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Team walks out of sports competition over name dispute October 20, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Politics, Sports & Games.
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

A 150-member FYROM team walked out of a youth athletics competition in northern Greece on Saturday after objecting to the name used to introduce them, the latest sign of a sharpening bilateral dispute over FYROM’s official name.

Saturday’s walkout follows renewed warnings in the past two days by Greece’s Prime Minister and Foreign Minister that Greece will block FYROM’s attempts to join NATO and the European Union unless it compromises over the name issue.

Saturday was the penultimate day of the inaugural Southeastern European Countries Games, a week-long youth competition involving teams from 12 southeastern European countries, including Turkey. The FYROM’s team refused to be introduced as “FYROM”, the acronym for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia,  rather than its preferred “Macedonia.”

A published poll on Saturday showed that more than half of Greeks surveyed believe that if FYROM insists on retaining the name “Macedonia”, Greece should veto its NATO and EU bids. The survey, conducted by pollster Metron Analysis and published in the mass-circulation newspaper “Eleftheros Typos,” showed 58.3 percent of respondents urged the veto and said the word Macedonia should not appear in the country’s name. Another 30.2 percent favor a compromise and 6.3 percent say FYROM should be able to call itself what it wants. No margin of error or sample size was given.

Greece has opposed FYROM’s calling itself by that name since the early 1990s, saying it implies territorial designs on the northern Greek Macedonia province of the same name.

Last week, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis threatened to wield the veto in April when FYROM’s bid to join NATO comes up for consideration at a planned alliance summit in Bucharest. Earlier Saturday, Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis told the central committee of his conservative New Democracy Party that the time had come to resolve the longrunning dispute with its northern neighbor.

UPDATE > Greek Prime Minister tells Merkel Greece will block EU, NATO bids if name solution not found

Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis yesterday impressed upon German Chancellor Angela Merkel Greece’s determination to push for a solution to its dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) regarding the latter’s name before Skopje proceeds with its possible accession to NATO.

“It is inconceivable for FYROM to join NATO or the EU without a mutually acceptable solution to the name dispute,” Karamanlis is reported to have told Merkel on the sidelines of a European Council summit in Lisbon. According to sources, Greece’s PM hinted that Athens would exercise its veto if necessary. Karamanlis was due to meet French President Nicolas Sarkozy later yesterday.

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