Xinhua, July 15, 2008
Greece rejects Macedonia's request for recognition of ethnic minority
ATHENS, July 14 (Xinhua) -- Greece on Monday rejected the demands by neighboring Macedonia's Prime Minister Nikola Gruevskithat Greece recognize a Macedonian ethnic minority, escalating a longtime dispute between the two Balkan countries.
Gruevski recently wrote to his Greek counterpart Costas Karamanlis, asking for the recognition of the Macedonian minority in Greece and the return of property to Macedonian refugees who fled northern Greece during the 1946-1949 Greek civil war
Commenting on the letter, Greek government spokesman Theodoros Roussopoulos said Gruevski only "repeated the well-known and unacceptable statements regarding non-existent minorities, while he also attempted to raise new obstacles to the ongoing negotiation process on the 'name dispute.'"
Karamanlis will send a reply to Gruevski within a week, the spokesman said.
Greece and Macedonia have a longtime dispute on the "name issue" since Macedonia gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. Greece argues the name of Macedonia implies territorial claim over its northern province of the same name.
Greece blocked Macedonia's bid to join NATO earlier this year after talks failed to resolve the disagreement.