NEWS

Greece irked by Nimetz’s new proposal

Athens yesterday expressed serious disappointment over a new proposal by a United Nations envoy aimed at resolving the Macedonia name dispute, saying it was not at all what Greece had expected. «The new proposal is a far cry from what Greece had been aiming for,» Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis told reporters after briefing Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis. Asked whether Greece would make good on its threat to veto Skopje’s bid to join NATO, Bakoyannis said that it would if the name spat was not resolved. UN envoy Matthew Nimetz did not say what his proposal was but sources told Kathimerini that it is «Republic of Macedonia (Skopje).» According to the same sources, the proposal foresees this name being adopted by international organizations but not printed on the passports of residents of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), as Athens had wanted. Further, the UN Security Council would recommend that countries use the term in their bilateral relations. But diplomats in Athens said this recommendation would be «very lax.» The spokesman of the Foreign Ministry, Giorgos Koumoutsakis, did not comment in detail on Nimetz’s proposal but remarked, «We are still far from a mutually acceptable solution.» Nimetz, for his part, said he had proposed the best compromise he could come up with. «A solution that works has to be a compromise, so it’s not 100 percent what either Athens or Skopje would like but I think it’s fair and honorable,» he said, adding that the proposal has a «geographic dimension.» The name Republic of Macedonia (Skopje) is reminiscent of a proposal made by Nimetz in 2005 – Republika Makedonija-Skopje – which Athens had accepted but Skopje had rejected. Athens has expressed its preference for a name that geographically distinguishes FYROM from Greece’s northern province of Macedonia. Skopje has said it does not want a name that defines it purely geographically. FYROM officials had not reacted to Nimetz’s latest proposal by late yesterday.