NEWS

Athens welcomes pledge by FYROM's Zaev to move on name

People look for souvenirs at a stall at the main square of Skopje on Tuesday.

TAGS: Politics, Diplomacy

The prime minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, said on Tuesday that Skopje is ready to accept a geographical qualifier to its name and that it has already followed through on pledges of good will to Athens.

Zaev said his cabinet decided on Tuesday to rename its capital’s airport “Skopje International Airport” from the current “Alexander the Great International Airport” and to rename a key national highway “National Friendship Road” instead of the current “National Road Alexander the Macedonian.”

If FYROM authorities make good on these pledges imminently, along with Zaev’s promise to accept a geographical qualifier, the momentum in United Nations-mediated name talks could gather pace. 

The Greek Foreign Ministry welcomed FYROM’s move to rename the airport and highway, referring to a “positive step toward reversing what has happened in the past decade and created tensions in the relations between the two countries.” It also referred to an “important development in the direction of dealing with irredentism.”

“We hope that it marks the start of a new chapter in the relations between our two countries and peoples,” it said.

Zaev also responded to claims by Kotzias according to which FYROM authorities have dragged their feet in briefing the public about the progress of negotiations on the “Macedonia” name issue.

“The public has been fully informed,” Zaev said. “A solution is reachable and it is to this purpose that negotiations are under way.” 

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