Thursday, 19 October 2017 | News today: 0

No integration without solved name row: Stoltenberg and Hahn with clear messages to Zaev

Macedonia will try to get an invitation to join NATO with its provisional name first, and afterwards to settle differences over the name with Greece in the two-year period needed for the 29 NATO members to ratify the admission, Zoran Zaev told a news conference Monday alongside NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg at the Alliance’s HQ in Brussels.

However, Stoltenberg has told Zaev that ‘an invitation will be extended once the name row with Greece is solved’ in line with the conclusion of the 2008 Bucharest Summit, which has been reiterated in all other summits of NATO.

Asked whether he would ask for an invitation to NATO under the reference FYROM or other alternative, such as Upper Macedonia, Zaev said that years of having Macedonia’s integration bid to NATO blocked had sent a message from the region that being stuck in one place could cause crises, amongst other things.

Stoltenberg said NATO stood by the request for ‘a mutually acceptable solution over the name issue first, then a membership invitation.’ As regards speculation on interference from Russia into the internal affairs of Macedonia, the Secretary General said that any external influence into domestic processes was ‘unacceptable’.

According to him, the best way to address external meddling is ‘to build strong democratic institutions, to modernize the government and to implement reforms.’

Answering a journalist question, NATO head Stoltenberg said the Alliance had never been explicit on what kind of solution should be agreed, only that it had to be a mutually acceptable one. “As long as it is something that is acceptable both by Greece and FYROM, then we can start to move. But it is not up to me to dictate or to specify a solution,” he stressed.

NATO, Stoltenberg said, really understands the importance of the Western Balkan region and the Alliance has helped put an end to two ethnic wars in the region. We have a long history in the Western Balkans, we work closely with Skopje, NATO has a liaison office in Skopje and we are thankful for the country’s contribution to our missions and operations and for your presence in Afghanistan,” the NATO top official said.

“There’s a mutual understanding that a progress needs to be made regarding this matter in order to be relevant for the future and to import stability. A mutual solution must be found, which is possible if we have an open-minded approach. A solution acceptable for all should be found,” the EU Commissioner stated.

Hahn rejected the prospect of the EU starting negotiations with Macedonia under its provisional name the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. According to him, a permanent solution is the key, instead of a provisional one.

“The former government had been working on confidence-building measures and it must be continued in the same direction. At the end of the day, I hope this is human and that a solution can be found. It won’t be easy, many have tried for years, but there is a new momentum now and I’m confident we can use the situation to make a progress,” said Hahn.