BELGRADE - Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski said on Tuesday his country was ready to agree to a "reasonable compromise" in talks with Greece concerning its own name, said reports reaching here from the Slovenian capital Ljubljana.
After holding talks with his Slovenian counterpart Danilo Tuerk, Crvenkovski explained Macedonia was ready to talk about its name as part of its efforts to join Euroatlantic organizations, but it would not agree to a dictate that would hurt its national and cultural identity and the dignity of the Macedonian people.
He suggested the only acceptable change be adding a description of the system of government to the name of the country.
Crvenkovski said his country's aim was to get a start date this year for accession negotiations with the European Union and to close negotiations with Brussels on the liberalization of the visa regime, adding that in this Macedonia counted on the support of Slovenia, which holds the EU presidency until the end of June.
President Tuerk meanwhile pointed out that Slovenia conducts relations with Macedonia in full respect to its name, adding he supported Crvenkovski's call for a compromise.
"Slovenia understands the issues as a bilateral dispute, which will be solved by both Macedonia and Greece in the envisaged way," Tuerk was quoted as saying by the Slovenian news agency STA.
The dispute between Greece and Macedonia over its name is the only remaining obstacle which Macedonia must solve by April, as it is expecting to be invited to join NATO at its April summit in Bucharest, capital of Romania.
Greece and Macedonia have been arguing over the name for more than 15 years, with Athens claiming Macedonia has territorial ambitions involving a region in the north of Greece carrying the same name.
A number of countries have recognized Macedonia under its constitutional name, among them the former Yugoslav republics, including Slovenia, as well as the United States, Britain and Turkey, whereas other countries use United Nations' provisional reference, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
The Macedonian president also met Prime Minister Janez Jansa, who reaffirmed Slovenia's support to Macedonia's Euroatlantic ambitions.