On 14 February 2019, following an agreement with Greece, the name of our country changed. You can read the agreement here. Still, exactly how to describe us can be confusing! What follows is an explanation of what we have agreed in Prespa and how to describe us, our country and our institutions:
North Macedonia Made Simple
Q: What exactly is the correct name of your country now?
A: Officially we are now the Republic of North Macedonia, though just North Macedonia is fine. Be careful though: We are not Northern Macedonia.
Q: So are your citizens North Macedonians now?
A: No! They are of course Macedonian citizens and citizens of the Republic of North Macedonia, but otherwise it is absolutely correct to describe ethnic Macedonians simply as Macedonians, without the adjective “North”. And actually don’t use the term North Macedonian at all, but we will get to that.
Q: But surely your language is North Macedonian now?
A: No. It is just Macedonian, exactly as it was before the agreement with Greece.
Q: I need to know your country codes. Have they changed?
A: No. They remain the same as before: MK and MKD.
Q: I am going to write a story about food in your country. Should I talk about North Macedonian cuisine?
A: No. When describing anything related to our ethnic or cultural identity the adjective Macedonian alone is correct while North or Northern Macedonian would be wrong. Some correct examples include: Macedonian culture, Macedonian history, Macedonian literature, the Macedonian Cyrillic alphabet, Macedonian churches, Macedonian ethnic identity and so on. Bear in mind however, Macedonia and Macedonians, mean something distinctly different in Greece.
Q: So, if I have lunch with your president what should I say?
A: Good point! You would be correct to say that the President of North Macedonia served you a lunch of delicious Macedonian specialties. It would not be correct to say that you had lunch with the North Macedonian president.
Q: This is confusing! Why is he or she the President of North Macedonia but not the North Macedonian president while your food is just Macedonian?
A: As part of the deal with Greece we have agreed not to describe any state body as North Macedonian. Anything connected to the state, the government, the presidency, private entities and actors related to the state or activities financed by the state abroad will use the adjective North but it is not necessary to use it otherwise, for example for food. So, our country is run by the Government of North Macedonia, our head of state is the President of North Macedonia, foreign affairs are run by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia and so on. North Macedonia should also be used for all other official bodies too, for example, local municipalities and Saints Cyril and Methodius University. For example: “Tetovo is a municipality in North Macedonia where it is common to hear people speak in either Macedonian or Albanian. Likewise: “Saints Cyril and Methodius University is the oldest university in North Macedonia. I went there to do an interview about the Macedonian economy.” Again, be careful – not North Macedonian. Yes, it is complicated, but it took us 27 years to get to this agreement!
Q: Does the United Nations know about all this?
A: Of course! We notified them officially and everything described here is officially lodged with them here.