Monday’s round of resumed “name” talks between Macedonia and Greece in Geneva produced no fresh proposals for name and no real progress, but both sides demonstrated a willingness to find a solution, the UN mediator said.
Speaking at a press conference following the meeting, mediator Matthew Nimetz said that the only progress made was to identify and discuss the issues that has so far stalled the solution process.
Athens and Skopje are engulfed in a long-standing row over the use of Macedonia’s formal name. Greece claims it implicates Macedonia’s territorial claims over its own northern province with the same name. The row escalated last year when Athens blocked Skopje’s NATO accession.
“The forthcoming period is a good moment for progress” Nimetz noted, as quoted by local Kanal 5 TV. He confirmed his forthcoming visits to Skopje and Athens at the beginning of the next month.
Just hours before the Geneva talks, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis told reporters in Athens that he expected “different logic from Macedonia” this time around, considering the fact that their neighbor has been under pressure from the west to be more cooperative.
“We are ready for a compromise name that would not undermine our national identity and dignity,” Macedonian negotiator Zoran Jolevski told reporters today in Geneva.
Macedonia and Greece resumed the UN mediated talks on the name dispute following a nearly six-month pause due to elections in both countries. The last set of ideas put on the table by Nimetz, media speculate, were variations on the name “Northern Macedonia”.
Athens insists on a mutually agreeable name with a geographical qualifier that would clearly mark the state as different from the Greek province.
Both countries have also failed to agree on span of its use, as Macedonia argues that 120 countries have already recognized its formal name and it is not ready to give up that.