Tuesday’s meeting in New York between United Nations special envoy Matthew Nimetz and negotiators from Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) will kick-start a two-week period of activity which could prove pivotal to the course of talks over name dispute that has divided the two countries for decades.
The meeting, which is expected to serve as a litmus test for the negotiations procedure, coincides with the start last week of direct contacts between the foreign ministers of both countries, Nikos Kotzias and Nikola Dimitrov.
The practical purpose of these contacts is purportedly to “unblock” negotiations whenever they are in trouble as both Kotzias and Dimitrov are reportedly in a race against time to ensure that a negotiated name proposal is presented by April the latest.
The same time frame was also suggested recently by FYROM’s Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Bujar Osmani.
The publicly expressed will of both sides to expedite procedures for a solution was also strongly reiterated in the meeting last week between the two foreign ministers in Thessaloniki.
Analysts reckon that if this good will is manifested in tomorrow’s talks in New York, then a meeting between prime ministers Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev at the World Economic Forum in Davos on January 23-26 should not be ruled out.
However, despite Zaev’s support for such a meeting, government officials in Athens say that such a meeting can only take place if there is substantial progress, or else it will be a publicity stunt.