Macedonia wants EU membership process, Greek talks to run in tandem -

Macedonia wants EU membership process, Greek talks to run in tandem

Credit: channelnewsasia.com

  • About: 6 days ago
  • 2 views

LONDON: Macedonia hopes it has done enough to convince the European Union to start accession talks while a quarter-of-a-century-long row with neighbouring Greece rumbles on, its foreign minister said on Wednesday.

Greece has vetoed the ex-Yugoslav republic's attempts to join both the EU and NATO because it says the name Macedonia implies a territorial claim over Greece's own northerly region of Macedonia.

Macedonia's suggestion last month to use the name the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or FYROM, as it does at other international bodies was not "immediately embraced" by Greece, Macedonia's Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov told Reuters.

The two sides are set to meet again later this month at the U.N. General Assembly in New York. Whatever the outcome, Macedonia wants the EU to agree that accession talks - which could take years - can at least get under way.

"If we have enough in terms of reform at home, we hope we will reach that stage (to start EU accession talks) and deal with the name issue in parallel," Dimitrov said.

The time it takes to go through the EU membership process might give Greece, which has previously insisted that Skopje use a compound name such as "New" or "Upper" Macedonia, enough comfort that process can be halted if needed.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker gave a boost to Macedonia's EU hopes, and those of Serbia, Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Kosovo, saying on Wednesday: "We must maintain a credible enlargement perspective for the Western Balkans."

Joining NATO is more clear cut, meaning that for now there is unlikely to be much leeway from Greece.

"We cannot fight our way into the NATO alliance, we have to talk our way in," Dimitrov said.

"We need to be seen in Athens as an ally ... In the long run it is also in the Greek interest to have a law-governed neighbour to their northern border."

Macedonia, a small ex-Yugoslav republic of about 2 million people, declared independence in 1991 and avoided the violence that accompanied much of the breakup of Yugoslavia.

It was later rocked by an insurgency among its large ethnic Albanian minority that almost tore the country apart in 2001 and it has just emerged from two years of political turmoil after a wiretapping scandal brought down the previous ruling nationalist VMRO-DPMNE party bloc in 2015.

Tensions boiled over again in April when protesters stormed parliament and assaulted the country's now prime minister after his party and ethnic Albanian allies voted to elect an Albanian as parliament speaker.

Macedonia's position just above Greece meant it was also on the key Syrian refugee and north African migrant transit route to northern Europe until the EU and Turkey struck a deal to stem the flow.

Turkey is due in the coming months to receive a tranche of the money that came with the deal and Dimitrov said it was important the arrangement remained firm.

"We think it is very important for Europe to continue to assist Turkey."

"I think closing the Balkan route and the Turkish-EU (financial) deal together helped both Europe and the refugees have a more organised approach to the problem so both are very important and we need both to stay in place."

(Reporting by Marc Jones; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Follow Us on Twitter

Related stories with Macedonia wants EU membership process, Greek talks to run in tandem

Mauritius attorney general steps down amid money laundering probe -World News
Mauritius attorney general steps down amid money laundering probe 6 days ago
PORT LOUIS: The attorney general of the island nation of Mauritius stepped down on Wednesday after allegations he had helped launder gambling money. Prime Minister Pravind Kumar Jugnauth told reporters he wanted an investigation into Ravi Yerrigadoo to b
Ronaldo fires holders Real to easy victory over APOEL -World News
Ronaldo fires holders Real to easy victory over APOEL 6 days ago
An imperious Cristiano Ronaldo struck twice on his first competitive start of the season as Real Madrid beat APOEL Nicosia 3-0 on Wednesday to get their quest for a third successive Champions League crown off on the right note.
Dow, S&P 500, Nasdaq all end at records, oil shares gain -World News
Dow, S&P 500, Nasdaq all end at records, oil shares gain 6 days ago
NEW YORK: Wall Street stocks narrowly finished at records on Wednesday (Sep 13) after a bullish oil market forecast pushed petroleum-linked equities sharply higher. For the second day in a row, all three major indices ended at new peaks, with the Dow Jon
Lawyer for murdered Italian student's family detained in Egypt -World News
Lawyer for murdered Italian student's family detained in Egypt 6 days ago
CAIRO: An Egyptian lawyer who represents the family of murdered Italian student Giulio Regeni was prevented from flying to a U.N. conference and detained by a special prosecutor, his supporters and a security source said on Wednesday. Ibrahim Metwaly, wh
Maribor grab late leveller to hold Spartak to 1-1 draw -World News
Maribor grab late leveller to hold Spartak to 1-1 draw 6 days ago
Slovenia's Maribor held Spartak Moscow to a 1-1 draw with a late equaliser by Damjan Bohar in their Champions League Group E match on Wednesday.
Shakhtar Donetsk upset Napoli 2-1 in Champions League group game -World News
Shakhtar Donetsk upset Napoli 2-1 in Champions League group game 6 days ago
Shakhtar Donetsk stunned Serie A's Napoli with goals either side of half-time to win 2-1 in their Champions League Group F match on Wednesday.
FedExCup Stats for Jordan Speith, Justin Thomas, and DJ -World News
FedExCup Stats for Jordan Speith, Justin Thomas, and DJ 6 days ago
Charlie Rymer and Robert Damron review the stats for the top three in the FedExCup Playoff standings.
Proposed venues for 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles -World News
Proposed venues for 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles 6 days ago
Olympic gold medalist Nastia Liukin (left) and Long Beach mayor Robert Garcia pose in front of the Long Beach Arena and Convention Center and the downtown Long Beach skyline. The area is the proposed Long Beach Sports Park for the 2028 Los Angeles Olympic
Patrick Reed wore Notre Dame gear to Georgia game, and it caused a stir -World News
Patrick Reed wore Notre Dame gear to Georgia game, and it caused a stir 6 days ago
Patrick Reed isn’t one to hold back, and he definitely raised a few eyebrows this weekend. The Ryder Cup star took in a college football game Saturday, a pretty mundane fact without context. But context is everything here. Reed specifically flew out to
Spieth happy to finish second again - if he stays top of FedEx Cup standings -World News
Spieth happy to finish second again - if he stays top of FedEx Cup standings 6 days ago
Jordan Spieth would happily finish as runner-up for the third straight FedEx Cup play-off event in succession at the BMW Championship if it means he can stay top of the rankings. Spieth, who came second at the Northern Trust and the Dell Technologies Cham
Jason Day makes caddie change, keeps Colin Swatton as swing coach -World News
Jason Day makes caddie change, keeps Colin Swatton as swing coach 6 days ago
LAKE FOREST, Ill. -- Jason Day became the latest high-profile golfer to make a caddie change, saying that Colin Swatton will no longer be carrying his bag but will remain as his swing coach. Day, who has 10 PGA Tour victories, has suffered through a tryin
Spying Concerns Lead Congress To Ban Kaspersky Antivirus Software -World News
Spying Concerns Lead Congress To Ban Kaspersky Antivirus Software 6 days ago
Amid growing concerns about Russian cyber capabilities, the Department of Homeland Security has banned the use of Kaspersky security software at government offices.