Name talks may drag for months

The Macedonia name dispute will probably not be resolved by early next month, in accordance with Washington’s desires, and is likely to drag on until the fall, diplomatic sources told Kathimerini following a meeting between Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Berlin yesterday. For a settlement to be reached by the second week of July, «we would have to move at the speed of light,» the source said. Diplomats said that Rice pressed upon Bakoyannis Washington’s desire for a speedy settlement to the name dispute. But Bakoyannis impressed on Rice that Athens is eager to reach a compromise and that it is Skopje that is maintaining an intransigent stance. Tensions intensified ahead of elections earlier this month which hampered the negotiation process even further. Bakoyannis reportedly condemned Skopje’s calls for a national referendum to approve a new name for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and said that any settlement would have to be rubber-stamped by the United Nations Security Council. According to sources, Athens is not expecting any swift developments on the issue, as Rice did not give the impression that Washington was planning on applying any pressure on Skopje to reach a compromise. Greek diplomats reportedly expressed their objection to any reference to a «Macedonian» ethnicity and language in any official document sealing a settlement. The UN’s mediator in the name dispute, Matthew Nimetz, is due in Athens tomorrow and in Skopje on Friday.