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Macedonia Leaders Optimistic On Name Solution June 28, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Macedonia.
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Georgi Ivanov

The frequent face to face meetings between Greek and Macedonian prime ministers strengthen mutual confidence and give hope that a name settlement will be reached soon, Macedonian President Georgi Ivanov said on Sunday. Speaking to journalists he noted that this wass the reason for the recent “optimism among EU officials”.

Ivanov explained that the UN mediator in the Athens-Skopje name talks, Matthew Nimetz, has recently increased his activities and is actively communicating with both sides.

He said that Nimetz is waiting for signals from both countries’ prime ministers after which he will prepare his fresh proposal for a compromise solution.

This comes after high-ranking officials in Brussels suggested that a solution to the long standing spat could be reached soon. Last week Belgium’s Foreign Minister Steven Vanackere hinted that the dispute could be solved within several weeks time.

Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski joined the optimism regarding the name spat solution. On Saturday he told local media that Nimetz had “increased activities and consultations with both sides, which gives hope for a solution”.

He also said that the face to face meetings which he has held with his Greek counterpart George Papandreou are helping in building mutual trust.

“We have regular contacts with the Greek PM in order to improve general relations, laying the groundwork for a proposal by mediator Nimetz that would be acceptable to both parties and Macedonia’s citizens. We encourage Nimetz to resume his activities and we will continue to build a favorable atmosphere,” Gruevski said.

Gruevski praised Papandreou’s address last week at the summit of the Southeast European Cooperation Process, SEECP, in Istanbul, noting that it is a positive sign that Greece understands that Macedonia also wants a solution to the 18 year long spat.

In the speech Papandreou said: “Nikola and I” are ready for a solution within the shortest time possible.

Gruevski and Papandreou’s meeting in Istanbul was the sixth meeting between the two leaders since autumn last year when they began the practice.

Athens and Skopje are locked in a long lasting spat over the use of the name Macedonia. Athens insists that Skopje’s official name, Republic of Macedonia, implies territorial claims over its own northern province, which is also called Macedonia.

Athens blocked Skopje’s invitation to join NATO in 2008 and has stalled its efforts to join the EU over the unresolved row.

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