NEWS

Last toss of FYROM dice

The UN mediator appointed to find a solution to the name dispute between Athens and Skopje is to make a final attempt to resolve the issue before possibly stepping down, sources told Kathimerini yesterday, while the EU said it would not intervene in the dispute. Matthew Nimetz has been the UN’s special envoy on the FYROM name issue since December 1999 but after his second failed attempt to resolve differences between the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece, his role has come under scrutiny. Athens rejected his most recent proposal on Saturday, while Skopje turned down a previous one in April. Greece was indignant at the latest plan put forward by Nimetz and has refused to back him publicly. Even yesterday, the support from Athens was weak. «He (Nimetz) has been appointed mediator by the United Nations,» said Deputy Foreign Minister Evripidis Stylianidis when asked yesterday whether Athens considered Nimetz a reliable negotiator. «I am not a suitable person to assess mediators but the process continues. We have taken these sort of backward steps many times in the past,» Stylianidis added. Sources at the UN told Kathimerini that after his latest failure to bring the two sides together, Nimetz will put forward a more daring proposal that may force both Athens and Skopje to make some compromises. The Foreign Ministry was busy contacting top EU officials yesterday to inform them of the latest developments on the FYROM issue. Foreign Minister Petros Molyviatis spoke to, among others, his counterpart from Britain – which holds the EU presidency – Jack Straw. Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis briefed EU Enlargement Commissioner Olli Rehn. However, Rehn distanced the EU from the matter, saying that it was a bilateral dispute which falls under the auspices of the UN, but encouraged both sides to maintain «constructive dialogue.» Rehn met with FYROM Prime Minister Vlado Buckovski to discuss his country’s progress toward becoming a candidate for EU membership. An EU report on FYROM’s progress is due on November 9 before a summit of the 25 leaders in December assesses the Balkan country’s suitability for accession talks.