Greek Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said Thursday during a visit to Skopje that he senses an extra urgency among officials in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to resolve the name dispute with Greece.
Venizelos was speaking after talks with the neighboring country’s Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, President Gjorge Ivanov and Foreign Minister Nikola Popovski.
Skopje was one of the stops on Venizelos’s tour of the Balkans as part of Greece’s European Union presidency. He said he would invite Popovski to a meeting of European and Western Balkan ministers in Thessaloniki in April.
Popovski expressed displeasure that Venizelos did not join him for statements after their meeting, suggesting this was because the Greek foreign minister did not want to stand in front of a backdrop that read Republic of Macedonia. Venizelos said the decisions of the EU leaders’ summit in December underlined the need for FYROM to maintain good-neighborly relations, not just resolve the name dispute, if it is to join the EU.