NEWS

Trajkovski urges recognition for ‘Macedonia’

The defense ministers of Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey and FYROM attended the ceremo President Boris Trajkovski yesterday called on the international community to recognize his country as the Republic of Macedonia rather than the official acronym, FYROM, which has been adopted at Greece’s insistence. In an address to Parliament, Trajkovski issued an unprecedented challenge to Greece at a time when Athens is providing generous political, economic and military support for Skopje. We demand the international community recognize us by our name – the Republic of Macedonia – and not by a fictional derivative, Trajkovski said. At Greece’s insistence, the United Nations recognized The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia until the two countries could reach agreement on a permanent name. Under the terms of an interim agreement signed in 1995, the two are in UN-mediated talks aimed at finding a solution. Greece says that the use of the name Macedonia by its neighbor implies territorial claims on the northern Greek region of the same name, which includes Thessaloniki. Most of the international community and news media, albeit unofficially, refer to Greece’s neighbor as Macedonia. It is high time that the world recognizes us by what we call ourselves – just like any other country and its citizens, Trajkovski said. Otherwise, how do you expect us to believe in your values, principles and intentions, if you deny our basic right, the right to identity? Trajkovski made the call during a session of Parliament that will debate implementing the peace agreement aimed at ending an ethnic Albanian uprising. In Athens, Foreign Ministry spokesman Panayiotis Beglitis said that the international community, including the European Union and the United States, remained committed to their positions on the name issue and that they had no intention of shifting. He said that the Skopje leadership’s efforts to achieve recognition of the country’s constitutional name would not succeed. Beglitis called on Skopje to continue negotiating with Greece for a solution acceptable to both parties on the name issue, as envisioned by the interim agreement signed by the two countries. Meanwhile, at a ceremony in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, Greece and Romania took over the rotating leadership of a seven-nation force created to keep peace in the Balkans. Greek Gen. Andreas Kouzelis succeeded Turkish Gen. Hilmi Akin Zorlu as commander of the 3,000-man force designed to operate under UN and OSCE auspices. The brigade includes units from Albania, Bulgaria, FYROM, Romania and NATO members Greece, Italy and Turkey. Romanian diplomat Ovidiu Dranga replaced his Greek colleague, Nikos Dimadis, as head of the brigade’s political steering committee. Coffee shop crash. An illegal immigrant from Afghanistan and a Greek coffee shop patron were being treated yesterday in a hospital in Alexandroupolis, northeastern Greece, after suffering light injuries on Thursday when a stolen car drove into a Soufli coffee shop. David Jafferi, 30, who had just stolen the car from outside the Thracian village, crashed into the coffee shop in order to avoid a head-on collision with another car after driving through a red light. Police said he lacked a driving license and had been trying to make his way to Athens.