The Republic of Macedonia declared independence in 1991 after passing a referendum boycotted by Albanians. Macedonia immediately applied for recognition from the European Community's Badinter Commission, a panel of experts created to guide EC policy on recognition of Yugoslavia's Republics as independent states.


While the Badinter Commission recommended recognition of Macedonian independence, the EC did not follow its recommendation. Greece objected, fearing that a future state named Macedonia might claim northern Greece, a region populated by ethnic Macedonians and the heart of so-called "historical Macedonia."

 An UNPREDEP observation post on the Yugoslav border. 28 May 1998

An UNPREDEP observation post on the Yugoslav border, 28 May 1998. (UN/Igor Vasilev)

Macedonia entered a twilight zone of unrecognized independence. President Gligorov negotiated the departure of Yugoslav National Army forces, avoiding involvement in the Yugoslav wars of succession. In 1993 he arranged the stationing of UN forces in Macedonia, known as UNPROFOR initially, then as UNPREDEP, as a check on any Serbian aggression and the spillover of conflict into Macedonia. The country was admitted to the United Nations under the name “The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.” Financially, however, Macedonia was devastated. Cut off from its old markets and connections in Serbia and beyond by international sanctions, it was unable to create new ones until its status was resolved.

Accord between FYROM and Greece

Skopje and Athens signed an agreement in 1995 that normalized relations between the two states, and lifted the Greek blockade, despite Athens' continued objections to what it considered Skopje's use of a Hellenic name and symbols. The agreement facilitated Macedonian recognition and entry into some international institutions. Nonetheless, the name issue has not been resolved and Greece continues to block Macedonia’s entry into NATO and the EU.