SkopjeÂ – The Greek Foreign Minister has reiterated that Athens will not allow Macedonia to join NATO and the EU until a settlement on the â€œname rowâ€ is found.
â€œOnly thenâ€¦ [upon reaching a deal on the name] we would agree on Skopjeâ€™s membership to the European Union and NATO,â€ Dora Bakoyannis said in an interview for Greek daily Ta Nea, local news agencies reported.
Meanwhile Macedoniaâ€™s Deputy Prime Minister Ivica Bocevski likened the unresolved issue with Greece to a â€œrhino in a china shop,â€ and hindering Macedoniaâ€™s chances of realising its ambitions in an interview for local A1 TV.
In April, Athens blocked Skopjeâ€™s NATO accession due to the ongoing dispute. Greece argues that Macedoniaâ€™s name implies the countryâ€™s territorial claims on its own northern province which is also called Macedonia.
These statements come at a time when the two sides are expected to reply to the latest United Nations-sponsored set of ideas for a compromise to the row.
So far both Skopje and Athens have officially been silent regarding the ideas that the UN mediator Mathew Nimetz extended earlier this month.
Macedoniaâ€™s President Branko Crvenkovski has only said in public that the ideas need â€œserious changesâ€ in order to represent a basis for a solution.
Meanwhile, several Macedonian politicians and experts last week argued that the preservation of Macedoniaâ€™s language and identity are the red lines that the country can not cross in the ongoing â€œname” talks.