FM Poposki: Greece doesn't wish for productive dialogue with Macedonia

It is ungrateful to prejudice, but the initial messages coming from Athens say it is not interested in a productive dialogue with Macedonia, Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki says in an interview with MIA about his expectations from the fresh initiative of UN mediator Matthew Nimetz for new Macedonia-Greece talks on the name dispute.

"We should respect his (Nimetz's) principled approach and give him room to do his job. Certainly prejudicing and creating expectations is ungrateful. In terms of results, Greece's motivation and commitment are not a factor of encouragement. Initial messages from the incumbent government in Athens herald non-priority, indifference towards a productive dialogue with Macedonia. More energy has been wasted in hindering, obstructing and avoiding constructive talks than in finding a solution. We wish for swift change of this approach," Poposki says.

In regard to Macedonia's strategy after the ICJ (International Court of Justice) judgement, which is considered as the most significant success of the country in 2011, Poposki says the outcome in The Hague is a legal verification of 'the destructive behaviour of our neighbour in regard to NATO integration processes."

"We have a clear confirmation that Macedonia's expectations to join NATO have been illegally obstructed. It is vital that this is the assessment of the UN highest court. This fact is a powerful benefit for the EU integration of our region," Poposki says.

For many years the Balkans has been a victim of unpredictable, irresponsible decisions, so it is a high time for that concept to be abandoned in favor of the region.

"Regarding our (Macedonia's) strategy, our goals before and after The Hague have been the same. Today however we enjoy more benefits. First, regarding NATO, we - member and non-member states - may reaffirm together that the rule of law is our common value. Secondly, we are offered an opportunity to avoid the trap of 'political Balkanization' in regard to the EU enlargement process. Thirdly, the Greek leadership gets an excellent opportunity to leave behind the traditional role of hostage dramas mastermind and to become a regional promoter of constructiveness, and I emphasise, in practical, not verbal manner. Thus, we (the states) of both sides of the border will confirm that we consider Europe as our common home. Our strategy in this respect is purely European. Europe unites people in favour of common peace, stability and economic prosperity. Holding hostage and blackmailing the neighbour is unacceptable concept for Europe," the FM says.

Poposki says he cannot find reasonable explanation about Greece's attitude after the ICJ judgement, including the refusal of senior officials to accept PM Nikola Gruevski's invitations for meetings.

ICJ has pointed out to the Greek government that it breached an international legal frame to obstruct Macedonia's legitimate aspirations for NATO membership, Poposki says.

"This conclusion comes from the highest international court and it should stimulate responsible governments, persons to start working on their constructiveness and correct their mistake. Stable, prosperous Macedonia, a member of the Euro-Atlantic institutions, is in favor of the entire region. Our neighbours should work to that effect. Wasting energy for excuses, sabotaging the integration process is not productive," Poposki says.

Asked about a possibility for Macedonia's EU-integration to be separated from the name talks, Poposki says bilateral disputes have never hindered the course of the integration processes. It was the case in 1970s - the first enlargement of the then European Community, the 2004 when the EU saw its biggest enlargement to date, and the forthcoming one in 2013.

"Greece has been the first to express wish to break it by blackmailing the start of Macedonia's EU accession talks. It's not good for exceptions to be made, especially when the motive of one member state is unprincipled and above all illegal. We also favour solidarity. One day we shall also be an EU member. This solidarity in the spirit of the 'founders of modern Europe' (Monnet, Schuman..) must be in favor a common, higher goal. It must never bring harm to the common interest, which the ongoing Greek blockade is doing. It doesn't contribute to stable, prosperous Balkans within Europe," Poposki says.

He wishes for the southern neighbour to also turn its focus on the common goals. Such move is going to be a great success for Macedonia's strategic objectives as well, the FM says.