Barroso rebuts Gruevski note

The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, has told Nikola Gruevski, the prime minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), that he cannot intervene over allegations of a «Macedonian minority» in Greece and suggested that Skopje should make efforts to improve its relations with Athens. In a written response to Gruevski’s letter made public yesterday, Barroso said that the European Union «has no general competence to deal with issues such as identities of minorities, their rights, acquisition of citizenship and restitution of properties, arising in its member states.» He also reminded Gruevski that FYROM will need to improve its relations with Greece, which includes settling the name dispute, if it wants to join the EU. «A fundamental aspect of having a European vocation is to approach such difficulties with a constructive and cooperative spirit, open to dialogue and to finding an agreed way forward. Maintaining good-neighborly relations remains essential for the progress of your country toward the European Union,» he said.