No progress likely on name issue

Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis addressed the United Nations Security Council yesterday just hours after talks with UN special mediator Matthew Nimetz indicated that there is unlikely to be any significant progress on the Macedonia name issue in the near future. Bakoyannis was speaking in New York in her capacity as chairperson of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), of which Greece currently holds the rotating presidency. Bakoyannis said that Greece would try to encourage the OSCE to take a more prominent role in managing international crises, which would mean working more closely with other organizations such as the UN. Apart from monitoring the situation in Georgia, restructuring the international presence in Kosovo is also high on the OSCE agenda, according to Bakoyannis. Earlier, the foreign minister had focused on issues of purely Greek interest during talks with Nimetz but sources said that the two diplomats simply reviewed the state of affairs and that both agreed that there is little point in attempting to revive negotiations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) at this point. Nimetz is said to have pointed out that FYROM is due to hold presidential and local elections on March 22, while Greece has European parliamentary polls lined up for June 7 and that experience has shown that pre-election periods are not conducive to producing meaningful positions from either side. According to sources, Nimetz is due to pay a visit to Athens and Skopje in April, more as a symbolic gesture than with the aim of achieving any progress. Meanwhile, a fresh incident caused friction between Greece and FYROM yesterday when the head of the Greek Liaison Office in Skopje, Alexandra Papadopoulou, left a cultural event in the city due to the host country being referred to as the Republic of Macedonia. FYROM Culture Minister Elizabeta Kanceska-Milevska accused Greece of trying to «politicize a cultural event.»

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