Thursday, January 29, 2009

Macedonia PM ‘Nationalist, Provocative’ - Greece

The politics of Macedonia’s conservative Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski are sparking nationalism and provoking Greece, undermining efforts to resolve the two countries’ name dispute, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said on Monday.

Speaking at the think-tank Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels, Bakoyannis criticized Skopje’s recent move to rename its main highway to ‘Alexander of Macedon’, after the ancient conqueror whose origin and heritage is claimed by both countries.
This move indicates that Gruevski “does not believe in the [United Nations sponsored] negotiations underway” on this issue, Bakoyiannis stressed and accused Gruevski of resorting to “short-sighted populism” in order to consolidate his political position.
“There must be a mutually acceptable solution that reflects the geographic reality without winners and losers,” she said. Bakoyiannis expressed concerns about Skopje’s attempts to “monopolise” use of the name “Macedonia’.
In April, Athens blocked Skopje’s NATO invitation arguing that Macedonia must change its name. Athens says that Skopje’s use of that name implies territorial claims over its own northern province also called Macedonia.
Since then, the UN sponsored talks on this issue have intensified but without a breakthrough.A new round of talks is set for February but few expect more than diplomatic pleasantries, as both sides battle it out at the International Court of Justice in Hague.
In November Macedonia sued Greece in the ICJ arguing that Athens broke its pledge in the UN sponsored Interim Accord not to block the country from entering international organizations under its provisional UN mane, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, FYROM.
Bakoyiannis stated that her country will endorse every effort for ensuring that the citizens of Skopje, as Athens usually refers to Macedonia, have better communication with the EU, something Macedonian media interpreted as a signal Athens will not obstruct the current visa liberalisation process.

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