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Gruevski to speak at Istanbul Summit June 28, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Human rights abuses.
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Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski is set to address Wednesday the Summit of Heads of State and Government within the Southeast European Cooperation Process (SEECP), media reports from Istanbul.

PM Gruevski, accompanied by Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki, is to hold several bilateral meetings at the summit sidelines.

In the framework of the meeting, FM Milososki addressed Tuesday the Regional Cooperation Council and SEECP member-states.

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Macedonians split on name issue, survey shows May 31, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Macedonia.
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Macedonian public opinion opposes changing the country’s name, but divisions run along ethnic lines on whether the government should continue seeking a compromise on the name dispute with Greece, according to a poll conducted for Macedonian daily Dnevnik

A majority of those surveyed – 51 percent – said their government should walk away from discussions with Greece on the name issue. The neighbouring states have been at loggerheads for years now over Macedonia’s official name, which Greece rejects.

Prime minister Nikola Gruevski promised a referendum on the issue in his pre-election campaign.

Athens fears the name “Republic of Macedonia” may imply territorial claims over the Greek province Macedonia. To get Macedonia to change its title, Greece is blocking its neighbour’s applications for membership in NATO and the European Union. The two countries have been unable to reach agreement since 1995 when they started bilateral talks under UN mediation.

Ethnic Macedonians are much more concerned about the name issue than their Albanian compatriots, the survey shows. Among self-declared Macedonians, 63 percent of those polled were against further negotiations with Greece. Among ethnic Albanians, the figure is just 18 percent. About 79 percent of Macedonia’s largest minority believe negotiations with Athens should continue, according to the survey.

One explanation for the divergent opinions is that a majority of Macedonians believe their country can make it into NATO and the EU even if it does not change its name and stops talks with Greece. Asked whether they fear failure to reach agreement with Athens can endanger Macedonia’s future existence, only 30 percent of Macedonians gave a positive answer – as opposed to 56 percent of the country’s Albanians.

The survey confirms that Macedonia’s public opinion is divided alongside ethnic lines. Sixty one percent of self-professed ethnic Macedonians support their government’s policy toward Greece on the name dispute. Meanwhile, 82 percent of ethnic Albanians disagree with the government’s stance.

Prime minister Nikola Gruevski’s party VMRO DPMNE has advocated finding a compromise name, but only if it “would not affect national identity.” Greece has suggested that its neighbour adds a geographical determinant to its name, but Macedonians fear this would threaten their identity by changing the name of their language and nationality.

The survey result hints at what may be the outcome of the referendum on the name issue that Mr Gruevski’s government promised in its pre-election campaign. A majority of the country’s population – 62 percent – is in favour of calling a referendum, the poll demonstrated. Among those who oppose a referendum is a group of “hardliners”, who believe no compromise should be considered on the country’s name. Still, 77 percent of Macedonian citizens said they would vote if a referendum is organised.

The survey comes three weeks after Mr Gruevski said he would vote no in a referendum where people were asked to approve renaming their country to “Northern Macedonia.”

If changing the name was inevitable, “Northern Macedonia” would still gain the largest support (19%). Just 2 percent would agree to “Upper Macedonia.” Over 67 percent of the population would accept neither option.

The younger generation is much more flexible on the name issue, the poll indicated. Asked whether they would accept a compromise with Greece if the solution “guarantees their identity”, 52 percent of interviewees aged between 18 and 29 years gave a positive answer.

Macedonia PM: We want deal with Greece over name dispute May 12, 2010

Posted by Yilan in EU, European Union, Macedonia, NATO, Yunanistan.
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http://cnn.com/video/?/video/world/2010/05/11/ilist.macedonia.pm.intv.cnn

From Nic Robertson, CNN

Skopje, Macedonia (CNN) — Macedonia’s prime minister has said the country is seeking a compromise with Greece over the long-standing name dispute between both countries.

In an interview with CNN, Nikola Gruevski said he was trying to reach a solution with Greece over the issue so his country could gain membership into the European Union.

He told CNN: “We said to Greece, ‘We want to make a compromise. We want to find solutions,’ so we can become a member of NATO and the EU. Compromise means both sides make moves, not just one side to make concessions and the other side to have a victory.”

Macedonia has been at loggerheads over its name for 17 years with Greece, which blocked its entry to NATO in 2008 over the dispute.

