07 February, 2007
FYROM must resolve its difference with Greece over the name issue if it's NATO membership is to proceed, US state depart-ment spokesman Sean McCormack said Monday, replying to questions during a regular press briefing, in the most clear-cut position stated by the US government on the issue.
"Eventually, as we have said, that NATO has an open door and we clearly have -- are engaged in discussions with other non-member states right now about the potential for membership down the road, one of those issues between 'Macedonia' and Greece would have to be the name issue. And if you were ever to get to membership for Macedonia in NATO, you would have to get all member NATO states agreeing that Macedonia should enter. So... if you ever do get to that point, it's an issue that would need to be resolved between 'Macedonia' and Greece since NATO is a consensus organization," McCormack said.
He noted that FYROM "is part of the Membership Action Plan (MAP), so there is some interaction ongoing between NATO as an organization, its individual member-states and 'Macedonia'. We ourselves have made a decision with respect to the name of 'Macedonia'."
To another question, McCormack replied that regardless of the US decision to recognise FYROM as 'Macedonia', the name nevertheless was not an issue for the US, but it was one that clearly concerned the Greek government.
"With respect to the name, we have made our decision with respect to the name. Now, the UN is involved in this issue as well and there have to be discussions as to what 'Macedonia' would be referred to in the UN as well. Again, those need to be worked out. These are issues that are not a -- it's not a bilateral issue at this point between the U.S. and 'Macedonia'. As an organization and as a member-state, this issue is not an issue for us, but clearly it is for the Greek Governmentm" he said.
"It (the name issue) would need to be resolved if 'Macedonia' were ever to proceed further down the pathway to NATO membership," the state department spokesman stressed.
"That is not the only issue," he added. "There are a number of other issues that are part of the Membership Action Plan that 'Macedonia' would have to resolve before it could even get close to membership. So it's one among a number of different issues that NATO countries, as a whole, have with 'Macedonia', McCormack concluded.
This was the most clear-cut statement by the US government on the FYROM name issue to date, according to political analysts, and clearly indicates that FYROM's membership in NATO is not ensured but is dependent on agreement with Athens over the name issue, while it also intimates that FYROM must display flexibility in the UN-brokered name negotiations under the UN secretary general's special mediator Matthew Nimetz.
Source: Athens News Agency