Thursday, July 10, 2008

France Urges Macedonia on ‘Name’ Before EU

The French government has confirmed that Macedonia might not advance in its EU integration before it settles the name dispute with Greece.

“If there is no resolution on the name, the perspective of FYROM’s (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia – the country’s provisional name at the United Nations) integration in the EU is effectively limited,” Jean-Pierre Jouyet, the French minister for State and European affairs told journalists in Brussels.

France is openly supporting the Greek government in the name dispute with Macedonia. On several occasions, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has confirmed that he is “on (Greek Prime Minister Costas) Karamanlis’s side.” Jouyet stressed that this is the official position of the whole French government.

Jouyet participated in a Balkans summit in Brussels, and presented some of the key priorities of the upcoming French presidency of the European Union, which starts on July 1. Antonio Milososki, Macedonia’s Foreign Minister also participated in the conference and emphasised that the name issue has become an “evergreen dispute.”

“Macedonia’s name is disproportionally more known than the size of our country,” Milosoki said.

However, he confirmed the commitment of the Macedonian government to continue with the UN-mediated talks. “We will use this opportunity to say that one small nation has a right to national self-determination and preserving its own national name,” Milososki said.

Greece is conditioning Macedonia to solve the 17 year-long dispute before the country starts accession talks with the EU. Macedonia has been an EU candidate country since 2005 and is waiting for a date for the start of accession talks.

Greece opposes Skopje’s use of the name ‘Republic of Macedonia’ arguing it could lead Skopje to make territorial claims on the northern Greek province of the same name.

The Greek position on conditioning Macedonia’s integration to the resolution of the name row has been criticised by some members of the European Parliament.

Doris Pack, head of the delegation for Southeast Europe in the European Parliament asked Greece to act responsibly.

“EU countries that are neighbours to EU candidate countries should act responsibly and should realise that they too, needed friends before entering the EU,” Pack said at the conference. “Bilateral problems should not be an obstacle as they were not the case in previous enlargements.”

No comments: