UN mediator meets Kotzias in Athens, as Greek FM emphasizes use of name in Slavic


The United Nations’ special mediator on the name dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is in Athens for a meeting with Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias.

Ahead of that he is to meet with George Koumoutsakos, New Democracy's shadow minister for foreign affairs.

Nimetz will then head to Skopje on Wednesday in a visit that is intended to build on the momentum created after the prime ministers of the two countries met on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Switzerland last week in what the special negotiator has described as a “historic meeting” that raises optimism for a solution.

On Monday night, Kotzias appeared upbeat about the course of talks and said that while the Greek side is not obliged to agree with every proposal put forward by Nimetz, he is not prepared to engage in a “public war” with the UN envoy.

“Mr. Nimetz has made some proposals that we do not necessarily agree with,” Kotzias said in an interview with state broadcaster ERT. “What matters is that the word used in a composite name is not in English, but in Slavic.”

The Greek foreign minister was referring to objections raised in Greece – including from the government’s junior nationalist partner – to the use of the word “Macedonia” in any solution, as it may suggest territorial claims over the northern Greek region.

His statement on Monday night suggests that the government would accept a solution containing the word “Makedonia” but not “Macedonia,” while Greece has long maintained that the solution should also include a geographical qualifier.

Kotzias also said that any solution must also include changes that will be enshrined in FYROM’s constitution, though he stressed that Prime Minister Zoran Zaev does not have the majority he would need to get this done without the support of the opposition.

“If we do not show goodwill then Skopje will have the right to take recourse,” Kotzias said in an interview with state broadcaster ERT.