December 7, 2008 / 5:03 PM / 10 years ago

Macedonia sees no quick end to NATO row with Greece

BERLIN (Reuters) - Macedonia expects the International Court of Justice to take at least three years to rule on its dispute with Greece over its membership of NATO, Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki told Reuters Sunday.

Macedonia filed a lawsuit against Greece last month at the Court in the Hague accusing Athens of blocking its accession to the military alliance.

Greece objects to its neighbor calling itself “Macedonia,” arguing that it implies a claim on its northern province of the same name.

“According to the experience of people who are working with us and who have experience of the court, I think it will take between three and five years,” Milososki said in an interview in the German capital.

Macedonia says Greece has violated a 1995 agreement signed by the two countries, under which Macedonia agreed to use the provisional name “The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” in international organizations.

Under the deal, Greece promised not to block Macedonia’s integration into the European Union and NATO.

“We want to protect the mechanisms for the membership of Macedonia in international organizations,” said Milososki.

Milososki said the two sides should continue their efforts to find a solution through the United Nations. A deal required the political will of both, he added.

“We want to find a compromise but cannot accept a diktat. The main issue is probably very a deep political issue for Greece but for Macedonia it is a national issue.”

A U.N. mediator has proposed “Northern Macedonia” as a name but talks have got stuck on issues such as how outsiders should refer to the language and nationality of the people who live there.

Writing by Madeline Chambers; editing by Andrew Roche

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