Macedonia has angrily rejected a U.S. lawmaker's assertion that it "is not a country" and should be divided among Kosovo, Bulgaria, and possibly other neighbors.
"My inclination is, Macedonia's not a country. I'm sorry, it's not a country," Dana Rohrabacher (Republican-California), chairman of the Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats in the U.S. House of Representatives, told Albanian TV channel Vizion Plus in an interview broadcast on February 7.
"The Kosovars...and the Albanians in Macedonia should become part of Kosovo," while the rest of Macedonia should become part of Bulgaria or other countries, Rohrabacher said.
A State Department spokesperson told RFE/RL on February 9 that the United States recognizes and supports "the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Macedonia."
Rohrabacher argued that Macedonia's creation in the 1990s during the breakup of Yugoslavia was a mistake because the nation is divided into ethnic camps that are unable to live together peaceably.
Macedonia's Foreign Ministry angrily rejected Rohrabacher's comments, saying they "generated immense anxiety" and "inflamed nationalist rhetoric" in the region, "taking us back into the past."
In a statement on February 7, the ministry said it believed the U.S. State Department would "dispel any dilemma" over Rohrabacher's remarks and make clear they did not reflect U.S. policy.
Asked whether the U.S. administration would pursue his ideas on the subject, Rohrabacher suggested that would depend on his level of involvement and said that he has "some influence on policymakers" in the United States.
He said that at future hearings of the subcommittee he chairs, "One of the things that will be discussed...is altering borders to make sense and bring peace to the Balkans."
With reporting by RFE/RL's Balkan Service, Balkan Insight, and The Independent