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Macedonia Unhappy With Greece Over Progress With Name Dispute

Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki
Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki
PRAGUE -- Macedonia is concerned at the lack of progress in UN-mediated talks with Greece about the country's formal name, RFE/RL's Balkan Service reports.

Greece and Macedonia have been at loggerheads over the use of the name "Macedonia" for nearly two decades.

Macedonia was admitted to the UN under the name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) because Greece lays claim to the toponym "Macedonia" as part of its classical heritage.

Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki told RFE/RL in an interview in Prague on November 7 that Greece's motivation for negotiating on the name issue "is not at the desired level."

He said the two countries were negotiating under UN auspices only about the name, but that Greek statements implied that Athens questions also the ethnic identity of the Macedonian population.

Poposki ruled out international arbitration in the dispute.

"Macedonia cannot accept international arbitration for solving the name dispute with Greece, because this is a key issue that influences the parameters of any democratic society," he explained.

Poposki said none of the proposed alternative names for the country had been deemed acceptable to be put to a nationwide referendum.

"No solution is acceptable if Macedonia cannot close the two key chapters -- NATO and European Union membership," Poposki said.

The protracted disagreement is the primary impediment to Macedonia becoming a member of NATO and hinders its progress in gaining membership to the European Union.