Greece: No EU, NATO for Macedonia Until Deal

Skopje – The Greek Foreign Minister has reiterated that Athens will not allow Macedonia to join NATO and the EU until a settlement on the “name row” is found.

“Only then… [upon reaching a deal on the name] we would agree on Skopje’s membership to the European Union and NATO,” Dora Bakoyannis said in an interview for Greek daily Ta Nea, local news agencies reported.

Meanwhile Macedonia’s Deputy Prime Minister Ivica Bocevski likened the unresolved issue with Greece to a “rhino in a china shop,” and hindering Macedonia’s chances of realising its ambitions in an interview for local A1 TV.

In April, Athens blocked Skopje’s NATO accession due to the ongoing dispute. Greece argues that Macedonia’s name implies the country’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.

Macedonia’s President Branko Crvenkovski has only said in public that the ideas need “serious changes” in order to represent a basis for a solution.

Meanwhile, several Macedonian politicians and experts last week argued that the preservation of Macedonia’s language and identity are the red lines that the country can not cross in the ongoing “name” talks.

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