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Macedonian, Greek PMs to discuss name row in Brussels March 23, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Macedonia, Yunanistan.
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The prime ministers of Macedonia and Greece were to meet in Brussels next week for talks aimed at resolving a 19-year row over the name of the former Yugoslav republic, a Macedonian statement said.

The meeting would be held on the sidelines of March 25 EU summit in the Belgian capital, a statement from Macedonia Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski’s office said.

“This meeting is aimed at improving relations between the two countries who are trying to find a an acceptable solution for the name issue,” the statement said.

For nearly two decades, the two neighbours have been at loggerheads over the use of the name Macedonia and UN-sponsored negotiations have so far proved fruitless.

Macedonia joined the United Nations in 1993 under the provisional name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

But Greece — which has a northern province called Macedonia — considers the name to be part of its heritage.

Athens has blocked international recognition of its northern neighbour under the name of Macedonia since it became an independent nation in the break-up of Yugoslavia in 1991.

Greece has insisted the row be resolved before it agrees to the start of Macedonia’s European Union accession talks, which requires unanimous support from all EU members.

In late February, senior UN mediator Matthew Nimetz said that Athens and Skopje shared grounds for resolving the dispute.

Greece said earlier it favoured Macedonia’s name including a “geographical determinant,” even as it accused Skopje of blocking a resolution. In the past Greek media have suggested “Northern Macedonia” as a possibility.

“We have sent a positive message and we expect to see the same message to come back,” Greek foreign ministry spokesman Grigoris Delavekouras said at the time.

“It’s the moment to move forward.”

Macedonia, an official EU candidate nation since December 2005, has not yet begun any of the detailed negotiations required prior to membership.

Last year, Greece also blocked Skopje’s membership of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

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