North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chief due in Macedonia to discuss membership bid


Greece maintains that the use of Macedonia suggests that Skopje has territorial claims to its own Macedonia - a northern region that boasts the port cities of Thessaloniki and Kavala and was the center of Alexander the Great's ancient kingdom, a source of Greek pride.

Many Macedonians insist they have the right to call their country "Macedonia", including a small group of protesters outside the parliament.

United Nations mediator in the "name" dispute Matthew Nimetz [centre] together with the envoys from both countries held a press conferrence after the meeting.

The two countries disagree over Macedonia's name. "That means, of course, resolving the issue of your country's name".

Both Greek and Macedonian officials have expressed hopes that the issue can be resolved this year. "It's an issue that has weighed on this region - and this country - for far too long".

The official reaction from the Macedonian government comes one day after Macedonia and Greece mediators, Vasko Naumovski and Adamantios Vassilakis respectively, met in NY with United Nations mediator Mathew Nimetz. He also distanced himself from any stance that his government might have on the matter.

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In Skopje, Stoltenberg also met with President Gjorge Ivanov, Zaev, as well as the ministers of defense and foreign affairs.

NATO's Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg arrived in Skopje on Wednesday evening, where he was received in the airport by the minister of Defence, Radmila Sekerinska.

The Macedonian government believes that the conditions are being created for the process of solving the name dispute between Macedonia and Greece, a government statement said Thursday.

"No. NATO's position remains unchanged".

Shekerinska said that there was unambiguous consensus among the citizens and on the political scene that Macedonia should become a full member of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union, and informed Stoltenberg about an increase in the defense budget and the decision to increase the Macedonian contingent in the mission in Afghanistan.

Stoltenberg is to address Macedonian MPs on Thursday.