European Commission report: Zero progress

BRUSSELS – There has been no progress over the past year in resolving the FYROM name issue, the European Commission will note in its annual report on FYROM’s candidacy for accession, according to sources. The report is to be released in early November. According to the latest draft of the report, which covers the entire gamut of issues of interest to the EU with regard to FYROM, the latter’s relations with Greece – although «close,» particularly in the economic and business sectors – have nevertheless been adversely affected by the name issue. According to the office of Commissioner for Enlargement Olli Rehn, responsible for drafting the report, no progress was made in this direction between November 2006 and October 2007, the period covered by the report. No blame has been apportioned; the Commission always makes the greatest effort to be as neutral as possible, to the point where its officials systematically avoid reference to FYROM in an official capacity by any name, preferring to use the term «that country.» However, as a result of intervention by Greece, mention is made of specific recent actions by Skopje such as renaming the city’s airport «Alexander the Great,» which, according to the authors of the report, Greece views as a provocation and moreover violates the 1995 interim agreement. This is of some importance since it constitutes a significant part of Greece’s arguments. As a result, the report concludes that new «constructive efforts» are needed to find a solution, but makes no further recommendations. A more detailed analysis, both of the name issue and the likely date next year for the commencement of accession talks, is expected in its strategy report, also due for release in about 10 days’ time.