It’s North after all, not to the north of Macedonia

Biljana Vankovska. Photo: Print screen


On 13 June 2018, in an interview with Faktor website about the solution to the name dispute and the agreement with the Hellenic Republic, professor Biljana Vankovska made the following statement:

The English version of the proposed name Republic of North Macedonia doesn’t actually mean Република Северна Македонија (Republic of North Macedonia), but Република на северот од Македонија (Republic to the North of Macedonia). If it was Северна Македонија, the name would be Republic of Northern Macedonia. The relinquishing of the existence of the Macedonian national minority is a different story altogether…

[Source: Faktor, date: 13 June 2018]



This statement of professor Biljana Vankovska, made after Prime Minister’s Zoran Zaev press conference in which he shared details from the Agreement with Greece regarding the decades-long name dispute, is untrue.

According to Britannica and Wikipedia encyclopedias, countries that have adjectives in their names (north, south) are written as follows:

South Africa – (Јужна Африка – Јужноафриканска Република)

North Korea – (Северна Кореја)

South Korea – (Јужна Кореја)

North Carolina – (Северна Каролина)

South Carolina – (Јужна Каролина)

North Dakota – (Северна Дакота)

Provoked by Vankovska’s statement, Ognen Vangelov, a PhD candidate and lecturer at Queen’s University in Canada, on Facebook said that “for anyone who knows English this statement is nothing but a disinformation” and he explains why:

In the English language, there are two forms for the word северен/северна/северно: north and northern. The word north is both a noun and an adjective. If it is placed before another noun, then it serves as an adjective. Northern, on the other hand, is just an adjective. However, a form that is mostly used in geographical territories, such as continents, countries etc. would be north.

Examples of countries and states with the adjective north (северна): North Korea (Северна Кореја), North Carolina (Северна Каролина), North Dakota (Северна Дакота). They have the word north. Further, the continent Северна Америка is North America, not Northern America. The same goes for the word југ (south). The country is South Africa, not Southern Africa (the latter would be the southern part of the African continent). This is not an absolute rule, there might be exceptions like Western Australia (Западна Австралија, a state in Australia). It’s a matter of a border issue here, since this is both state and western part of the country Australia. Anyway, both terms mean северен/на/но (north) when used as adjectives.

So, northern is mostly used as a северна област (northern part) of one geographical territory. The translation would be more like “северниот дел од (the northern part of)”. Hence, Vojvodina would be “Serbia’s northern province of Vojvodina” (Северната покраина на Србија, Војводина…). “Slovenia was the northern republic of former Yugoslavia…” (Словенија беше северната република во поранешна Југославија). We also have Northern Ireland (Северна Ирска), which is not an independent country, but the northern part of one geographical territory Ireland.

To sum up, the term North Macedonia is correct and it doesn’t mean “на северот од Македонија” at all. This last thing in English would be To the North of Macedonia or Republic to the North of Macedonia.

Using a dose of irony, professor Mirjana Najchevska wrote on Facebook:

If we follow this logic, then Britannica had made a grave mistake in the article on North America ( North America occupies the northern portion of the landmass generally referred to as the New World, the Western Hemisphere, or simply the Americas).




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This article was created within the framework of the Project to increase the accountability of the politicians and political parties Truthmeter implemented by Metamorphosis. The article is made possible by the generous support of the National Endowment for Democracy(NED) and The Balkan Trust for Democracy (BTD), a project of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, an initiative that supports democracy, good governance, and Euroatlantic integration in Southeastern Europe. The content is the responsibility of its author and does not necessarily reflect the views of Metamorphosis, National Endowment for Democracy, the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, or its partners.

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