The Macedonia name dispute, one of the very first disputes of the post-Cold War era in Southeast Europe, was finally settled in June 2018 with the signing of the Prespa Agreement. The deal between Greece and North Macedonia was hailed as historic and an important breakthrough for the entire region’s integration to Western institutions. However, because the name dispute was broadly seen internationally as an incomprehensible spat, without fully grasping the high emotional load and the significant political stakes in both countries, not enough attention has been paid to the complex process leading to the settling of the dispute and to the challenges of a demanding implementation process. Even the very decision to embark on negotiations for a comprehensive settlement entailed high costs for uncertain future returns for both sides. The talk introduced the project that aims to develop a comprehensive understanding of the decision making process that brought the two sides to the negotiating table, the complex negotiations that led to the Prespa Agreement and the challenging implementation. Underpinning all these is the role of the European Union, both in actively facilitating the rapprochment and in shaping the political conditions that enabled the settlement through the process of European integration. The project aims to draw conclusions about the complex and multifaceted role that the EU plays in disputes in Southeast Europe.
Ioannis Armakolas is tenured Assistant Professor in Comparative Politics of Southeast Europe at the Department of Balkan, Slavic and Oriental Studies, University of Macedonia. He is also a Senior Research Fellow at the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy (ELIAMEP), where he also set up in 2011 and has since led the Foundation’s South-East Europe Programme. Moreover, he’s the Editor-in-Chief of ‘Southeast European and Black Sea Studies’, the foremost scientific journal of Southeast Europe, the Black Sea region and Turkey, published by Routledge, Taylor & Francis in the United Kingdom, and and also Editor-in-Chief of the ‘Political Trends and Dynamics in Southeast Europe’, the regional publication of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Dialogue Southeast Europe (FES SOE), based in Sarajevo. Ioannis Armakolas holds a Ph.D. in Social and Political Sciences (2007) from the University of Cambridge, an MA in International Relations (with distinction, 1998) from the University of Kent and a first degree (1994) from Panteion University, Department of Political Science and International Studies.
Currently he is a Europe’s Futures, Non-Resident Fellow at the IWM.