Friday, April 04, 2008

Thaci: Macedonians To Solve Greece Row

The dispute with Greece is a matter for Macedonians, and Albanians in the country will let them deal with it, a key ethnic Albanian leader in Skopje says.

“We will tolerate the efforts for finding compromise with Greece for as long as we can,” the head of the Democratic Party of Albanians, DPA, Menduh Thaci, told local A1 TV.

Macedonia failed to secure an invitation to join NATO at the alliance’s summit in Bucharest on Thursday following a Greek veto.

Athens was protesting against Skopje’s refusal to change its country’s name.

Greece opposes to Skopje’s constitutional name “Republic of Macedonia” saying it might lead Skopje to make territorial claims on its own northern province, which is also called Maceonia.

Commenting on the recent initiative of his coalition partner, the centre-right VMRO- DPMNE, to call a referendum on the country changing its name, Thaci said that would be the “worst scenario” since it would cause ethnic divisions between the Macedonian majority that would vote against the move, and ethnic Albanians that would largely vote in favour.

Albanians comprise about 25% of the country’s population.

The recent opinion poll conducted by Brima Galup prior to the Bucharest Summit showed that the vast majority of Macedonians put the country’s name ahead of their NATO ambitions while ethnic Albanians think exactly opposite.

The long running row between the two countries began in the early 1990s. Despite increased United Nations and United States diplomatic initiatives to solve the dispute before the NATO summit, it became the sole obstacle to Macedonia’s bid to join the alliance.

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