Name dispute not deciding factor in Macedonia’s NATO bid

Source: SETimes 

By Marina Stojanovska for Southeast European Times in Skopje – 27/11/07 

Macedonia should demonstrate its ability to resolve its domestic disputes in a democratic manner, NATO Parliament Assembly President Jose Lello said on Monday (November 26th). He also refuted suggestions that the name dispute with neighbouring Greece is stalling Macedonia’s bid to join NATO.

“The so-called name issue is not a problem of NATO. This is a bilateral issue, discussed between the two countries under UN patronage. As far as I know, however, the name has never been presented as a blocking element to the NATO membership,” Lello told the Macedonian parliament during a visit to Skopje.

The real challenge for Macedonia, Lello said, is to adopt the necessary legal framework and push through the required reforms.

Rule of law, protection of minority rights, and the fight against corruption are the main factors in the country’s accession bid, he said.

Macedonia — along with fellow Adriatic Charter members Albania and Croatia — hopes to receive an invitation to join the Alliance at its summit in Bucharest next year. But NATO officials say they have not yet determined which countries will be invited to join.

NATO Assistant Secretary-General Martin Erdman paid a visit to Macedonia earlier this month to assess implementation of the Annual National Programme on NATO membership. It was the ninth such assessment and potentially the most important. A report that Erdman’s team will issue in January could give a clear signal about the country’s prospects at Bucharest.

Before a decision is made, NATO will closely monitor whether the reform process is sustainable, whether sufficient dialogue exists among political parties and whether political stability is ensured over the long term, Erdman said during his visit.

Macedonia’s national co-ordinator for NATO, Nikola Dimitrov, says it is a “good signal for us” that the Alliance has not made a decision on membership invitations “In the next period, we should double our reform effort in order to achieve progress ahead of the summit,” he said.

President Branko Crvenkovski said Macedonia’s hopes depend on the country itself. “It is us who are required to perform our task. We are required to complete the Judiciary Council, adopt the law on public prosecution and implement the law on police,” Crvenkovski said.

He suggested placing a moratorium on all laws in parliament that are not connected with meeting the requirements for NATO and EU accession.

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