Confidence-building measures between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) have helped boost bilateral ties between the two Balkan neighbors, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said Thursday after talks in Skopje with his FYROM counterpart Nikola Poposki that steered clear of the chronic name dispute.
“Confidence-building measures were a big step toward cooperation,” said Kotzias, who also pledged steps to promote the construction of an oil pipeline connecting Greece’s northern port city of Thessaloniki to Skopje, as well as to upgrade train services linking Florina to Bitola (Monastiri), a town in FYROM’s southwest which draws thousands of tourists from both countries daily.
Speaking to journalists, Kotzias, who also met with FYROM President Gjorge Ivanov and Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, suggested that reaching a solution to the name dispute would open the door to Skopje’s European Union and NATO ambitions.
“If and when the name issue is resolved and irredentism halted, our countries will walk together the path of EU and security structures,” he said.
“Our two countries need to live together in peace, cooperation and prosperity,” he said.
Speaking on the importance of a quadrilateral conference between Greece, Albania, Bulgaria and FYROM on cross-border cooperation, Kotzias said that the next meeting will take place in October.