NEWS

US to resolve name row?

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice could be set to make a decisive intervention in the Macedonia name dispute, it was reported yesterday, as Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis reiterated that Greece is prepared to block the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia’s bid to open accession talks with the European Union. Media in FYROM reported yesterday that sources said Rice is due to present on September 23 a plan to the foreign ministers of the two countries in New York before it is presented to the United Nations Security Council. The source of the story seems to be an Internet article written by analyst Dr Sam Vaknin, who has allegedly acted as an advisor to FYROM’s president Nikola Gruevski in the past. Vaknin claims the plan contains five points: FYROM will change its constitutional name of Republic of Macedonia, probably to Northern Macedonia; it will be granted a period of time, possibly up to 10 years to do this; it will be invited to join NATO; both countries will be allowed to use the term Macedonian; and they will renounce any claim to each other’s territory. The analyst claims that the plan was agreed at a recent meeting between Rice and Bakoyannis, but Greek Foreign Ministry sources said that there had been no such discussion or agreement between Athens and Washington. The outgoing US Ambassador in Skopje, Gillian Milovanovic, said yesterday that FYROM has to focus on solving the name dispute so it can join NATO. «I don’t think there is any positive prospect for Macedonia without membership in NATO, and I mean quick membership in NATO,» she said. «It’s part of the progress and integration with Europe that you all wanted, therefore I think this should be your priority objective.» Bakoyannis emphasized Athens’s belief that it is Skopje holding up the process and particularly Prime Minister Gruevski. The Greek Foreign Minister added that, just as it did with FYROM’s NATO bid earlier this year, it would block any bid from its neighbor to join the EU unless the name dispute is settled. «We made clear and they are aware that there can be no Euro-Atlantic prospects unless the name dispute is resolved, because it is the basis for good neighborly relations,» she said.