"Athens will come under pressure over Skopje's NATO bid"

It is only a matter of time before Athens is under pressure to find a solution for the name dispute in order to allow FYROM to join first NATO and later the EU.

Source: Beta
(Thinkstock)
(Thinkstock)

This is according to the Greek daily Kathimerini, which cited Western diplomatic sources in Skopje, Brussels and Berlin, and said that "an accelerated NATO admission procedure for the neighboring country, under the acronym FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia), will be the Westerners' present to the Zaev-Ahmeti duo."

The daily said that the West has invested in this "duo" in order to "normalize the internal-political and inter-ethnic situation in a country which they consider crucial to geopolitical balance."

According to the report, cited by the Beta agency, Athens will soon be asked to lift its blockade, put in place during the NATO summit in Bucharest in 2008, when it demanded that Macedonia not be allowed to join before it resolves the name dispute.

Kathimerini writes that it learned there is already pressure on Greece coming from Germany with the goal of letting Macedonia join NATO quickly, while diplomatic sources expect this pressure to increase during the summer, "and even more so before the fall elections in Germany."

Athens, the daily said, "fears the proposal for admission of FYROM to NATO under that provisional name.. because most NATO countries have already recognized the country under its constitutional name (Republic of Macedonia), so this would remain an unresolved issue forever."

The newspaper reports that it was already asked during the recent NATO summit in Brussels to "accelerate the procedure of bringing the Western Balkans into the Euro-Atlantic structures, in order to ensure the region's security, when prime ministers of Albania, Slovenia and Croatia cited FYROM as the most urgent case."

Recalling the recent crisis in Macedonia, which "threatened to destabilize the country and spread ethnic tension to the neighborhood, causing a widespread crisis", Kathimerini writes that "Westerners indicate that Russia, too, is lurking, wishing to lead Skopje into its embrace, which was seen in Kremlin's open intervention in favor of (Nikola) Gruevski during the crisis."

The newspaper is reporting that the new prime minister, Zoran Zaev, last Tuesday announced that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will this summer "bring good news" to Skopje, and that there now exists "a favorable approach of Washington and Brussels due to geopolitical reasons" - as Zaev was recently told by US State Department official in charge of the Balkans Hoyt Brian Yee.

Zaev noted at the time two possible solutions: to solve the name dispute with Greece; or for Macedonia to join NATO under the provisional name of FYROM - as it had been admitted to the UN, and also start the process of EU accession under that name - leaving the solving of the dispute with Greece "for later."

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