FYROM unlikely to shift on name

Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis’s talks with United Nations mediator Matthew Nimitz in New York this week as well as Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis’s discussion with his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) have pushed the issue of the official name for the neighboring Balkan state up the political agenda. Indeed, Karamanlis has stated that he supports FYROM’s EU bid while stressing that finding a mutually acceptable solution is a key hurdle in its accession course. Unfortunately, though, the reality is different. The EU has advised Skopje to strive to solve its differences with Greece in a mutually acceptable way. And, of course, we should not forget that the EU’s decision does not refer to the eventuality of FYROM joining the bloc under any name other than the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. We must bear in mind that Greece, despite its frequent threats and warnings, last year avoided linking FYROM’s EU candidacy with efforts to resolve the name dispute. Reacting to Karamanlis’s assertion that the resolution of the name problem should be a criterion for Skopje’s EU membership, FYROM PM Vlado Buckovski noted last December: «I think Greece is using these statements for domestic consumption. The Commission’s response describes the real situation as regards the name issue.» The fact is that Skopje has not been the least bit daunted by Athens’s comments. And it is clear that FYROM will only negotiate if forced to do so, and it will only be forced to do so if the road toward its EU and NATO accession is blocked.