Joint press point
with NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and the Prime Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia¹, Nikola Gruevski
JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER (NATO Secretary General): Let me start by welcoming the Prime Minister, Prime Minister Gruevski, not for the first time here at NATO. I also apologize for the delay, but I can tell you that we just had a very good meeting.
We had a very good meeting where I think the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Foreign Defence Ministers, all having come to NATO this morning heard encouraging signals around the table about progress in reforms. Also heard of course that no decisions have been made; that reforms will have to continue; that it is now very important to keep up the pace, the foot on the accelerator (there is no risk of exceeding the maximum speed here I think with the foot on the accelerator so that the reforms become irreversible); that it is important that there is the right political culture in the way political parties, government, opposition, relate to each other.
There are important issues where a lot of progress has been made - I add that immediately - like (inaudible) decentralization, equitable representation, judicial reform, the fight against corruption. Progress, but still make the progress irreversible. We're living in important times, important weeks, because the summit in Bucharest is around the corner. But like I said last week when the Croatian Prime Minister was here, there are no tickets punched yet. It is a performance-based process.
I always want publicly to encourage the Prime Minister and the government and his team to be as forward-leaning and as rigorous as he can be politically to go those final miles. Let me immediately add that of course there was high appreciation for the participation in NATO operations and missions, important participation in ISAF, logistical support, logistical supply lines for KFOR in Kosovo. So I think it was a meeting in a very good atmosphere. Ambition was shown by the Prime Minister and his colleagues. NATO Allies asked to show ambition exactly for the same reason in the interest I think of the region, also more in general.
So that is how I can describe the atmosphere. That is what is important. Euro-Atlantic integration of course also demands and requires good neighbourly relations and it is crystal clear that there were a lot of pleas from around the table to find a solution for the name issue, which is not a NATO affair. This is Mr. Nimetz, Ambassador Nimetz, under the UN roof. This is not a NATO affair, NATO responsibility. But I would not give you a complete report if I would not say referring to the communiqué by the way of the NATO Foreign Ministers last December where there is this line on good neighbourly relations and the name issue.
Prime Minister you are extremely welcome at NATO, not the first time, by far not the first time. Please take the floor.
NIKOLA GRUEVSKI (Prime Minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia1): Thank you.
The Secretary General said most of the things that were important. I will say that it was an important meeting to us. We received a lot of congratulations from almost all Ambassadors in NATO; congratulations about the progress, about the reforms that we have done in first period connected to the judiciary system, connected to the implementing of the Ohrid Framework Agreement, the progress in the economy, reforms in the economy, and also progress in the fight against crime and corruption and all other progresses. For example, political dialogue and many things, many solutions that were reached in the last months for the political dialogue in the country.
And also, it's some kind of recognition of our efforts and encouraging to continue in the same direction in the next period until the period of Bucharest Summit. But also after the Bucharest Summit, as I said during my speech, that after April we have intentions to continue with the same efforts, even to increase efforts, for reforming the country and making the life of the citizens more qualitative and better.
So in this framework was the discussions. It was for us a very positive approach of the Ambassadors. We are encouraged to continue to work on the solving of the problems and implementing the reforms. And of course probably the main issue that many of the Ambassadors mentioned is potential risks and the issue that has to be solved is the name issue with the Greece where many of them said that it's necessary to intensify the discussions. That of course we will do. We will intensify the discussions in the Mr. Nimetz process in UN and in all other possible ways. And of course we will do the best to solve as soon as possible this 17-year problem, but also there is understanding I believe that this problem is not so easy to be... if it was too easy, that would have been solved in the last 17 years. But anyway, we will double the efforts and we'll try to do the best for our country and for our partners also in the Alliance.
JAMES APPATHURAI (NATO Spokesperson): First question is there.
Q: Mr. Scheffer do you agree with the Macedonian politicians that the biggest problem, the biggest obstacle, is the name issue... not to receive the invitation?
SCHEFFER: Well as the Prime Minister is saying, much discussed, but not discussed in a NATO framework. Let me underline that; NATO is not seeking a role. NATO is encouraging the process under the leadership of Ambassador Nimetz to do this. We are of course interested and that is what we discussed as well - let me underline that - in the state of the reforms. The Prime Minister is right in saying there was a lot of encouragement and a lot has been done, but there is still that final mile or those final miles in the run-up to Bucharest. Let me stress again and then there is no disagreement that I also of course strongly hope that there will be a quick solution for the name issue.
Q: One question for the Secretary General. Secretary what will be the influence of the situation in Kosovo after declaration of independence for the decision that will be taken for Macedonia, for the invitation of Macedonia? Will there be an (inaudible) of the situation created there?
SCHEFFER: My answer is no. I do not see a link and we should not create a link between Kosovo and what will happen there or what might happen there. You know that the NATO role... what the NATO role is; that is KFOR creates security and stability. I do not see and I would not like to see a link between possible scenarios in Kosovo and NATO's invitation policy. That link will not be made in this building.
APPATHURAI: Two quick questions there and there please.
Q: I have a question Prime Minister. Prime Minister after this meeting and the atmosphere you felt probably among the Ambassadors, do you have the impression that Macedonia will get its invitation in April? And for the Secretary General, the Prime Minister of Kosovo Mr. Hashim Thaçi is coming to Brussels and he stated before, yesterday I think, that the declaration of independence will come very soon in the next few days and that it was co-ordinated with NATO and with the European Union and Washington. How do comment on this? Could you confirm?
GRUEVSKI: Thank you for the questions. Always when I am working on some project or some idea or something like that, working a lot, I have a very professional approach to the issue and I'm optimist I will continue to do the same.
SCHEFFER: Let me answer that I'll have a meeting with Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi on Friday. I speak to him fairly regularly. I cannot and I will not confirm anything about declarations or dates. That is not my job and not my responsibility, but I'll speak to the Prime Minister on Friday and I'll limit my comments and my answer to that.
APPATHURAI: Last question is there.
Q: Mr. Prime Minister I would like to ask you if you can clarify your discussions today with the Greek Ambassador. And you have in Macedonia in an interview stated that compromise around the name means changing the name; do you still stand on this?
GRUEVSKI: The discussion of the Ambassador of Greece was with many elements. He also recognized the progress that Macedonia did in the last period and of course he stressed the positions where it is necessary for more progress in the future. And I would say again of course, looking from his position, he stressed the issue connected with the name.
About the second part of your question connected to -
APPATHURAI: ... the name has to be changed... compromise means a change in the name.
GRUEVSKI: About the compromise. We have feeling that when Greece is talking about compromise, they are actually talking about changing of the name and we believe that there are better approach for solving of this issue.
APPATHURAI: That's all we have time for.
- Turkey recognizes the Republic of Macedonia with its constitutional name.