Thursday, January 18, 2007

A last chance for FYROM

The provocative decision by the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to rename the airport in capital Skopje after Alexander the Great proves that as long as the name dispute with Greece remains unresolved, it will continue to have a deleterious effect on bilateral relations and also influence broader political implications.

Unless an honest and mutually accepted compromise is reached on the name issue between the two neighboring states, the Greek Parliament (whether it is led by a conservative or a Socialist majority) is not going to give FYROM the go-ahead for the much-coveted membership of the NATO alliance.

Similarly, the government in Athens will most likely block the launching of the country’s European Union talks.

In light of the current deadlock on the name issue, which has been a problem for years, the visit of United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz to the two capitals will offer a chance to lift the deadlock.

Skopje’s evasive tactics, which have managed to keep FYROM away from serious negotiations on the name issue, cannot continue. If these tactics go on, they will cause more damage and Skopje may have to pay the costs.

There is simply too much at stake, as FYROM’s membership of the EU and the transatlantic alliance is vital for our neighbor’s very survival.

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