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Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski has rubbished opposition claims that he turned down a favourable solution to the 'name' dispute with Greece back in 2005.
Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski
Gruevski on Wednesday said that the opposition leader Branko Crvenkovski was not speaking the truth when he accused him of having rejected a proposal that would have safeguarded Macedonia's name and identity.
Crvenkovski on Monday presented what he said was a classified document from 2005 containing an alleged name proposal from the UN mediator in the Greek-Macedonian name dispute, Matthew Nimetz.
Crvenkovski said that the proposal could have potentially saved the country a lot of trouble but that Gruevski, then in opposition, had rejected it.
In Macedonia both government and opposition are expected to reach a consensus on such significant matters as the country's name.
Acourding to the opposition, the proposal stipulated that the country’s language would remain “Macedonian” while the country would be named “Republika Makedonija” for the first three years, later retaining the name “Republic of Macedonia”.
One day after Crvenkovki presented his document to the press, the state-run MIA news agency published another, similar to the first but with one crucial difference.
In the second document the Macedonian language is named “Macedc”, unlike what the opposition leader Crvenkovski claimed one day earlier.
“The public has seen the truth… That proposal had serious problems with the language and nationality that are completely imprecise… [and] I still cannot understand why he [Crvenkovski] was quick to accept such a thing, especially having in mind that Greece had already rejected it,” Gruevski said on Wednesday.
On Wednesday, Crvenkovski again addressed the issue, calling on his rival to sort out matters in a live TV duel, but Gruevski has yet to say whether he accepts the idea.
Since Gruevski took power in 2006, the main opposition party has in vain demanded such a duel, which the Prime Minister has avoided.
Relations between Macedonia and Greece have been strained by the two-decade row over Macedonia's name.
Citing the unresolved issue, Greece has blocked Macedonia’s progress towards both EU and NATO membership.
Greece insists that use of the term "Macedonia" by its neighbour implies a territorial claim to its own northern province of the same name.
Since the NATO summit in 2008, when Greece used its membership to veto Macedonia’s accession, Gruevski has gained in popularity and has won every election, playing the nationalist card and presenting himself as a tough defender of the country.
Crvenkovski's party, meanwhile, has lost some credit by being perceived by the public as more amenable to compromise with Greece.
In a bid to shake Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski’s image as a tough defender of Macedonia in the 'name' dispute with Greece, opposition accuses him of making unprincipled moves in the past.
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