Macedonia rejects key element of UN name proposals

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SKOPJE, Nov 3 (Reuters) Macedonia rejected a key element of new UN proposals to help settle a 16-year dispute with Greece over the name of the former Yugoslav republic.

Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said the draft framework presented on Thursday called on Macedonia to accept an alternative to its chosen constitutional name for international use.

''That part of the document is unacceptable for Macedonia, and we cannot discuss it,'' Gruevski told state news agency MIA yesterday.

Macedonia took that name when it declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, but Athens objects because it is also the name of a northern Greek province, birthplace of Alexander the Great.

Greece has threatened to block its northern neighbour's accession to NATO and the European Union if it refuses to accept a new name.

UN mediator Matthew Nimetz said on Thursday in New York that he had ''made some suggestions in the form of a draft framework for their consideration as a basis for an honourable and fair solution.'' He gave no further details, but diplomats said he had not proposed a specific name.

At the United Nations, Macedonia is officially called ''The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.'' NATO and the EU also use the acronym FYROM, though the United States, Canada, Russia, China, and several EU states use the name ''Macedonia''.

Talks have been going on since 1993, with little progress. But Macedonian hopes for an invitation next year to join NATO has spurred efforts to find a solution.

Skopje has in the past suggested it use its constitutional name internationally, and another title with Greece.

REUTERS PD PM0837

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