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Greek Roots to U.S. Democracy: Influence of the Greek-American Lobby over U.S. Policy toward the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

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Eighteen months after President Clinton ordered U.S. troops to join a trail-blazing United Nations peacekeeping mission to the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia FYROM, the United States still has not established diplomatic relations with that country. The United States is thus in the odd position of having nearly 600 troops in the FYROM, but no ambassador or embassy there to represent its interests, In contrast, major U.S. allies like Germany, the United Kingdom, and France have full diplomatic and consular ties with the FYROM. The United States lagged behind all the major European countries in formally recognizing the FYROM, doing so only in February 1994, nearly two years after the Bush Administration extended recognition to the other newly independent former Yugoslav republics. The extraordinary reticence of two successive U.S. administrations to establish a normal relationship with the FYROM is a function of Greek objections. Since the FYROM voted by plebiscite for independence in 1991, Greece has worked strenuously to block international recognition of the new republic under its chosen name of Macedonia. The dispute with the FYROM is a hugely emotional issue for Greeks, fueling numerous public demonstrations in the United States and in Greece. However, the U.S. hesitation to normalize relations with the FYROM should not be understood as a national security interests-based decision to defer to its valued NATO ally, Greece. Support for Greeces stand on this issue within the executive branch has been weak in both the Bush and Clinton Administrations. Greek concerns over a threat from tiny FYROM are believed to be vastly overblown. Moreover, to the extent such Greek policies destabilize the FYROMs current moderate leadership, they run counter to important U.S. interests in the Balkans. This paper uses Graham Allisons bureaucratic model in reviewing U.S. decision making regarding Macedonia, and assessing the Greek American lobbys impact on that process.

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  • Government and Political Science
  • Humanities and History

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