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The UN mediator in the Macedonia-Greece name talks, Matthew Nimetz, will pay a visit to Athens and Skopje from January 8-11, the UN announced.
UN mediator Matthew Nimetz | Photo by: UN/Devra Berkowitz
Nimetz is to meet senior officials from both countries to speed up the process of finding a mutually acceptable solution to the "name" dispute.
His visit follows talks in November in New York where Nimetz met the Macedonian and Greek negotiators, Zoran Jolevski and Adamantios Vassilakis.
There, he put forward several suggestions for a compromise name for Macedonia. However, his ideas were not made public and both governments remained silent afterwards.
“I asked them to take these ideas back... and see if they might be useful for going forward. I volunteered to come to Athens and Skopje to discuss them in more detail,” Nimetz said in November.
Nimetz’s fresh push comes in light of the recent conclusion of the EU Council, which said any decision on opening accession talks for Macedonia would be based on the report of the European Commission to be published in spring 2013.
The report will assess whether Macedonia has made genuine steps forward towards reaching a deal with Greece on its name.
Macedonia has obtained annual recommendations for a start to EU membership talks in European Commission reports since 2009.
But it has never been offered a date for the talks owing to the Greek blockade related to the dispute over Macedonia’s name.
Greece insists that Macedonia’s name implies territorial claims to its own northern province, also called Macedonia.
President Gjorge Ivanov, in his annual address to parliament on Tuesday, expressed regret about the outcome of the EU Council, delaying a decision on Macedonia's membership talks.
In the Vellusha area of Prishtina, men in beards and women in full veil are a common sight, as hard-line Muslims stake a claim to part of the Kosovo capital.