November 26, 2010
FYROM Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski´s hardline policy to his country´s naming dispute with Greece has once again caused FYROM to not be invited to take part in the latest NATO summit (where new members are then invited to join the Alliance) which took place on 20 November 2010 in Lisbon.
Immediately after the summit, instead of taking responsibility for his failure once again for FYROM to be invited to join the NATO alliance (after its failure to join NATO in 2008 and a stagnant EU candidature in 2010 (http://www.ana.gr/anaweb/user/showplain?maindoc=9321518&maindocimg=9318247&service=96&showLink=true), Gruevski stated that his country "had not joined NATO, because of ´interference´ from Greece, due the name issue".
Meanwhile, the citizens of the FYROM (of whom 35% are of Albanian origin) are becoming....
more restless with the current government´s inability to solve the dispute with Greece and to become integrated in EU and NATO institutions, which will provide much needed security and economic assistance to the country. The Left-wing opposition party (SDSM) has urged snap election after FYROM failed to join NATO for a second time (http://www.emg.rs/en/news/region/139238.html).
The Greek President Karolos Papoulias has sent yet another message to the government in FYROM after the NATO summit, urging that "as long as they insist on their intransigent positions, so much the more they shall keep the door of NATO closed and the accession procedure towards the European Union frozen" (http://www.ana.gr/anaweb/user/showplain?maindoc=9321518&maindocimg=9318247&service=96&showLink=true).
Greece can hardly be blamed for FYROM´s situation. Since Gruevski´s nationalist party, the VMRO-DPMNE, took power in 2006 his government has engaged in a string of provocations towards its neighbours:
- In 2007 renamed Skopje Airport as ´Alexander the Great Airport´
- In February 2008 Gruevski was photographed laying a wreath at the tomb of a 19th century revolutionary and a map of "United Macedonia" which includes parts of Greece and Bulgaria
- Erected a statue of Alexander the Great in Prilep
- In January 2009 renamed the main highway which runs through FYROM from Serbia to Greece ´Alexander of Macedon´ highway
- In December 2008 the national stadium in Skopje, ´Gradski Stadium´, was renamed ´Philip II Arena´
- In 2009 plans were announced for the construction of 22-meter fountain and statue of Alexander the Great in Skopje´s Central Square
These provocations are in violation of the Interim Accord, signed by Greece and FYROM in 1995, under which FYROM was allowed to be admitted as a member of the UN (http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/47/a47r225.htm).
Various NATO and EU reports on FYROM´s progress have noted Gruevski´s government´s provocations towards Greece are deliberate intransigence concerning the UN-brokered name negotiations with Greece. EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn has also criticised the "ongoing use of the language of hatred in some [FYROM] media not only against Greece, but also against Bulgaria". A Greek Foreign Minister spokesman has also reiterated that FYROM Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki, amongst others, at "every opportunity attacks Greece in a provocative way and burdens the UN framework procedure" (http://www.ana.gr/anaweb/user/showplain?maindoc=9341595&service=142).
Mr. Gruevski should focus on his country´s crippling unemployment, which is now at a staggering 33% and is the highest in Europe, instead of deflecting domestic attention away from this serious problem by the making of various nationalistic stunts which provoke Greece and other neighbours.
The Australian Macedonian Advisory Council (AMAC) believes that it is now time for PM Gruevski´s government to abandon its nationalistic approach and work closely within the UN framework to solve the naming dispute with Greece, which will ensure that the FYROM´s integration into EU and NATO structures, or risk becoming permanently isolated.