FYROM (Macedonian) Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov has said his country is “looking forward” to the visit of Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias.
The visit has been announced for August 31 – but is now uncertain to take place, according to the Macedonian agency MIA, which on Tuesday cited the Greek website News 24/7.
The reason is a recent incident in Toronto, Canada, when the Macedonian consul in that town gave a speech standing under a map of “Greater Macedonia” – showing this former Yugoslav republic with its borders extended to include the territory of neighboring Greece.
Dimitrov “stressed that incidents like the one in Toronto will not be allowed,” and said that the case is under investigation, while the consul has been withdrawn “for consultations.”
Dimitrov further said that the Macedonian Consulate was not the organizer of the event, while the expansionist policy suggested by the map was “not one of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, nor of the government of Macedonia.”
“It does not benefit us. We want to join NATO, which means that tomorrow Greece may be our ally, and Macedonia should be an ally with Greece,” Dimitrov said, adding that it was in Macedonia’s interest to respect the Interim Accord, singed in 1995.
“In the next couple of days we will work closely on the agenda and on trust-building measures,” Dimitrov told a news conference in Skopje, MIA has reported.
The Macedonian MFA has asked for confirmation that Kotzias would visit Skopje on August 31, but is yet to receive it from Athens, News 24/7 has said.
On August 16, the Greek Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning “the participation of fYROM’s (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) Consul General in Toronto Jovica Palacevski in an irredentist event” – as it constitutes “yet another violation by FYROM of the Interim Accord, which requires abstention from any action supporting territorial claims.”
“The backdrop of the platform from which Mr. Palacevski addressed the participants of this event depicted irredentist symbols and a map of fYROM that included Greek territory.
FYROM’s new government claims that it aspires to a new beginning in its relations with Greece. However, despite the change of leadership, it seems that irredentism continues to be the dominant state ideology and day-to-day political practice in our neighboring country,” the statement said, and added:
“The renouncement of irredentism, respect for borders, and practical compliance with the principles of good neighborliness are necessary conditions for the realization of fYROM’s Euroatlantic aspirations.”
The two countries have been involved in a decades-long dispute over the constitutional name of Greece’s northern neighbor, “the Republic of Macedonia.” As Greece’s northern province is called Macedonia, Athens opposes Skopje’s use of the name, recognizes the country as “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fRYOM), and has been blocking its possible EU and NATO membership.