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SIPDIS -- agreement, Crvenkovski unloaded a battery of practical and politically important questions he said had to do with the "formulation, packaging, and technology" of a possible agreement. Where would Nimetz make his proposal for a resolution? In Athens? If so, that would put Skopje in an awkward position. If both sides refused the proposal, what then? What if Skopje accepted, but Athens rejected? Would Macedonia still receive a NATO invitation? It would be devastating for the government, he said, if Macedonia was seen to have compromised without any payoff in the end.
8. (C) Continuing, Crvenkovski asked whether a proposal would be made public before the invitation at Bucharest, or at the same time as a NATO invitation was extended? What if the leaders on both sides agreed to a compromise solution, but the Greek parliament would not ratify it or the Greek government fell? Again, Macedonia would have compromised and paid a heavy domestic political price, for no payoff. On a more detailed level, he asked how would a new name (e.g., Independent Republic of Macedonia) be transcribed at the UN? What would the "short name" be? How would it be abbreviated? Macedonia could not change the description of its language (Macedonian) or nationality (Macedonian), he said.
9. (C) The Ambassador said it was too early to address the President's specific questions, but acknowledged that they were important and promised to report them to Washington. She noted that, regardless of the Greek response to a proposal, a clear YES from Skopje would show flexibility and seriousness about reaching a compromise. That would give us more leverage to use with the Greek side in pressing for compromise that would open the door to Bucharest. It was important for the USG to know that the GOM would be ready to accept a Nimetz proposal. In the meantime, it was important that the GOM propose some options to Nimetz.
10. (C) Crvenkovski said that, even if the leadership accepted a compromise name, there would be a strong inter-party as well as public opinion battle to win acceptance of it. Would the compromise be acceptable to Athens as a "final" resolution of the matter? Political leaders here would not want to face the possibility of agreeing to a compromise, only to find Athens still blocking NATO accession. Given a "good proposal" and good answers to the key tricky detailed questions he had posed, Crvenkovski felt, however, that the major ethnic Albanian parties could be brought around, as could the major ethnic Macedonian opposition party (SDSM). The key to a complete political consensus would be PM Gruevski's governing VMRO party.
FINISH REFORMS BEFORE BUCHAREST
11. (C) Crvenkovski agreed with the Ambassador regarding the need for continued implementation of the May 29 agreement, and added that it would be important to resolve both the language law and social package issues before the Bucharest Summit. If not, he said, Gruevski would pocket a NATO invitation and later ignore both issues, which would raise inter-ethnic tensions in Macedonia.
12. (C) As noted in ref B, we are cautiously optimistic that
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the GOM is beginning to think seriously about options for resolving the name issue, beyond their traditional "dual name" formula. That Crvenkovski is already thinking about the tricky detailed modalities of a possible solution, and the internal political challenges of building a consensus for it, is mildly encouraging. To have any chance of a NATO invitation for Macedonia and a resolution of the name issue, we believe we will have to work with Nimetz to facilitate good answers to Crvenkovski's detailed questions and couple carefully calibrated continued pressure on Skopje with strong consistent pressure on Athens to be flexible. The leadership here is also likely to insist that, if it does agree to a differentiated name for international use, it can only survive politically in doing so if it receives a NATO invitation this April.
13. (C) In thinking through how Macedonia's leaders can shield themselves from the risks of an unrequited compromise, we assess that they may need to condition in some way their final acceptance of a differentiated name for international organization use on completion of the NATO ratification process. MILOVANOVIC