Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Greece Reacts to Croatian MEP’s Invitation to Join ‘Friends of Macedonia’ Group
By Philip Chrysopoulos -
Jan 19, 2016
skopiaThe invitation to join the informal “Friends of Macedonia” group in the European Parliament generated strong reactions among Greek MEPs.
Although the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is recognized as “Macedonia” by most European Union countries, the name dispute with Greece has blocked the country’s membership of both the EU and NATO.
The Informal Friendship group in the European Parliament – “Friends of Macedonia” is composed of MEPs from various political groups who are supporters of the European integration path of the Balkan country. Its goal is to increase the country’s visibility within the European Parliament. It was formed during the previous mandate of the European Parliament, 2009-2014.
However, on Monday, Marijana Petir, a Croatian MEP from the European People’s Party, took the initiative to revive the informal group. Her move was strongly opposed by her Greek colleagues in the EU Parliament, according to a EurActiv report.
Petir told EurActiv that the EU “must officially open accession negotiations with Macedonia” as the country was ready to join.
“I strongly believe that this will occur soon,” she noted, adding that all the reports so far have indicated that FYROM is making progress.
The Croatian politician said that the name dispute with Greece must be resolved soon. “I invite MEP colleagues from Greece to join us in the constructive debate, which would contribute to Macedonia’s future in the EU,” she said.
The vast majority of Greek MEPs reacted to Petir’s initiative and sent letters of complaint to the President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz. Yet, their reactions were separate, with each party sending their own protest letter.