Thursday, February 04, 2010

Finland supports EU involvement in settling name dispute between Macedonia, Greece

Finland supports the idea of increasing involvement of the European Union in settling the name dispute between Macedonia and Greece, Finnish Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb said on Tuesday.

“Many issues have been settled through the EU, since the union seems like a crisis management organization,” Stubb said after meeting with his Macedonian counterpart Antonio Milososki in Skopje.

He suggests that the larger member states of the EU, such as Germany and the EU President Herman Van Rompuy get involved in solving the name row that has dogged the two neighbors for the past 19 years.

Stubb, who is on a one-day visit to Macedonia, said that his country supports the EU enlargement process and the start of Macedonia’s accession talks with the EU.

“The sooner the talks with Macedonia begin, the better it will be for everyone. This will not be an easy path and I will not give any dates today, and the name row must be solved as soon as possible,” Stubb said.

Athens and Skopje are locked in a 19-year-long dispute over the use of the name of Macedonia. Athens claims that Macedonia’s name implies territorial claims against Greece’s own northern province, also called Macedonia.

In December last year, the EU postponed a decision on opening accession talks with Macedonia due to the name dispute. Greece also vetoed Macedonia’s NATO aspirations over the row in 2008.

The name talks between the Macedonia and Greece have been conducted under the auspices of the United Nations. It was reported that the UN special envoy on this issue Matthew Nimetz will visit the two countries in late February or early March.

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