Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Gasparovic: Macedonia Meeting Obligations as NATO Candidate

Macedonia is complying with its status as a candidate country for accession to NATO, and is "on the best path towards meeting the conditions," Slovak President Ivan Gasparovic said on Tuesday after meeting his Macedonian counterpart Branko Crvenkovski in Bratislava.

Crvenkovski, who is currently on a two-day official visit to Slovakia with his wife Jasmina, expressed his satisfaction at Slovakia's stance on this issue.

However, he pointed out that his country's bid to join NATO could be blocked due to a long-running dispute between Macedonia and Greece over the name of his country. Greece has threatened to veto Macedonia's accession to the alliance because the latter is using the same name as an adjoining Greek province, which, according to Athens, could imply a territorial claim.

"It's a most delicate question, and we haven't found a solution yet," said Crvenkovski, giving assurances that Macedonia is trying to tackle the issue in a constructive manner.

The two officials also discussed bilateral relations and the possibility of Macedonia becoming an EU member. They also touched on the issue of independence for Kosovo, with Crvenkovski promising that his country will continue to take the EU's stance into consideration, while making sure that Macedonia's own interests prevail. [Macedonia has a large ethnic-Albanian minority. - ed. note].

The Macedonian head of state is also due to have lunch with Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and meet Parliamentary Vice-chair Anna Belousovova in the afternoon.

On the second day of his visit, Crvenkovski will travel to Nitra and Trnava, where he is due to meet the mayors of the two cities - Jozef Dvonc (Nitra) and Stefan Bosnak (Trnava).

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