Parliament to protest the dubious election of Talat Dzjaferi, an exponent of the Albanian community.
Despite the VMRO-DPMNE has always been inclined to good relations with the West (entering the EU and NATO, but opposing Greece), the West continued to ignore the sordid Albanian interference in Macedonian affairs. He ignored it, obviously, after having relied heavily on the wars in the Balkans. THE'KLA, as everyone knows, was not funded alone ...
From Tirana, meanwhile, disturbing reminders to Great Albania come to fruition for a Turkish return in the Balkans. The Kosovo Albanian institutions also show attention, bringing back the specter of a civil war between Macedonian nationalist Macedonians and Islamic philosophers in Macedonia.
In Mackage comes the Mogherini's words of fact that pretend not to remember the positions taken by the West in the 90 years.
Russia, which interspersed with Belgrade, notes that those times are over and that those who want to put more disorder in the Balkans must take account of the new arrangements.
After fueling the onset of Albanian on horseback between Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia, today the European Union calls for calm with hypocrisy to the limits of ridicule.
It's like putting gas near a burning chimney and then complaining because nobody calls firefighters.
(photo: by the author and from the web)