European Western Balkans

Dimitrov: The process for resolving the name dispute begins

Nikola Dimitrov; Photo: Tanjug / AP Photo / Petros Giannakouris

SKOPJE – The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Macedonia, Nikola Dimitrov, did not want comment on exactly what was said at this morning’s meeting with his Greek counterpart, Nikos Kotzias. He said it would not be correct to comment that they would only discuss confidence building measures, taking into account that trust is crucial to good relations.

“It’s necessary to determine what is most important for Greece in this matter, to explain what is most important for the Republic of Macedonia. It is clear that the process, both formally and substantially, is under the auspices of the United Nations. The negotiation process has begun, after Nimetz’s visit and after his meeting with Kotzias in Brussels, and we will see how long it will last and how intensive it will be”, said Dimitrov.

He emphasized that the new government has begun a series of serious corrective measures in accordance with the Interim Accord.

“This ministry and this government take seriously the obligations that we have undertaken. We seriously understand the Constitution of the Republic of Macedonia”, said Dimitrov, pointing out that Macedonia does not like maps of big countries, but a map of a Greater Europe.

When asked if there was still optimism about joining NATO by the end of the year, he said enthusiasm builds high expectations and pushes us forward, however, that membership does not only depend on Macedonia, but also on Greece.

“It also depends on how fast we will manage to take the criticism from the Warsaw Summit, which relates to accountability, the rule of law and freedom of the media,” explained Dimitrov.

“The key issue is not when, but whether we want to strengthen our future as a society and a nation, so that we do not wonder every other day whether it will be and what will happen to Macedonia. In conditions when the region is overwhelmed, it is important for us to take our fate into our own hands and to do everything we can”, said Dimitrov.

The new government is working on the remarks from the Warsaw Summit, by building good neighbourly relations, said Dimitrov, during today’s press conference.

“Macedonia towards a fully-fledged membership into NATO” stating that Macedonia should become a member of the North Atlantic alliance sooner. In this context, Dimitrov said that Macedonia will increase by 20 % its presence in international missions, and the budget for defence will increase from 1% to 1.7 to 1.8%.

The US Ambassador, Jess Baily said that in the last year certain changes in the politics both in Macedonia and the region were evident, but what hasn’t changed is the fact that NATO is the bedrock of stability while the members and the partners of the Alliance remain dedicated to the defence as well as to Macedonia’s strategy for an entrance into NATO.

By repeating that the US remains a partner to Macedonia in the process towards a NATO membership, he reminded that an improvement is needed in three areas i.e. the implementation of the reformatory priorities and the strengthening of the institutions, modernization of the army and retaining good neighbourly relations with the countries in the region.

The German ambassador Thomas Norbert Gerberich said that the tensions with Serbia from the past week are just another indicator of the importance to be working diligently on building good neighbourly relations. He stressed that the whole case is a product of nationalism and ethnic division that are again on the loose.

“Regardless whether the countries will join NATO, it is especially important for the reforms to be implemented in order for the countries to become competitive. The NATO membership is the goal and the entrance into NATO and EU is the best way for Macedonia to become stable,” – Gerberich.

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