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Kotzias underlines that Macedonia must change its constitutional name


Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias told Macedonia that it will have to accept a change to the constitutional name if it is to join NATO and open European Union accession talks. Speaking to party supporters in Kozani, Kotzias said that, with the new Government in Macedonia, he expects to see renewed pressure from European politicians on Greece to allow Macedonia to resume its EU and NATO integration process, which is stuck by Greek vetoes over the name issue.

"Now that things have stabilized, they will again come and tell us that to stabilize the country further, they need to join NATO and the European Union. No objection here. But they first need to implement their obligations, which means to stop their irredentism and make a compromise on the name. They need to learn the process, the culture of compromise, of consensus and to accept the necessary changes to their constitutional name", Kotzias said. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev spoke with the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov is set to travel to Athens next week.

VMRO-DPMNE responded to the Kotzias statement, saying that Macedonia has met all criteria to join NATO back in 2008 at the Bucharest summit and "it is only because of the unprincipled Greek blockade that Macedonia is currently not a member of NATO. This was confirmed with the 2011 verdict of the International Court of Justice in the Hague, which found that Greece violated the articles of the 1995 Interim Accord. VMRO-DPMNE expects that the integration process is unblocked immediately and these unjust decisions are withdrawn. Macedonia deserves to become a member of NATO as soon as possible", VMRO-DPMNE said in its press release.

Regarding the statement from Kotzias, VMRO-DPMNE says that it simply repeats Greece'hardline position and does not help good neighborly relations.

"With his statement that Macedonia will become a member only when the problem Greece has with our name is resolved, Kotzias does not help overcome the issue. Insisting that Greece will not bow to pressure to allow Macedonia to join NATO under the articles of the Interim Accord can lead to further entrenchment of both sides. Zoran ZAev and the new Government promised to the citizens that they will quickly bring Macedonia in NATO and the European Union. Zoran Zaev and SDS must fulfill the promises they made, and make Macedonia an EU and NATO member as soon as possible, but without undermining the identity issues and signing agreements that are damaging to the Macedonian people and state", VMRO-DPMNE added in its press release

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