Moscow criticizes ‘Western pressure’ over name deal

Moscow criticizes ‘Western pressure’ over name deal

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Wednesday sought to clarify that Moscow has no problem with the new name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) but that it does with the legitimacy of the process that led to the deal, known as the Prespes agreement.

“We do not oppose the name that eventually appeared and was announced. We ask questions about how legitimate this process is and how much it really is conditioned by the desire to find a consensus between Greece and Skopje, or it is conditioned by the US desire to drive all Balkan countries into NATO as soon as possible and stop any Russian influence in that region,” he said at an annual conference.

“We have always actively supported this dialogue [between Greece and FYROM]. We have always spoken for a solution to be found in a way that would be acceptable to the public, nations, and certainly the governments of both Greece and Macedonia,” he said.

Earlier on Wednesday, on the eve of his visit to Belgrade, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Serbian media that the Prespes accord had been enforced from the outside against the popular will in a bid to draw the country into the NATO military alliance. He also said the US was destabilizing the Balkan peninsula by “asserting its dominant role” in the region.

On Monday and Tuesday, Greece and FYROM dismissed Moscow’s repeated talk of a Western-dictated process, while Athens accused it of meddling in its internal affairs.

European Commissioner for Economic Affairs Pierre Moscovici said during a visit to Athens on Wednesday that the accord is in the interest of Greece and all European Union states support it.

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