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Greece rebuffs Macedonia's NATO membership over name change

RIA Novosti

31/03/2008 19:03 ATHENS, March 31 (RIA Novosti) - The Greek Foreign Minister said Monday that Greece would veto Macedonia's NATO membership until the former Yugoslav republic changes its name.

The dispute over Macedonia's name has been going on for 17 years, with Greece objecting to Skopje using the name, Republic of Macedonia. Athens is unhappy that it implies territorial claims on Greece's northern province of Macedonia.

Dora Bakoyannis told journalists: "Our position is known: no solution to the problem - no invitation." An invitation to join NATO can only be given if all alliance member countries agree.

Macedonia, which hopes to receive an invitation to join NATO at a NATO summit in Bucharest in April, is holding talks with Greece to try and resolve the issue.

Skopje is suggesting using the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), which most Macedonians are unhappy with, but is used by the EU, UN and NATO.

"The aim of Greece's foreign policy is to fully settle its relations with Skopje, being guided by a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue. Allied relations cannot be built if there are not good-neighborly relations," she said.

Brussels magazine Le Vif/L'Express quoted the European Union foreign and security policy representative, Javier Solana, as proposing calling Macedonia "New Macedonia."

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