Macedonia Opposition Slams Government Over Name
It is true that Greece abuses its EU and NATO membership to block Macedonia from entering these organisations, but the current politics of self-pity and blaming others will not help the country progress, Macedonia’s opposition said.
“The people expect from you to solve problems and not make excuses and point fingers at others,” Branko Crvenkovski, the head of Macedonia’s main opposition party, the Social Democrats, SDSM, said, urging Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski to define his so-called “red line” in the name dispute with Greece, a point beyond which he is unwilling to compromise.
He stated that SDSM sees the preservation of the Macedonian national identity as its so-called ''red line''. That means that the country's language and nationality remains known as Macedonian.
Crvenkovski’s remarks come after EU Foreign Ministers in Brussels postponed a decision to give the country a start date for accession talks with Macedonia due to Greek opposition. Ministers said they will discuss a date during the Spanish EU presidency, which spans trough the first half of next year.
Several hundred people on Wednesday staged a protest in front of the EU office in Skopje to express their dissatisfaction.
“We must not miss the chance that we are given to solve the row with Greece in the next six months,” Crvenkovski said.
He argued that Gruevski has already gambled away a chance to solve the row before the ongoing EU Council, thus depriving his country from the possibility of removing the final obstacle in its path towards its two strategic goals, EU and NATO membership.
“The only chance that was missed is a chance to erase ourselves from the map of nations and erase our own identity,” Gruevski replied to these accusations from Brussels.
Greuvski has in the past implied that the opposition, given a chance, would give up the crucial Macedonian identity stands. He has been constantly accused Greece of making maximalist demands in the name talks.
Macedonia has been an EU candidate country since December 2005. For a number of years the country did not fulfill necessary accession criteria, but in this autumn’s progress report the European Commission said Skopje is ready to start talks, and recommended member states extend a start date.
However, Greece has all along said it will block any decision to give Skopje a start date pending a solution to the 18-year-old name dispute with the country. In April 2008, Greece also blocked NATO's invitation for Macedonia’s membership in the Alliance for the same reason.
Athens claims Macedonia's official name implies territorial demands over its northern province, also called Macedonia.