So this week in my jack-of-all-trades freelance style, I'm an advertising writer working on a brands report for a popular electronics retailer in Romania. The company talks about its presence throughout southeastern Europe... particularly the countries of Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, and Fyrom.
Okay, I admit - I'm a product of American schools so I don't know geography, but even in the "Is that a map or a shattered windshield" former USSR I've never heard of Fyrom. If it ended in "stan," perhaps as "Fyromstan," it might have slipped under my radar because every week or so another former Bloc country ending in "stan" demands its spot on the map. I believe it was only in July that the new nation of "Idontunderstan" broke away from "Meetmyfriendstan" to avoid being ceded to "Whotookmyglassesfromthenightstan."
Right, with that joke suitably buried it's back to Fyrom. Turns out it's FYROM, standing for the "Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia." I say, "Oh yeah, Macedonia. Great nuts there." You say, "No, you shaved ape, that's Macadamia. And it's not Macedonia, you have to say the whole thing: Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia." And I say "what a silly name for a country," thinking their government stationery must be the size of bedsheets just to fit the letterhead. Well, Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia is NOT really the name of Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia, it's what we call Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia while they DECIDE on a name for Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia. (Note, let's move back to FYROM, shall we?)
According to Wikipedia, "The naming dispute between Greece and the Republic of Macedonia over the name of the latter, its main ethnic group, and their language has escalated to the highest point of international mediation, involving attempts to a resolution notably through the United Nations." See "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macedonia_naming_dispute" for more, but finally the light dawns. The electronics company I'm writing about is Greek in origin, and it is apparently Greece who finds the short name of just "Macedonia" offensive, preferring more melodious names such as "Republika Makedonija-Skopje" [sic], "Gorna Macedonia," "Slavomacedonia," or simply "Skopje," which is actually the name of just one city in FYROM. And this dispute has become so emotionally and politically charged that the United Nations has been trying, without much success mind you, to resolve this situation.
So, this brings me back to my original piece of advice for Greece: get a life! Your country is burning to the ground and killing tourists by the hundreds in your decrepit island ferries with their drunken crews, god knows what other real crises beg for attention, and THIS is topping your "To-Do" list? I left America because I was sick of the way THEY handled things. I guess I should have checked the rest of the planet more closely.
- K -