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A Name To Reckon With

May 4, 2008

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Washington Times Source: Washington Times

The recent Greek veto of the Republic of Macedonia's NATO membership during the NATO Bucharest Summit earlier this month was unfounded and contrary to the principles of NATO and its member states.

Macedonia fulfilled all of the membership criteria set forth by NATO and all other NATO members supported its admission into the alliance. Despite not yet being a member of the Alliance, Macedonia participates in NATO operations in Bosnia and Afghanistan.

Macedonia also recently assumed command of NATO's former host nation support coordination center that provides logistical support for KFOR forces in Kosovo, and Macedonia is participating in combat operations alongside American forces in Iraq.

Greece's claims that it seeks a "mutually acceptable" solution to the "name dispute" and that it wants "good and neighborly" relations with Macedonia were betrayed by its veto and its acts since the NATO Summit. These acts have been carried out with disturbing bravado following Greece's self-proclaimed "success" at the Summit.

It was Greece, not Macedonia, that rejected the most recent proposal to resolve the "name dispute." Moreover, Greece's veto violated the 1995 Interim Accord that it signed with Macedonia, which binds Greece's right to veto Macedonia's NATO bid or any other international organization that Macedonia would like to join as long as it joins under the U.N. provisional reference term used to identify Macedonia.

It is now clear that Greece does not seek a "mutually acceptable" solution, but only a unilaterally imposed solution mandated to Macedonia by Greece. Having failed on all other fronts to prevail in the "name dispute," Greece believes it can abuse its NATO and EU membership to extort further concessions from Macedonia. In pursuing its bully diplomacy against Macedonia, Greece has sacrificed NATO interests and prestige in the region and jeopardized regional peace and stability simply to satisfy its pedantic objection to Macedonia's name.

Since the Bucharest Summit, Greece has distanced itself even further from the last proposal advanced by U.N. Ambassador Matthew Nimetz.

Additionally, in moves eerily reminiscent of the illegal Greek trade embargo against Macedonia from 1991 to 1995, Greece recently banned the import of meat from Macedonia into Greece and barred Macedonian Airlines Transport(MAT), a private company, from flying into or over Greece.

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