Eu/fyrom : Ep Changes Stance on Macedonia Name Dispute

Article excerpt

Under strong pressure from Greek MEPs, the European Parliament has significantly changed its stance on the ongoing name dispute' between the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and Greece.

The own-initiative report by Erik Meijer (UEL-NGL, Netherlands) on Macedonia's integration progress in 2007, adopted by the plenary, on 23 April, says that the name dispute should not "continue to be an obstacle" to Skopje's "membership of international organisations". In contrast, the 2007 report expressly stated that "the name issue is not an obstacle" to the FYROM's EU accession talks.

Following a new round of consultations, which took place after the 10 April plenary decided to postpone the vote for two weeks, the MEPs finally agreed on an amendment, which says that the issue should not "continue to represent an obstacle to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's membership of international organisations, as provided for in the Interim Accord of 1995, which is still in force".

The agreement, to which the amendment refers, was reached by Greece and the FYROM in 1995. It obliges Athens not to block Skopje's bid to join international organisations as long as it uses the provisional name, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

In last year's report, the MEPs took a different stance. At that time they explicitly said that "the name issue is not an obstacle to the opening of negotiations for EU accession and that, as is the case for all other candidate countries, its integration into the EU will depend exclusively on fulfilment of the Copenhagen criteria, the conditions of the stabilisation and association framework, and the EU[acute accent]s capacity to integrate new member states". …