FYROM hints at compromise

As Greek diplomats prepared for a scheduled visit today by United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz – his first since Athens vetoed Skopje’s bid to join NATO early this month – the political leadership of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) said it might be willing to compromise on the name dispute. Greece’s cross-party national foreign affairs committee debated the issue yesterday and representatives subsequently reported a general «consensus» as regards the country’s stance on negotiations. Nimetz, who had talks with political leaders in Skopje yesterday, said he did not expect a settlement to be reached before July, at least a month after scheduled early elections in FYROM. The envoy’s cautious outlook is believed to have been fueled by an apparent split in the neighboring country’s political leadership. FYROM’s president, Branko Crvenkovski, and its prime minister, Nikola Gruevski, spoke with Nimetz in separate meetings, which was regarded as odd. According to sources, Gruevski is displeased with recent comments by Nikola Dimitrov – FYROM’s representative in UN-buffered talks – as the latter proposed a cross-party approach to negotiations. Gruevski, whose party is in pre-election mode, was understandably irked by this prospect. Meanwhile, President Crvenkovski sought to appear open to change, saying, «We are ready for compromise but not for any (compromise).» It is thought that FYROM would show flexibility in settling upon its name if Athens recognizes the existence of a «Macedonian» language and ethnicity. In any case, he stressed that there was no point in procrastinating the dispute «because we would only face Greece again.»

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