Thursday, 19 October 2017 | News today: 0

What did SDS and Zoran Zaev accept? International propaganda louder, the Guardian and the Financial Times with identical messages to change the name

The Guardian and the Financial Times, both renowned newspapers, sent identical messages on the same day over Macedonia's considering proposals on its name change. It is obvious that the international propaganda is getting louder. The question is what did SDSM and Zoran Zaev accept?

Macedonia is considering proposals on its provisional name in an effort to unlock Greek opposition to its NATO membership. This is the first sentence of the Financial Times‘ latest news segment (video) on the recent developments in Macedonia and the expressed readiness of the new government for some change in the stalled negotiations on the name?

The Financial Times is not the only foreign newspaper that writes about Macedonia considering proposals on changing the name. On the same day, the Guardian sent an identical message. It is obvious that the international propaganda is getting louder. The question is what did SDSM and Zoran Zaev accept?

Macedonia is poised to dispatch its foreign minister to Greece as speculation mounts that the two countries are moving towards settlement of the name dispute that has kept them at loggerheads for the past 27 years. Signalling that a compromise is in the offing, Zoran Zaev, the Balkan state’s new Social Democrat leader, used his first official trip to Brussels on Monday to announce that a solution was possible. “I know that if we have friendly relations and a good approach then a solution is feasible,” he told reporters before talks between Macedonia’s foreign minister, Nikola Dimitrov, and his Greek counterpart, Nikos Kotzias, in Athens on Wednesday, the Guardian writes.

The text further states:

Zaev, whose investiture two weeks ago followed prolonged political turmoil in the former Yugoslav republic, said he wanted the small but strategic nation to join Nato and the EU “in the shortest possible time”. Macedonia, he suggested, could participate in both under the provisional name it currently uses at the UN – FYROM or the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

“We will try all possible measures to move Macedonia to membership,” said Zaev.

The quest, as the newspaper writes, comes amid accusations of Russian interference across the Balkan region. The Macedonian government claims the meddling has made membership more vital. Stoltenberg underscored that position, saying Nato’s mission was to support all aspiring countries.

“We want to see your country as part of a stable, democratic and prosperous region,” he said.

The long-running name row has been the single biggest impediment to Macedonia’s integration with the west. Greece, which vetoed the country joining Nato in 2008, has argued vehemently that its northern neighbour’s nomenclature conceals territorial ambitions over the eponymous Greek province that lies directly to the republic’s south. In nearly three decades of often bitter public exchanges, Athens has frequently accused the country of indulging in cultural theft, saying the predominantly Slavic state has deliberately appropriated symbols and heroic personalities from ancient Greek history to buttress its claim to the name.

But Zaev, who formed a government in coalition with parties representing the nation’s large ethnic Albanian minority, has taken a much more conciliatory approach. Last week the centre-left politician criticised his rightwing predecessor, Nikola Grueski, accusing him of provocations during the decade he held office by pushing ahead with a controversial statue and monument-building campaign that named a slew of public edifices after Alexander the Great.

In a television interview the new prime minister said the politics of antagonising Athens would be terminated immediately.

“I can only say that the era of monuments, renaming of highways, airports, sports halls and stadiums with historical names ends,” said the leader whose lividly scarred forehead is testimony to the civil unrest that has gripped the mini-state.

“We shall generate a politics of joint European future.”

Zaev was injured when, in an orgy of violence, a pro-Grueski mob stormed parliament in April.

Any potential name change would be put to public plebiscite for approval. Mooted name changes have included adding geographic qualifiers such as “upper”, “new” or “northern” Macedonia.

In what was seen by Athens as a major compromise, Greece announced in 2007 that it would give its consent to a composite name in which the word Macedonia could feature. At the time the compromise was supported by Panos Kammenos, the leader of the small nationalist Independent Greeks party currently in power with prime minister Alexis Tsipras’s leftist Syriza party.

Since then, emotions have abated as a sense of realpolitik in both countries has taken root. While Zaev believes membership of Euro-Atlantic bodies will help stabilise his ethnically fractious nation, debt-stricken Greece also sees a solution as bolstering its crisis-wracked economy in the Balkan peninsular.

“It is very important that Greece settles this dispute if it is to play an important role in the Balkans,” said Dimitris Keridis, professor of political science at Athens’s Panteion University. “Our neighbour is suffering from very deep internal divisions with the new government believing that the only way to stabilise it is to make the country part of the Euro-Atlantic architecture,” he told the Guardian.

“Clearly it is willing to reach a compromise with Greece to achieve this, a compromise that after years of being able to hide behind Grueski’s intransigence is going to put Greek diplomacy on the spot.”

The Financial Times: Macedonia considers using provisional name to join Nato

A few days ago the same newspaper published an interview with Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov entitled “Macedonia considers changing its name to join NATO”. Only a few hours later, probably after an intervention by the Macedonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Financial Times changed the title into “Macedonia considers using provisional name to join Nato”.

“Macedonia will consider new proposals for the provisional name in an attempt to unlock Greek opposition to NATO membership”, said Dimitrov, adding that it was too soon to discuss any specific name proposals.

Dimitrov set to meet Nikos Kotzias on Wednesday

Dimitrov is set to meet Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias on Wednesday to restore trust between the two neighbours after Athens vetoed the Balkan republic’s Nato application in 2008.

“I will ask Greece to reconsider what kind of neighbour they want — do they want a stable, friendly country that offers hope for democracy and justice? If we are a good neighbour, then hopefully political forces in Greece will realise this is a historic opportunity,” Dimitrov said.

He said any new name would be subject to approval in a referendum and the government would seek cross-party consensus before putting the issue to a vote.  According to the paper, Greece’s Syriza government has greeted the government in Skopje as a more co-operative partner than its strongly nationalist predecessor.

However, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias told Macedonia that it will have to accept a change to the constitutional name if it is to join NATO and open European Union accession talks. He announced that in Athens it will be discussed the direction in which the negotiations will continue, adding that it is too soon to talk about whether the two countries are closer to solving to the name issue. The Greek minister said that from the conversation with Dimitrov he would assess whether the new statements of the Macedonian Government towards Greece have a friendly tone.

Greek daily Kathimerini, citing diplomatic sources, says that Brussels and Berlin are on the offensive for quick accession of Macedonia to NATO under the temporary reference FYROM.

Greece expects escalation of pressure, perhaps during the summer, but what scares Athens is the formulation of the proposal for FYROM’s accession to the alliance with the provisional name, with a commitment to a change that will be ensured by an agreement between Greece and Skopje that would be achieved for some time, the Greek newspaper writes.