Nimetz proposal due today

The United Nations mediator in the Macedonia name dispute is today expected to make his new proposal to diplomats from Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) following separate talks with the representatives in New York yesterday. The UN’s Matthew Nimetz is expected to announce his proposal following tripartite talks with the representatives that are due to conclude this afternoon. Tension was high in Athens yesterday as it is thought to be the last effort by the UN mediator in this round of talks. Diplomats in Athens said they believed Nimetz will probably suggest some type of «dual name solution» – a scenario that Greece has consistently rejected. It is thought that the UN envoy will propose one composite name that defines FYROM geographically in relation to Greece, to be used by international organizations and alliances, and a different name to be used by FYROM and other countries in their bilateral relations. It is believed that the envoy will propose this solution as a concession to FYROM because, according to sources, the reference to ethnicity on the passports of FYROM citizens will include the composite name, which is expected to be acceptable to Greece. Earlier this week sources in Athens had said that hopes for a breakthrough in New York were not high, chiefly due to the intransigent stance of FYROM Premier Nikola Gruevski. Greece’s envoy Adamantios Vassilakis has been instructed not to give an immediate response to Nimetz but to return with the new UN proposal to Athens, where it will be studied. There are fears that Gruevski’s hardline stance will be «imported» into the UN-buffered talks, given that an aide to the premier is accompanying FYROM’s representative Nikola Dimitrov on the New York trip. In a related development, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in FYROM yesterday to attend a meeting of regional defense ministers in the southwestern resort of Ohrid. He is expected to press FYROM leaders to pursue settlement of the name issue so that the country can join NATO.

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