Eu/fyrom : Skopje Must Solve Name Row for Membership Talks to Start

Article excerpt

Despite strong diplomatic efforts by the Slovenian EU Presidency, it remains uncertain whether accession talks with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) could be opened by the end of this year, as the start of talks was directly linked by the EU's leaders to the successful settlement of Skopje's name dispute' with Athens.

"There are some conditions that need to be met which are not completely in the remit of the EU institutions," Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa, whose country holds the rotating EU Presidency, said, on 19 June, citing "the issue of the name".

On the strong request of Greece, the final version of the European Council's conclusions, agreed on 20 June, says that further steps by the FYROM in its progress toward EU membership "are possible by the end of this year" if all conditions are met. However, the next part of the paragraph emphasises that "good neighbourly relations, including a negotiated and mutually acceptable solution to the name issue, remain essential".

The dispute over Macedonia's name has been dragging on for almost 16 years. Although some progress has been achieved in the course of talks held under the UN's auspices ahead of the NATO summit in April, no final deal was reached. In consequence, Greece has blocked Macedonia's NATO accession bid and warned that if Skopje does not back down, the same action will be taken with regard to the opening of its EU membership talks. …