The Macedonıan Perspectıve And Role In The Balkans

Article

The Macedonian politics is fully oriented towards embracing, imple-menting and respect of the highest internationally established democratic prin-ciples and values. This profile of our politics on democracy and peace build­ing is deeply rooted in the tradition of ethnic and religious tolerance of the people in Macedonia centuries ago (not to forget the influence and traces of the Osmanli Millet system). ...

Stability, Democracy and Peace Building Process and the Role of the Republic of Macedonia in this Process

The Macedonian politics is fully oriented towards embracing, imple-menting and respect of the highest internationally established democratic prin-ciples and values. This profile of our politics on democracy and peace build­ing is deeply rooted in the tradition of ethnic and religious tolerance of the people in Macedonia centuries ago (not to forget the influence and traces of the Osmanli Millet system). These were obvious since the establishment of the independence of Republic of Macedonia (RM): the decision for separation from the former Yugoslav federation was brought at a national referendum (September 8th, 1991) and RM was the only republic of the former SFRY (Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia), which passed through the process of dissolution of the federation, peacefully.

Macedonia formulated its priorities at the very beginning of the new state: integration within the European Union, being a historical and cultural part of Europe, and within the NATO. Consequently, RM signed the initial papers and entered the first stage of approximation in both organizations -Partnership for Peace/ PfP (1995) and SAA (2000), in spite of the difficulties that raised from the complex relations with its southern neighbor, Greece. Namely, this neighbor, made problematic our membership in the OUN (1993) and has imposed two heavy blockades (economical and embargo on free movement) over RM, because of the so-called, "name dispute"!

Nevertheless, Macedonia took over all necessary duties /obligations towards the EU & NATO, and being at the geo-strategic "heart" of the Balkans, performed several important roles in the process of peace building in the region. Most significant, Macedonia embraced app. 400.000 refugees from Kosovo during the NATO campaign in FR Yugoslavia/ Serbia (1999) and enabled (gave) the NATO troops the necessary logistics from its territory.

Up to date, RM has taken over most of the reforms towards introducing

democratic legislation and market economy, fulfilled all necessary criteria for full membership in NATO and for the next step of the status of EU-candidate country, negotiations. Macedonia is expecting the date for commencing nego-tiations, no later then end of 2008/ beginning of 2009.

Integration Process of the Balkans and the Republic of Macedonia into EU and NATO

Officially, EU's intention is to complete its enlargement with the full membership of all Balkan states (Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Albania, etc.), who are historical, geographical and cultural part of Europe, and Turkey.

Out of the countries mentioned above, three have a candidate status -Turkey and Croatia are in negotiations process and Macedonia is expecting to start negotiations. Macedonia has already solved the last 8 priorities listed in the Accession partnership for Macedonia by the EC in March 2008, and it is quite realistic to expect beginning of negotiation talks in several months, unless, Greece uses the same tool, the "name dispute"1, as from the NATO Summit in Bucharest, April 2008 - and thus block Macedonia's progress to the second major integration - the European Union. In order to overcome the dis-pute, created by Greece, which refers to the name of Republic of Macedonia, the EC suggests that our country should find mutually acceptable solution. During the talks on this issue under the auspices of the UN, Macedonia proved its constructive role by accepting several proposals by the mediator for over-coming the different views over the name.

Macedonia will continue the talks on further ideas and proposals, which will not affect the Macedonian national identity, the Macedonian nation and the Macedonian language. Macedonia will not accept to amend its Constitution, if it refers to changing the name. Greece has not the right to decide over our constitutional name, nor to deny our Macedonian identity!

Macedonia expects that EU should not allow the name dispute, imposed by Greece (which is asymmetrical and of bilateral character), to become a con-dition for beginning and carrying out of the negotiations for Macedonia's accession to the EU. Macedonia should be given the chance, as to all previous candidate states, to negotiate end progress according to the fulfillment of the Copenhagen criteria.

Considering the NATO membership, as noted above, Macedonia was avoided, unprincipled, at the Summit in Bucharest, due to the opposition of Greece (they didn't pronounce the word "veto", but they did it). To show up how big was this unjust, I shall refer to the PRT Gul's comment after the

Summit decision: "This is the first time a candidate country which accom-plished all criteria, not to get the invitation for NATO membership"! Just to remind, there were three candidate states for the 2008 enlargement NATO summit - Croatia, Macedonia and Albania, or the so called "Adriatic Group". There was no doubt for all the members of the Alliance (except Greece) that Macedonia fulfilled all criteria and NATO standards. Apart of the reforms in the defense system in Macedonia, its Army participates in most of the inter-national peace missions (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon) with over 3,5% of its total staff, which is much higher than many NATO members and Greece itself (its participation is more than symbolic). Macedonian has also a successful participation in the South East European Peace operation Unit - SEEBRIG...

