Turkey supports Macedonia's bid to join NATO

Turkey will continue to support Macedonia's aspiration to join NATO and the European Union (EU), Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Wednesday.

IANS| Last Updated: Sep 18, 2014, 01:40 AM IST

Ankara: Turkey will continue to support Macedonia's aspiration to join NATO and the European Union (EU), Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Wednesday.

"Turkey supports Macedonia for NATO membership and will continue to do so. We also support Macedonia for EU membership. We hope that one day we will be in the European Union together," Davutoglu made the remarks at a joint press conference with visiting Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski in the Turkish capital of Ankara.

The use of the name Macedonia has remained a contentious issue since Macedonia declared independence from former Yugoslavia in 1991, Xinhua reported.

Greece is opposed to the use of the name Macedonia by its northern neighbour, saying that it implies territorial claims to Greece's northern province of the same name.

As a result, Greece is blocking Macedonia's bid to join NATO and the EU, saying that Macedonia can be a member only if a solution to the name dispute is reached.

In November 2008, Macedonia brought Greece to the International Court of Justice(ICJ) accusing Athens of violating a 1995 agreement by thwarting Macedonia's efforts to join NATO at a summit of the alliance in April 2008.

Three years later, the ICJ ruled that Greece breached the 1995 Interim Agreement signed by the two countries, under which Athens agreed not to block Macedonia's membership in international institutions under the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

But the court did not order Greece not to repeat its conduct in the future, and the ruling did not address the actual name dispute which continues today.

Though accession of Macedonia to NATO is currently pending, at the latest NATO summit in Wales, Britain, in early September, US President Barack Obama said that the door to NATO membership remains open to nations that can meet its "high standards."