Thursday, April 03, 2008

The last word: Republic of Macedonia (Skopje)

Macedonia's government is ready to ask parliament to consider a new name for the country to end a dispute with Greece and clear the way for it to begin NATO membership talks, Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki said yesterday.

Referring to a United Nations mediator's suggestion that the former Yugoslav republic change its name to Republic of Macedonia (Skopje), he said: "After 15 years of talks we think that this proposal is final in this process."

Milososki declined to say whether his government accepted the compromise name but said parliament would probably discuss the proposal on Monday.

It would be the first time a proposed name change has made it as far as the national assembly. It was not clear if Greece would accept the name as a compromise.

Pressure to resolve the dispute has intensified on the eve of a NATO summit in Romania next week, at which Balkan states Croatia, Albania and Macedonia are to be considered for membership of the Western alliance.

Greece threatens to veto Macedonia's move unless it changes its name, which is the same as Greece's northernmost province.

NATO and the European Union are eager to see a solution to the dispute for the sake of stability in the Balkans.

EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn voiced hope yesterday that the dispute would be settled soon.

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