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US urges Greece, Macedonia to resolve name row July 19, 2011

Posted by Yilan in Macedonia, USA, Yunanistan.
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US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged Greece and Macedonia to resolve a long-standing name row that has undermined relations and blocks Skopje’s EU and NATO entry bids.

“We have made it very clear that we support the negotiations that have gone on between Skopje and Athens,” Clinton told Greece’s SKAI TV in a recorded interview that aired Monday.

“We think that there is an opportunity here,” she added on the sidelines of a three-day trip to Athens to express US support for Greece’s debt recovery efforts.

The two countries have been at loggerheads since Macedonia proclaimed independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, with Greece insisting that the use of the name Macedonia implies a claim on Greek territory.

Macedonian officials say name change could lead to a denial of the country’s language and national identity.

Almost two decades of UN-led negotiations over the name dispute have been fruitless.

Skopje officially became a candidate for EU membership in 2005, but Athens has blocked its accession to the 27-nation bloc and NATO.

Macedonia also filed an application with the International Court of Justice in November 2008, claiming Greece was violating its rights by blocking its membership of NATO pending the resolution of the name dispute.

“The government in Skopje needs to know that it will not be able to move forward on its European integration until it does resolve this (issue). And, obviously, Greece has to be willing to accept how the name is resolved,” Clinton said.

“So, we have encouraged as strongly as we can that this matter be finally taken care of,” she said before flying on to India, the next leg of a regional trip.

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