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A Surprise referendum in view of the NATO Summit is being prepared by Gruevski

April 28, 2012

By Aggelos Athananopoulos, To Vima, 27.04.2012 (translated from the Greek)

 

He will ask for approval of the name “North Republic of Macedonia”

Nikola Gruevski

An effort to throw the ball to Athens on the way to Chicago is being made by Nikola Gruevski. According to a front-page article of the newspaper Den, that refers to government sources, the Prime Minister of Skopje is preparing a strategic surprise on the eve of the NATO Summit. More precisely, mr Gruevski is planning to propose a referendum, possibly for the name “North Republic of Macedonia” (that it must be noted that the Greek side had accepted in the past). Following this he plans to ask as an exchange the invitation for the accession of fYROM to the Alliance.

The opposition newspaper continues saying that the Skopjan Prime Minister has realised that his own efforts and those of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and of Defence for accession to NATO without resolving the name issue have not paid off, despite the positive for Skopje decision of the International Court of the Hague about the violation of the Interim Accord by Greece.

At the same time NATO does not appear to be willing to open the discussion for the invitation for the accession of Skopje. A clear position on the issue has repeatedly been taken by the Secretary General of the Alliance, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, while the United States also do not wish to embarrass Athens – especially as the political landscape after the May 6th elections appears at the best unclear. Diplomatic circles mention that mr Gruevski deep down knows that the Chicago Summit will not have a positive outcome for his country and for this reason it will be the President Gjorge Ivanov who will be present there and not Gruevski himself.

The Skopjans have of late given themselves to a continuous lobbying in order to gain supporters, apart from Turkey, who is their basic supporter of their positions within NATO. Apart from mr Gruevski, this work has been taken on by the Foreign Affairs Minister Nikola Poposki (who met a few days ago with the Secretary General of the UN Ban Ki-Moon but also with Matthew Nimetz in New York) and the (Albanian) Defence Minister Fatimri Besimi. The latter even visited Germany, although he was not received by his German counterpart. Lately Skopje has approached Berlin, that is especially active in the Balkans, as it considers that it can turn the tide it its favour.

Publicly the German government is very careful. In private discussions however, it has clearly sent the message to Athens that after the Chicago Summit the procedure to find a solution must be accelerated. Berlin desires calm in the Balkans, because it is worried about the instability that could be caused by an interethnic clash between Slavomacedonians and Albanians, but also by the influence of Islamist elements in the wider area – including Kosovo.

Experienced diplomats note that, unless everything is overturned, the Chicago Summit will not have any surprises. However the battle for the final form of the Common Announcement of the Summit will be hard. “The wording of the Bucharest Summit, that connects in reality the accession of Skopje with the previous resolution of the issue of the name must be safeguarded at all costs” they explain. However it cannot be excluded that even at the last hour there will not be some change that will open the road for Skopje, in some later stage, and thus complacency is unacceptable.

See also: Zougla.gr, 28.04.2012

 

Balkan Story Note:

 

The name that had (unofficially) been viewed by Greece positively as the basis for further negotiations, was in fact not “North Republic of Macedonia” but “Republic of Northern Macedonia”, proposed on the 8th October 2008 by the UN intermediary Matthew Nimetz.

 

The name “North Republic of Macedonia” has never officially entered the discussions, and the semiological difference between the adjective defining the word “Republic” or the word “Macedonia” is of great import – as was seen by the reactions when the name “New Republic of Macedonia” was tentatively proposed – among others – by Matthew Nimetz on 19 February 2007, when the Greek position was modified to the acceptance of a composite name, but only if the adjective was a geographic precision on the name Macedonia (see To Vima, 07.10.2008 – in Greek).

 

The Greek side also insists on the use of the final name erga omnes, while fYROM insists that the negotiations concern only the name that shall be used in international organisations, the Constitutional Name being kept for internal use and for bilateral relations. Thus a possible referendum would also have to be nuanced as to the extent of the use of the proposed name in order to gain any sort of validity with the Greek side.

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