The agreement between Greece and Macedonia over Macedonia’s name is a unique opportunity for reconciliation in the Western Balkans, the EU Security Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said on Sunday.
For decades the name dispute blocked Macedonia’s efforts to join NATO and the EU.
Greece objected the name the country chose after it broke away from former Yugoslavia. Greece claimed that only its own province of Macedonia can claim that name.
The two countries in June finally recently agreed to solve their dispute and call the country Republic of North Macedonia.
“Our position is clear: the EU is supporting the agreement that was reached. This is a unique chance for reconciliation in the Western Balkans that might not come along again very soon. I hope all sides will recognize the importance of the moment and ensure the country’s future in the EU, a future the whole nation was hoping for for years,” Mogherini told the Macedonian agency MIA.
The dispute between the two countries did not last as long as it did without reason, she said, adding that, as time went on, it became evident that resolving the issue was becoming more difficult.
“A solution to such a complex dispute is of significance for the region and its progress toward the EU. This historic agreement could contribute to the transformation of the entire Western Balkans,” she said, adding that good neighbourly relations “help us work together on confronting a large number of challenges and circumstances we share, such as migration.”
Reconciliation, good neighbourly relations and regional cooperation play a key role in the EU engagement in the Western Balkans, as those are the main principles considered in regard to EU expansion, she said.
A session of the Macedonia’s parliament, the Sobranie, is scheduled for Monday, and lawmakers will be discussing changes to Macedonia’s Constitution in relation to the name agreement.