FYROM president blames Greece for deadlock

Gjorge Ivanov, the conservative president of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, on Monday blamed Greece for the ongoing impasse in the name dispute while calling upon Brussels to urge the Greek government to unblock the Balkan state’s European ambitions.

Ivanov urged the European Union to convince Greece about the benefits stemming from FYROM’s potential accession. Helping FYROM join the EU, Ivanov said, would also help polish Greece’s image in the eyes of the Slav-Macedonian people who, he said, are slated to vote in a referendum on any settlement.

He said the economic crisis prevents Greece from seeking a solution, suggesting that Skopje favors a mutually accepted name for use in international organizations.

Diplomatic sources in Athens denounced Ivanov’s remarks as groundless.

An EU candidate since 2005, FYROM has so far failed to open membership talks because of the dispute. The erection of a 22-meter-tall bronze statue of Alexander the Great in the capital Skopje earlier this year has deepened the rift with Athens, which accuses FYROM of stealing its ancient heritage.

Newly re-elected Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski last week vowed his government ?will not accept any change… of the constitutional name of Macedonia.?