NEWS

US adds asterisk to ‘Macedonia’

WASHINGTON (Combined reports) – The United States on Wednesday moved to quell a diplomatic spat with Greece over its use of the contested name «Macedonia» in a formal agreement with the former Yugoslav republic giving US citizens in the country immunity from prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC). The State Department said the use of the name – which Greece objects to – did not represent a change in US policy. And, spokesman Richard Boucher stressed Washington still recognized the country by its formal name: «The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia» (FYROM). «The name ‘Macedonia’ is an informal name that has been used in the agreement,» he told reporters when asked about the controversy its use has caused in Greece. «It is not a change of recognition,» Boucher said. «The US formally recognizes Macedonia as ‘the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.’ We continue to support the ongoing discussions between Greece and Macedonia under UN auspices on a solution acceptable to both sides on the name,» he added, using the contested name. «Recognition policy remains where it was.» If that is so, a Greek correspondent asked, why was there no asterisk at the bottom of the page of the agreement? «I just did an asterisk,» the spokesman replied. «That’s what I just did.» He said Secretary of State Colin Powell had received a letter from his Greek counterpart George Papandreou «raising the issue.» A senior State Department official said Washington was sensitive to Athens’s concerns but Skopje had balked at signing the deal unless it was signed by diplomats representing «the United States and Macedonia.» «We wanted an Article 98 agreement and they wanted the name Macedonia,» the official said. «We both got what we wanted.» (AFP, AP)