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Cablegate: Macedonia: Senators Voinovich and Shaheen Urge Speedy

VZCZCXRO1017
RR RUEHIK
DE RUEHSQ #0077 0541526
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 231526Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY SKOPJE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8904
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE 0612
RUEHNO/USMISSION USNATO 3783
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SKOPJE 000077

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS,H PASS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PREL PGOV GR MK
SUBJECT: MACEDONIA: SENATORS VOINOVICH AND SHAHEEN URGE SPEEDY
SOLUTION TO NAME DISPUTE

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED -- PLEASE PROTECT ACCORDINGLY

1. (SBU) Summary: Macedonia is committed to solving the name
dispute with Greece, but Athens must also compromise, PM Gruevski
told Senators Voinovich and Shaheen Feb 17. Gruevski outlined his
government's continuing commitment to Euro-Atlantic integration and
his efforts to reach out to Greek PM Papandreou. Senators Voinovich
and Shaheen praised Macedonia's progress in building a multiethnic
state and expressed U.S. gratitude for Macedonia's contributions to
Afghanistan. They urged that Macedonia and Greece reach an
agreement on the name issue urgently. (End Summary)

2. (SBU) Senators George Voinovich and Jeanne Shaheen paid a brief
visit to Skopje Feb 17, meeting Ambassador Reeker and the Country
Team, then PM Gruevski. Gruevski opened the meeting by thanking the
United States for its continued friendship and support for
Macedonia's NATO accession. The PM assured the Senators that
Macedonia remained fully committed to solving the name issue and
joining NATO. He also noted that he had reached out to Greek PM
Papandreou by phone in order to establish a dialogue with him in
order to resolve the issue, and offered to meet Papandreou at the
latter's convenience. Gruevski said Macedonia would do its best to
resolve the name dispute with Greece in the first half of 2010 but
felt that a resolution would be almost impossible without the help
of the international community, and especially the U.S. He also
lamented the difficult political situation he was faced with in
solving the name issue, claiming the Greeks wanted also to "change
our identity." Gruevski repeated that it was in Macedonia's best
interests to have positive relations with Greece, but any solution
would have to be acceptable to the citizens in both countries. In
Macedonia, any agreement would require holding a referendum.

3. (SBU) Senators Voinovich and Shaheen both expressed their
gratitude to the PM for Macedonia's continued contributions to NATO
and the international peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan. They
also emphasized the importance of Macedonia's speedy accession to
NATO, both for Macedonia's as well as the Alliance's future.
Senator Voinovich told the PM that Washington was committed to
helping Macedonia find a resolution to the name issue and stressed
to the PM that it was critical that it be resolved as quickly as
possible. Both Senators said they believed Macedonia's window of
opportunity for finding a resolution was closing. Senator Voinovich
said Greek PM Papandreou showed a clear understanding of how
important an expedient resolution to the name issue was during their
recent meeting and that this created an opportunity for Gruevski.
Senator Voinovich also said he was concerned that any political
fallout from the economic crisis in Greece would distract attention
from the name issue and therefore made a quick resolution even more
important. Both Senators told Gruevski that if he and Papandreou
made solving the issue a top priority and showed strong leadership a
resolution could be achieved.

4. (U) CODEL Voinovich cleared this cable.

REEKER

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