Greece urges “fair compromise” in row with Macedonia


A “fair compromise” with a geographic qualifier is the most appropriate solution to the long-running dispute between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia over the latter country’s name, Greece’s Foreign Minister has told the General Assembly.

Speaking last night during the Assembly’s annual general debate, Stavros Lambrinidis said the dispute “is not really, and never has been, a ‘name’ issue per se,” but instead an effort to “put behind us notions of irredentism, of attempting to rewrite history and borders.”

A United Nations-brokered accord in 1995 details the difference between the two countries on the name issue. It also obliges them to continue negotiations under the auspices of the Secretary-General to try to reach agreement. Since 1999, Matthew Nimetz, the UN’s Personal Envoy on the issue, has held talks with the two sides and proposed compromise names.

“Greece believes and has repeatedly stated that the solution lies in a fair compromise, in a name with a geographical qualifier, since Macedonia is a geographic region that overlaps the territory of more than one country. And that this name must be used in relation to everyone,” said Mr. Lambrinidis.

“We want to resolve this issue so that we can finally realize the huge potential of our relationship, on the basis of openness and honesty. It is high time to reach a successful and mutually beneficial conclusion.”

In his address the Greek Foreign Minister also voiced deep concern over what he said were “the recent threats and hostile actions against the Republic of Cyprus by our neighbour Turkey, in violation of international law.”

He added that “Turkey’s threats and actions of the past few days and weeks are contrary to international law, and they must cease. We believe that the path of tension is a wrong and dangerous path.”