Macedonia has rejected a Greek offer of cash in return for settling a long-running name dispute which has hampered relations between the two countries and blocked Macedonia's entry into NATO, Italian news agency said.
"It's easy for Greece to boast with foreign European money," said Macedonian foreign minister Antonio Milososki, referring to Greece's membership of the European Union, AKI reported.
"Our comment is: we are not merchants, we are Macedonians and will remain Macedonians and that doesn't depend on Greek money," he said.
Greek foreign minister Dora Bakoiani said on Monday Athens was ready to pay 75 million euros towards the construction of a new highway through Macedonia if Skopje agreed to a mutually acceptable name for Macedonia.
Continued efforts by UN mediator Matthew Nimitz to agree on a name for the Balkan country have so far failed.
As a result Greece, a NATO member, blocked Macedonia's membership of the western military alliance at its summit in Bucharest, Romania, in early April.
Milososki's rejection of the Greek offer came after NATO secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer expressed optimism during a visit to Skopje on Monday.
De Hoop Scheffer said he was hopeful the dispute would be resolved by July so that Macedonia could by that date join the alliance together with Albania and Croatia, which were invited to to join NATO at the Bucharest summit
Meanwhile, Macedonian ambassador to Washington Zoran Jolevski said Skopje and Washington would sign a bilateral military agreement on 7 May.
Jolevski said the agreement would "guarantee Macedonia's security" until the naming dispute with Greece was resolved and the country qualified for NATO membership.
Last Mod: 23 Nisan 2008, 08:48