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Macedonia Needs ‘Speedy NATO Accession’

May 19 2008 at 9:35 PM
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Macedonia Needs ‘Speedy NATO Accession’
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Jaap De Hoop Scheffer19 May 2008 Skopje _ NATO’s Chief has been urged to do all he can to speed Macedonia’s bid to join the alliance in a letter by key diplomats and academics.

“Any interruption in the path toward NATO or EU membership by a deserving would-be member sends a most disconcerting message to the region,” a group of 20 prominent European and United States’ diplomats, academics, and international officials said Monday in a joint letter to NATO chief, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

“Given the rejection by Greece of the United Nations mediator’s compromise proposal to resolve the name dispute, ‘Republic of Macedonia (Skopje)’, made after intensive consultations with the parties in the run-up to the Bucharest Summit, we are concerned that no satisfactory solution will be found in time to meet the July deadline,” they add.

In order for Macedonia to keep pace with its Adriatic Charter colleagues, Albania and Croatia, which received invitations to join NATO at the time Macedonia should have done, NATO said a solution to the name dispute must be found by July when the countries are signing the accession protocol.

The group advises NATO chief not to push Macedonians towards yet another concession regarding their identity.

They argue that Macedonians made significant identity concessions with the signing of the NATO and U.S. sponsored peace accord in 2001 that ended the six month conflict between ethnic Albanian insurgents and Macedonia security forces.

“Mounting more pressure on the Macedonians to make additional concessions on their identity could be counterproductive,” the letter reads.

The group also notes that the Greek refusal to accept Macedonia’s NATO accession even under the provisional name “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” goes against the United Nations Interim Accord that Greece signed back in1995.

Under this, Athens is obliged not to block Skopje’s effort to join international institutions as long as it is done under the provisional name.

The answer to the dispute over Macedonia’s name lies in “fair and reasonable compromise by both sides along the lines proposed by the UN mediator on the eve of Bucharest,” reads the letter addressed to Scheffer.

In April, Greece vetoed Macedonia’s invitation to join NATO at the alliance’s summit in Bucharest. It argued that Skopje’s use of the name Macedonia might lead it to make territorial claims over the Greek province of the same name.

Among those who have signed the letter are Soren Jessen-Petersen, former Special Representative of the Secretary General and UN Administrator in Kosovo, and former EU Special Representative to Macedonia.

Mort Abramowitz, former US Assistant Secretary of State, Daan Everts, former head of OSCE Mission to Kosovo, Gerald Knaus, the Chairman of European Stability Initiative, Edward P. Joseph, former Director of the International Crisis Group and Mark Leonard, the Director of European Council on Foreign Relations, are also signatories.



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