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Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

18.11.08: Athens and Macedonia in UN ourt over name dispute - 0 views

  • Athens on Tuesday (18 November) strongly criticised Skopje's decision to file a complaint against Greece with the International Court of Justice (IJC), and accused it of hindering the process of finding a solution to the "name issue" that has been poisoning relations for 17 years.
  • On Monday, EU membership candidate Macedonia started legal proceedings against Greece at the ICJ, accusing the country of not complying with its international obligations at a NATO summit held in Bucharest earlier this year, when it blocked an invitation to Skopje to join the organisation because of the unresolved name dispute between them.
  • Greece has been refusing to recognise its neighbour's constitutional name - the Republic of Macedonia - since it declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 as a northern region in Greece is also called Macedonia and Athens fears allowing Skopje to use the name will open the way to territorial claims. It also believes the name is part of its own historical heritage. But under Article 11 of the UN Interim Agreement signed between them in 1995, Athens has committed not to object to Skopje's application to join any "international, multilateral and regional organisations and institutions" of which Greece is part, provided that it applies under the provisional name foreseen in the deal – Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

23.06.08: Macedonia PM attacks Greece - 0 views

  • Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski attacked Greece for demonstrating "power" and "arrogance" over the infamous 'name dispute' following a disappointing EU summit for Skopje last week.
  • Background: In April, Athens vetoed Skopje's invitation to join NATO, arguing the name 'Macedonia' could lead Skopje to make territorial claims over Greece's own northern province of the same name.  A nationalist backlash followed in the small country of 2.5 million, which US former assistant Secretary of State Richard Holbrook famously called "a hole in the middle of nothing".  Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski decided to ride on this wave and called for early elections. Macedonian legislators have ignored warnings from leading MEPs that early elections would threaten the country's EU accession (EurActiv 14/04/08). Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn warned in the meantime that the unresolved 'name dispute' with Greece could negatively affect Macedonia's EU agenda. 
  • The EU summit conclusions, adopted by European heads of state and government on 20 June, did not specifically mention that Macedonia would begin EU accession talks in 2008, to the disappointment of the small Balkan republic. 
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  • In an interview with the Macedonian Information Agency, Gruevski downplayed concerns expressed in the Macedonian media over the Council conclusions. Instead, he accused his Greek counterpart Costas Karamanlis of not intending to close the name dispute in the near future. He warned that in the current UN-sponsored negotiations, Greece has no intention whatsoever of moving forward. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

10.09.10: Brussels concerned by Macedonian attitude - 0 views

  • It is time for a decision on the Macedonian name issue' was the message delivered in no uncertain terms by EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso to Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov during a meeting in Brussels. Macedonia received a positive assessment from the Commission last November on its general preparedness for EU membership, clearing the way for the country to start EU membership talks. In the EU Council, however, the move was blocked by Greece, which is grumbling over the long-standing name issue.
  • Brussels diplomats say they are confused by the Macedonian attitude. For a long time, Greece had been the hesitant party, trying to avoid a solution. "This time, the position of Greece is very clear, we have the impression that they have moved and made an effort in the right direction and we wait for Skopje's response which is not coming", one diplomat said.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

22.11.10: Greece: EU should consider setting 2018 as a goal for the hopefuls in the Bal... - 0 views

  • The European Union should give western Balkan states a target date for accession to the bloc in a bid to bolster democratic reforms in the region and invigorate EU enlargement, Greece's foreign minister said on Monday. Dimitris Droutsas said the EU could consider setting 2018 as a goal for hopefuls in the Balkans to become members but that only countries that are fully ready should be allowed to join. Greece would aim to seek consensus among EU member nations for such a date -- for states including Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Albania and Bosnia -- when it holds the bloc's rotating presidency in 2014, he said. "We can adopt a political declaration that sets a specific, ambitious and realistic goal for completing the accession process for western Balkans," Droutsas said at a seminar in Brussels where he was to attend an EU foreign ministers meeting.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

24.04.08: Macedonia rebuked over 'hate speech' - 0 views

  • The European Parliament has urged Macedonia to solve the 'name dispute' with Greece, warning the small country against a resurgence of "hate speech" in its media with respect to neighbouring countries.
  • The European Parliament report, adopted on April 23 with 601 votes in favour and 52 against (30 abstentions), represents a victory for Greece. Indeed, the text calls on "both sides to seize the opportunity to resume negotiations immediately […] so that the issue does not continue to represent an obstacle to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's membership of international organisations". 
  • Following the setback at the NATO summit in Bucharest in early April, when Macedonia did not obtain an invitation to join the Alliance due to the unresolved "name dispute" with Greece, the Macedonian press depicted its neighbour in a style reminiscent of the Cold War (EurActiv 04/04/08). Moreover, the Macedonian press traditionally projects a very negative image of Bulgaria - again reminiscent of Tito's Yugoslavia, when Belgrade had a hostile policy towards Bulgaria. The amendment warning against "hate speech" was introduced by Bulgarian MEP Nickolay Mladenov (EPP-ED) and supported by his compatriot Evgeni Kirilov (PES). 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

