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To its own citizens, the country is called the Republic of Macedonia, but both the United Nations and the European Union call it the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYR Macedonia).
The reason for the controversy is a region in Greece that is also called Macedonia.
Nevertheless, the potential for violence is real, because the conflict between Greeks and Macedonians is an expression of the same forces of ethnic nationalism and irrendentism - the desire to create ethnically pure and homogeneous nation states - that lie at the heart of the more violent conflict that rages now between the Serbs, the Croats, and the Moslems of Bosnia.
The Macedonian Question in Balkan History The Macedonian Question has dominated Balkan history and politics for over a hundred years.
Toward the end of the nineteenth century the population of Macedonia was increasingly being defined from various external nationalist perspectives in terms of national categories, such as Greeks, Bulgarians, Serbs, Albanians, and Turks.Historically, however, Macedonia has often been a major source of conflict and instability in the Balkans.Even now, it lies at the center of a bitter dispute between Greeks and Macedonians over which group has the right to identify itself as Macedonians.Orthodox communities in Macedonia now had the choice of affiliating with either the Greek or the Bulgarian national church.This marked an intensification of the "Macedonian Struggle" in which Greek, Bulgarian, and to a lesser extent Serbian, irredentist claims came into conflict over who would gain control over the people and the territory of Macedonia.
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The Macedonian Struggle reached its climax in the Balakan Wars of 1912-13, which ended with the partitioning of Macedonia among Bulgaria, Greece, and Serbia (later Yugoslavia).