HC Deb 01 February 1995 vol 253 cc1067-8
2. Ms Eagle

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the current situation in Macedonia.

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Mr. Douglas Hogg)

Promoting the political and economic stability of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia remains a key element in our preventive diplomacy in the southern Balkans. It is important that she should enjoy full international recognition and gain full access to the benefits of co-operation with international institutions.

Ms Eagle

Does the Minister agree that destabilisation in Macedonia would cause a major problem and pose a major threat to peace and stability in Europe, especially as the threat could then spread to Greece and possibly further? Does he think the position there is getting better or worse?

Mr. Hogg

I agree with the main thrust of the hon. Lady's intervention. Clearly, destabilisation in Macedonia could have serious repercussions in the southern Balkans. I am reasonably optimistic as to the stability of the country. That stability depends on the ability and willingness of the Albanians and Macedonians in Macedonia to work together. We shall do all that we can to impress on both communities the importance of co-operation, and to impress on President Gligorov, in particular, the importance of addressing seriously the concerns of the Albanian minority in the country. He is doing so, but he needs continual encouragement.

Lady Olga Maitland

Does my right hon. and learned Friend have any plans for action within the European Union to bridge the stalemate over the blockade of Macedonia by the Greeks, bearing in mind the fact that it is bringing severe economic hardship?

Mr. Hogg

My hon. Friend makes a serious point. The European Court of Justice is today considering the case which has been brought before it by the Commission with the strong support of the British Government. The other way forward is through the mediation of Cyrus Vance. We hope that the Governments of both Macedonia and Greece will respond positively to the suggestions made by Cyrus Vance.

Mr. O'Hara

Will the Minister recognise that, just as President Gligorov should be urged to resolve his differences with the Albanians, he should also be urged to address positively the serious concerns of the Greeks? He must recognise that the Greeks could be the key to the future security and prosperity of Macedonia.

Mr. Hogg

The hon. Gentleman is right to stress the importance of good relations between Greece and Macedonia. He is right to imply that the blockade by Greece of Macedonia is having a serious impact on the economy of Macedonia. The hon. Gentleman's point reinforces the answer that I gave previously about the need for both Governments to address positively the proposals of Cyrus Vance.

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