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Macedonia’s leadership launches diplomatic offensive ahead of NATO Summit in Chicago

April 7, 2012

Source: MIA, 06.04.2012

Ahead of NATO Summit in Chicago on May 20-21, Macedonia’s leadership has bolstered its diplomatic activities for the country to get a fair valorization of its accomplishments and hence the deserved membership invitation.

President Gjorge Ivanov, Premier Nikola Gruevski, Foreign, Defense Ministers Nikola Poposki and Fatmir Besimi respectively at the meetings with their colleagues from NATO member states have been asking for the conclusions of 2008 Bucharest Summit on Macedonia to be re-examined, as well as for the ruling of The Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) to be taken into account, as it clearly says that by opposing Macedonia’s accession to the Alliance, Greece has breached the bilateral Interim Accord.

I would like to appeal to all NATO member countries to re-examine the issue for the membership of Macedonia in the first following occasion and before the Alliance’s Summit in Chicago, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski told NATO Ambassadors at a North Atlantic Council session in Brussels this January.

I consider that it is rational and correct that an invitation for NATO membership is extended to the Republic of Macedonia at the Chicago Summit, he said.

“It will mean understanding of the needs and interests of my citizens for having conditions for further social and economic development, for new reforms and modernization and creation of new deeds based on the values of the Alliance. NATO has a political leadership, which stands for the progress, and your assistance will be a strong encouragement for a small country with a great faith in the Euro-Atlantic principles of justice and equality, such as mine. Moving forward of the Republic of Macedonia on the Euro-Atlantic integration road is a small, but a significant contribution to the advancement of the Alliance, and the greatest benefit of this will be felt by the entire region of South-East Europe, and NATO as a whole,” Gruevski said.

The Republic of Macedonia has taken all obligations as a NATO member, but unfortunately is deprived of enjoying the benefits of this status, Gruevski said then.

He also reaffirmed Macedonia’s commitment to finding a mutually acceptable solution for overcoming the differences regarding the name with Greece.

“We will continue to participate in the process of negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in good faith, as thus far. Unfortunately, the new Greek ‘technical’ Government failed to manifest willingness for an essential engagement in this process, emphasizing its primarily “economic” mandate. However, we do not give up, and we will endeavor dedicatedly and responsibly to continue the dialogue, and we are ready, through direct meetings, at any level, to reach a solution, which will be, primarily, sustainable, without winners and defeated,” Gruevski said.

At sidelines of the European People’s Party Summit in Brussels this March, Gruevski held bilateral meetings with his Slovenian, Swedish, Albanian, Bulgarian counterparts – Janez Jansa, Fredrik Reinfeldt, Sali Berisha and Boyko Borisov respectively. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan also reaffirmed his country’s support of Macedonia during Gruevski’s visit to Ankara in January.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul did the same at a meeting with his Macedonian counterpart Ivanov this February in Istanbul. Croatian, Romanian Presidents Ivo Josipovic and Traian Basescu respectively followed the suit by voicing their support of Macedonia’s aspirations to join NATO during Ivanov’s official visit to those countries. Ivanov’s numerous activities also include the meetings with Ambassadors of UN Security Council permanent members and the EU Ambassadors to Macedonia, dedicated to the ICJ ruling. Furthermore, the President sent a letter to all Heads of State and Government of NATO member countries.

Few days ago Ivanov and Gruevski held talks with Albania’s Parliament Speaker Jozefina Topalli. Macedonia’s NATO membership was also a subject of discussion at Gruevski’s meeting in Skopje with Albania’s PM Berisha.

Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki has thus far discussed the matter with his colleagues in several European capitals – Prague, London, Berlin and Copenhagen. By late April he is expected to visit the US. He is set to meet UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in New York. There is also possibility for Poposki to meet the UN mediator in Macedonia-Greece name negotiations, Matthew Nimetz. Poposki is also scheduled to meet US congressmen and senators in Washington. In May Poposki will visit Belgium.

Defense Minister Besimi has also intensified his activities ahead of the forthcoming NATO Summit. He led a Macedonian delegation at a ministerial A5 format meeting of Adriatic Charter countries, held in Duress, Albania last December. This January Besimi hosted his Albanian colleague Arben Imami, as well as the US- Adriatic Charter defense ministerial meeting “Common Challenges and Joint Solutions”, being held last month in Skopje.

A delegation of the US House of Representatives, which is paying a few days visit to Skopje, also voiced support of Macedonia’s integration with the Euro-Atlantic organizations at meetings with the country’s top officials.

Last week, 54 members of the US House of Representatives sent a letter to President Barack Obama, strongly urging his administration “to make sure that NATO finally offers the Republic of Macedonia its well-deserved formal invitation to join the Alliance during the Chicago Summit,” on May 20-21.

Members of Congress called on the President to stand by his statement, given at 2009 NATO Summit, namely that he looked forward to the day when “we can welcome Macedonia to the Alliance. The door to membership will remain open for other countries that meet NATO’s standards and can make a meaningful contribution to allied security.”

“If Macedonian troops can be counted on and trusted to guard the NATO tent in Afghanistan, then they should be invited to sleep in the NATO tent as full members of the alliance,” the letter reads.

Among the signatories to the letter are 22 Republicans and 32 Democrats. Copies of the letter were sent to Vice President Joseph Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

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