By Sinisa Jakov Marusic
As Ban Ki-moon, and his mediator in the Greek-Macedonian “name” dispute, Matthew Nimetz, begin a two-day visit to Macedonia, hopes rise of a fresh diplomatic initiative.
The UN Secretary General’s visit to Macedonia has raised hopes of a fresh push in the stalled UN-sponsored “name” talks, although few expect a breakthrough.
“The fact that Ban Ki-moon will be accompanied by the special envoy… is seen as a confirmation of the importance attributed by the UN head for a prompt settlement of the issue and for finding a way to accelerate the process,” the Macedonian Foreign Affairs Ministry said.
Ki-moon begins his visit in the lakeside town of Ohrid, where he will meet President Gjorge Ivanov. On Wednesday, in Skopje, he will meet Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and Parliament Speaker Trajko Veljanoski, as well as delivering an address to parliament.
“The country’s constructive approach and determination toward finding a mutually acceptable solution to the name dispute will be reiterated to the UN Secretary General and mediator Nimetz,” the Macedonian Foreign Ministry added.
After the talks in Skopje, Ki-moon’s envoy will depart for Thessaloniki, Greece, on Thursday, for a meeting with the Greek “name” negotiator, Adamantios Vassilakis.
Greece insists that use of the term “Macedonia” implies a territorial claim to its own northern province of the same name. Citing the unresolved issue, Greece has repeatedly blocked Macedonia’s progress towards both EU and NATO membership.
UN-brokered talks to overcome the dispute have failed to result in a solution and there have been no substantial talks for over a year, partly owing to the complicated political situation in Greece.
As part of his tour of the region the UN Secretary General previously visited Slovenia, Montenegro, Serbia and Kosovo. After wrapping up his stay to Macedonia, Ki-Moon heads for Bosnia and Herzegovina, his last stop.