Macedonian President: Name Must be Solved

resizer122Outgoing Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski has warned that while a solution to his country’s long standing spat over its name with Greece may not be popular, a deal is essential and will bring long term positive results.

Drawing a parallel with the Ohrid agreement of 2001 which ended the armed crisis between Macedonians and ethnic Albanians with the country, Crvenkovski said that an agreement would never have been reached if the public opinion of Macedonians or Albanians were taken into account. But while at the time the agreement was not that popular, today, he noted, both communities feel it was an excellent solution. 

“Key decisions in the history of a nation are always very difficult,” he said.

“Today, state officials of Macedonia have to take an obligation to make difficult decisions regarding both the name issue and their country’s integration in EU,” Crvenkovski added.

The outgoing president was speaking after a meeting with the EU’s High Representative for a Common Foreign Policy and Security Policy Javier Solana, who expressed hopes that 2009 might be “a good year” to start accession negotiations with Macedonia.

“You are in position that with little bit of effort it could be possible to enter in the negotiating process with EU,” Solana said. “That is the wish of Macedonian people and I hope it will be the reality,” he added.

Branko Crvenkovski reaffirmed that EU integrations remain his country’s top priority.

“We know exactly what are criteria we have to fulfill in the coming period,” Crvenkovski said. “I believe that in Macedonia there is the political will to fulfill these criteria so that in the progress report this year there will be a recommendation to start accession negotiations,” he added.

Macedonia has been an EU candidate country since December 2005. While the country has not yet fulfilled all the criteria to start accession talks, the bilateral dispute with Greece over the country’s name has added an additional complication. Greece blocked the country’s accession to NATO and has threatened to do the same with the country’s EU bid if a solution to the dispute is not found.

Solana expressed hopes that a solution to the spat will be found. “An effort has to be made and I hope very much that a solution will be found,” he said.

This was the last time that Crvenkovski will be visitiong the EU institutions in the capacity of president.

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