Stoltenberg: Name dispute must be resolved before joining North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

UN issues list of 5 alternative names for Macedonia

UN envoy 'very hopeful' about solving Macedonia name dispute

However, government's position Thursday was quite different as it noted that the Macedonian government was committed to resolving the dispute with Greece on the constitutional name of the Republic of Macedonia.

Official Skopje also said that the right conditions exist to move forward with process of finding a solution to the name issue.

Greece's objections to the use of the name Macedonia since the Balkan country's independence in 1991 has hampered Skopje's bid to join the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

He said resolving the name dispute is crucial for Macedonia to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, but urged the country to improve the rule of law, build good relations with neighbouring nations and develop a multiethnic society.

Nimetz has previously said that he doesn't think it realistic not to include Macedonia somewhere in the name.

Zaev's government, which took power last May, pledged to work on resolving the name dispute and accelerate the country's European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation bid. Macedonia, a former Yugoslav province that peacefully gained its independence in 1991, denies that, arguing that it covers an area that has been known as Macedonia for a long time.

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Greece, which is a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member, objects to it shortening its name to simply "Macedonia" as it has a province with the same name.

"NATO's door remains open", Jens Stoltenberg told journalists on Thursday after meeting Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.

He also commended Macedonia for the "important progress" made on "transparency, accountability, oversight of the intelligence and security agencies, and judicial reform".

Stoltenberg said he welcomes the willingness Zaev's left-led government has shown to solve the name dispute since it came to power seven months ago - replacing a conservative administration.

"However, the talks' outcome will depend on the readiness of the two sides to compromise", read the government's statement.

"I am very hopeful that this process is moving in a positive direction", Nimetz said, following talks with envoys from the two countries at the United Nations. "And countries aspiring to join the Alliance must demonstrate that they share those values", he stated.

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