Euro MPs Conciliate Macedonia Over Name Slip


By Sinisa Jakov Marusic

The Joint Macedonia-EU Parliamentary Committee has expressed concern about the omission of the adjective “Macedonian” from this year’s European Commission report on the country, urging a more sensitive approach in future.

At the end of the two-day meeting on Thursday and Friday in Skopje, the Committee advised the European Commission to consider the sensitivity of this issue when writing the report next year.

The Committee’s co-chair, German MEP Jorgo Chatzimarkakis, explained that they adopted an amendment that advises the European Commission to have in mind that the omission of the adjective has caused a “negative perception” among Macedonians.

Chatzimarkakis, on Thursday said that the omission was “not acceptable”.

“We have talked about finding a solid solution, as this act has stirred reactions here and we don’t wish to undermine the EU’s image and risk its 90 per cent popularity rating in the country,” Chatzimarkakis said.

Saying that the omission of the adjective had created a “problem” and a “gap” between Skopje and Brussels, the co-chair from the Macedonian side, Kenan Hasipi, hoped that both sides would use the meeting in Skopje to iron out their differences.

For the third consecutive year, the Commission this autumn urged a start to membership talks with Macedonia, a move that has been blocked by Greece.

Athens argues that use of the name Macedonia suggests a territorial claim to the northern Greek province of the same name.

On receiving the report last month, the government protested loudly against the omission of the adjective “Macedonian”, which was used in the previous reports.

This year’s report instead uses the provisional UN reference, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, FYROM. In the early 1990s, Macedonia was accepted into the UN under this reference in order to avoid confrontation from Greece.

While generally praising the country for meeting the EU’s political criteria, holding good parliamentary elections and improving political dialogue, the Commission adopted a critical tone on several other areas this year.

The Commission said more work needed to be done to safeguard the independence of the judiciary, reform the public administration, repress corruption and protect free expression in the media.

In his reaction to the report, Macedonia’s Prime Minister, Nikola Gruevski, accused Brussels of “exaggerating” the country’s problems.

Gruevski claimed that the criticisms formed part of an attempt to force the government to accept an unfair deal with Greece over their bilateral name dispute.

But the EU Delegation Charges d’Affaires, Robert Liddell, sounded a conciliatory note in Skopje, insisting that the Commission’s renewed recommendation of a start to accession talks represented recognition of the government’s work.

The European Parliament rapporteur on Macedonia, Richard Howitt, added that the EU was pressuring both Skopje and Athens to settle the name dispute.

“The EU doesn’t wish to delay the European perspectives of Macedonia and the countries in the region,” he said.

The meeting in Skopje brought together Macedonian legislators and Members of the European Parliament for the first time since the country held early general elections in June.

The adopted recommendations are expected to be mentioned at the forthcoming EU Ministerial Council held before the year’s end.

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (formerly 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.

3 thoughts on “Euro MPs Conciliate Macedonia Over Name Slip

  • November 7, 2011 at 7:20 am

    This is EU’s way to indirectly enthically cleanse the rights of Macedonians with a straight face. At the end of the day this small nation lost any protection from EU values. Macedonia’s dignity are blocked by a debt ridden nation that believe in clinging to Ancient History which has no bearing on todays people is justifiable? When the real reason of Greece’s action is a hidden agenda Europe knows about too well, unfortunaetly it’s a too hard basket for the EU to deal with. Perhaps if Macedonia was a larger country with wealth & power than Greece, then it may be a different ball game?

  • November 7, 2011 at 11:06 am

    GJ: you sound like a typical FYROVictim..nevermind that a fabricated country is trying to steal anothers history..playing the victim when in actual fact FYRO’M’ is the agressor (constantly executing provocation after provocation toward both Greece and Bulgaria) may win some sympathisers but most people know its all a political game

  • November 8, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    While Greece, with handouts from Europe, managed to exert its influence in EU bureaucratic machinery and win some nauseating skirmishes – gloating in the process – in a long run, this self-aggrandizing narcissistic state will lose the battle. Time is catching up with them and their racist, xenophobic policies towards the ethnic Macedonians living in Greece will be exposed for what they truly are; a relic from another dark, lost in time era, which Greece has no intention to part with.


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