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FACTDROP: Macedonia Floats New 'Name' Initiative With Greece


Macedonia Floats New 'Name' Initiative With Greece

FM Nikola Poposki in Brussels

Πηγή: BalkanInsight
By Sinisa Jakov Marusic
Dec 1 2011

In a bid to end the stalemate over Macedonia's name, Macedonia is proposing a time-frame to Greece to settle the dispute that is blocking the country’s accession to the EU and NATO.

Macedonia is proposing that at the December 9 EU Council of Ministers meeting, Greece allows Macedonia’s EU accession talks to get underway.

Greece has been blocking a start to the talks for three years owing to the unresolved name issue.

In exchange, as soon as accession talks begin, during the so-called screening process, Macedonia would agree to a strict time frame to settle the name dispute.

”Setting an indicative time frame mechanism for reaching a mutually acceptable solution during the initial stage of the EU accession negotiations could inspire positive developments in the UN-led Process,” Macedonia’s Foreign Minister, Nikola Poposki, said in an address to the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee in Brussels.

Last year Poposki’s predecessor, Antonio Milososki, also urged Greece to allow EU accession talks to start in tandem with ongoing UN-led talks on a settlement to the name dispute.

On Tuesday Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski repeated the idea of a simultaneous end to the EU blockade and a start to accession talks in a letter sent to his recently elected Greek counterpart, Lucas Papademos.

But this is the first time that Macedonia has officially proposed a time frame for a name settlement.

“This is a new initiative from your government and it’s one that I find very interesting,” the European Parliament rapporteur on Macedonia, Richard Howitt, said. He said he would forward the initiative to the European Parliament.

Despite repeated recommendations from the European Commission, the EU has for three years declined to set a date for membership talks, owing to a Greek blockade connected to the "name" issue.

Greece insists that use of the name "Macedonia" implies a territorial claim to its own northern province of the same name.

Meanwhile, all eyes are directed towards the International Court of Justice in The Hague, which should deliver its ruling in the case of Macedonia versus Greece on December 5.

Macedonia is suing Greece before the World Court for breaching a 1995 UN interim agreement by blocking its NATO accession in 2008.

The agreement bound Greece not to stop Macedonia from entering international organizations under its provisional UN reference, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, FYROM.

While some Greek media suspect the World Court ruling might go in Macedonia’s favour, the Macedonian authorities have declined to comment on "speculation" while saying they will respect the ruling, whatever it is.

The World Court has no tools to enforce its decisions on countries. But officials in Skopje believe that a positive ruling for Macedonia would at least shift the terms of the argument to Macedonia's benefit.

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