Ahead of his meeting this week in Athens with Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, the deputy prime minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) says that resolving the decades-long name dispute with Greece is a top priority of the new socialist government in Skopje.
In an interview with Kathimerini published on Sunday, Bujar Osmani said that a solution to the dispute will pave the way for Skopje’s accession to the European Union and NATO. This, he said, will create a safe environment for economic growth and investments. Joining the EU is “everything for us” he said.
Osmani also warned that if FYROM doesn’t join NATO soon and if EU accession procedures do not start, then the consequences for the country and the region will be “tragic.”
For this reason, he said it is imperative for negotiations to restart to resolve the name issue.
Osmani likened FYROM to a bicycle that falls when it comes to a stop, and said that is what happened when negotiations with Greece froze, as they led to the shelving of Skopje’s EU accession procedure. This, he added, resulted in a “deep political and institutional crisis.”
Both Athens and Skopje see the European Union summit scheduled for June and that of NATO in July as milestones and have launched intensive efforts to resolve the problem so that Skopje gets the green light to begin negotiations to join NATO and the EU.