The EU summit conclusions, adopted by European heads of state and government on 20 June, did not specifically mention that Macedonia would begin EU accession talks in 2008, to the disappointment of the small Balkan republic.
Instead, it states that "further steps by the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in its progress towards the EU are possible by the end of this year". It also for the first time included the resolution of the name dispute with Athens as a precondition for further progress on EU accession.
"Maintaining good neighbourly relations, including a negotiated and mutually acceptable solution to the name issue, remains essential," the conclusions read.
The wording on Macedonia's accession prospects was sensitive to the extent that the ministers of foreign affairs had failed to reach a compromise before the summit.
'Demonstration of power' and 'arrogance'
In an interview with the Macedonian Information Agency, Gruevski downplayed concerns expressed in the Macedonian media over the Council conclusions. Instead, he accused his Greek counterpart Costas Karamanlis of not intending to close the name dispute in the near future. He warned that in the current UN-sponsored negotiations, Greece has no intention whatsoever of moving forward.
"This is an attempt to unilaterally dictate, accompanied with insults and threats. There is no fight with arguments, but demonstration of power. (The) Greek negotiator, in utmost arrogant manner, points out what may be possible and not possible," he stated.
The fact that Gruevski and Karamanlis are part of the same political family – the European People's Party - obviously did not prevent Gruevski for elaborating further:
"This generation of politicians of our southern neigbour, in order to cover their weaknesses in leading the country and the numerous scandals, have created such hysteria on the (name dispute) issue among their citizens, which now they themselves cannot control. It is pitiful. Yes, one day they will certainly be ashamed of this," said Gruevski.
Macedonians to vote in referendum
Gruevski confirmed his intention to submit the eventual compromise solution to the name dispute to a popular referendum, as he had promised in his camapign ahead of the early elections held on 1 June. The international community does not consider such a move as constructive.
"Let citizens judge who is right - I who believe that citizens' opinion on such matter may not be ignored or my rivals, who believe that there is no need to ask for the citizens' opinion, but promote a concession that should be a subject of Parliament's voting," Gruevski said.
Greece has been hardening its positions in the 'name dispute' since French President Nicolas Sarkozy openly sided with Athens. At a press conference after the EU summit, Sarkozy said he should have taken Macedonian journalists with him to Athens so they could see firsthand how close Greece and France are.