Name is the key, UN says

Finding a solution to the Macedonia name dispute is the key to settling all differences between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz said yesterday following separate talks with representatives from both countries in New York. «I have always believed that the name issue is solvable and that if we reach an agreement on the name, it will open the way to solving many other issues,» Nimetz said. The UN envoy was responding to reporters who questioned him about a request in a letter sent to him by FYROM Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski for the recognition of the self-proclaimed Macedonian Orthodox Church. «The church issue was always complicated,» Nimetz said. But the envoy stressed that breaking the name deadlock was the way forward. «There are many issues between the two countries – some of them are long-term, some are short-term issues – but I think both countries agree that the core issue is the name,» Nimetz added. The envoy also suggested that he has been entrusted only with the name issue, an apparent rebuff of attempts by Gruevski to persuade the envoy to bring other issues onto the negotiating table. «There is a UN resolution and an agreement between the two countries and my mandate is on the name issue,» Nimetz said. Diplomats yesterday told Kathimerini that FYROM government officials have frequently called for the recognition of the so-called Macedonian Orthodox Church and for the renaming of Thessaloniki’s Macedonia airport, another of Gruevski’s appeals in his letter to Nimetz. The FYROM premier’s letter to the UN mediator was the latest in a string of notes sent out from Skopje to officials of the UN, NATO and the European Union as well as government leaders. Nimetz said yesterday that he plans to visit Skopje at some point next week, accepting an invitation by FYROM government officials. The UN envoy was also to discuss the possibility of a visit to Athens with Greece’s negotiator Adamantios Vassilakis.