Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A tired name game

Reaching an agreement on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia name issue is a political anachronism sustained by prime minister designate Nikola Gruevski, who yesterday urged a solution “that will satisfy both sides without putting the constitutional name into question.”

Antonio Miloseski, soon to be the country’s foreign minister, said that FYROM is willing to reach a compromise solution with Greece only “on bilateral relations, not the country’s international name.”

The new government of this Balkan nation has drained the concept of “negotiation” of all meaning and does not hesitate to address the Greek government and the public as if they are a bunch of fools. Let the issue remain unresolved if that is what Skopje officials want. Let the Greek threats cease as any attempts for dialogue seem to be in vain.

The government of Costas Karamanlis has in the past proposed the name “Republic of Macedonia-Skopje,” an offer that runs against the 1992 decision of the informal council of political leaders under then-president Constantine Karamanlis. It was an ultimate concession for the sake of stability.

In November 2004, when the newly re-elected Bush administration rushed to recognize the country as “the Republic of Macedonia,” the Karamanlis government warned of a possible veto of Skopje’s membership in NATO and the European Union.

But a new wave of European enlargement, particularly in the Balkans, is not in the cards right now. FYROM will probably have to spend many years in the waiting room. And as a result Greece does not have to worry about Skopje submitting an EU candidacy.

The situation calls for pragmatism from all countries. Greece has made significant concessions on the name issue. On the other hand, the new government in FYROM insists on their same tired arguments.

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