NEWS

FYROM friction unsettles Athens

Greek diplomats are growing increasingly pessimistic about the prospects of a solution to the Macedonia name dispute, as high-level political clashes persist in the neighboring country and nationalistic sentiment appears to be peaking, Kathimerini has learned. According to sources, the government of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is planning a public campaign to convince its people that their national identity is more important than the prospect of European Union membership. The move, which comes just a few days after the EU expressed serious reservations about Skopje’s prospects for joining the bloc, is being interpreted by Greek diplomats as a step backward by FYROM from the table of talks aimed at resolving the name spat. Officials in Skopje have not officially rejected a new proposal by the United Nations mediator in name talks – that their country be renamed the Republic of Northern Macedonia – but they have expressed serious concerns. Furthermore, the country’s prime minister, Nikola Gruevski, and President Branko Crven-kovski reportedly are still at loggerheads regarding how the name dispute should be resolved. Nimetz has been quoted as accusing Crvenkovski of trying to «sell out» the country’s «Macedonian identity.» Crvenkovski, who is regarded as the more moderate of the two politicians and recently criticized the premier’s approach to name talks in the past, appears to have adopted a more reconciliatory tone of late. But sources in Skopje say the two men are still struggling to see eye-to-eye. «Even when they agree, they disagree,» one Skopje-based reporter said.