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Macedonian Opposition Challenges PM’s ‘Name’ Resolve

May 29, 2012

In a bid to shake Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski’s image as a tough defender of Macedonia in the ‘name’ dispute with Greece, opposition accuses him of making unprincipled moves in the past.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic, Balkan Insight, 29.05.2012
Opposition head Branko Crvenkovski

The head of the opposition Social Democrats, Branko Crvenkovski, on Monday presented what he said was an classified document from 2005 containing an alleged name proposal coming from the UN mediator in the Greek-Macedonian name dispute Matthew Nimetz.

Crvenkovski told Kanal 5 TV that the proposal could have potentially saved the country a lot of trouble later but that Gruevski, at that time in opposition, had rejected it. In Macedonia both government and opposition are expected to reach a consensus on such significant matters as the country’s name.

“What was Nimetz’s proposal at the time? For the country to be named Republika Makedonija… for the first three years and later to retain the name Republic of Macedonia forever,” Crvenkovski said, adding that country’s language would have also stayed “Macedonian”.

Crvenkovski argued that three years later, in 2008, when the country faced a Greek blockade in NATO over the unresolved name dispute, he as head of state, and Gruevski as Prime Minister had both accepted another more unfavorable proposal, to name the country Republic of Macedonia (Skopje) but then Greece rejected it.

“That was acceptable for Gruevski while the [previous] constitutional name for international use was allegedly a bad proposition,” Crvenkovski said.

Crvenkovsi’s remarks came after last week Gruevski’s centre-right VMRO DPMNE party accused the opposition head of accepting a name in 2005 that would have changed Macedonia’s national identity.

“Here is the text with ‘State Secret’ written on it. But since Gruevski first started revealing its content and broke the state secret I will follow his example,” Crvenkovski said.

Gruevski has denied that he ever accepted any such proposal in 2008.

In his reaction on Monday evening Gruevski said that the opposition was being “hypocritical” and that Crvenkovski should have solved the dispute in the past if he had a chance.

Relations between Macedonia and Greece are strained owing to the two-decades-long row over Macedonia’s name. Citing the unresolved issue, Greece has blocked Macedonia’s progress towards both EU and NATO membership.

Greece insists that use of the term “Macedonia” by its neighbour implies a territorial claim to its own northern province of the same name.

After the NATO summit in 2008 where Greece first used its membership to veto Macedonia’s accession, Gruevski gained popularity and won every election ever since by playing on the card of a hard line nationalist and presenting himself as a strong defender of country’s name and dignity.

The party of Crvenkovski arguably lost some sympathy as it was perceived as more prone towards a pragmatic compromise with Greece that would have allowed the country swift NATO accession and unlocking of its EU bid.

The document that was presented by the opposition leader
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