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“Thiscountria” is a satirical alternate name given by citizens of the Republic of Macedonia to their country, reflecting the continuing international conflict over the word 'Macedonia.' In the Macedonian language, the word is written Diskantrija in Latin or Дискантрија in Cyrillic.

The word's origin traces to a bitter, unresolved conflict between the Republic of Macedonia and Greece over the name that the country adopted after its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. What was to become the Republic of Macedonia had formerly been the Socialist Republic of Macedonia, a constituent of the broader federal nation of Yugoslavia. Unlike the overwhelmingly Greek province of Macedonia, the Republic of Macedonia is majority Slav (with significant Albanian, Roma, Arumanian, Turk, and Serb minorities). When the Republic of Macedonia seceded from Yugoslavia and dropped the 'Socialist' from the front of the its name, it raised the ire of Greece.

The sticking point between the two countries is that there is more than one 'Macedonia.' Broadly speaking, there is Ancient Macedonia, an area which included the current Republic of Macedonia, parts of eastern Bulgaria, and parts of northern Greece. This is what most people think of when they hear the word 'Macedonia.' There is also 'Macedonia,' the nationstate, which is how Macedonians universally refer to themselves and their country. And finally, there is 'Macedonia' the Greek region. As Greek Macedonians also refer to themselves as 'Macedonian,' with no accompanying adjective, there is something of a problem here. In the rest of this writeup, I will use plain 'Macedonia' to refer to the Republic of Macedonia, because that's my bias. Mentally replace 'Macedonia' with 'Slavomacedonia' or 'the Skopjan Republic' if you side with the Greeks.

Continuing onward, the word 'Macedonia' itself also raises questions of heritage, as what is most often associated with 'Macedonia' is Alexander of Macedon, a.k.a. Alexandar the Great. The legacy of conquering much of the world in one shot comes with the name, and consequently it's easy to see why a country would wish to claim it.

Greece generally has a lock on the nationality of Alexander the Great, at least in the minds of Anglo-Americans. Nonetheless, it felt that, by taking the name Macedonia, this newly independent, Slavic majority country to its north was trying to encroach on Greek heritage. Furthermore, it felt that this new Macedonia was in effect laying claim to 'Greater Macedonia' and angling to rob Greece of its largest province.

The Republic of Macedonia protested that it intended no such thing, but it is worth pointing out that in the Macedonian language, the Macedonian region of Greece is referred to as 'Aegean Macedonia,' the Macedonian region of Bulgaria is referred to as 'Pirin Macedonia,' and the Republic of Macedonia itself is referred to as 'Vardar Macedonia.' There is also still a Macedonian-speaking, Slavic minority in Greece to which some Macedonian nationalists lay claim.

The Republic of Macedonia further angered Greece with such moves as using a sunburst symbol called the Vergina Sun uncovered in a archaelogical dig in Greece as its state symbol and including a picture of a monument in Thessalonika, Greece on its first print of currency. Attributing these actions of the new Macedonian state as an aggressive claim on Greek territory, Greece enacted an economic embargo against the Republic of Macedonia, which was stopped only when the Republic of Macedonia agreed to change its flag and currency.

The Republic of Macedonia was admitted to the United Nations after independence, but in the face of continued Greek objections to the country's name, Macedonia was given the provisional name “the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” or “FYROM,” which it continues to use today. In the United States, you may have seen maps with just plain 'Macedonia,' but in most of the rest of the English-speaking world, this is how Macedonia is officially referred to.

Macedonia and Greece remain in negotiation over the name, but in the meantime they continue a fight for international recognition of their sides of the conflict that somewhat parallels the fight between Taiwan and China. This fight can be especially intense in countries with both Greek and Macedonian minorities, such as Canada and Australia. And the fight is of greatest relevance to the European Union, which Macedonia is seeking to join and of which Greece is a veto-wielding member.

With the conflict unresolved, the EU has continued to use FYROM in all official interactions with Macedonia so as not to anger the Greeks. However, Macedonians tend to take offense at the use of FYROM, considering it an attack on Macedonian self-determination and independence. Thus EU officials have tried to compromise by not naming the country at all. Instead of “the Republic of Macedonia” or “the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,” official documents and official speeches from the EU to Macedonia will continually use “this country.” Publications from Macedonia submitted to the EU are edited to replace all references to Macedonia with “this country” and to the country's nationality with “this people.”

The unnatural frequency with which English-language EU documents have used “this country” has led Macedonians to satirically designating the official name of their country as “Thiscountria.” The appellation became especially popular with the publication of a novel in Macedonian by Drugi Mihailovski called The Prophecy of Diskantrija.

As the likelihood that Macedonia will be allowed to join the EU has grown, so the pressure has grown on Greece and Macedonia to resolve the name conflict. But until a compromise can be found, EU officials will continue to speak of the admirable progress of “Thiscountrians” in readying “Thiscountria” for the EU, and “Thiscountrians” will continue to feel irritation at being condescended to.

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