Macedonia Asks for Parallel EU, Name Talks

Setting a start date for Macedonia’s EU accession talks at the European Council summit next month would speed up settlement of the Athens-Skopje name row, Macedonian Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki said.

By Sinisa-Jakov Marusic

“It would give additional momentum to the bilateral talks on the Greek problem with our name,” the foreign minister said on Thursday in Skopje. He was speaking at a debate on reforms in the Council of Europe, organised by the Euro-Balkan Institute.

Milososki argued that Macedonia deserved to get the start date from the EU, noting that last autumn the country received a positive assessment from the European Commission for the start of accession talks but was blocked by Greece over the name spat.

Getting a start date will improve the credibility of the EU, and help the country tackle interethnic problems, the foreign minister added.

“Opening the accession negotiations with the EU will mean a lot for upgrading the capacity for interethnic understanding and joining forces to move forward to build the prosperous, stable country we all long for,” Milososki said.

This month there were several violent incidents close to the border with Kosovo. During the most recent incident, police killed four armed gunmen and seized a large stash of weapons. This raised concern about deteriorating trust between the Macedonian majority and the ethnic Albanian community and of renewed violence in the country.

The foreign minister commended the latest meeting between Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and his Greek counterpart George Papndreou in Madrid, failing to say if the encounter had brought any progress.

Milososki said that for a compromise to be reached it would be good that the two most important political figures in both countries build mutual trust.

“Macedonia wishes for a compromise solution to be found for the name dispute. Athens promotes the proposal “Republic of Northern Macedonia’, which we consider to be unilateral and thus cannot be the basis for a compromise, and thus there is a need for more flexibility in favor of the negotiating process,” Milososki added.

Balkan Insight

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

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