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News 27 Sep 13

Macedonia Dashes Hope of Quick 'Name' Deal

After meeting his Greek counterpart, Macedonian Foreign Minister says 'mountains' still separate the two countries regarding the dispute over Macedonia's name.  

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Macedonian Foreign Minister, Nikola Popski | Photo by: gov.mk

Blaming Greece for the impasse, Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki said that after the latest round of name talks this month, the two sides are no closer to a solution.

“The standpoints coming from the south [Greece] are the basis for the problem. We have had no assurance whatever that they want to become part of the solution," he said.

"We can be partners about everything else but when it comes to the [name] dispute, mountains stand between us,” Poposki added.

Poposki spoke after meeting his Greek counterpart, Evangelos Venizelos, at the sidelines of the UN General Assembly on Thursday. The parlay lasted for 20 minutes.

The remarks leave little space for optimism about the forthcoming UN-sponsored name talks set to take place in New York.

Earlier this week, the spokesperson for the UN Secretary General, Martin Nesirsky, confirmed that the UN envoy in the dispute, Mathew Nimetz, plans to convene representatives of the two countries in the coming weeks.

Nimetz visited Athens and Skopje earlier this month and met top government officials.

After the meetings, he said he heard their positions about his latest compromise name proposal, put forward in April, warning that “substantial differences” remained between both sides.

Nimetz declined to divulge his suggested formula, but reports have indicated that it was “Upper Republic of Macedonia".

The latest UN-sponsored talks will take place ahead of the December European Council meeting, when EU enlargement and Macedonia's accession process will again be discussed.

Macedonia obtained EU candidate status back in December 2005, and European Commission reports have recommended a start to membership talks each year since 2009.

But the country has never been offered a date for EU accession talks, nor an invitation to join NATO, owing to a Greek blockade related to the dispute over its name.

Greece insists that Macedonia’s name implies territorial claims to its own northern province, also called Macedonia.

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