UMD Calls for Suspension of “Name Dispute” Negotiations

Washington, D.C. – October 15, 2008 – The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) today called upon the Government of the Republic of Macedonia to suspend UN brokered talks to resolve the Hellenic Republic’s* baseless objection to Macedonia’s name.

“The most recent attempt to resolve the dispute proposed by UN mediator, Ambassador Matthew Nimetz, is being stymied by Athens because it does not advance Athens’ desire to extinguish Macedonian ethnic and national consciousness,” stated UMD President Metodija A. Koloski.  “Rather than constructively participating in these negotiations, Athens merely waits for proposals from Ambassador Nimetz, rejects them out of hand, and then threatens Macedonia with a continued veto of Macedonia’s entry into NATO and now it has compounded that tactic with a threat to veto Macedonia’s EU membership,” added Koloski.

Athens instigated the “name dispute” when it objected to Macedonia’s name in 1991.  A 1995 UN-brokered Interim Accord between Macedonia and the Hellenic Republic normalized relations between the two neighboring countries.  This accord established the current negotiations.  Since the start of the negotiations, Macedonia, unlike the Hellenic Republic, has proposed solutions to the “dispute.”  The Hellenic Republic, however, has proposed not one solution, and even blatantly violated the Interim Accord by vetoing Macedonia’s admission to NATO based solely on its unilateral objection to Macedonia’s name.

“Ambassador Nimetz and Macedonia have worked diligently to resolve the dispute, but the negotiations cannot succeed unless the Hellenic Republic ends its unilateral opposition and agrees to negotiate in good faith.  The Hellenic Republic’s practice of insisting on intractable and extreme positions in the negotiations is the means by which the current Greek government manages to extend the dispute and exploit it for domestic political gain.  While UMD seldom agrees with the Hellenic Republic’s Foreign Minister, we agree with her recent statement that it “‘takes two to tango” and that Macedonia must “accept reality” when it comes to this dispute,’” said Koloski who concluded that “more in sorrow than in anger, UMD calls upon the Macedonian Government to accept the reality that Athens is a disingenuous and untrustworthy negotiating partner, that continuing the UN sponsored talks is futile, that Athens and Athens alone has frustrated the current negotiations, and that Macedonia should take the necessary steps to suspend the current negotiations.”  

In closing, Koloski stated, “It is unfortunate that this dispute cannot be resolved, but Macedonia should not allow itself to be held hostage by the intransigence and threats of the Hellenic Republic over Macedonia’s admission into NATO and the EU.  Moreover, given Athens’ conduct to date, it is reasonable to conclude that the Hellenic Republic will continue to impede Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic integration, regardless of progress in the negotiations.  This situation will continue unless and until Athens successfully extorts a new name of its own choosing not just for Macedonia but also for the Macedonian people and the Macedonian language.  It is the position of UMD that none of these fall under the purview of or may be dictated by the Hellenic Republic.  Rather, these are the sovereign property of the Macedonian people.”

* The Hellenic Republic is the constitutional name of Greece.

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Founded in 2004, United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) is an international non-governmental organization addressing the interests and needs of Macedonians and Macedonian communities throughout the world.

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