North Macedonia: a surprise

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Following the wars of Yugoslav succession, during the last two decades, Macedonia evolved from central Europe’s (‘Balkan’) typical ethnolinguistic nation-state into a studiously and painstakingly negotiated and constructed polyglot and multiethnic civic national polity for all the country’s inhabitants— or ‘Macedoners’—irrespective of any linguistic, religious or ethnic differences. This form of statehood is commonly, but rather shortsightedly, seen as characteristic of western Europe. However, in many ways, civic national identification, as practiced now in North Macedonia, draws at the Ottoman tradition of the peaceful coexistence of the millets, or ethnoreligious groups that used to be organized as non-territorial autonomies in this Islamic empire. The article takes stock of the political and ideological situation in Macedonia after Skopje / Shkup reached the long awaited rapprochement with Athens in 2019. The price of changing the country’s name to ‘North Macedonia’ appears to have been well worth paying, because the Macedonian-Greek agreement opened the path to NATO and EU membership for this country. Obviously, only the future will show whether Skopje / Shkup successfully seizes this rare opportunity, and if North Macedonia’s neighbors and western Europe facilitate this process.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2253
Number of pages33
JournalSprawy Narodowościowe / Nationalities Affairs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Dec 2020


  • North Macedonia
  • Macedonia
  • Ethnolinguistic nationalism
  • Language policy
  • Greece
  • Balkan politics


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