Friday, February 22, 2008

Macedonia PM: People Decide Name

Macedonia’s Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, Wednesday, implied a referendum could be held if the country is forced to change its constitutional name due to Greek pressure.

“I can not comment on this right now but I think that Macedonia’s name in any instance should be decided only by its citizens, not by the politicians,” Gruevski told media, adding that the country’s leadership have “no moral right” to do so.

On Tuesday, Matthew Nemitz, the United Nations envoy to talks between Skopje and Athens over the dispute, handed his latest proposal for a solution to the negotiating teams from both countries but neither side revealed details.

Both said the proposal will be carefully analysed first.

This comes as the latest attempt to resolve the dispute before April’s NATO summit in Bucharest, where Greece has threatened to block Macedonia’s entry to the military alliance if a solution is not reached.

Commenting on the Nemitz proposal, Gruevski noted that Skopje will make its position clear in the coming days.

“We will decline everything that is negative and accept all the positive things. Rest assured that we will reject all that goes against Macedonia’s identity and national interests,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, the local Kanal 5 Television station revealed the alleged content of the proposal citing unnamed government sources.
According to them, Nemitz has proposed five options for Macedonia’s name of which the two sides should choose one while the use of its current constitutional name “Republic of Macedonia” will be restricted to domestic use.

The proposals are reportedly: Democratic Republic of Macedonia, Constitutional Republic of Macedonia, Independent Republic of Macedonia, Republic of Upper Macedonia or Northern Republic of Macedonia.

Of these, sources say that the variants with the prefixes 'Democratic' and 'Independent' could be more acceptable for Skopje.

Macedonia plans to object to clauses that call for the country's constitution to incorporate the new name, and oppose measures that say it should feature in the country's passports.

Macedonia will also reject the use of its new name in bilateral relations, since 120 countries, including the USA , Russia and China, have already recognised the country's constitutional name since Macedonia's independence in 1991.

Due to objections from Athens to the name, Republic of Macedonia, the country entered the UN under the provisional title, “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", in 1993.

The two countries were then obliged to continue with UN mediated talks pending a resolution.

Among other things, the deal prevented Athens from blocking Skopje from enrolling in international institutions under the provisional name.

Greece says the name of its northern neighbour implies territorial claims over its northern province of Macedonia.

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