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UN Name Mediator To ‘Take Pulse’ In Greece, Macedonia


By Sinisa Jakov Marusic

The UN mediator in Macedonia’s ‘name’ dispute flies next week to Athens and Skopje to take the pulse of both governments over his latest ideas for a solution to the long-standing issue.

Amid growing optimism about a possible breakthrough in the dispute over Macedonia’s name, which has hampered its plans to join NATO and start accession talks with the EU, the UN mediator, Matthew Nimetz, is due to arrive in the region next week for talks with Greek and Macedonian leaders.

The Macedonian government on Friday confirmed Nimetz’s arrival in Skopje sometime in the next week and said the exact agenda of his visit is still being determined.

Media reports suggested Nimetz would first visit Athens, presumably during Monday and Tuesday, before heading to Skopje on Wednesday and Thursday.

During his stay, he is expected to meet the prime ministers of both countries, Greece’s Alexis Tsipras and Macedonia’s Zoran Zaev, as well as the foreign ministers, who are expected to directly engage in the name talks that both sides said were progressing well.

At the last round of bilateral name talks in New York in January 18, Nimetz handed both sides a new set of ideas for overcoming the dispute.

However, he did not reveal the contents, saying only that his proposals for a settlement were not completely new, but were being proposed in a new context, meaning different political circumstances and amid increased optimism on both sides.

Media in both countries have reported that the package contains five alternatives for a new name for Macedonia for international use.

The adjectives New, Upper, Northern or Vardarska – stemming from Macedonia’s biggest river, the Vardar – in front of the word Macedonia have been mentioned, plus the possible name “Republic of Macedonia” with the name of the capital, Skopje, added in brackets.

On Wednesday, the Macedonian and Greek Prime Ministers met in a positive atmosphere at the outskirts of the World Economic Forum in Davos. They said they would intensify the UN-sponsored talks and raise their level by appointing their foreign ministers to directly engage in them, instead of the name negotiators.

“The process is undoubtedly moving in a positive direction”, Macedonian journalist and political analyst Saso Ordanoski wrote in a column on Friday.

However, he added, “We are still in a phase where only the frame of the solution is being agreed, while the negotiations regarding its substance, at least for the public, remain unknown. Until we hear the main elements regarding the content of this ‘package’, it is hard to forecast whether the entire endeavor will be successful”.

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

Athens insists that a new name must be found that makes a clear distinction between the Greek province and the country.

As a result of the unresolved dispute, in 2008, Greece blocked Macedonia’s NATO entry. It has also blocked the start of Macedonia’s EU accession talks, despite several positive annual reports from the European Commission on the country’s progress.

Ahead of Nimetz’s visit, Macedonia’s political leaders are set to meet on Saturday in Skopje in an effort to forge a common stance on the latest set of ideas.

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.

One thought on “UN Name Mediator To ‘Take Pulse’ In Greece, Macedonia

  • January 27, 2018 at 7:13 am

    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.


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