Macedonia appeals to Greece to stop blocking EU accession
(SKOPJE) - Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski appealed Monday to Greece's new unity government to support the opening of EU accession talks for Macedonia despite a long-running name row.
"I appeal once more to your government ... to use this unique opportunity" to vote in favour of starting EU accession talks with Macedonia which will boost "the European integration of the whole Balkans region," Gruevski said in a letter to Greek PM Lucas Papademos.
He added that starting the accession talks would also help solve the bilateral tiff over the name issue which has been dragging on for decades.
According to the Macedonian leader the past has shown that "negotiating processes always are encouraging for overcoming bilateral challenges," adding that the opening of talks would boost the "mutual confidence needed for solving the bilateral problem."
Greece alleges that use of the name Macedonia suggests a territorial claim to the northern Greek province of the same name, while Skopje maintains that changing the name would be a denial of its own national identity and language.
After proclaiming independence in 1991, Macedonia was admitted to the United Nations in 1993 under the provisional name of the "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia."
More than 120 countries including Russia and the United States, however, have recognised the Balkan country under the name of "Republic of Macedonia."
In 2008 Greece blocked Macedonia's NATO invitation and one year later prevented the EU from starting accession talks with Skopje despite three positive recommendations from the European Commission. Last month the commission again recommended that EU accession talks be opened with Skopje.