Greece claims that the name “Macedonia” implies territorial ambitions on the Greek province of the same name. Macedonia denies it. The two countries have taken their dispute to the International Court of Justice.

Gruevski also spoke to CNN about his country’s economy, their ongoing efforts to gain membership of the European Union and the wine industry.

CNN: What is the state of your economy right now?

Nikola Gruevski: Last year, the World Bank announced that Macedonia was the third biggest reformer in the world for creating a good business climate. And it’s helping. Unfortunately, last year the world was in crisis. The amount of investment was reduced. But now there are new signals, new investors.

CNN: We saw in the center of the city a demo of people protesting for jobs. How big an issue is unemployment?

NG: Unemployment is a serious issue in Macedonia. Before independence, our companies produced for 22 million people in former Yugoslavia. Immediately after that, the market was much smaller and the managers didn’t find good ways to open new markets. That created serious unemployment. It’s declined in the last three years.

CNN: What would it mean for Macedonia to be part of the European Union and NATO?

NG: Politically, for us, it’s very important to be a member of the EU and NATO. More than 90 percent of the citizens would like to see Macedonia in NATO and the EU.

We fulfilled all necessary criteria to receive invitation for full membership to NATO in March 2008. Because of Greece, because of the name issue Video that they opened, our invitation was postponed. In the meantime we’re trying to work with Greece to find some solution for the problem.

CNN: What exactly is Greece saying?

NG: Greece wants our name to be changed, the new name to be given by them. They have a few names that they prefer, and they’re asking us to accept these names.

CNN: And one of them is Northern Macedonia?

NG: Yes. And a second thing, which is very unreasonable, they want to change the identity of the citizens. That’s very difficult to explain, but they want the government to accept and to explain to the citizens, that our language and nationality, in the future will not be Macedonian, but will be something else.

We said to Greece, ‘We want to make a compromise. We want to find solutions,’ so we become a member of NATO, member of the EU.Compromise means both sides make moves, not just one side to make concessions and the other side to have a victory.

Fortunately, in the meantime, the companies don’t care about the name issue. Greece is one of the biggest investors in Macedonia and our citizens are regularly going there for tourism.

See Macedonia’s stunning scenery

CNN: People think of Alexander the Great as coming from Macedonia. What is at the heart of being Macedonian?

NG: Alexander the Great’s empire was 2,300 years ago. The empire was very big and had different parts. And today these places are many countries, so I think he’s a person who belongs to the world, not to Greece or Macedonia or India. So, we don’t like to monopolize history. Unfortunately the other side is insisting on monopolizing the history. They are saying, “This is just our history.”

CNN: In May, you’re going to take over the presidency of the European Council of Ministers. What do you hope to achieve in your six months of presidency?

NG: Macedonian presidency will be important for making many steps, making some reforms. It will also be a chance for us to make some cultural events and to improve our image as a country. There’ll be good chances for many meetings, representing the country in different situations.

CNN: Is the government going to invest in tourism in the future?

NG: We have plans for new investments in tourism in different parts of the country. The most popular place for tourism in Macedonia is Ohrid. But also, there are other mountains, lakes, and archaeological places. We have also very good monasteries and temples which really are attractive for tourists.

CNN: And wine as well?

NG: We produce very good wine. Very close to the best wines in the world. When I’m drinking wine, I always choose Macedonian.

CNN: What does Macedonia have that allows it to produce such good wine?

NG: Tradition. Production of wine in Macedonia dates from 6,000 years ago, and for centuries it has improved. But it’s still not very well promoted. We have a lot of work to do on promotion, distribution and producing large enough quantities for the large companies. But we are working on this and every year we are increasing production.

PM Gruevski: Macedonia to keep on fighting for EU integration January 5, 2010

Posted by Yilan in EU, European Union, Human rights abuses, Macedonia.
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We won’t be heart-broken over what has happened, we’ll keep on fighting for Macedonia’s EU integration, stated Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski on Thursday in Bonn, once again commenting latest developments regarding the Macedonia-Greece ties surrounding Macedonia’s integration to the European Union.

– We have been and will be facing obstacles. Quite simply the fate of our country is such that we face more obstacles than other countries. Evidently, the Macedonian issue still overwhelms the Balkans i.e. certain countries on the Balkans. Sometimes it seems to me that we are living in the 19th century, not in the 21st century. Certain demands, especially from Greece, resemble those as far as from the 19th century or the early 20th century and not from the onset of the 21st century. We will find the strength to deal with it, we’ll find the strength to overcome the issues. There are countries that support us and the EU cannot forever tolerate this issue, noted Gruevski.

