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In an unusually strongly worded statement, Athens has accused Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski of abusing the visit of the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to spread “agitprop” against Greece.
Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Gregory Delavekouras
A Greek spokesman appered to pour cold water on hopes that the UN chief's visit to Macedonia might inject new momentum into stalled Greece-Macedonia talks on a solution to the "name" dispute.
At Wednesday's meeting with Ban Ki-moon in Skopje, Gruevski reiterated that he was ready to back fresh UN-led “name” talks with Greece.
But he also accused Greece of stalling the negotiations and of blocking his country’s entry into NATO, despite last December's ruling of the World Court.
On Wednesday, Macedonia said that Gruevski had also used the meeting with Ki-moon to urge Greece to respect of the rights of the Macedonian minority in Greece, whose existence Athens does not recognize.
Gruevski also said that Greece should abide by the ruling of the International Court of Justice. Last December, the ICJ declared that Greece had broken a 1995 UN agreement by blocking Macedonia's membership of NATO. Athens did not change course following the ruling, however.
“The ongoing, tiresomely repetitive agitprop for domestic consumption... shows that Gruevski did not utilize the meeting with the UN Secretary General to make any progress,” the Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman, Gregory Delavekouras, responded by way of reply.
“He attempted to misappropriate the meeting. Once again, he attempted to promote familiar propaganda regarding the ineffectualness or unwillingness of the Greek side," he added.
"This is a falsehood, as confirmed by Gruevski’s ongoing intransigence throughout his term in office,” Dalavekouras continued.
Dalavekouras maintained that “for the purpose of achieving a solution, Greece is seeking a credible and sincere interlocutor. The Skopje side will have to show this in practice”.
Greece insists that use of the term "Macedonia" implies a territorial claim to its own northern province of the same name. Owing to Greek opposition, Macedonia had to enter the UN in the 1990s under a provisional referrence, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, FYROM.
Citing the unresolved issue, Greece has repeatedly blocked Macedonia’s progress towards both EU and NATO membership.
Ki-moon’s visit to Macedonia had increased hopes of a fresh diplomatic initiative in the stalled “name” talks.
The latest exchange of accusations contrasts with what the UN chief sought from both sides while in Skopje, which was to restrain from verbal duels and create a more positive atmosphere for continued talks.
Immediately after the two-day visit, Ki-moon’s envoy in the UN-led "name" talks, Matthew Nimetz, who was also in Skopje, went to Thessaloniki, Greece, to brief the authorities there on the talks in Macedonia.
On Thursday, Greece's “name” talks representative, Adamantios Vassilakis, assured Nimetz that Greece does indeed want a solution to the dispute.
Athens has yet to respond to Macedonia's request for intensified bilateral cooperation and a declaration of friendship.
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