LONDON – The next year is crucial. We need to show that there are developments – people do not expect everything to be solved tomorrow – but they expect progress because we have been stuck for 10 years. What happens will create either inspiration or frustration right across the Balkans, said Radmila Šekerinska, Macedonia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, in an interview for Guardian.
One of the major tasks Macedonia cope with in the upcoming year is to find an end to the long-lasting name dispute with Greece. The unresolved dispute has been one of the reasons why Macedonia’s accession to the EU and NATO has been stalled.
Commenting on Greece’s fear of Macedonia’s territorial ambitions over the Greek province of Macedonia, Šekerinska said that “No one in Macedonia has territorial pretensions, literally no one. It is laughable“.
The coming to power of the Social Democratic Union of Macedonia (SDSM), after a prolonged impasse and a political crisis, has been seen as a harbinger for a positive change which would entail the solution for manifold crises, including the aforementioned name dispute.
However, Šekerinska pointed out to a link between the resolution of the name issue and Macedonia’s application to join the EU.
“Most of the people will accept a decent and rational compromise, so long as they see the solution opens prospects for the future and it does not threaten our identity, pride or ethnic characteristics. For there to be any kind of sustainable solution, we have to explain to our citizens that our NATO and EU membership goals are realistic,” Šekerinska said to Guardian.
She, nevertheless, stressed that both sides should contribute to the final settlement of the issue.
“We want a solution that will not harm Greek interests or endanger Macedonian identity. But it takes two to tango, and we hope the Greek side will be equally committed,” she concluded.