EUObserver.com — Greece has objected FYROM’s idea of joining Nato under the name Macedonia, but voiced good will to restart talks on the name dispute.
Greek foreign minister Nikos Kotzias Kotzias said he was “open” to supporting Macedonia’s Nato and EU aspirations “as long as the name issue is resolved – this is the precondition”.
“Greece wants the whole area of the Western Balkans to become part of the euro-atlantic system”, he said.
He blamed the previous FYROM government for making a “big mistake” by transforming the name issue “from a geographic problem into an identity problem” via its nationalist pomp, such as erecting monuments which claimed that Alexander the Great was a Macedonian instead of a Greek hero.
“This … damaged relations”, he said.
Greece has blocked FYROM’s Nato integration and its opening of EU accession talks for over a decade on grounds that the name “Republic of Macedonia” implied a territorial claim to a Greek region called Macedonia.
Dimitrov, whose government took office last month, had suggested prior to meeting Kotzias that Macedonia could join Nato under its provisional UN name, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
He also said said FYROM was ready to start EU accession talks as soon as the Greek veto was lifted.
The EU granted FYROM official candidate status in 2005.
“Whether we are ready to join the EU, the answer is that we are not. But, we are ready, since a long time ago, to start accession negotiations,” he said.