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Greece-FYROM name dispute enters a new, crucial phase October 8, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Politics.
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A proposal from UN mediator Nimetz is expected in November

The diplomatic marathon between Greece and FYROM is also affecting the large number of Greek businesses that have set up branches in FYROM, which have complained about treatment from local officials. 

A new proposal from Matthew Nimetz, UN mediator between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), is expected in November and according to a senior diplomatic source, will show which country has “won” what has turned into a marathon series of talks on the Balkan country’s use of the name “Macedonia.” The next few weeks will therefore be crucial if a mutually acceptable solution is to be found.

The heads of diplomatic missions to NATO member states and the European Union have already been clear instructions as to how to proceed. These instructions essentially constitute a reaffirmation of Greece’s positions on the issue, in such a way as to make it clear that the issue cannot remain pending in view of FYROM’s candidacy for accession to NATO and the European Union. Greece firmly believes that this cannot come about unless the name issue is resolved.

Greek diplomats have also been given set boundaries regarding the terms of any proposal that might be acceptable.

First of all, Greece has accepted that any proposal will have to be in the form of a composite name and that there is no possibility of excluding the use of “Macedonia” or a derivative thereof. However, any composite name will have to be in a form that clearly rules out any possibility that FYROM may raise further claims in the future.

In accordance with the above, names such as “Macedonia-FYROM” or “Republic of Macedonia” will not be acceptable to Greece. Moreover, a composite name will have to be in a form that rules out any further claims by FYROM relating to issues such as the geographical area identified as “Macedonia” prior to 1913, of which the greatest part lies in Greek territory, and also includes territory in Bulgaria.

The Greek Foreign Ministry realizes that no matter how good a composite name might be, it will raise protests on the home front, so a public relations campaign is being devised to prepare political parties and the public.

As for FYROM’s negotiations for NATO membership, which is to be decided next April and will likely increase pressure for a resolution of the name issue, Greece is counting on another, equally important factor. Namely the fact that, according to NATO sources, FYROM is not yet ready; it has not carried out all the necessary reforms required under NATO accession terms. In fact, there are serious doubts as to whether it will be ready by April. Some countries, such as the US, which is pushing for an enlargement of NATO to include Croatia, Albania and FYROM, might be willing to turn a blind eye to that fact, but other powerful members will oppose it. Greece is counting on these countries as allies in the final stretch so that it will not be the only opponent to FYROM membership.

At the same time, Greece is also emphasizing the significance of the fact that a country that fails to comply with the rules of good neighborly relations poses a potential threat to stability in the greater region. Greece has not made any clear mention of the possibility of vetoing FYROM’s membership, seen as a last resort, but Athens will be using every means at its disposal as a member of NATO and the EU.

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