OPINION

Albanian moves on the name issue

Albanian mobilization on the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) name issue – a dispute that has plagued Greece’s relations with the small Balkan nation for 14 years – is an important development, as long as as the Slav-Macedonian administration claims that a composite name would spur reaction from the ethnic Albanian population and jeopardize the country’s stability. So while negotiations for a settlement were taking place under UN mediator Matthew Nimitz, former guerrilla commander and head of the Democratic Party for Kosovo Hashim Thaci and ORA head Veton Surroi both said they favored a compromise agreement between Athens and Skopje. The fact that two Kosovo officials tried to consolidate their status by stepping into an affair involving their ethnic kin in a third country prompted a reaction by the Albanian ambassador to Athens who said that the Albanian government and Prime Minister Fatos Nano «will welcome any commonly accepted solution.» Notably, Kosovo Serbs expressed the same view. Unlike FYROM’s ethnic Albanians who keep mum on the issue, Slav-Macedonians insist on keeping the «Republic of Macedonia» as the constitutional name while giving, as it were, Greece the right to use any name it chooses. The move by Kosovo’s leaders was due to a number of factors, the most significant being that the United Nations is expected to make a decision on the final status of the disputed province while Greece, which currently holds a seat on the Security Council, has a say over developments, yet no veto rights. Also, it is clear that recent remarks by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that «there is no better friend than Greece when it comes to dealing with challenges in the Balkans» were not taken lightly in the UN-administrated province.