Greece remains insistent that the decades-old name dispute needs to be resolved before Athens backs membership of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to NATO and the European Union.
“We are open to membership of FYROM to international organizations provided the name dispute is resolved,” Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said during a joint press conference with his counterpart from Skopje, Nikola Dimitrov.
“I will do every effort for a right compromise on the name dispute and to boost our bilateral relations, ” Nikos Kotzias added.
Greece argues that that “Macedonia” in the name used by Skopje implies a territorial threat to its own region in northern Greece.
Nikola Dimitrov said his visit aims to secure support from Greece for its EU and NATO aspirations. “in this are together we fall and together we rise,” Dimitrov said adding “today is a very good start.”
He invited Kotzias to Skopje, a visit that will most likely take place in the last week of August.
It was the first visit of a representative of the new FYROM government in Greece.
Fearing a flare up of ethnic disputes in the area, FYROM is seeking a swift NATO membership.
Greece has been blocking any FYROM membership to international organizations ever since the name dispute erupted in the early 1990’s, after Yugoslavia fell apart.
Two days before Dimitrov’s visit to Athens, Financial Times reported FYROM was considering to abandon “Macedonia” name in order to join the NATO. FT was citing an interview with Dimitrov.
“The Republic of Macedonia may seek to change its name to appease Greek demands, in order to join Nato,” FT wrote.
FYROM Foreign Ministry made it clear though that it was not intending to change name but to “use the interim reference name” based on a n agreement of 1995.