Name talks at crucial juncture


Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias’s intention to brief party leaders next week on the progress of talks over the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia with his FYROM counterpart is seen by analysts as an indication that developments are on the way.

Kotzias will attend talks on Friday in Vienna with FYROM Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov and United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz at a crucial juncture in the negotiations to resolve the decades-long dispute.

Most opposition parties are in agreement in their anticipation that Kotzias will return from Vienna having drafted a comprehensive framework within which negotiations will move.

Analysts say that if the meeting with Dimitrov and Nimetz goes well and there is a prospect for an agreement, Kotzias is expected to sound out the intentions of opposition leaders during meetings on Monday or Tuesday, so that the government will have a good idea about who it can rely on before it brings a deal to Parliament.

For his part, New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis has said he will not meet with Kotzias for a briefing.

In comments Thursday, New Democracy’s shadow minister for foreign affairs Giorgos Koumoutsakos said that Mitsotakis would, however, have no problem with being briefed directly by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Tsipras has underlined the need for a “lasting solution,” even as his leftist SYRIZA and junior coalition partner Independent Greeks (ANEL) disagree about what compromises a potential settlement should entail.

ANEL leader Panos Kammenos has repeatedly stated in no uncertain terms that his party will never accept a solution that allows FYROM to use the term “Macedonia.”

The regional governor for Central Macedonia, Apostolos Tzitzikostas, echoed the same sentiment, saying on Wednesday that the only solution that “will stand” is one that does not include the term “Macedonia.”

Before his arrival in Vienna, Kotzias made a pit stop in Tirana, where he agreed with his Albanian counterpart Dmitri Bushati to intensify talks between their two countries so that they can conclude a total of nine agreements by the summer, including one demarcating their exclusive economic zones in the Ionian Sea.