Macedonia name dispute ‘informal’ talks set for January 27 January 6, 2011Posted by Yilan in EU, European Union, Macedonia, Yunanistan.
Tags: Greece, Macedonia
The dispute has dragged on since the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, with Greece insisting that Macedonia is wrong to call itself that.
Greece has a province called Macedonia and holds that Skopje’s use of the name for the country is historically inappropriate and could be exploited to further Macedonian territorial claims in northern Greece.
The issue, a deeply emotional one and a recurring theme in domestic elections in Macedonia, has led to Greece obstructing Skopje’s path towards Nato, pending resolution of the dispute, while the standoff is also seen as an obstacle in Macedonia’s hopes for eventual membership of the European Union.
Attempts by Nimetz to broker a compromise have failed repeatedly. Reportedly, naming the country “Northern Macedonia” has been proposed, but add-on issues such as references to the Macedonian language, identity and Skopje’s insistence that Athens should recognise a Macedonian ethnic minority in Greece have held back prospects for progress towards a compromise.
Leading Greek daily Kathimerini described the January 27 meeting, which will see Nimetz meet Macedonian negotiator Zoran Jolevski and Greek negotiator Adamantios Vassilakis, as an informal one designed to show that the issue was still topical. The paper said that the meeting was being exploited by Skopje for its own domestic political goals.
Macedonian president Gjorge Ivanov earlier portrayed the January 27 talks as likely to boost the process.
Various media reports, quoting “insiders”, have expressed optimism about a solution to the name dispute being achieved in 2011.
“We believe a solution will be found and that is why we take part in the process. We are always constructive and make proposals for a solution,” Ivanov said.
Addressing the Greek parliament in the budget debate on December 22 2010, foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas said: “Our position on the FYROM issue is well known: We want a name with a geographical qualifier for all uses, erga omnes. The resolution of the name issue is a prerequisite for Skopje’s accession to Nato and the EU”.
On November 1 2010, Kathimerini quoted Macedonia’s deputy prime minister for European affairs, Vasko Naumovski, as saying that Athens would have to recognise the existence of a Macedonian language and identity to settle the name dispute with Skopje.
Speaking after Greek prime minister George Papandreou and his Macedonian counterpart Nikola Gruevski had met in Brussels for talks that proved inconclusive, Naumovski said that Greece had to accept “reality”.
“The reality that the existence of a Macedonian identity, nation, language and state cannot change,” Naumovski said.
However, he expressed optimism that a solution could be found soon “We believe that if there is honest will on both sides, we can get closer to a final solution very quickly,” Naumovski was quoted as saying.