NEWS

UN envoy mulling name talks freeze

The United Nations mediator entrusted with breaking the Macedonia name deadlock is considering the possibility of «freezing» talks if Skopje maintains its uncooperative stance until a UN general assembly late next month, sources have told Kathimerini. According to the sources, the UN’s Matthew Nimetz has been annoyed by fresh comments made over the weekend by the prime minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Nikola Gruevski, according to which Skopje will not accept a single name solution to the dispute. These remarks by Gruevski surprised even FYROM President Branko Crvenkovski, sources in Skopje said. Nimetz reportedly had warned Gruevski, when the two men met in Skopje last week, that his intransigence could lead to the imposition of a six-month talks freeze. But the UN envoy was reassured that Skopje was ready to press on with negotiations, sources said. Meanwhile, Athens has been irked by another comment by Gruevski. The FYROM premier said Nimetz expressed interest in the issue of a self-proclaimed «Macedonian Orthodox Church» ahead of his visit to Mount Athos last weekend. Greek diplomats confirmed that Nimetz raised the issue during talks with Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios at Mount Athos. But there is no evidence that the issue was a key topic of discussion. Greece’s Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said Nimetz carried «the sole responsibility for hindering talks and, by extension, the Euroatlantic prospects of FYROM.»