Name talks are under way

Talks aimed at ending the dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) began in New York last night as Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis made it clear that Athens would not accept a dual name as solution to the dispute. The United Nations’ special mediator Matthew Nimetz met with Greek Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis in the Manhattan hotel where the Greek diplomat is staying. Vassilakis informed Nimetz of Athens’s reaction and position on the proposal that the UN official had made to Greece and FYROM last week. After a short break, during which Vassilakis contacted the Foreign Ministry in Athens, Nimetz returned for a second round of talks. Following his meeting with Vassilakis, Nimetz was due to meet with FYROM’s ambassador Nikola Dimitrov later last night. It is thought that the negotiations could drag on through the weekend with the two sides appearing to be poles apart. Nimetz has proposed five composite names to replace the acronym FYROM. The name favored by Athens – as it gives a geographical determination and clearly distinguishes FYROM from the Greek region of Macedonia – is the Republic of Upper Macedonia. Another of Nimetz’s proposals – New Republic of Macedonia – would be subject to debate if it were modified to Republic of New Macedonia, sources in Athens have said. Karamanlis confirmed this in Parliament yesterday when he said that Greece would not accept any name that refers to the type of polity in FYROM, such as Constitutional Republic of Macedonia. He also emphasized that Greece would only agree to a solution that would be used by its neighbors in all its relations, not just the bilateral ones with Greece. «The aim is to achieve a mutually acceptable solution based on a truly composite name that will be applicable to all, erga omnes,» said the premier. Karamanlis reiterated his threat to block FYROM’s entry into NATO if the name dispute is not resolved. «The intransigence of our neighbor is dashing its ambitions to join NATO and the European Union,» said Karamanlis. «If there is no settlement, the neighboring country cannot aspire to join NATO. Our position – no solution, no invite – is clear.»

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