News 08 Jan 13

Nimetz Starts New Push For Macedonia ‘Name’ Deal

The UN mediator in the Macedonia-Greece ‘name’ talks, Matthew Nimetz, is visiting Athens and Skopje, bringing fresh proposals for a solution to the dispute.

Sinisa Jakov Marusic

Athens | Photo by: Orlovic

Officials in Athens and Skopje expect the UN mediator in the longstanding dispute over Macedonia's name - to which Greece objects - to put forward some fresh ideas.

Prior to Nimetz’s arrival in Greece, the Greek Foreign Minister, Dimitris Avramopoulos, said his country aimed for a solution that would respect each side's history and culture and strengthen regional stability and security.

“Nimetz’s visit... is a development that we wanted, to the extent that it can create the conditions for progress on the 'name' issue,” he said.

After meeting Greek officials, Nimetz is expected to go on to Skopje.

"I hope for new initiatives and ideas [from Nimetz],” the Macedonian President, Gjorge Ivanov, said before the New Year's holiday.

Media in both countries report that Nimetz is indeed bringing specific proposals, involving a composite name with geographical qualifier.

This might concern the use of the terms "Northern", or "Vardar", placed before "Republic of Macedonia".

Nimetz’s fresh push follows the recent conclusion of the EU Council, which said that 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.

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 owing to the Greek blockade related to the dispute over its name.

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