GRUEVSKI: NAME REFERENDUM POSSIBLE
Brussels_ Macedonia’s Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski says a referendum on the ‘name’ issue is possible in a bid to settle the row with Greece.
“It (the referendum) is part of our programme, and if we come to a good solution, then yes, we will organise a referendum,” Gruevski said.
Macedonia is under pressure to resolve the dispute that in April stalled its bid to join NATO due to a Greek veto.
If a solution is found by July 9, Macedonia could still catch up with Albania and Croatia, the other two countries that were offered membership of the alliance in April. On July 9 they are set to sign the NATO accession protocol.
Greece says the name Macedonia implies Skopje's territorial claims on the northern Greek province of the same name and vetoed Macedonia’s NATO bid in April because of the unresolved dispute. There is concern that Greece could also block Skopje’s bid to join the European Union.
EU foreign policy Chief Javier Solana, who met Gruevski on Wednesday evening, said he hopes that name dispute will be solved soon, as the issue has raised debates even within the EU – with Slovenia and Greece clashing on Monday on whether Brussels should make a resolution to the dispute a precondition for the start of Macedonia’s EU accession talks.
“These problems have been for a long time waiting to be resolved,” Solana cautioned.
Meanwhile there is growing media speculation in both Greece and Macedonia that the outgoing United States administration led by George Bush is preparing one final push to resolve the issue by July 9.