Balkans: March 9, 2000


A lesson in either the depth of Balkan passion, or Balkan foolishness, or Greek domestic politics --or all three. AFP reported that an Olympic Airways flight carrying Greek Foreign Minister Georges Papandreou to a meeting in Ohrid, Macedonia was delayed for several hours. It seems an air traffic controller in Macedonia refered to the destination as "MKD for Macedonia rather than the internationally accepted LWS for the Macedonian capital Skopje." The flight took off when an agreement was reached to avoid using any destination code for the flight. The AFP report went on to say that Greece insists on calling Macedonia the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. That's not quite accurate. At one time the Greek government insisted on using the FYRM label for Macedonia, but that attitude started to relax a couple of years ago. Papendreou, however, is a politician who insists on playing the powerful Greek "ethnic identity" card. The incident got him press -- and he still flew on to Skopje for the meeting. 


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