Macedonia Proposes “Name” Solution

Skopje is testng the waters with a three phase solution for the long lasting “name” row with Athens that would unlock country’s EU and NATO accession aspirations, local media report on Thursday.

The new proposal for solving the row which recently came from Macedonian legislator Pavle Trajanov is in fact the governments’ idea that is being tested for the public’s reaction.

Trajanov proposes that the two countries first reach a compromise for Macedonia’s name for international use. This would prompt Athens, who is member of EU and NATO, to lift the blockades it has imposed for Macedonia’s accession to these organisations, and would put Macedonia on a fast track towards EU membership.

The second phase envisages forming of bilateral committees that would gradually solve each open issue, including the scope of use of the agreed name, a bilateral agreement recognising mutual borders and a deal that would allow both sides to use the term Macedonian.

At the end the UN Security Council would “seal the deal” by voting a resolution that would complement all previous bilateral agreements.

Trajanov who is head of the small Democratic Alliance party which is part of the ruling coalition led by the centre right VMRO DPMNE party, has confirmed that he has sent his proposal to the UN name row mediator Matthew Nimetz and that he expects a reply soon. He hopes that the mediator will include the idea in the ongoing bilateral name talks.

“Now is the perfect timing for Macedonia to show initiative” he said, arguing that so far Macedonia only reacted to proposals by other parties.

Athens and Skopje are locked in an 18 years-long dispute over the use of the name Macedonia. Athens claims that Skopje’s official name, Republic of Macedonia, implies territorial claims against its own northern province, also called Macedonia.

In December, Athens prevented the EU states from extending a start date for Skopje’s accession talks with the bloc. In 2008 Athens blocked Skopje’s NATO accession as well.

The EU Council of Ministers decided to give an additional six month period to both countries to strike a deal, before reopening the issue of Macedonian accession talks.

Since then there has been no fresh UN sponsored bilateral talks. Macedonian Prime Minist Nikola Gruevski recently expressed hope of some movements at the end of this month.

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