Resolution of Macedonia dispute closer as MEPs back SP proposal

23 April 2008

Resolution of Macedonia dispute closer as MEPs back SP proposal

‬The European Parliament today voted by a large majority to back SP Euro-MP Erik Meijer's report on Macedonia.‭ ‬Meijer acts as the European Parliament's rapporteur on the country,‭ ‬which has ambitions to join the EU.‭ ‬But a dispute with neighbours Greece over the former Yugoslav republic's name has to date prevented the application process from progressing.‭

Erik MeijerThe northern part of Greece is also known as Macedonia,‭ ‬and the question of the name is sensitive for both parties.‭ ‬The European Parliament voted by‭ ‬601‭ ‬to‭ ‬52‭ ‬to support Meijer's conclusion that this question of the name must be surmountable.‭ ‬Earlier in the month the SP Euro-MP expressed the hope that in a few months‭' ‬time the picture will be a lot clearer.‭ “‬The designation New Macedonia seems in the end to be acceptable to both parties,‭” ‬he said after meeting the two sides last week for talks,‭ ‬with which he expressed satisfaction.‭

Meijer has been asked by countless media outlets why a member of the SP has become involved in this issue.‭ ‬His answer is that while it may have‭ '‬no direct interest for the Netherlands,‭ ‬it is nevertheless necessary for us to concern ourselves with it.‭ ‬I was not chosen,‭ ‬in‭ ‬2004,‭ ‬for the rapporteurship on Macedonia's application for EU membership by chance.‭ ‬I have been involved with the Balkans for a long time,‭ ‬and with the search for peaceful solutions to war and ethnic cleansing.‭ ‬I find it of the greatest interest to all of us that we do everything we can to prevent war.‭

“You have to remember that they've been talking about this matter at UN level in New York for some seventeen years.‭ ‬Seventeen years‭! ‬In the last few weeks it seems that these negotiations have moved to the SP's offices in Brussels.‭ ‬I've had contacts at a high level from both countries.‭ ‬The Macedonians are determined to keep their own name,‭ ‬but it has become ever more obvious that they are even keener on joining the EU.‭ ‬Without a compromise the Greeks will continue to oppose such membership.‭ ‬I'm pleased if we have been able to prevent the two countries from tearing each other's hair out.‭ ‬Talking is always better than grabbing a gun.‭ ‬I think they will come to a solution before the end of this year.‭ ‬If not,‭ ‬there'll be years more strife and Macedonia won't become a member of the EU.‭”

Meijer will shortly return to the area to continue his work as rapporteur.‭ “‬It's good that as a member of the SP I have been able to contribute to a peaceful resolution of this dispute in the former Yugoslavia,‭” ‬he noted.‭ “‬I will now be able to do this backed by the overwhelming support of the European Parliament.‭”

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