NATO chief urges Macedonia to resolve name dispute with Greece

09:49, June 19, 2010      

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NATO urged Macedonia on Friday to resolve its 19-year name dispute with neighboring Greece in order to join the alliance.

"You should continue with your efforts in order to reach a solution to the name issue and continue with the reforms. These are the keys to the NATO door," NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said at a joint press conference with Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski in Skopje, capital of the western Balkan country.

Greece has been blocking Macedonia's NATO bid since 2008 over the name dispute.

Athens has contended that the former Yugoslav state's determination to call itself Macedonia concealed territorial ambitions over its northern province of the same name.

NATO would not meddle in the UN-led talks concerning the name issue, Rasmussen said.

"The alliance encourages involved parties to do their best in finding a pragmatic solution," he said.

The NATO chief expressed gratitude for Macedonia's increasing contribution to the UN-led mission in Afghanistan. Macedonia has had 242 soldiers in Afghanistan since 2002 as part of the International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan.

"Your troops do a good job. They play a valuable role in our mission. We also appreciate the political decision for increase of your contribution," he said.

Source: Xinhua


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