21.05.09: Macedonia counts on EU help in dispute with Greece - 0 views

  • The Prime Minister of Macedonia, Nikola Gruevski, met with Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday (May 15) at the Elysee Palace, after visiting Brussels two days earlier. The key goal is visa abolition for this small landlocked country of 2 million people. Macedonia is proud of its achievements in becoming a leader in the region considering the matter. "We have met all the conditions in order the European Commission to propose visa liberalisation, Gruevski tells Le Monde. The decision should be reached in late autumn. Hopefully, as of Jan. 1 2010, our citizens will freely travel the Schengen zone." According to officials in Skopje, over 450.000 biometric passports have been already issued.
  • At NATO Summit in Bucharest last April, Greece vetoed Macedonia’s accession to the Alliance. The country was admitted in the UN in 1993 under the interim reference – The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. In November of 2008, Skopje filed a motion before the International Court of Justice in The Hague. "Greece does not only want for us to change our name, but also the passports, Constitution, naming of our language, our identity," Mr Gruevski says. In order to lift the Greek obstacle, the Premier believes that Brussels should influence on its member country. “Macedonia is not sufficiently powerful to deal with this alone, he says. That is why we are in Paris. We need support, but ask for nothing we haven’t deserv
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

06.04.09: Centre-right wins Macedonia presidential elections - 0 views

  • Macedonia's ruling party candidate Gjorge Ivanov won Macedonia's presidential election on Sunday, pledging to resolve its long-standing name dispute with Greece in a bid to show the Balkan state's readiness to join the EU and NATO.
  • "Our first task will be to resolve the name issue with our southern neighbor Greece," Ivanov told Reuters. "I am sure we can find common interest and compromise." "I am sure Greece will be cooperative on the issue."
  • Macedonia applied for EU membership in 2005 but has not advanced since then, and Greece has blocked its NATO application in a 17-year-old dispute over Macedonia's name, which it shares with the northernmost Greek province. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

20.06.11: Füle shows Macedonia yellow card - 31 views

    In an unprecedented move, Enlargement Commissioner Štefan Füle has warned Macedonia that the country could lose its EU candidate status if no progress is made on the path to reform and if the EU hopeful keeps on taking actions considered by Greece as "provocations".

    The warning came in a TV interview given by Füle to Macedonian TV channel A1, one of the few media outlets with a critical voice and which the government is reportedly trying to silence.

    Füle was asked to comment on the decision by Nikola Gruevski's government to erect a statue of a 'warrior on horseback' resembling Alexander the Great in the centre of Skopje, which has sparked fury in Greece. Over the weekend, the 12-meter high statue was finally assembled.

    The commissioner said that not only in bilateral affairs, but also in normal life any person should avoid doing things seen by its neighbour as a provocation.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

16.06.10: Macedonia to add 'Vardar' to its name | EurActiv - 0 views

  • According to reports, Macedonia is close to finding a formula to defuse its long-standing name dispute with Greece, which has prevented the former Yugoslav republic from starting EU accession talks and has kept it outside the NATO alliance.
  • However, it remains to be seen whether Skopje will agree to use its new name erga omnes – meaning in the country's "relations with everyone". So far, Skopje has insisted that the name Macedonia could be kept "for internal use" and that countries which have recognised Macedonia with its constitutional name would continue to use it.It also remains unclear whether Macedonian citizens could continue to be referred to as 'Macedonians' or 'Macedonians of Vardar' instead. A 'dual use' would help Skopje avoid having to amend its constitution and change all its national documents, including passports. Greece does not recognise Macedonian passports and until recently issued visas to their nationals on a separate sheet of paper.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

