Saturday, March 15, 2008

Senior U.S. official appeals to Macedonia to work harder to solve name dispute with Greece

A senior U.S. official appealed to Macedonia Saturday to work harder toward a solution on the name dispute with Greece that has clouded relations between two neighbors for 17 years and threatens to block Macedonia's bid to join NATO.

"There is a lot of openness in NATO for Macedonia but we need a solution to the name issue. We really do," Daniel Fried, assistant U.S. secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs told private A1 TV channel. "And my message was let's try to find it."

Fried briefly visited Macedonia late Friday for talks with President Branko Crvenkovski and Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

Both sides declined to make statements to the media after the meetings.

Fried expressed optimism that a solution over the name dispute could be found before the NATO summit in Bucharest on April 2-4.

NATO nations cranked up pressure on Greece on Thursday to allow Macedonia, which broke away from Yugoslavia in 1991, to join the alliance, saying that the two countries should work harder to resolve a bitter dispute over competing claims to the name Macedonia.

"Yes, (the dispute) can be solved if there is enough political ambition and political will," Fried said.

He indirectly appealed to Macedonia to compromise, saying that the solution over the name dispute would mean that the U.S. "would pledge itself to defend Macedonia."

"That means that the other great nations of Europe, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and all of your neighbors would equally pledge to be allies," Fried said.

Macedonia, along with Croatia and Albania, is hoping to be invited to join NATO at the alliance summit. Greece has threatened to veto Macedonia's entry because of the dispute.

Greece says the name of Macedonia implies a claim to the Greek northern region with the same name. Other allies appealed to the two countries to come to an agreement in U.N.-led talks before the meeting starts on April 2 in Bucharest, Romania.

U.N. mediator Matthew Nimetz has proposed five alternative names that Macedonia could consider adopting: Constitutional Republic of Macedonia, Democratic Republic of Macedonia, Independent Republic of Macedonia, New Republic of Macedonia, and Republic of Upper Macedonia.

NATO nations said that excluding Macedonia from NATO could add to instability in the Balkan region, which is already tense over Kosovo's recent declaration of independence from Serbia.

1 comment:

booni said...

All FYROM needs to do is call themselves Skopia Yugoslavia
or Former Yugoslavia.
Stealing Greece's history isn't going to help!

The name Macedonia belongs to Greece.
Tito's propaganda must stop.
FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia)
is trying to expand its borders into Greece and
create a Baltic conflict. Greece wants to keep its heritage
and history peacefully. The Slavs moved into 'Macedonia' in the 600
AD, period while Greece has been around
with the name Macedonia for thousands of years. We only recently
have been hearing about the 'Macedonia' problem as FYROM
is a breakaway of the former Yugoslavia.