Poposki: In order to find a solution for the name we need inclusion of the big countries

Macedonian chief of diplomacy, Nikola Poposki, has no announcements that Matthew Nimetz tomorrow comes in Skopje with a new proposal for the name.



So far, the Special Representative for the naming dispute has been visiting both Skopje and Athens either with a concrete proposal or after a concrete response to an already proposed solution. What is the objective of the new visit of Matthew Nimetz, having in mind that the German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week said that there are several solutions for the name?

MFA Poposki – In this moment we do not an announcement for a concrete proposal that will be placed on the table. In fact, in the past periods there were many proposals and they were not successful. I think that his statements were in line of an optimistic mood, a mood that would lead to increased communication and intensified dialogue, increase of the possibilities to find a solution. To us, this is very encouraging. We will use this period to put wind in his sails in order for him to help us to intensify these talks, because the solution and the removal of this problem posed on our Euro-Atlantic path is one of our key priorities.

When speaking of intensifying the process, some ten days ago the German Chancellor stated, very directly, that she is personally involved in the name process. What message did she send with this statement?

MFA Poposki – It is obvious to Germany and to the other member-states that in order for this process to end with a solution, they should also be included. I think that in this moment they are all very careful about the situation in Greece and how much the Government in Greece can work on this problem, having in mind that they have a long list of challenges. However, I reckon that they are monitoring the situation and want to create a climate in which we could move towards the solution.

Merkel announce a personal effort for a final solution, and also asked for a compromise from both parties. What is the compromise for which Macedonia is ready?

MFA Poposki – Macedonia has made many compromises on several occasions and on several significant issues and thus, our capacity for seeking solutions that will make everyone happy is already proved. What is more important in this moment is the capacity of the others to do so. We’ve made compromises, and we still have not been delivered with our main objective, the NATO and EU membership. I would like to know about the willingness of someone else, who would also work on reaching a solution with mutual benefits, and we would achieve our goal of receiving NATO and EU membership.

You have been appealing, on several occasions, to the bigger countries to influence Greece to sit and talk about solution of the naming dispute. What mechanism could they use to force Athens to do that?

MFA Poposki – When speaking of a mechanism for finding a solution, we are not speaking of blackmails. Our objective is not to inflict damage to Greece; our objective is for Greece to enable us to start the negotiations and to become a NATO member state. EU and NATO member-states that show a high level of solidarity for helping Greece in these difficult moments should also use part of their influence and time in order to convince Greece that it is in our benefit to achieve a solution. This is what we are speaking of and in that line I think that the inclusion of Germany and all other EU and NATO member states will be the most useful one.
The question is how ready are they to involve directly and what price are they ready to pay in order to create climate in which we will reach a solution. In this moment I believe that they are all very careful in order not to face with an unwanted reaction from Greece and they are using the careful approach to this problem.

For several years in the past, shadowed by the name dispute, we also have the issue on Bulgaria. A few days ago you stated that the Agreement on Good-Neighbourly Relations is in its final phase, almost before its execution. What exactly does this mean regarding the three disputable items that were the reason for which the agreement has not been executed until now?

MFA Poposki – I said then, and I will say it now that the most significant issue we had in the relations with Bulgaria was the climate. There were very negative feelings, many disputes on both sides, and a very negative perception: on our side, regarding their requests, on their side, regarding our expectations. We managed to change that through the working groups, we improved the climate, we increased the trust and in that way, we made a step forward to overcome these three, I would say, disputable issues. But it not only about the disputable issues, it is about the overall context in which we settled this problem. I do not think that by signing the agreement we are overcoming all problems. What is more significant than signing the agreement is to see whether we will have a higher or lower level of trust with Sofia. I think that the last meeting between the working groups was held last week. The conclusion was that we are very almost closing all problematic issues, but due to the political situation in Bulgaria we will have to wait for the establishment of a Government in Bulgaria, upon the elections, and to access the full closure of the issue about the Agreement.