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News 11 Jan 13

Nimetz Optimistic on Macedonia-Greece 'Name' Talks

UN special envoy Matthew Nimetz said he wanted to step up negotiations between Macedonia and Greece aimed at solving their name dispute.

Darko Duridanski

Mediator Matthew Nimetz and PM Nikola Gruevski in Skopje | Photo by: gov.mk

After meeting with Macedonian prime minister Nikola Gruevski on Friday, Nimetz said he felt both Athens and Skopje wanted to move forward.

"I can say from my visit here that I received very strong assurances from the government that this is a top priority, " Nimetz said in Skopje.

"We talked in specifics, not just generalities about various possibilities. I gave some ideas, I got some reactions and I know that this is something that needs to be accomplished," he said.

He added that he will invite the Macedonian and Greek negotiators, Zoran Jolevski and Adamantios Vasilakis, to New York so he can follow up ideas raised during his visits to Skopje and Athens.

"Those were constructive and thoughtful ideas and we will see whether we can move forward," Nimetz said.

He did not disclose any of the ideas he presented to both governments but said that they were not necessarily new.

"I have been involved in this since 1994 so I can't say that there is something totally new," he said.

"But things do get raised that are different and in a different context and I think there is always room for creativity. I do think we will reach a positive conclusion," he added.

Nimetz’s fresh push for a solution follows a recent statement by the EU Council, which said that any decision on opening accession talks for Macedonia would be based on a report by the European Commission due to be published in spring 2013.

The report will assess whether Macedonia has made genuine steps forward towards reaching a deal with Greece over its name.

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

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 because of the Greek blockade related to the dispute over its name.

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