FYROM move on name

Athens yesterday issued a cautious response to comments made by the president of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Branko Crvenkovski, during an interview with Kathimerini, according to which his country is prepared to join NATO under the name FYROM but will not make any concessions in the search for an official name in the long term. «The situation is clear and there is no point in anyone wasting their energy with pointless tactics,» Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said. If bilateral ties and regional cooperation are to be improved, Skopje needs to demonstrate good-neighborly behavior and abandon its irredentist logic opposite a member state of NATO and the EU, Koumoutsakos added, reiterating Athens’s stance on the matter. The ministry was reacting to comments made by Crvenkovski in a wide-ranging interview published in Sunday’s Kathimerini. The FYROM president says his country is «ready to join NATO under the name used at the UN,» that is, FYROM. (FYROM is expected to be invited to join NATO next year along with Albania and Croatia.) However, Crvenkovski makes it clear that Skopje will not back down in a dispute with Greece over Skopje’s use of the name «Macedonia» in the long term, remarking, «We have already made too many concessions.» He said his people are keen to «rid ourselves of this anachronistic and degrading term,» meaning FYROM. Crvenkovski rebuffed speculation that United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz will abandon his mandate to find a solution to the name dispute, a rumor which has fueled talk of early elections in Greece. He also rejected accusations by Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis of intransigence and irrendentism on FYROM’s part. «There is no reasonable argument that our constitutional name, nor the Republic of Macedonia as a state, could constitute a threat to Greece’s territorial integrity,» he added. Greece has threatened to veto Skopje’s bids to join NATO and the EU under the name «Macedonia,» noting that it implies a claim by FYROM on a northern Greek province with the same name and could destabilize the region. (Page 3)

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