- Sunday, June 18, 2017 5:25 PM
Athens, 18 June 2017 (MIA) - The name row is a long-standing problem and although a bilateral issue, the consequences from the failure to solve it can jeopardize regional stability, says Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov in an interview with Sunday's edition of Greek daily "To Vima".
Dimitrov stresses that Macedonia has been sitting for too long in the NATO and EU waiting room due to the imposed political obstacle and despite the ruling by the International Court of Justice, which "opened the door to the democratic crisis in the country in return".
"We have obviously made mistakes. We all need to learn the lesson. I am convinced that we should utilize the situation and the positive momentum. Let's use them for essential rethinking of our relations. The question for Greece is what kind of a neighbor it wants? The question for Macedonia is what kind of a neighbor it wants to be? We want to be close friends with Greece based on mutual understanding, respect and common interests. I am certain both countries will be inscribed with bright letters in the records of history if we do the right thing", says FM Dimitrov.
Regarding the UN-led name talks, he says several ideas were put on the table that one side considered to be a good basis for a solution, but the other rejected them.
"Both sides should negotiate through good will and try, as much as possible, to understand the sensitivity of these issues seen by the other side. We should raise the level of trust and think about investing in our bilateral relations in a way that enables additional progress", emphasizes Dimitrov.
Asked about the confidence-building measures, he says they represent a very useful tool for strengthening of the general level of mutual trust and cooperation among countries' institutions.
"Cooperation and discussions over the name row should have developed in parallel for a while now. In my capacity as negotiator I proposed a set of confidence-building measures back in 2007. Implementation of the agreed confidence-building measures have already contributed to greater practical cooperation among institutions over migration issues, as well as regarding energy, infrastructure and education. The list of measures is not final and comprehensive and we can enlarge the range at any given time, if we believe this is mutually beneficial. The migrant crisis was a clear example how weak we are when facing a big challenge and how much we can achieve if we join forces and cooperate. Unfortunately, we have still not reached the level of trust, cooperation and open communication existing between countries' peoples", says FM Dimitrov and adds "as usual, citizens have proved to be wiser than politicians".
According to him, the most urgent priority of the new Macedonian Government is to enable stability, security and sustainable development of the country, build a European democracy guided by the rule of law, as well as secure a better life and prosperity for its citizens.
"I believe it is in Greece's interest to have a stable, secure and prosperous democracy on its northern border. The faster the country is invited to join NATO, the better the chances for Greece to have such a state as its neighbor", adds Dimitrov.
Referring to the situation on the Balkans, he says the region is currently not a very happy place, with the situation in and around Macedonia contributing to this.
"If problems are neglected they spread. The strategic path for the Balkans set by the EU at the 2003 Thessaloniki summit is not that solid as before. The accession process has lost its momentum due to different reasons. The political energy has been transferred to another place and has left unfinished business behind. Europe, NATO and the region will make a catastrophic mistake if they give room to those who want to deny the order established after the conflicts in former Yugoslavia", underlines FM Dimitrov. ik/17:19
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