80-90 percent of Macedonians is for the EU and also NATO membership, said Vasko Naumovski, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for European Affairs in the Macedonian government when he, on November 17, spoke at a breakfast meeting arranged by Hjalmarson Foundation. Vasko Naumovski spoke in reference to the European Commission’s annual Enlargement package, presented on 8 November, and the progress made in Macedonia. “Sweden welcomes the accession negotiations with Macedonia,” said the Foreign Ministry and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt at the time when the EU report was released.
A group of diplomats and moderate members of Parliament were invited to listen to Vasko Naumovskis views on EU membership. The picture he gave was multifaceted. On the one hand, the Macedonian progress is mainly in the political sphere, on the other hand, Greece still stalling the membership negotiations. This applies to the name Macedonia, which also is the name of a province in Greece:
“It is as if Russia would oppose Europe called Europe since much of Europe is in Russia. Or that Moldova can not be called Moldova since there is a province in Romania with the same name”, said Vasko Naumovski. When asked what the name issue means for ordinary people in Macedonia, he replied: “In opinion polls 80 percent of the respondents answer that national identity is more important than membership in the EU and NATO.”
Vasko Naumovski added that he and his government is certainly willing to compromise to resolve the name issue; to overcome this obstacle to EU membership. And by the way, he said, this was already done in 1995 when Macedonia changed its flag. He was cautiously optimistic, explaining that today the Prime Ministers of both countries meet to talk. This was unthinkable just a few years ago. Nothing concrete has yet come out of this. “But of course we are willing to compromise!”