Skopje Says Identity is Non-negotiable

Macedonia’s President Georgi Ivanov has promised to push for a solution to his country’s long-running name dispute this year, but not at the price of ‘putting identity onto the negotiating table’.

“It is regretful that due to an irrational reason, an imposed dispute, generations of Macedonian citizens are hindered on the road to progress and welfare,” Ivanov said in his address at the reception arranged for the diplomatic community in the country. “However, it is up to us to alter this reality.”

Ivanov pledged to do everything in his power to move the name dispute towards finding a solution soon.

He stressed that Macedonian citizens were the ones most interested in the Euro-Atantic accession, but not at the price of dignity and identity.

“I hope our neighbour is aware that identity issues are non-negotiable worldwide. Identity is a feeling that a man is born with and as such cannot be taken away at a table, through an act, a piece of paper,” said Ivanov.

Doyen of the diplomatic corps in Macedonia, Croatian ambassador Ivan Kujundzic also addressed the event, referring to Macedonia’s successes in 2009, including the democratic presidential and local elections, fall of the Schengen wall and the European Commission Progress Report, that included a recommendation for the country to start its EU accession talks.

However, in December Macedonia did not get the Green light for start of its EU accession talks due to Greek objections. Athens insists that Macedonia must change its name first.

Both countries are locked in an 18-year long name spat over the use of the ‘Macedonia’. Athens insists that Skopje’s official name, Republic of Macedonia. indicates territorial claims against its own northern province which is also called Macedonia.

In 2008 Greece also blocked Macedonia from entering NATO, citing the unresolved dispute as the reason.

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