Dabar populiaru
Published: 8 july 2013 18:03

Macedonian PM in Vilnius calls for more Greek effort to settle country name clash

Nikola Gruevskis ir Algirdas Butkevičius
Kęstučio Vanago/BFL nuotr. / Nikola Gruevskis and Algirdas Butkevičius

Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski has noted a lack of willingness on the part of Greece to settle the clash on the country's name, which impedes Skopje's integration with the European Union (EU) and NATO.

Two years ago, Macedonia met the requirements for joining NATO and opening EU membership talks; however, the steps have been blocked by Greece, saying that the use of the name Macedonia in a state name could mean territorial claim to a northern province of Greece bearing the same name.

"The international law is on our side but the membership of Greece in the EU and NATO is on their side, the veto power is on their side," Gruevski said at a joint news conference with Lithuania's Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius in Vilnius on Monday.

"We have a feeling that they are not so much focused on resolving this issue and on dialogue with us," said the head of the Macedonian government.

Gruevski said he wrote a letter to his Greek colleague a week ago, suggesting to engage in more active cooperation in the search for a solution, but received no response so far.

"I hope that in the next days I will receive a positive answer. If there is a positive answer and if we start an intensive dialogue, there are chances to come to a solution," he added when asked whether the EU membership negotiations could be started by the end of 2013.

Butkevičius, the Lithuanian PM, said after the meeting that Vilnius would want to "see progress in the Macedonian-EU talks" during the Lithuanian EU Council presidency, but added it depended on Macedonia.

He urged Macedonia to seek better relations with Greece and Bulgaria, stressing the need to implement the agreement reached in spring that put an end to a political crisis following the opposition's boycott of parliamentary operations for a few months in the beginning of the year.

"Lithuania supports Macedonia's intentions of joining the EU, we would like to see progress in the process of the negotiations during our EU Council presidency, however, Macedonia should take the initiative and work for progress: fully implement the so-called March 1 agreement, seek agreement with Greece on the name, sign an agreement with Bulgaria on good neighborhood and cooperation," Butkevičius said in a press release.

Located in the Balkan Peninsula, Macedonia declared independence from Yugoslavia back in 1991 and was accepted to the United Nations in 1993. Due to a conflict with Greece, it is officially referred to as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in multilateral formats. Lithuania knows the country as the Republic of Macedonia.

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