Saturday, February 06, 2010

Macedonians remain pessimistic on name dispute with Greece, survey shows

The statewide poll conducted by Transparency-Zero Corruption had 400 respondents. It showed 56 percent didn't believe the row could be resolved within the next six months as the EU hopes, while 31 percent remained optimistic, and 12 percent had no answer.

Skopje declared independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991 and took the name of Macedonia. Greece insisted the name implied territorial claims to a Greek province also called Macedonia.

According to the poll, about 50 percent of respondents said changing the country's name would jeopardize national identity, while 44 percent held the opposite opinion.

The poll again confirmed the disparity of views on the name issue between the two largest ethnic communities in Macedonia. While most ethnic Macedonians feared the country would lose its identity if it was required to give up its official name, ethnic Albanians, who make up a quarter of the country's two million population, tended to agree with the name change if it meant quick NATO and EU entry.

Greece has blocked Macedonia's efforts to join the NATO defense alliance and the European Union because of the dispute.

The survey also revealed the vast majority didn't know exactly what Greece demanded in the way of name change.

Slagjana Taseva, the head of Transparency-Zero Corruption, said many people lacked information about the negotiations and had no idea how far the country's leaders would go in making compromises.

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