"We went through difficult years to get independence, and we are fully committed to develop relations with the European Union. Regarding our foreign policy priorities, we have a priority to join the EU and NATO… The beginning of talks on our country's accession to the European Union will benefit all sides. I am sure that you [Greece] have the leverage that may open the way for us," Dimitrov told reporters after a meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias in Athens.
According to Dimitrov, it is necessary to resolve the dispute with Greece over Macedonia's official name in order to make the Balkan region stable.
Skopje and Athens are involved in an ongoing dispute over the name of the Republic of Macedonia. Greece regards "Macedonia" as a term referring only to the region in its terrorist and to the ancient Kingdom of Macedonia. Athens therefore insists that Skopje use FYROM (former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) as its official name, as is done by the United Nations. Due to this grievance, Greece has being blocking Macedonia's accession to the European Union since 2005 and to NATO since 2008.
On June 8, Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said he was ready to join NATO using the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia as a temporary name in order to promote negotiations over the process of country's integration into the European Union.
In response, the Greek foreign minister said that the sides should reach a compromise solution for the dispute.
"Greece would like our neighboring country to become a part of Euro-Atlantic system. But we should follow the path of mutual understanding and compromise… As soon as a compromise solution regarding the name is found, we will go to the United Nations and sign a new agreement, and then we will go to Brussels to confirm it," Kotzias said.
Macedonia joined NATO's Partnership for Peace in 1995 and the Membership Action Plan in 1999, which is a program that offers advice, assistance and support to countries seeking to join the alliance.