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Greece’s Papandreou: No Secret Name Talks July 10, 2010

Posted by Yilan in Macedonia, Yunanistan.
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There are no secret name talks between Macedonia and Greece, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou told media after meeting in New York with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

After meeting the UN chief on Tuesday, Papandreou explained that the recently adopted practice of more frequent face-to-face meetings with his Macedonian counterpart Nikola Gruevski does not mean that there are efforts for secret diplomacy outside the framework of the UN led talks.

“These are not secret, but rather open and public initiatives for finding a solution within the framework of the UN-led negotiations,” Papandreou said.

The most recent Gruevski-Papandreou meeting took place last week in Brussels. At the European Council summit held there Greece once again said it will not allow Macedonia to start EU accession talks prior to solving the long standing name spat.

Papandreou reiterated Athens’ red lines: if Macedonia is to be part of the country’s name it must be accompanied by a geographic qualifier that will be used for all purposes. Athens argues that the country’s official name, Republic of Macedonia, implies territorial claims towards its own northern province, which is also called Macedonia.

In an unrelated event British Minister for Europe David Lidington, speaking yesterday in Skopje, encouraged talks between Macedonia and Greece.

“I hope this will soon lead to the successful settlement of the problem,” he said. Lindington was speaking at a joint press conference with his host, Macedonian Minister for European Affairs Vasko Naumovski.

Athens and Skopje have been locked in the name dispute for 18 years. The spat escalated in 2008 when Greece blocked Macedonia’s entry to NATO, citing the unresolved bilateral issue. Last autumn the European Commission recommended the start of accession talks with Macedonia but Greece blocked this move as well pending a solution to the name dispute.

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