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Macedonia, Greece, Pledge To Revive ‘Name’ Talks

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By Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his Macedonian host, Nikola Dimitrov – meeting in Skopje – said future talks would centre on solving the long-running dispute about Macedonia’s name.

At a joint press conference following their meeting in Skopje, the Foreign Ministers of Greece and Macedonia on Thursday said their discussions focused mainly on ways to revive stalled talks on Macedonia’s name – which Greece disputes – possibly this autumn.

Dimitrov emphasized that it was important for Greece to recognize “the new reality” in Macedonia that had occurred after the change in power in May, and was reflected in Macedonia’s “sincere desire” to build friendship with Athens.

“We expect and hope for help and support regarding our European integration and we want to see a friend and future ally in each other, instead of [trying to] outsmart each other,” Dimitrov said.

It is expected that UN-sponsored talks on the dispute, which have prevented Macedonia from joining NATO and starting its EU accession talks, may resume after the local elections in Macedonia in mid-October.

The fresh impetus comes after Macedonia’s new government pledged to renew the drive for Euro-Atlantic integration and resolve any open issues with its neighbours, primarily Greece, that stand in the way of this aim.

Kotzias, whose country has blocked Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic integration over the long-standing dispute, insisted that Greece wants “to see this dear northern country join NATO and the EU – but for that to happen, it must be in accordance to EU and NATO rules”.

He was referring to the EU and NATO principles on reaching a consensus among all member states before admitting new members – which Athens has used to block Macedonia’s progress.

The dispute centres on Greek insistence that use of the word “Macedonia” implies a territorial claim to the northern Greek province of the same name.

In 2008, Macedonia narrowly missed the chance to enter NATO solely because of the name dispute with Greece. NATO then said that Macedonia would become a member the moment it solved the bilateral dispute. Macedonia cannot start EU accession talks for the same reason.

So far, all efforts made by the veteran UN mediator Matthew Nimetz to find a compromise solution through some kind of compound name that would satisfy both sides have failed.

The talks have effectively been frozen since 2014, partly owing to the political crisis which engulfed Macedonia in early 2015 and which ended only recently, with the election of a new government under Zoran Zaev.

Nimetz renewed his diplomatic efforts this summer and met both foreign minister in separate meetings. He said that more concrete talks could be expected in the autumn.

During his stay in Skopje, Kotzias, who was making a return visit after Dimitrov went to Greece in June, will also meet Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov, Prime Minister Zaev and the Deputy Prime Minister for European Integration, Bujar Osmani.


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Balkan Insight

Balkan Insight

The Balkan Insight (fornerkt the Balkin Investigative Reporting Network, BIRN) is a close group of editors and trainers that enables journalists in the region to produce in-depth analytical and investigative journalism on complex political, economic and social themes. BIRN emerged from the Balkan programme of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting, IWPR, in 2005. The original IWPR Balkans team was mandated to localise that programme and make it sustainable, in light of changing realities in the region and the maturity of the IWPR intervention. Since then, its work in publishing, media training and public debate activities has become synonymous with quality, reliability and impartiality. A fully-independent and local network, it is now developing as an efficient and self-sustainable regional institution to enhance the capacity for journalism that pushes for public debate on European-oriented political and economic reform.

2 thoughts on “Macedonia, Greece, Pledge To Revive ‘Name’ Talks

  • September 1, 2017 at 6:34 pm
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    Trust is a two way street.

    Playing dumb as massive numbers of former Yugoslavians do an identity switch-a-roo into “ancient Macedonians” and promote irredentism against Greece certainly isn’t winning any credibility points by either the former yugoslavians or the antihellenic ethnic engineering bigots that ridiculously recognized these obvious frauds as “ethnic” Macedonians. This makes about as much sense as recognizing them as “ethnic” Athenians or ethnic Romans.

    Reply
  • September 1, 2017 at 10:47 pm
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    There will be zero tolerance with FYROM. If Zaev wanted to mend relations with Greece he would have announced the demolition of the grotesque Italian made Hellenic reproduction statues that litter the FYROM landscape, the renaming of the airport in Skopje, the renaming of the highway, the renaming of the football stadium, the removal of the repulsive Baroque Hellenic style facades, the correcting of school carriculum, the removal of the Hellenic symbol on the national flag, the removal of all greater Macedonia maps from government institutions and a heartfelt apolgy to the nation of Greece for his nation being vile for the last two and a half decades. Cultural theft cannot be forgiven easily. Actions speak louder than words. Greeks do not want to hear politicians trying new age diplomacy that they learnt in their political science classes. Dimitrov, Šekerinska, Zaevand all the Slavic Fyromians currently running FYROM are just as dogmatic about an exclusivity of the name as the Gruevski ultra nationalists. There is no scope for negotiation with these antiques. Greece is the victim here. Our history has been hijacked by Fyromian Slavs. Leave our history alone. It’s not a good fit for you. You cannot pronounce nor read the Ancient inscriptions for they are in Greek. If FYROM wants exclusivity to the name Macedonia they will have to change their official language to Greek for this corresponds with the Ancient Macedonian language. We Greeks embrace everyone as a Hellene as long as they speak Greek. You cannot have Bulgarian speaking Slavs of FYROM claiming they are Antiques. It’s ridiculous.
    Sekerinska can sit around bagging the VMRO for their crimes but she is just as bad. She claims she is a Slav and a non Antique and in the same breath attacks Greece for not recognizing FYROM. I thought that her hair incident would have knocked some sense into her. Dimitrov has also had a go at it. The fool was part of the negotiation team under Gruevski. He failed miserably because he too will never give up the name. These Slavs are like a dog with a bone but in their case the bone is plastic and has zero marrow.
    They know what they have to do and it will never happen. The constitutional name will not change because the antiquated population of FYROM will never vote for it. They have had way too many history lessons from Milenko Nedelkovski. The vile sneaky tactics of attempting to be admitted to NATO and the EU under their provisional FYROM name won’t work either. They are fruitless attempts at diplomacy that not only waste time but also soak up tax payers efforts. Think twice FYROM before attempting negotiations with the Greeks on their history. The Albanian, Roma and Turkish birth rate is twice that of the Slavs. While you lot are busy fixating about exclusivity of your name and your antique culture the non Slavic population of FYROM will become a majority group within their ancient wonderland. The last census was in 2001, these so called minority groups were are 35% collectively. I would hate to think what they are at now. 16 years of fertile breeding has to be worrying for the new government. Back off our history you deluded farm animals.

    Reply

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