Source AP ©

Macedonia's name not to be changed

Macedonia would not change its official name under a U.N.-led effort to end a long-running dispute with Greece.

Branko Crvenkovski said the small Balkan country was determined to keep calling itself the Republic of Macedonia in its relations with the international community. Greece has threatened to veto Macedonia's bids to join NATO and the EU unless the name is changed.

"There is a national consensus on Macedonia's name," a statement from Crvenkovski's press office said. "(Macedonia's) leadership enjoys full support from the people, and all political parties ... to preserve (its name)."

Over the weekend, Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski said Macedonia would ignore the veto threat by NATO and EU member Greece.

"Macedonia is prepared even to sacrifice its membership of NATO if the (alternative) is to change its constitutional name," he said.

Most countries recognize Macedonia by that name, which Athens says could imply claims on the Greek northern province of Macedonia.

NATO is expected to discuss the Macedonian application next April.

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