Longtime statesman Kiro Gligorov spoke with the Monitor in Skopje recently. Excerpts follow:
Why should the world recognize Macedonia?
To recognize us would actually put a break on violence spreading from Kosovo. Recognition is not just good for us, it is a European security issue. Europe stands for principles of peaceful self-determination. We have managed to remain stable, quiet, and peaceful. Yet when we are denied recognition, the nationalists here gain new inspiration. They say a policy of peace won't work.
Would Macedonia consider changing its name?
One's name has never been the international standard for recognition of a state. I asked [United Nations Secretary-General] Boutros Boutros-Ghali's legal adviser, if we start the UN application procedure will we have to change our name? This is not a condition of membership, came the answer. Nor has it ever been. It is a political question. We are a small state of 2 million with practically no army, not a member of NATO. What danger do we represent? We have offered a treaty, a mutual guarantee of borders . After all that, we must conclude that the problem with our name is not our problem. It is a problem with Greece and its internal affairs and its relations with the European Community.
When the EC set out requirements for recognition, it created a commission to investigate which of the Yugoslav republics fulfilled those requirements: human rights, nonviolence, and so on. Only Slovenia and Macedonia met the requirements. Yet we still are not recognized.
What difficulties is this causing?
Our isolation is causing financial problems. We cannot get loans from the International Monetary Fund. In Macedonia today, there is no gasoline. In Serbia, gas is not a problem. We are not under sanctions and Serbia is. Why?
What shoild the West do?
More aid, more quickly; mediation, and the UN mandates enforced - even at the risk that this would involve conflict. The values of Europe today suggest open borders. But Yugoslavia is diverging from Europe and raising borders.