15.07.10: Macedonia name dispute inspires exotic idea - 1 views

  • A renowned research institute has suggested that Macedonia change its name to an agreed formula on the day of its EU accession as a means of resolving its ongoing dispute with Greece. As exotic as this may seem, the proposal has already triggered interest and debate in regional media.
  • The proposal, signed by ESI President Gerald Knaus, has triggered a lot of interest and debate in regional media, the institute notes in a press release circulated yesterday (12 July).
  • While most Europeans find the Greek position puzzling or irrational, the prevailing political thinking in many capitals is that the EU enlargement process should be slowed down, the ESI paper notes. In this context, the fact that Macedonia's EU bid is stuck is even welcome, the institute claims. Gerald Knaus is categorical in saying that if a compromise between Skopje and Athens is reached, then a referendum in Macedonia will be called. But the Macedonian politicians who may be ready to make concessions over the country's name would do so only on the condition that it would actually ensure the country's EU accession, the ESI director argues. To "square the circle," the ESI suggests making a constitutional amendment in Skopje that changes the country's name now, allowing Athens to support the start of EU accession talks later this year. But the amendment would only foresee the change's entry into force on the day Macedonia actually joins the EU. The proposed constitutional change could read: "All references to the Republic of Macedonia in this constitution will be replaced by a reference to XX (a compromise name) on the day this country joins the European Union." If for some reason Skopje never joins the EU, it will never have to change its name, the ESI paper reads. Knaus also argues that the proposed solution would allow both countries and their leaders to claim victory. In parallel, Greece should promise to allow Macedonia to join NATO under the name FYROM (the name under which Macedonia joined the UN) once the constitutional changes have been passed, he says.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

10.09.10: Macedonia name dispute: Time to decide, says Barroso - 0 views

  • European Commission President José Manuel Barroso urged Macedonia and Greece to resolve once and for all their twenty-year dispute over the EU hopeful's name after meeting Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov in Brussels yesterday (9 September).
  • Greece views the official name used by Skopje – the Republic of Macedonia – as an open challenge to its own region of Macedonia and, as a result, is blocking the country's EU accession talks and its entry into NATO (see EurActiv LinksDossier). "I understand the extreme sensitivities of this issue, but I call on all sides to resolve this obstacle as quickly as possible. It's time to decide. We believe now it is time to decide on this issue of the name," stated Barroso. Since November 2009, Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and his Greek counterpart George Papandreou have been holding direct talks, with UN mediation, in an attempt to break the deadlock. Seemingly, progress has been made.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

12.01.09: Macedonia name dispute threatens EU Balkan strategy - 0 views

  • The year-long disagreement between Athens and Skopje over Macedonia's official name is not only detrimental to the two neigbours' bilateral relations, it is also jeopardising European Union and NATO stability strategies for the western Balkans, according to a report published on Monday (12 January).
  • "The main NATO-EU strategy for stabilising Macedonia and the region via enlargement was derailed in 2008 by the dispute with Greece over the country's name," says the International Crisis Group (ICG) in a new paper. It explains that the EU membership perspective has been helping to unite Macedonia's two communities, the ethnic Macedonians and Albanians, especially since the end of the 2001 conflict between them. But the recent escalation of the name dispute between Greece and Macedonia – which materialised in April last year when Athens blocked Skopje's NATO bid – "puts at risk the progress achieved," according to the ICG.
  • Press Articles Macedonia's Name: Breaking the Deadlock
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

19.01.09: Macedonia, Greece Court Case Starts In Hague - 0 views

  • The first hearing in the case of Macedonia versus Greece is due to start on Monday at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The hearing will cover procedural issues that should determine the future course of the case that is expected to last no less than three years. The court should then set a date for both sides to submit their arguments, and schedule their presentation.The lawsuit is a side-effect of the 18-year old dispute between the two countries over Macedonia's name.
  • The Greek team in The Hague comprises the ambassador to the Netherlands, Konstantinos Rallis, diplomat Yorgos Savaidis and Foreign Ministry legal advisor Maria Telalian. Macedonia will be sending its long-standing name negotiator in the UN, Nikola Dimitrov, filling in for  Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki.A new round of UN-mediated talks between the two states has been scheduled for next month, but in the current climate, observers expect little more that diplomatic niceties.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

International Crisis Group - Europe Briefing No 52 (12.01.09): Macedonia's Name: Break... - 0 views

  • Macedonia is a relative success story in a region scarred by unresolved statehood and territory issues. International engagement has, since the 2001 conflict with an ethnic Albanian insurgency, brought progress in integrating Albanians into political life. This has been underpinned by the promise of European Union (EU) and NATO integration, goals that unite ethnic Macedonians and Albanians. But the main NATO/EU strategy for stabilising Macedonia and the region via enlargement was derailed in 2008 by the dispute with Greece over the country’s name. Athens claims that, by calling itself “Macedonia”, it appropriates part of the Hellenic heritage and implies a claim against Greece’s northern province. At summits it blocked Macedonian membership in NATO and EU accession talks until the issue is settled. Mystifying to outsiders, the dispute touches existential nerves, especially in Macedonia, and has serious regional implications. The parties need to rebuild trust; member states need to press both to compromise, especially Greece to respect its commitment not to block Skopje in international organisations.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