In spite of the obstacles from the southern neighbor, Macedonia is com-mitted to continue its efforts until full membership in the European Union and the NATO. In this respect, It is important to stress the fact, that Turkey gives an unconditional support to the Republic of Macedonia, and as well as the USA, backs the overall Macedonia's democratic and economic progress.

The Absurd "Name Dispute"

The situation in the Balkans, as everywhere, is dependent on (good) neighboring relations. Specific, unsolved issues, meaning, some historical or current disputes among neighbor states and nations could affect greatly stabil-ity, democracy and peace building process in the region. A typical example of the impact of disputes is the Macedonian - Greek, so called, "name dispute".

The constitutional name Republic of Macedonia is recognized by over 120 UN - member states, including as well, most of the SC members (China, Russia, Canada), and the USA among them). As the matter of fact, before the announcement of the recognition (in 2004), official USA - web sites published a long report on Macedonia and Republic of Macedonia, with facts and argu-ments on the routs of our nation and its centurial strive for independent state, with a very clear massage - that USA recognize the historical right of Republic of Macedonia on that name, and that is not a mere political decision!

There are few more facts considering this, artificially imposed "prob­lem":

1. The Hellenic Republic changed the name of its northern province (Northern Greece and Trace) into "Macedonia and Trace" in 1989, when Republic of Macedonia was a federal republic in former Yugoslavia, since 1944. It could be estimated, that this was done, in order to meet the future dis-solution of Yugoslavia and the independence of Republic of Macedonia (which happened in 1991).

  1. When our country, initiated the procedure for UN membership and its process of international recognition, Greece started its obstacles, "fearing" of territorial claims from the northern neighbor, Republic of Macedonia. Republic of Macedonia demonstrated its willingness for good neighboring relations, by several painful step-backs (changed the flag and an article in the Constitution) to assure Greece of no intentions, as alleged by them. That was not enough to our neighbors and a marathon talks on the name started under the mediation of a special UN -representative.
  2. So, a lot of energy and time is spent on that, and Macedonia suffered tremendous slow down of its Euro Atlantic integration, isolation of its citizens because of the visa regime, and a lower (than possible) economic growth accordingly, which affected the right of the Macedonian citizens on global mobility and economic development, as the precondition of a faster and dem-ocratic development.
  3. Not to forget, at the same time, Republic of Macedonia was the key factor in resolving few regional security and humanitarian crises and proved to have the highest level of minority and human rights in the region, even com-pared to EU-member states!
  4. Just few days before the "historic" NATO enlargement summit in Bucharest, the NATO invitation for RM became disputable and dependent of the mercyof HR, despite of the RM accomplishments of all NATO standards and criteria. Greece opposed all the other NATO-members, who seemed to be tired of this "name issue", but had to follow the principle of solidarity of the Club, which our southern neighbor, is misusing, by imposing new benchmarks day by day, besides other! (Macedonia is/was prepared for further talks and to offer a bilateral compromise, but is not prepared for new demands and condi-tions by the partner, whose goal, seems to be, to transform the bilateral issue into an international one!).

(In 1995, again under pressure of Greece, Macedonia was obliged to step back and to sign an Interim Agreement, where it is stipulated that both coun-tries will negotiate on bilateral basis for the use of the name between them, but that it would not be an obstacle to sign and become member of international organizations).

  1. Therefore, some analyst and diplomats might be right, when stating, that the name is the facade, but the real reason for this attitude from Greece, is something else. Whatever is behind, the consequence is there - Greece is lim-iting the right to RM on integration with the international community, thus limiting the collective and individual rights of our citizens.

7. We are encouraged by some (many) Greeks, who do not support the policy of their government, fully aware, that the "issue" is senseless. We are free to mention one of the Greek former ministers, T. Pangalos, who called the name dispute an "artificial issue", created during the nationalist policy of Samaras, and pointed out that Modern Greek Policy is today hostage of this situation.

Relations between Turkey and Macedonia and their Role and Importance in the Region

Macedonia and Turkey have excellent bilateral relations, based on his-torical ties, strengthened by the Turks originated in Macedonia who live in Turkey an the Turkish community in RM, which has all minority rights and presents a loyal population with full contribution to the social life and further development of our state. The cultural heritage, shared values and history, and close visions for the future, are constantly reinforcing our relations. There are over 50 bilateral agreements and other bilateral documents, and a new, special strategic document is on the way to be signed between Macedonia and Turkey. The real bonds are proven through high level of state men's annual visits, fol-lowed by the emphasis to stronger economic cooperation, educational, cultur-al projects etc. and defense cooperation with significant Turkish assistance.

Following these, no need to say that Turkey is supporting Macedonia's sovereignty and stability, which is obviously sine qua non for the stability of the Balkans as whole, the wider region and on the global level.

Notes

1 The Republic of Turkey respects the historical right of our country to the name and was among the first that recognized Republic of Macedonia under the constitutional name (February 1992). Turkey has introduced a footnote at all NATO documents stat-ing that.

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