Reaching an agreement on a name dispute with Athens is key to opening the way for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to join the European Union, Greece’s prime minister stated Friday as reports said a United Nations mediator is expected in the Greek capital with a fresh plan next month.
Speaking after a two-day summit in Brussels, Prime Minister Antonis Samaras hailed a decision by EU leaders to reject Skopje’s request to be given a date for the start of membership talks with the bloc.
“There has been a very positive development,” Samaras said. “For the first time, the European Council unanimously decided that the settling of the name issue with Skopje is a prerequisite for accession talks to take place.
“The message to Skopje is clear: They have to take real steps to settle this difference. There are two keys to open the door. They hold one and Europe holds the other.”
Speaking in Brussels, FYROM Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski voiced his “disappointment” about the decision and blamed Greece for allegedly blocking the Balkan statelet’s EU path.
“This is not what our country deserves,” he said.
Meanwhile, reports Friday said the UN’s special mediator in the name row, Matthew Nimetz, will visit Athens in the second week of January to negotiate a fresh proposal. According to sources, the proposed name is not expected to be very different from the one Nimetz put forward in July 2009, which was “Republic of North Macedonia.”