NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said Wednesday that the name dispute between Macedonia and Greece has put the alliance in a difficult situation.
Macedonia is applying for NATO membership at the Bucharest summit. But Greece has threatened to veto the invitation to the former Yugoslav republic should it refuse to change its name.
"The situation is dire and very difficult," de Hoop Scheffer told a youth summit on the sidelines of the NATO summit. "A solution is not in the offing."
In response to a question from a Macedonian, who asked what was the point of Greece being in NATO since Macedonia is committing 4 percent of its troops to NATO operations while Greece only 0.1 percent, de Hoop Scheffer warned that a confrontational attitude is not helpful.
The name dispute is complex for both countries, he said.
The situation is that one country is a NATO member and the other is not, he said, referring to the fact that any NATO ally can veto a decision in the alliance.
He explained that the name dispute is not a NATO issue as the alliance cannot intervene directly. But he pledged that he will make last-ditch efforts to help find a solution. "I want your nation in NATO," he told the Macedonian.
The name dispute has lingered on for more than a decade. Greece fears that the former Yugoslav republic's constitutional name -- Republic of Macedonia -- implies territorial ambition for the neighboring northern Greek province of Macedonia.
Macedonia has been firm on the issue, turning down modification proposals by UN mediator Matthew Nimetz.
Apart from Macedonia, Croatia and Albania are also applying for NATO membership at the summit.