NEWS

Skopje hints at more delays in name deal

DORA ANTONIOU

TAGS: Diplomacy

With talks between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to resolve the dispute over the latter’s name intensifying, FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev insisted on Thursday that even though he is “optimistic” there is still enough time for a deal before the European Council on June 28-29.

“Although it is not easy, it is a very sensitive issue,” he said, adding that it is “very important to find a sustainable and permanent solution that would be 100 percent safe for future generations.”

Zaev reportedly said that he would like to speak with his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras on the phone on Friday, noting however that there is still time before the European Council.

“Maybe we are going to call Athens and it might happen very soon. I won’t comment on anything else since everything was said in the Foreign Ministry statement,” he was quoted as saying.

His remarks were preceded earlier in the day by a statement by FYROM’s Foreign Ministry that hinted there could more delays before a final deal is reached.

“The quality of the text of the agreement and the need to reach a lasting and sustainable solution acceptable to both sides by far outweigh the necessity of meeting any deadlines for the finalization of the process,” it said.

Government and diplomatic sources in Athens responded by accusing Skopje of trying to mask domestic opposition to a deal by shifting the blame for the delays to Athens. They added the the statement “is not addressed to us.”

The Greek prime minister’s office insists that the ball remains in Skopje’s court and that Zaev must resolve problems on the domestic front before he can commit to the next step in the quest for a final deal.

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