About 20 members of the European Parliament, led by Marijana Petir of Croatia, on Tuesday established an informal group, "Friends of Macedonia", to help that country to finally open EU accession talks, which have been blocked for ten years by Greece over its name.
"The main goal of this initiative is to help Macedonia open accession negotiations after being unfairly kept in the waiting room for ten years," Petir said, adding that the EU was violating regular practices by allowing an unresolved bilateral issue to be an obstacle to opening accession talks.
Macedonia was awarded membership candidate status in 2005, but has still not begun accession talks because of opposition from Greece, which considers the name of Macedonia to be part of its own historical heritage.
The Friends of Macedonia group existed in the previous European Parliament (2009-2014) too, including lawmakers from several parliamentary groups who support Macedonia's integration into the European Union. The initiative is strongly opposed by Greek MEPs, especially those from the far-right Golden Dawn party.