Greece, Bulgaria block Macedonia’s EU talks

Greece, Bulgaria block Macedonia’s EU talks

Greece, Bulgaria block Macedonia’s EU talks

Macedonia's President Gjorge Ivanov delivers a speech as part of the European Prize Coudenhove-Kalergi 2012 awarded to European Union Council president Herman Van Rompuy, in Vienna, Austria on November 16, 2012. AFP PHOTO / ALEXANDER KLEIN

Macedonia hasn’t been granted a starting date for European Union talks because of a resurgence of an ongoing name dispute with Greece at a recent European Council meeting in Brussels despite the country meeting all criteria.

Greece and Bulgaria blocked Macedonia with bilateral problems as their justification, although the country received a positive report from the European Commission, Anatolia news agency reported.

Bulgaria said Dec. 11 it will block Macedonia’s bid to set a starting date for EU accession talks after earlier lashing out at what it sees as Skopje’s nationalistic rhetoric, according to Agence France-Presse.

An EU candidate since 2005, Macedonia, who refers to itself as The Republic of Macedonia but was admitted to the United Nations in 1993 as the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, has seen the opening of negotiation talks blocked because of its dispute with its southern neighbor, Greece over similarities between its name and the name of a region in northern Greece. The EU has contended with “just noting” the advise to starting participation negotiations with Macedonia in EU foreign ministers’ enlargement decisions. The EU also demanded Macedonia find a solution to the name dispute with Greece and move toward friendly neighborhood relations.

The decision of granting a date to Macedonia will be evaluated in the first half of 2013 during Ireland’s EU presidency.

The ministers also said that accession talks with Serbia might begin under the Irish EU presidency if the European Commission deems that Belgrade has done enough to normalize day-to-day relations with Kosovo.