The timing for negotiations between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) regarding the latter’s name is “ideal,” US Ambassador to Athens Geoffrey Pyatt said on Monday.
Pyatt made his comment while visiting the northern port city of Thessaloniki for a meeting with its mayor, Yiannis Boutaris, who has been openly in favor of a solution to the decades-old dispute between the two Balkan neighbors.
According to the ANA-MPA news agency, Pyatt said that the change of leadership in Skopje to the social democrat government of Zoran Zaev creates the conditions for constructive talks with Athens’s leftist-led government.
Boutaris, for his part, briefed Pyatt on his own initiatives to break the deadlock with Skopje, the ANA-MPA said.
The Thessaloniki mayor had hosted Zaev in the port city during an unofficial visit on New Year’s Eve, with the two men sharing a meal at a fish tavern, seen by observers as a sign that Skopje is ready to give up claims to the northern Greek region of Macedonia.
Pyatt and Boutaris also discussed the US’s participation in September’s Thessaloniki International Fair as guest of honor, with the American ambassador saying that the event would also be promoted in Athens.
Student exchanges were also on the meeting’s agenda.