Analysis 13 Nov 17

Hopes Rise for Settlement to Macedonia Name Dispute

Optimism is growing that Greece and Macedonia can finally settle a long-standing dispute that has held up Macedonia’s Euro-Atlantic integration.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje
Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his Macedonian counterpart Nikola Dimitrov in Skopje. Photo: MIA

After poisoning bilateral relations for 26 years, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias has said the dispute over Macedonia’s name, to which Athens objects, must be settled soon.

In an interview on November 5 for the Greek daily Kathimerini, Kotzias – who last year claimed it would take years for both countries to agree on a mutually acceptable name – said the issue “must be settled within the first half of 2018.

“If it gets resolved, it will then be a matter of three to four months of bureaucracy at the United Nations,” Kotzias was cited as saying.

“If it’s not, there will be major difficulties,” Kotzias added, referring to presidential elections in Macedonia and general elections in Greece in 2019, which are likely to get in the way of further substantive talks.

The new sense of urgency and of optimism is reflected among top Macedonian officials as well.

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