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News 25 Sep 12

Macedonian, Greek Ministers Meet in New York

The Greek and Macedonian Foreign Ministers, Dimitris Avramopoulos and Nikola Poposki, met in New York on Monday - but no substantive talks on the “name” dispute took place at the introductory meeting.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic
BIRN
Skopje

Dimitris Avramopoulos [left] and Nikola Poposki [right] | Photo by: mfa.gov

The two ministers met for an unofficial conversation at Macedonia's request at the sidelines of the UN General Assembly to reiterate their country’s stands.

After asserting that Greece had done its part towards resolving the dispute between the two states over Macedonia's name, Avramopoulos said it was time for the government in Skopje to do more.

“Things might have been different and even better in relations between us if the neighbouring country showed more respect on historically and culturally sensitive issues that are of particular importance to Greece,” Avramopoulos said in reference to Macedonia after the meeting.

Aside from the long-running dispute over Macedonia's name, Greece objects to Macedonia's more recent drive to lay claim to what Greece considers its own exclusive heritage.

For his part, Poposki repeated that Macedonia had no territorial claims against Greece, describing claims to the contrary as an “artificially imposed perception”.

The fresh initiative comes at a time when the European Commission is about to release its annual report on Macedonia's progress towards EU membership.

The report, to be published on October 10, is expected to contain yet another recommendation for a start to EU accession talks - the fourth in a row.

However, without a solution to the "name" dispute at hand, the EU is unlikely to offer an actual start date for the talks, owing to the continuing Greek blockade.

Greece insists that use of the term "Macedonia" implies a territorial claim to its own northern province of the same name. Citing the unresolved issue, Greece has repeatedly blocked Macedonia’s progress towards both EU and NATO membership.

UN-brokered talks to overcome the long standing dispute have failed to result in a solution and there have been no substantial talks for over a year, partly owing to the complicated political situation in Greece.

Macedonia obtained EU candidate country status back in 2005, and the European Commission has recommended a start to accession talks since 2009.

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