NEWS

FYROM president reaches out to Greece

The new president of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Gjorge Ivanov, was sworn in yesterday and promised to make it his priority to improve relations with Greece. Ivanov said that he would «pay special attention» to relations with Greece and insisted that the two neighboring countries «share the same European ideals and culture.» «Let me point out our determination to keep up the dialogue with our Greek friends and neighbors with the aim of finding a mutually acceptable solution to the name dispute, one that will respect our national identity, language and culture,» Ivanov wrote in a letter yesterday to USA President Barack Obama, according to the Makfax news agency. «Without neglecting our relationship with our other neighbors, I intend to pay special attention to our relationship with Greece… I will do everything so that good-neighborly relations develop,» Ivanov said in his inauguration speech. «I am convinced that our traditions and cultures can become the basis of cooperation and open a period of prosperity throughout the region.» Ivanov, who represents the conservative VMRO-DPMNE, although he is not a member of the party, comfortably won the presidential election in FYROM earlier this year and immediately stated that he wanted to meet with Greek President Karolos Papoulias. It remains to be seen what influence Ivanov will have on negotiations, as the FYROM constitution only affords him limited powers and his predecessor Branko Crvenkovski had frequent run-ins with the government over its stance on relations with Greece. «My political agenda is clear: for Macedonia to become a member of NATO and the EU, powerful, respected and with proud, happy and rich citizens,» said Ivanov.