Wohlers: Name solution must be found

Washington, 15 July 2011 (MIA) - Promotion of U.S. interests in Macedonia while working to advance Macedonia's own internal transformation on the path to full Euro-Atlantic integration, strengthening the rule of law, fighting corruption, promoting economic growth and prosperity, and reinforcing democratic institutions are the goals that the nominee for new U.S. Ambassador to Macedonia, Paul Wohlers presented at the hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

If confirmed to the post, Wohlers said he would urge for reason from both sides towards a mutually acceptable solution, a problem that prevents Macedonia's EU and NATO accession.

He added that Macedonia has proven itself as a provider of security both regionally and globally, with Macedonian troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Macedonia has been one of the highest per capita contributors to the ISAF mission in Afghanistan. These contributions to regional and global stability reflect our shared values and the depth of our partnership with Macedonia", stressed Wohlers.

Democratic Senator Robert Menendez quizzed Wohlers on his assessment over the erection of Alexander the Great monument at the Skopje square, with the latter saying this is an issue of identity, going beyond the name problem.

"The United States have been working, and if confirmed, I will continue to work with the Macedonian and Greek authorities in helping both parties to make progress in the issue, creating a spirit of compromise, as well as mutual respect of history and tradition", said Wohlers.

He reminded on the successfully administered June 5 parliamentary elections, but said full respect for the rule of law and independent institutions remained a problem.

"An independent judiciary, free and independent media, and strong civil society are vital cornerstones for all democracies, and we have
concerns about Macedonia's development in these areas", stated Wohlers.

Paul Wohlers currently serves as Deputy Executive Secretary at the U.S. Department of State. He previously served as Director of the Office of Caucasus Affairs and Regional Conflicts in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, and Deputy Chief of Mission and Chargé d’Affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Skopje (2004-2007). Earlier in his career, Wohlers held diplomatic postings at U.S. embassies in Bucharest, Moscow, and Nicosia. Wohlers is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and earned a J.D. from the University of Washington.

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