Canada recognizes Macedonia despite name dispute

Greece is decrying the Canadian government's decision to recognize the former Yugoslavian republic of Macedonia's name, despite the Greek government's objections.

GreeceisdecryingtheCanadian government'sdecision to recognize the former Yugoslavian republic of Macedonia's name, despite theGreek government'sobjections.

Greece insists on calling the small Balkan country the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, arguing that plain Macedonia implies territorial claims on the neighbouring northern Greek province of the same name.

In Athens, the Greek government said Foreign Affairs Minister Dora Bakoyannis would complain to her Canadian counterpart.

"We are not happy with this decision," Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said. "It is only natural that the hundreds of thousands of Greeks living in Canada will also be displeased with this decision."

Neil Hrab, a spokesman for Canada's foreign affairs minister's office, told in an e-mail on Friday that he was not aware of any formal Greekcomplaint being made so far.

He said the decision was a "pragmatic approach" and Canada would only use the name Macedonia in its bilateral relations, while respecting established practices and consensus by using theFormer Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in all international bodies.

"This is similar to the approach used by a wide range of countries," he said,adding Greece is a valued NATO ally and partner for Canada on key global issues.

Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski told state radio Thursday that he welcomed the move to recognize his country by its constitutional name.

"This is excellent news for us,"Gruevski said.

A total of 117 countries, including the United States, have recognized the country as the Republic of Macedonia.

Macedonia gained peaceful independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, and was admitted to the United Nations under the provisional name "The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia."

With files from the Canadian Press