Gruevski: Name pressure on us because we lack unity

Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski refers to the name issue, position of the international community towards the two countries and economy in the interview with daily "Dnevnik".

"The international community, including the EU, do not put pressure on Greece. On the contrary, they are in a stage of comprehensive support of Greece towards finding a way out of the financial crisis. Therefore, Greece does not even think of a compromise solution. Their tactic is to delay as much as possible, and when there is no pressure from the outside, this is easy to do. Certain EU member-states believe pressure means putting the name row on the agenda of the meetings between PMs or FMs. And that is it. I thank them for this, but the ones who are familiar with the mentality of the Greek leadership know they do not see this as pressure. Only several powerful countries can put pressure. Others can only provide assistance, keep the issue alive, ask questions. This is not irrelevant, but insufficient for success. The big powers are currently not prepared to put serious pressure on Greece", says PM Gruevski.

According to him, there are many reasons for this, one of the most significant being that Greece is a NATO and EU member, having greater influence among big powers.

"Secondly, it is a larger and more powerful country, with financially strong Diaspora which lobbies for Greece. Third, the powerful states are occupied with their own and other international problems and conflicts. Fourth, the European crisis, especially the fact that Greece is probably in the most difficult situation compared to others, resulting in their restraint to make their life even harder by pressuring them with this issue. Fifth, EU powers are not that much interested in Union enlargement in times of economic crisis, rising unemployment, accompanied by poor experience from the accession of the last members. Sixth, our lack of unity in the issue, compared to the firm unity in Greece, which makes it easier for them to put pressure on us. We seem more fragile from the outside. Taking into consideration that most treat the issue superficially, it seems to them that if Greece is united over one stance, but there are politicians in Macedonia who support Greek positions or at least voice readiness for concessions, then probably the problem lies with us. There are many other factors, but one is quite simple - Macedonia is a country in development, small in numbers and territory, financially poor, not playing a significant role in Europe's political developments, whether in or out of the EU", stresses Gruevski.

He says the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling, which the big powers are ignoring for the time being, leads to the conclusion it is not a crucial factor.

"In a situation of imperfect international order, where interests, not justice is the main guideline, the international law has limited power, especially when it comes to developing countries small in numbers and territory. However, the step we undertook was right and now we have another serious argument on the table. If anyone in the world had dilemmas, now it is clear that justice is on our side", says PM Gruevski.

Regarding the international community pressure on Macedonia, he says there is one, but in a different form.

"Now there is not much verbal pressure like before. Even the ones who did this are now trying to demonstrate lack of interest. They are looking for a culprit. Of course, they will not proclaim themselves as the guilty ones. They do not want to blame Greece and that leaves us, the smallest stakeholder in the triangle. Would you expect the EU or the United States to take the blame for the fact that we met the criteria for NATO and EU accession way before other countries in the region, but we are still in standstill. In order to justify this, every type of experts on human rights, media, judiciary, administration etc will come to the country with already prepared reports, eventually finding enough reasons why Macedonia should not move forward in the Euro-integration process. The second effect of this pressure is aimed towards the ruling majority, sending a message that if we do not stand down, more bad reports will follow, having an effect on voters in Macedonia. However, they are forgetting that the people are indifferent to reports in the sense of getting what we deserve. If we accept the Greek positions, all rapporteurs will sharply improve their reports, saying things have moved forward in the meantime. Serbia is a proof of this. Now it is a reform-oriented country, which was not the case just three months ago", says Gruevski.

When asked about the possibility of the accession talks recommendation being withdrawn, PM Gruevski says nothing can be excluded, adding the only thing they cannot take away is Macedonia's soul.

He says Macedonia urges UN Envoy Matthew Nimetz for continuation of the dialogue on the latest ideas in the name row.

"I am not sure this is the case from the other side. The man is making enormous efforts, but he has problems when scheduling a meeting with the other side. We have told him that Macedonia is always open for dialogue towards a solution. He is always welcome by the state's top officials. In Greece, he always meets the country's negotiator, the foreign minister in certain cases, and on very rare occasions with the PM or the president. He cannot do much if big powers having influence in the region do not stand behind him. Maybe this is the reason why fresh rounds of talks have not been scheduled", adds Gruevski.

According to him, EU and NATO accession would help the country's economic development and political stability, but the country must move forward even without it.

"We belong to a region where EU membership would help us a lot. On the other hand, we have the visa-free regime, there are global companies opening jobs in Macedonia, reduced unemployment rate. This is not enough, but in such circumstances in Europe, this is more than successful. We are more interesting to investors, there are investments in the health sector, new universities and faculties have opened, the entrepreneurial and innovative spirit increases among citizens, the opening of businesses is supported towards creating new jobs", underlines Gruevski in the interview with the daily "Dnevnik".