A street bookseller reads a book at a stall at the main square of FYROM capital Skopje.
Athens sees next week’s meeting in Sofia between Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Nikola Dimitrov, on the sidelines of the European Union’s Informal Meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers, as a crash test for its diplomatic strategies in the name dispute.
First and foremost among these strategies is the drafting of a proposal by Athens that could form the basis of discussions between the two countries to resolve the decades-old dispute.
Analysts say the political situation in FYROM and the efforts by its prime minister, Zoran Zaev, to strike a delicate balance between “realism” and the influence of Slav-Macedonian nationalists, will be defining elements that will, to a large extent, dictate the outcome of negotiations between Athens and Skopje.
Sources close to the negotiations have likened them to “reconnaissance flights” and say that the real “operational” negotiations begin now.
So far, Athens and Skopje appear to be closing in on the name Gorna Makedonija (Upper Macedonia) but remain very far apart in other aspects of the negotiations, especially those to do with nationality and language.
Greece does not recognize there is a “Macedonian” nation.