There can be no invitation to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to join NATO as a full member unless the name dispute with neighbouring Greece is first resolved, the country’s prime minister Zoran Zaev told the MIA news agency on Sunday.
Zaev pointed out that the possibility of joining NATO as FYROM, independent of an agreement with Athens over the name, had been ruled out point-blank by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg during his visit to Skopje.
If the issue of the name cannot be resolved in coming months, he added, it might be possible for FYROM to be offered a looser partnership relationship with NATO, similar to that of Sweden, but his own intention was to aim for full membership of the Alliance.
He reported good progress in efforts for a solution to the name issue during a meeting between the FYROM and Greek foreign ministers in Vienna on March 30, predicting that the next meeting on April 12 might bring further developments and even lead to a meeting between Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and himself.
“I believe the progress in the talks has reached a point where this must pass to the level of the prime ministers of the countries. If the citizens learn that there is a Zaev-Tsipras meeting, this will be specific, practical confirmation that the negotiations are heading in the right direction and it is possible to reach a solution,” he said.