NEWS

Nimetz gets ball rolling on name

The United Nations mediator on the Macedonia name dispute yesterday discussed a new «package of ideas» with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis in the first essential move toward a settlement since Athens vetoed Skopje’s bid to join NATO in early April. UN envoy Matthew Nimetz, who is due in Skopje today for talks, said he was seeking to sound out government officials from both sides before making a new proposal for a name settlement. According to sources, Nimetz has moved away from «double-barreled» names with hyphens. The Constitutional Republic of Macedonia is believed to be a new alternative, while New Macedonia, Upper Macedonia and Northern Macedonia are reportedly still on the table. Following his talks with Bakoyannis, Nimetz stressed that talks were focusing on finding an alternative name for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), «not on issues of identity and language,» which FYROM government officials have been attempting to raise in discussions. Nimetz refused to set a deadline for a settlement, saying that Greece and FYROM are not yet ready for bilateral talks. Earlier yesterday Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis called on the newly elected FYROM government «to leave behind the provocative rhetoric of the pre-election period so we can reach a mutually acceptable solution.» Bakoyannis stressed that such a solution should be «without conditions» – an apparent reference to Skopje’s demand that any name agreed upon in UN-mediated talks should be submitted to a national referendum.