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Public Statements

Regarding American Leadership in the Balkans

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. ANDREWS. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to ask the State Department to take a more active role in resolving a important dispute between two of the United States' valued allies, Greece and the Republic of Macedonia.

Since the nation commonly called ``Macedonia'' declared its independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Greece has objected to its use of the name ``Macedonia''. Greece considers this both a usurpation of its rich heritage and part of a potential basis for forming a territorial claim on the neighboring Greek province of Macedonia. The geographic area of the Greek province of Macedonia corresponds with the ancient Kingdom of Macedonia, whose capital city Pella, sits well within Greece's borders.

Mister Speaker, this issue is not just about names, but about security for Greece and for the entire region. In 2008, the Republic of Macedonia applied to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Despite meeting all requirements for NATO membership, Greece, as a member of NATO, vetoed the entrance of Macedonia until the name issue is resolved. Greece worries that by calling itself ``Macedonia,'' its northern neighbor risks raising the specter of future territorial accusations based on the idea of a ``united Macedonia.''

The United States has long been a leading partner in the NATO Alliance, and as such we should be doing all we can to resolve this issue. The Department of State should be making a concerted effort to work with both nations to bring a mutually agreed upon resolution. Greece has long been an important NATO member and ally of the United States, and once this issue is resolved the United States should encourage the acceptance of ``Macedonia'' into NATO as well.

Mr. Speaker, I believe it is vital to the interests of this nation in maintaining stability in the Balkans and adding a new member of the NATO Alliance.

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