FYROM wants EU membership process, Greek talks to run in tandem


The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) hopes it has done enough to convince the European Union to start accession talks while a quarter-of-a-century-long row with neighboring Greece rumbles on, its foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Greece has vetoed the ex-Yugoslav republic's attempts to join both the EU and NATO because it says the name “Macedonia” implies a territorial claim over Greece's own northerly region of Macedonia.

Skopje's suggestion last month to use the name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or FYROM, as it does at other international bodies was not “immediately embraced” by Greece, Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov told Reuters.

The two sides are set to meet again later this month at the UN General Assembly in New York. Whatever the outcome, Macedonia wants the EU to agree that accession talks – which could take years – can at least get under way.

“If we have enough in terms of reform at home, we hope we will reach that stage (to start EU accession talks) and the deal with the name issue in parallel,” Dimitrov said.

The time it takes to go through the EU membership process might give Greece enough comfort that process can be halted if needed.

Joining NATO is more clear cut though, meaning that for now there is unlikely to be much leeway.

“We cannot fight our way into the NATO alliance, we have to talk our way in,” Dimitrov said. “We need to be seen in Athens as an ally … In the long run it is also in the Greek interest to have a law-governed neighbor to their northern border.” [Reuters]