Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias heads to Vienna for talks on Thursday and Friday with his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) which are expected to determine the course of negotiations over a longstanding name dispute.
Kotzias will meet Nikola Dimitrov for the second time in a week under the aegis of United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz.
The talks have so far stumbled on the Greek demand for FYROM to revise its constitution to rid it of any irredentist claims to Greece’s northern province of Macedonia.
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Wednesday that the government doesn’t want just “any solution” but one that will stand the test of time and “safeguard our history and our heritage and at the same time cancel out any irredentism from the other side (FYROM).”
However, Skopje shows no signs of backing down from its demand that the country’s “Macedonian” identity and language are recognized, which is something Greece does not accept.
In a recent interview, Dimitrov noted that there was progress in his previous meeting with Kotzias but insisted that Greece must compromise on the issue of identity.
The essence of a compromise, he said, hinges on two pillars. The first, he added, is a name with a geographical qualifier which will differentiate “Macedonia” from Greek Macedonia. He said that the second pillar is Greece’s acceptance that its neighbors are “Macedonians” who speak the “Macedonian” language.
Skopje’s goal, he noted, is to reach a solution that will secure FYROM’s “Macedonian” identity without “humiliation.”
Kotzias had said on Tuesday that Greece has a long and glorious history and must not fear reaching a compromise with a small state “that still hasn’t found its identity.” “Of course,” he said, “we cannot agree that the country will be called ‘Macedonia.’”