Macedonia possibly to compromise over name issue with Greece

15:19, October 22, 2009      

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Macedonia would try to persuade Greece not to block its EU entry in December by promising concessions on name-changing issue sometime next year, local media reported on Wednesday.

"Diplomatic efforts are being made to persuade Greece to refrain from making any moves that would keep the EU council from extending the date", unnamed diplomats in Skopje told local TV A1.

The diplomats said Macedonia could compromise by making alterations to its present name before the actual start of the EU talks that would begin sometime next year.

Last year Athens blocked Skopje from entering NATO due to the 18-year-long name dispute. Greece argues the current name implicates Skopje's territorial claims of Greece's own northern province, also with the name of Macedonia.

Athens has asked Skopje to change its formal name, "the Republic of Macedonia," before it can get a green light to start its EU accession talks from the EU council at its next meeting in December.

In order for Skopje to get the desired date for the talks, all 27 EU member states, of which Greece is a full member, would have to vote in favor.

On Wednesday Macedonia's Prime Minister and the ruling center-right Democratic Party for Macedonian National Unity (VMRO DPMNE) leader, Nikola Gruevski, was not available for comment.

However, Ermira Mexmeti, the spokesperson of VMRO DPMNE's junior coalition partner Democratic Union for Integration (DUI), said that the moment is "more than favorable for a constructive and pragmatic approach" that "would bring progress".

The European Commission (EC) recommended on Oct. 14 the opening of Macedonia's EU membership talks, yet leaving the decision on the actual date to the EU council. The EC encouraged the country to hammer out a swift name deal with Greece.

The country's major opposition Social Democrats, SDSM, yesterday said they would back any government compromise as long as it guarantees the Macedonian language and the nation's identity.

The two neighboring countries are now engaged in UN sponsored solution-seeking talks. Local media speculated that some variations of the name like Northern Macedonia might be mutually acceptable.

Source: Xinhua
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