As Athens and Skopje appear to be edging towards a solution on the Macedonia name dispute, reports indicated on Thursday that the Republic of Northern Macedonia (Severna Makedonija) is the likeliest settlement.
Another two names, of the original five proposals made by United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz, remain on the table, sources said. But Northern Macedonia is expected to prevail.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is expected to speak with his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Zoran Zaev, by telephone very soon and the two men will meet in the coming days, and certainly before a European Union leaders’ summit on June 28.
On Wednesday, Zaev said a deal was very close and indicated that an agreement would have to be ratified by FYROM’s Parliament before a referendum.
FYROM’s president Gjorge Ivanov took a different stance, however, rejecting Greece’s demands that the Balkan country’s new name be “erga omnes,” meaning applicable both domestically and internationally, and that FYROM change its constitution to reflect the changes. He dismissed speculation of a breakthrough in talks, referring to “a personal agreement” between Zaev and Tsipras.”
Meanwhile, the organizers of two large demonstrations against the use of the term Macedonia by FYROM earlier this year announced on Thursday that more rallies will be held next Wednesday in 13 cities across the region of Macedonia.
Addressing a press conference in Athens, a member of the organizing committee, Michalis Patsikas, said another rally will be held in Athens on the day that a solution containing the word Macedonia comes to Greece’s Parliament. He called on protesters to bring Greek flags to the demonstrations but stressed that “extremist individuals and behaviors” are not welcome.
The rallies next Wednesday are planned for Pella, Kavala, Drama, Serres, Kilkis, Polykastro, Lagada, Nea Moudania, Edessa, Florina, Kastoria, Ptolemaida and Katerini.
Meanwhile, in a move of significant symbolism, FYROM’s schismastic Orthodox Christian church has appealed to join the ranks of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
The Ecumenical Patriarchate’s Holy Synod has said it is considering a request from the leadership of FYROM’s church to be inducted under the name “Archbishopric of Ohrid,” as it plans to give up its identity as “Church of Macedonia.”
The request came with a letter from Zaev addressed to Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios.
The move is seen as significant as it comes in the wake of reactions from the Ecumenical Patriarchate to a request last November from the FYROM church to join the Church of Bulgaria, which supported the claim.
That incident had prompted a strongly worded reaction from Vartholomaios, who said that “the action of the sister church of Bulgaria was wrong. It complicates matters.”
“The mother church of all Balkan nations is that of Constantinople,” Vartholomaios said.