FYROM stance a worry for Athens

As the United Nations special mediator in the Macedonia name dispute prepares for visits to Athens and Skopje, Greek diplomats are concerned about the impact on negotiations of intransigence in the neighboring country. Diplomats are doubtful about pressing on with talks ahead of elections in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) as the country’s political leaders are becoming increasingly obstinate in the countdown to the June 1 polls. Comments made on Saturday by FYROM President Branko Crvenkovski – that an «international» name solution will not lead to FYROM changing its constitutional name – have ruffled many feathers. «We will not allow Greece’s right to veto our accession to NATO… to become the right to determine our country’s name,» he said. Crvenkovski was speaking after talks by visiting Turkish President Abdullah Gul, who described the veto as «unfortunate.» Responding to Crvenkovski’s comments yesterday, ruling New Democracy’s secretary Lefteris Zagoritis asked FYROM to «abandon its historically baseless fixations and expansionist aspirations so a mutually acceptable solution can be found.» Athens has been angered by FYROM’s assertion – expressed by Premier Nikola Gruevski – that Skopje would put any name settlement to a referendum. «We do not regard as an agreement something that is submitted to any kind of review process,» the Foreign Ministry in Athens said.