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Macedonia Refuses to Give Up Its Name

  • Kitty McKinsey

Strasbourg, France, June 25 (RFE/RL) -- Macedonian President Kiro Gligorov reiterated that his country will not give in to Greek demands to change its name.

Grigorov made the vow at a session of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. His country was admitted to the pro-democracy, pan-European body - as well as to the United Nations and other international bodies - under the cumbersome name of The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, because of Greek objections.

Greece says the name, Macedonia, implies territorial claims on its own northern province of the same name.

Gligorov said there is not a single person in his country - neither in government nor in the opposition - who would agree to drop the name Macedonia. He said this would amount to, what he called, "capitulation of our nation, our name and our dignity."

This prompted a Greek representative, Aristotelis Pavlidis, to ask whether there was any point in continuing negotiations between Greece and Macedonia under UN auspices in New York. The talks were convened to settle outstanding issues last year when Greece dropped a long-standing economic blockade against its northern neighbor.

Gligorov said Macedonia is always ready for dialogue, mutual understanding and compromise, as long as, in his words, "compromise would not mean loss of our national identity."