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Turkey and Skopje “Hand in Hand”

May 15, 2012

Behind the scenes actions for the accession invitation of fYROM to NATO

By Aggelos Athanasopoulos, To Vima, 15.05.2012 [Translated from Greek]

Erdogan and Gruevski

Many behind the scenes actions are taking place during these last days at the NATO seat in Brussels concerning the invitation for the accession of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYROM).

Despite the fact that officially the issue of enlargement is not on the agenda of the NATO Summit in Chicago between 20-21 May, Greek diplomatic circles sound the alarm. And this because a group of states, having Turkey at their head, are trying to overturn the unanimous decision of Bucharest, according to which the resolution of the issue of the name is a condition for the accession of Skopje.

Ankara’s strategy is concentrating to the introduction of a special reference to the decision of the International Court of the Hague into the Common Statement of the upcoming Summit, according to which Greece violated the Interim Agreement by using a veto in Bucharest in 2008 against the entry of Skopje into the Atlantic Alliance.

This is also the standard position adopted by Skopje, as was expressed recently in a letter of the Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski to the permanent representatives of the member-states of NATO – except the Greek. The issue is expected to be discussed on Tuesday 15th May during the visit of the Skopjan FM Nikola Poposki to the Turkish capital.

As the diplomatic circles explain however, the most probable scenario is that there will be no radical surprises in Chicago. And this because both the USA and the Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen do not appear to be prepared to put excessive pressure on Greece at a time when Athens is concentrating on facing the economic crisis.

According, however, to very well informed sources, Turkey is at the head of efforts to “water down” the Bucharest precedent, but Turkey is not alone. Other Balkan countries such as Slovenia and Croatia, but also Norway and – carefully – Great Britain are not opposed to this possibility, believing that stability in the region needs to be reinforced.

To start with Ankara pressed to have a separate meeting with the West Balkan States (fYROM, Bosnia – Herzegovina, and Montenegro) at the highest level so as to advance to possibility of enlarging the Alliance with these countries. The proposal did not pass and the three countries mentioned, along with Georgia, will participate in a meeting with the 28 member states, but at a level of Foreign Affairs Ministers.

Thus, whether there is a change in the Bucharest decision or not, that which appears to be being prepared, according to the same sources, is that immediately after the Chicago Summit pressure will increase abruptly for the resolution of the name issue based on a concrete timeline – with a deadline maybe set for the next NATO Summit in 2013.

What is more, Berlin seems to be one of the capitals that have declared to be for the speeding up of the negotiations after the Chicago Summit, sending clear messages to Athens through diplomatic channels. Similar messages have also been emitted by various sources from the USA, which, for the time being, are avoiding to express themselves in public.

The intense Turkish mobility is taking place in a period when Athens is sunk in post-electoral instability, which, furthermore, has as a consequence that it is not clear who will be at the head of the Greek representation in Chicago.

According to information, it is not excluded that the President of the Republic, Karolos Papoulias, will be required to go to the “City of Winds”, while the current Foreign Affairs Minister, mr St. Dimas, has, according to sure information, declared that he is unwilling to fo to the Summit. The solution that the vice-minister mr. D. Dollis go in his stead has been proposed, while the Minister of Defence, mr D. Avramopoulos, has declared that he will go as has already been planned.

From → EU, NATO, Negotiations, News

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