US-FYROM ‘pact’ upsets diplomats

Athens yesterday expressed displeasure in the wake of allegations that a confidential US government document indicates secret cooperation between Skopje and Washington on the Macedonia name dispute. The only negotiations permitted on the name issue are those being mediated by United Nations representative Matthew Nimetz, Greece’s Foreign Ministry spokes-man Giorgos Koumoutsakos said in reaction to a report in yesterday’s Ethnos exposing the alleged cooperation. The newspaper printed extracts from the document suggesting that Greece should be bypassed on the the issue of a supposed Macedonian identity and language. «The language and nationality would be called ‘Macedonian’ but this could be handled tacitly perhaps as an annex… or in some other internal UN document not subject to Greek review/approval,» the text reads. The document was reportedly sent from the US Embassy in Skopje to the US State Department in July, well before Nimetz made his proposal to envoys from Athens and Skopje earlier this month. Nimetz proposed that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) be renamed the «Republic of Northern Macedonia.» According to sources, he also raised the issue of a supposed Macedonian language and identity, provoking the anger of Greece, which says it is groundless and has no place in the name talks. Neither side has provided any official response to the proposal yet, with both Athens and Skopje insisting that it should be subject to «several changes.» Reacting to the report yesterday, Koumoutsakos did not directly comment on any alleged cooperation between the USA and FYROM on the Macedonia name issue but reiterated Greece’s stance «which remains clear – a composite name with a geographical determination.»