21.02.10: EU enlargement blues, eyes on Croatia, FYROM, Turkey - and Greece - 0 views

  • Sweden remains committed to EU enlargement, Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said, even while reiterating the key role Sweden plays, saying membership in the bloc “is the best way to safeguard our values and national interests in an increasingly complex world.” He noted that “by allowing the doors of the EU to remain open, we make a considerable contribution to peace and democracy on our continent,” citing the Western Balkans, where there has been considering disagreement over whether countries riddled with corruption, economic woes and failure to catch accused war criminals should become part of the EU.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

09.07.10: Parliament calls on all EU countries to recognise Kosovo - 0 views

  • The European Parliament has called on the five remaining EU member states yet to recognise Kosovo's independence to do so. But leading MEPs admitted that no moves were expected before a ruling from the International Court of Justice on the legality of the former Serbian province's independence, due in the coming weeks.
  • n a resolution adopted yesterday (8 July), MEPs say they "would welcome the recognition by all member states of the independence of Kosovo," referring to the five that are dragging their feet – Cyprus, Greece, Spain, Romania and Slovakia. The parliamentarians urge the EU-27 to "step up their common approach towards Kosovo'' in order to make EU policies more effective for everyone in the territory. They also reject the possibility of a partitioned Kosovo. Cyprus, a divided island since the Turkish invasion in 1974, rejects Kosovo's declaration of independence owing to its stance on territorial integrity and the lack of UN approval. It is backed by Greece, while Spain – which has its own regional tensions – cites lack of respect for international law as justification for its opposition. Romania, home to an ethnic Hungarian community in 'Székely Land' that is pushing for a higher level of autonomy, and Slovakia, with its own significant Hungarian minority group, have also rejected the legality of Kosovo's secession from Serbia. Despite member states' differences regarding Kosovo's status, the Parliament affirms that it is vital for the EU to engage with Kosovo so that stability and security in the Western Balkans – the EU's immediate neighbourhood – can be preserved and built upon.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

02.10.08: Macedonia name negotiations on home straight - 0 views

  • Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski and Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn today (2 October) signalled that the 17-year-old 'name dispute' between Skopje and Athens over the name 'Macedonia' may be nearing a solution
  • "Ambassador Niemetz has requested next Tuesday to meet the negotiators from both countries, Ambassador [Admantios] Vassilakis of Greece and Ambassador [Nikola] Dimitrov and Martin Protoger [chief of staff to Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski]. The aim of the meeting is for both countries to make their remarks or request amendments following mediator Niemetz's last proposal. On this basis, I expect that Ambassador Niemetz will be able […] to table a final version," Crvenkovski said. 
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

09.02.09: Macedonia faces challenges, pressure in 2009 - 0 views

  • Macedonia has its sights set on opening membership negotiations with the EU and NATO this year, goals that hinge on two main criteria. One is the country's local and presidential vote, scheduled for March 22nd. The other is a solution to the ongoing name dispute with Greece. Both present serious challenges.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

19.02.10: Commissioner calls for 'deeds' in Macedonia name dispute - 0 views

  • A solution to Macedonia's name dispute with Greece should be found in the coming four months, so as to start EU accession negotiations under the Spanish EU presidency, enlargement commissioner Stefan Fuele said during his visit to Skopje on Friday (19 February). "There is a unique opportunity to find a solution and it should be seized. I am fully committed to supporting the talks, which along with the required political will, should lead to a solution," Mr Fuele told local media after meeting Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.
  • It is still unknown how Greece's current financial and economic troubles will have an impact on the Macedonian name dispute. Athens is currently under tremendous pressure from big eurozone countries such as Germany and France to cut back spending and provide accurate data on its deficit, while facing unprecedented scrutiny by the European Commission. Some diplomats suggest that this offers a window of opportunity which should be seized, while others say that because of the painful economic measures, Athens will be even less inclined to compromise on the name issue, a matter of national pride.
Prof. Dr  Wolfgang Schumann

06.04.10: Greece floats solution for Macedonia name dispute - 0 views

  • A senior Greek official has indicated that Athens is ready to accept the name 'Northern Macedonia' for its northern neighbour, in a development that could bring an end to the 19-year-old title dispute that has hampered Skopje's EU membership ambitions.
  • The Greek administration also insists that the issue must be resolved before Skopje can enter into EU accession discussions, a process that requires unanimous support from the bloc's full complement of members.
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