United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz said Tuesday that the decades-old name dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) “can and must be resolved next year.”
“There is a real push for some resolution in the next months,” he said Tuesday in Brussels, where negotiations have resumed after a three-year hiatus.
In a joint conference with Greek government envoy Adamantios Vasilakis and FYROM’s Vasko Naumovski, Nimetz said that the meeting is an indication that all sides must intensify efforts to resolve the problem.
He stressed, moreover, that the talks were held in a “very good atmosphere,” noting that there is a positive vibe emanating from both capitals.
The government in Skopje, he said, has made the issue a top priority and intends to improve relations with Greece. He added that a solution to the dispute over what the tiny Balkan state calls itself will bring stability to the region.
Greece rejects Skopje’s use of the name Macedonia, saying it implies irredentist and territorial ambitions on the province of the same name in northern Greece.
The dispute has also raised obstacles to FYROM’s bids to join NATO and the European Union.
Nimetz said talks will intensify in January, February and March in New York and/or on European soil.
He added that “a magical new name” won’t appear from nowhere after so many years of deadlock, implying that the solution will be sought based on the proposals that have already been tabled by the two sides.
The American diplomat said he had listened to both sides and tried to understand their positions.
A solution, he said, requires “hard work, political will and good diplomacy.”
Reports in Athens said that Greek negotiators arrived in Brussels to discuss the methodology that will be employed in negotiations, and not to discuss the name.
FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told media in Skopje Tuesday that he believes the talks in coming days will confirm the will of both sides to reach a solution “to the problem Greece has with our constitutional name.”