Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia speaks out on name issue at UN debate

25 September 2009

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia reiterated today that it will continue to work within the United Nations-backed process for resolving its long-running dispute with Greece over its official name, but called on its neighbour to stop taking actions “to unfavourably influence the outcome” of the row.

President Gjorge Ivanov told the General Assembly’s high-level debate, held at UN Headquarters in New York, that his country is willing to make “a reasonable and fair compromise” over its name, so long as it does not “touch upon, nor deny our national, cultural and linguistic identity in any way.”

He stressed that “there is no more sovereign right than the right of self-determination and self-identification, a right cherished by many generations before us.”

The Interim Accord of 13 September 1995, which was brokered by the UN, details the difference between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece on the name issue. It also obliges the two countries to continue negotiations under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General to try to reach agreement.

Since 1999, Matthew Nimetz, the UN’s Personal Envoy on the issue, has been holding talks with the two sides and proposed compromise names. Yesterday he said he believes some momentum is building on the issue with a number of ideas on the table. The next round of talks will resume once the Greek elections are over and a new government is installed.

Mr. Ivanov said today that the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia remained “sincerely dedicated” to resolving the issue in accordance with UN resolutions, despite “the absurdity of the dispute.”

But he said Greece had prevented his country from becoming a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), “contrary to the obligations undertaken in the 1995 Interim Agreement. This was done in an attempt to influence the outcome of the negotiations held under the auspices of the UN and acted completely opposite to such common visions.”

The President added that he hoped Greece would “abandon its policy of taking actions from positions of power in order to unfavourably influence the outcome of the disputed issue. I expect that the political leadership will anticipate the wider interests for a permanent stabilization of the region. We believe that with truthful and sincere willingness and preparedness we can reach a solution that will have no winners and no losers.”

 

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News Tracker: Past Stories on This Issue

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia name talks to restart after Greek polls – UN

Talks between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia on the official name of the latter country will restart once the Greek elections are over and a new government is in place, the United Nations envoy dealing with the issue said today.