Skopje, Macedonia; April 8 (RFE/RL) -Macedonian president Kiro Gligorov
says that Macedonia "cannot under any circumstances" give up its name.
In an interview with RFE/RL in the Macedonian capital of Skopje,
Gligorov said that Macedonia's claim to its name dates to a 1944 act
of Parliament. He said that "nobody in Macedonia" has the power "under
any circumstances" to abandon the nation's constitutional name.
He said Parliament can't do it and none of the political parties could
accept it. If the name were surrendered, the president said, the
consequences for Macedonia and for stability in the region, as he put it,
"would be disastrous."
The name of Macedonia long has been a point of contention between Greece
and the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia. Greece, which has a large
northern province of the same name, imposed an economic embargo on
Macedonia, charging that the republic had claims on the province.
Under pressure from the United States, the Greeks lifted the embargo in
exchange for Macedonia's dropping disputed state symbols. But diplomatic
relations and mutual recognition between the two countries remain in
dispute because of the name controversy.
On another topic, Gligorov said in the interview that the region of Kosovo
must remain in Yugoslavia. He said negotiations between the government of
Yugoslavia and Kosovo's ethnic Albanians should begin immediately.
He said that an appropriate compromise would grant the Kosovo Albanians
autonomy but without any changes in the Yugoslav borders or ultimate sovereignty.