Fresh round of ‘Macedonia’ talks

The United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz yesterday wrote to Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to invite representatives of the two countries to a new round of name talks as splits begin to appear in the Skopje leadership. Sources said that Nimetz has asked Greece’s Adamantios Vassilakis and FYROM’s Dimitri Dimitrov to again sit at the negotiating table in New York on August 14 and 15 in a bid to resolve the dispute over the name of Athens’s neighbor. The talks looked to have received a serious dent due to the decision of FYROM’s Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski to raise the issue of a supposed «Macedonian minority» in Greece, first with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis, then with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso. Gruevski’s letter-writing exploits provoked the anger of Athens and a swift response from Barroso, who advised FYROM to try and improve its relations with Greece. Athens also hoped that Gruevski’s move would help convince its European partners that it is not the one preventing a deal being reached on the name issue. The letters also prompted criticism from FYROM’s President Branko Crvenkovski, who has distanced himself from Gruevski’s foreign policy. On Saturday, meanwhile, Crven-kovski made his mark on the domestic political scene by pardoning Zoran Zaev, the deputy leader of the opposition Social Democrat Party, who had been accused of corruption. The move also led to the end of a boycott of FYROM’s parliament by two factions.