He said that through its actions Greece was in a way spending its credit. Gruevski said that “this credit has its beginning and its end and one day it will expire”.

– Greece cannot do this forever. Hence, Macedonia will keep on making efforts – we have a clearly defined Euro-Atlantic agenda, which we strive to fulfill, stated the Macedonian PM.

Commenting a statement by EU Ambassador Erwan Fouere that Brussels’ decision didn’t resemble the one reached at the Bucharest NATO summit, Gruevski noted that this was a case of two different points of view.

– He sees from his perspective, I see with my own eyes. From what I can see, we should have obtained a date, but we didn’t. Any other country in a similar situation would have be given a date. We even failed to get a date for a date (for membership talks). We only got hope that the issue will be debated again in the next six months, which I’ll reiterate is somewhat a positive moment, but very distant to make us happy, the PM stated.

Stressing that if it had been up to Fouere, then Macedonia would had been given a date for start of accession talks, Gruevski said he would like things to turn out in line with his predictions and Macedonia in the next six months to receive a date for start of negotiations with EU.

– But sometimes I refrain from making an unrealistic optimism. This doesn’t mean that we need to stop working, to give up the European Union and all of our problems. On the contrary, we need to continue our efforts, to intensify all of our attempts in order to find a solution, stated Gruevski in Bonn.

Speculations On Early Election In Macedonia January 4, 2010

Posted by Yilan in EU, European Union, Macedonia.
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Nikola Gruevski

Nikola Gruevski

There could be an early parliamentary election in Macedonia in the spring, or opposition attempts to take down the ruling coalition even sooner, if in December Greece blocks the EU from giving Macedonia a start date for its accession negotiations, local media speculate.

The prime minister and head of the main ruling centre right VMRO DPMNE party, Nikola Gruevski, is mobilizing its party members in expectations of such developments, the A1 TV said on Tuesday.

The TV presented a memo signed by Gruevski that is allegedly circulating the party in which he calls them to “once again mobilize and intercept the attempts of the transition politicians to take power”.

This is a term often used by the party to describe the opposition leader Branko Crvenkovski who marked much of Macedonia’s transition years from a socialst to capitalist society during the 1990s.

VMRO DPMNE did not comment the memo.

Last weeks’ meeting between Crvenkovski, who leads the Social Democrats, SDSM and Ali Ahmeti, the head of VMRO DPMNE’s junior coalition partner, the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration, DUI only adds to the early election speculations.

Both parties came up with a thin joint statement after the meeting saying that they agreed that Macedonia should speed up the ongoing UN sponsored talks for resolving the 18 years old name spat with Greece.

Crvenkovski later announced that his party has a plan for acting in case of a Greek blockade.

But the Dnevnik daily speculates that both leaders tackled the possibility for early polls.

“The ruling VMRO DPMNE and the main opposition Social Democrats, SDSM already started staging meetings with voters”, the daily says to support its thesis.

Last year, Athens blocked Skopje’s NATO accession over the 18 years-long spat. Athens insists that Skopje’s official name, the Republic of Macedonia, implies territorial claims towards its own northern province – also called Macedonia.

A repeat Greek blockade, this time at the EU council in December can be avoided, Greece asserts, on the condition that Skopje accepts a name change. Skopje hopes to acquire a date for its EU accession talks, but Athens has reiterated that this will not happen if there is no breakthrough in the name talks.

Macedonia had an early general election in June 2008 right after the first Greek NATO blockade. Ruling centre right VMRO DPMNE then snatched a decisive victory over the Social Democrats capitalizing on the image it built as a defender of the Macedonian name.

However, the majority of ethnic Albanians, who make one quarter of the overall population, voted for the Democratic Union for Integration, DUI.

The two willing parties subsequently formed a coalition government. After joining the VMRO DPMNE led coalition DUI promised its voters that the country would enter NATO by the end of 2009.

Various opinion polls have shown that the Albanian minority is not so emotionally linked with the name Macedonia and that it would rather see a speedy NATO and EU accession over the preservation of the name. Macedonians on the other hand see the name as closely linked to their national identity.