Ahead of name talks, German envoy upbeat on solution

Ahead of name talks, German envoy upbeat on solution

Talks scheduled to take place in Athens on Saturday between Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Nikola Dimitrov, on the Balkan country’s name are expected to be pivotal, diplomatic sources say.

The two men are to meet with United Nations special envoy Matthew Nimetz the day after a meeting of ministers from the so-called Visegrad Group and Western Balkan countries.

Although no snap deal is expected, there are hopes for progress that will then be examined by the Greek and FYROM prime ministers, Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev respectively, at a summit in Sofia next Wednesday.

Germany’s ambassador in Athens, Jens Ploetner, Thursday expressed his support for Greek diplomatic efforts to solve a longstanding dispute with FYROM over the latter’s official name, opining that the disagreement can be resolved despite the obstacles.

In a discussion with journalists from Kathimerini and other newspapers, Ploetner underlined the significance of Greece’s role as a stabilizing force in the region and emphasized the progress that Athens has achieved in UN-mediated negotiations with Skopje but also in bilateral talks with Tirana.

Berlin is of the opinion that a solution would benefit all sides, particularly FYROM and its prospects for joining NATO and the European Union, Ploetner said.

He also commented on Greece’s scheduled exit from its third international bailout in August, remarking that Athens will still have obligations even if the program is concluded successfully.

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