Face to face on FYROM

Greece’s dispute with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over the neighboring country’s name is «solvable» and a new round of direct talks between Athens and Skopje, under United Nations supervision, in January will aim to do just that, UN envoy Matthew Nimetz said yesterday. Nimetz met with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and Premier Costas Karamanlis in Athens and confirmed that Greece’s negotiator Adamantios Vassilakis and his FYROM counterpart Nikola Dimitrov would meet, possibly in Ohrid, after the Christmas holidays. «I think everyone recognizes… that stability in the region and cooperation is extremely important and can’t be achieved without this issue being resolved,» said Nimetz, who indicated he is hopeful that the latest flurry of diplomatic activity may lead to a settlement. «The next meeting we’ll have will go into depth on the issue. «I believe this is a solvable problem… some international issues cannot be solved but this is one that cries out for a solution because the positives of solving it are so great,» added Nimetz, indicating that a deal could also help stability in the region at a time when there is anxiety over the future of Kosovo. The UN mediator, who visited FYROM earlier this week, confirmed that he had discussed «ideas about names» with Bakoyannis and Karamanlis but refused to reveal details. Athens has indicated that it is willing to accept a composite name for FYROM that clearly differentiates it from the Greek region of Macedonia. «Our government has sent a very clear message to the other side,» said Bakoyannis. «We hope that Skopje will abandon its underlying position of intransigence and come to these upcoming talks with constructive positions.» A specific date has not been set for next month’s talks.