The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) expresses concern over the statements made by Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos and Serbian Prime Minister Ivica Dacic at the joint EU-Serbia press conference in Brussels this past Tuesday, January 21, 2014.
In response to a question by EurActiv whether Serbia could act as a facilitator in relations between Greece and Macedonia, Dacic jokingly stated, “You want us to help in that dispute? Don’t involve us in that, please.” Following this he took a more serious note by stating that if Serbia were asked to get involved in the name dispute by their Greek “friends and brothers,” they would accept and offer their good will.
“Dacic should worry about resolving Serbia’s problems, including the Kosovo issue and Republika Srpska’s intransigent approach to unity in Bosnia, instead of focusing on Greece-Macedonia relations,” said UMD President Metodija A. Koloski. “Greece and Macedonia should engage in direct talks to improve their bilateral relations. As a good-will gesture, Venizelos should make an official visit to Macedonia at his earliest convenience.”
Greek Foreign Minister Venizelos stated that the stalled accession talks between the EU and Macedonia arise from the lack of “…acceptance of European values and the fulfillment of the political criteria of Copenhagen” on the part of the Macedonian government rather than Greece’s dispute over Macedonia’s name.
“The claims by Venizelos, in his new role as the head of the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union, are baseless due to the fact that the European Commission has made recommendations for five consecutive years to the Council to start accession talks with Macedonia,” said UMD Director of European Operations Filip Altiparmakovski.
On January 21, the same day as the joint EU-Serbia press conference, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament passed a resolution urging the Greek Presidency to take leadership on resolving its bilateral dispute with Macedonia and the Council to set a date for starting EU accession negotiations with Macedonia.
UMD believes Greece should invest energy in working to espouse the European values, it supposedly adheres to, by ratifying the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities, offering basic human rights to its Macedonian, Turkish, and other minorities, and put an end to the outdated 1923 Treaty of Lausanne.