( dpa ) - Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis invited Skopje Thursday to resume talks in an effort to solve a name dispute which caused Macedonia's delegation to walk out of a NATO summit after Athens refused to let it join the alliance.
"Our aim is not to humiliate, and this is not about winners and losers," Karamanlis told journalists at a press conference on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Bucharest.
Greece and Macedonia have been in dispute over the latter's name since 1991, when Macedonia declared independence from Yugoslavia. Greece says that the name implies a territorial claim on its own northern province, also called Macedonia.
At the NATO summit, Greece refused to approve the offer of a membership invitation to Macedonia, saying that the government in Skopje had failed to act in a good-neighbourly way by refusing to change its name.
The UN has been leading talks on the thorny issue for over a decade, suggesting a compromise name to both parties as recently as March 26. Athens rejected that proposal, saying that it was "far from the goals sought by Greece."
"I am sending a new invitation to the leadership of Skopje to resume negotiations under the UN auspices in order to come to a solution for the interests of the entire region," said Karamanlis.
"With Greece's veto, Skopje did not enter NATO because I repeated that without a solution there would not be an invitation.
"Not everything is over in Bucharest...we have a long path before us and our efforts continue...we are looking for a solution that will take in account everybody's interest and will strengthen stability in the region.
"We gave an end to the false idea that countries can participate in international bodies without complying with the basic obligations...rules have to be respected by everyone and this includes good neighbourly relations."