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2012.11.05: Macedonian Ambassador hands over response to Greek Memorandum

November 9, 2012

Macedonia’s Ambassador Sasko Stefkov at Monday’s meeting in Athens with Greek Deputy FM Dimitris Kurkulas handed over a letter of Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki for his Greek counterpart Dimitris Avramopoulos.

Full letter’s text:

Dear Colleague,

I would like to thank you for your letter of 3 October in which you have expressed an intention to qualitatively move towards a resolution of the longstanding issue in the relations between our two countries.

Your gesture to propose a Memorandum of Understanding is understood as a response to the initiatives that we have undertaken. I would like to mention here the letter of 31 July 2012, from Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski to Prime Minister Samaras, in which we laid out a series of proposals aimed at intensifying the level of cooperation and increasing trust between our two countries. I believe that our common objective should be to improve mutual confidence, promote good-neighbourliness, strengthen bilateral cooperation and highlight common values and visions for the future. These were clearly the principles of our previous correspondence addressed to you on the topic.

It is certainly worth underlining that the proposed draft MoU reaffirms to a significant extent some of the fundamentals of the 1995 Interim Accord, the commitments of which are still very relevant and certainly not exhausted. They include inviolability of the existing borders, respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity, refraining from the threat or the use of force, non-interference in internal affairs of the other, promotion of good-neighbourly relations and cooperation in many important fields.

In this regard, I would like to emphasize once more that we define these principles as key pillars of our constitutional order and foreign policy. Furthermore, I would like to reiterate our commitment to continuously honour the obligations that we have assumed in this respect. I hope that the proposed MoU implies your readiness to fully observe all obligations assumed under the Interim Accord as well.

I entirely agree, dear Colleague, with the assessment that both the Republic of Macedonia and the Hellenic Republic have a paramount duty to be full-heartedly engaged in the longstanding talks under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Both sides should therefore approach these talks in good faith and in a constructive manner, while respecting the democratic principles and human rights in line with international law and the relevant international instruments of which both states are parties.

I believe that such a spirit can lead us to a resolution of the difference over the name, as noted by the Security Council in its Resolutions 817 (1993). This Resolution as well as the UN Security Council Resolution 845 (1993) and the 1995 Interim Accord provided the framework for the process. The assessment and consequent decision of the highest UN legal organ, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, on this matter is clearly our common asset. In fact, its Judgement addresses in an impartial way several aspects of the issues that have been raised in the proposed MoU.

Furthermore, I hope you will also agree with the recent assessment of the European Commission that a decision of the European Council to open accession negotiations would contribute to creating the conditions conductive to finding a solution to the name issue, under the auspices of the United Nations. I am confident that in this framework we will be able to overcome the difference between our countries and enhance good-neighbourliness in a genuine manner, the manner which upholds the core values of European integration, such as respect of national identities and cultural, religious and linguistic diversity, as well as the right of self-determination.

Dear colleague, our citizens deserve all better future. They also wish for peace, stability and prosperity in our region. The European integration is undoubtedly a process that offers such perspective. Being the oldest member state from our region, the Hellenic Republic could certainly have an important role in leading the whole region forward. People and businesses across our borders are persistently building bridges. As good neighbours, we should engage vigorously in eliminating the fears of treats of any kind. No one should question territorial integrity, political independence and sovereignty of both countries. The political elites must seize this opportunity to bring our nations ever closer. Our wish is to walk this road together.

It is our firm desire to overcome the difference over the name. This will benefit both countries and the region as a whole.

Starting from this shared vision, I welcome the intention, expressed in your letter, to move the talks on the difference over name decisively forward. With this in mind, we recognize the need to create a more balanced and credible way ahead. I propose to give this task to our respective representatives in the talks with the mediation of Mr. Matthew Nimetz. At the same time, I would like to reaffirm our stated commitments for increased communication on all political and diplomatic levels. In that spirit, I avail myself of this opportunity to invite you once again to visit us as soon as possible.

Taking into consideration the importance of the issue, I would like to underline the need for full commitment by both sides. It is exceptionally important that we maintain open and consistent communication at the highest political level. For that purpose, I would like to renew the standing invitation that Prime Minister Gruevski has sent to Prime Minister Samars for a meeting at any place and any time, Poposki says in his letter to Avramopoulos.

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