Name issue not impeding EU entry, claims minister
Greece is not standing in the way of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) joining the European Union because of the two countries’ name dispute, Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said in Parliament yesterday. The deputy prime minister insisted that FYROM’s membership depended on it making “clear steps” toward meeting the conditions set out by the EU, also known as Copenhagen criteria. These require a state to have a functioning market economy and institutions that safeguard human rights and democratic governance. “Greece is not raising any objections to FYROM’s accession to the EU or NATO because of the name issue or because we want to impose a change,” said Venizelos, when Independent Greeks leader Panos Kammenos accused the government of having accepted that the neighboring country will be called Northern Macedonia. Venizelos rejected the opposition leader’s calls for Greece to hold a referendum on the issue or for an appeal to be made to the International Court of Justice at The Hague.