NEWS

Papandreou, Gruevski push name talks

Prime Minister George Papandreou and his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Nikola Gruevski met for the second time in a week yesterday, as the prospect of the two countries settling the dispute over the latter country’s name appears to be growing stronger. The two leaders met on the sidelines of the summits the Southeast European Cooperation Process (SEECP) and Southeast European Culture Corridors in Istanbul and both suggested in their public comments that progress is being made. «With Nikola, we have taken an initiative and have made a fresh effort to confront the problem that continues to trouble both countries,» said Papandreou, who has taken an active role in trying to resolve the problem by speaking directly to Gruevski. However, the Greek premier stressed that the United Nations still has a role to play. «The UN mediation process played an important role and we are ready for a solution that can be accepted by the two parties. These negotiations are not secret but rather open and public initiatives for finding a solution within the framework of the UN-led negotiations.» Papandreou and Gruevski met last week in Brussels on the sidelines of the European Council summit amid reports that the two sides are likely agree on the use of the Vardar River, the longest river running through FYROM, as a geographical qualifier in the country’s name. So, rather than Republic of Macedonia, Greece’s neighbor would be known as Republic of Vardar Macedonia or Republic of Macedonia (Vardar). «Athens understands now that Macedonia wants a solution,» said Gruevski. «These meetings are useful and increase the probability that a solution will be found.» FYROM’s prime minister added that the two sides were seeking a solution that would «not hurt Greece, nor Macedonia and its citizens, who will voice their opinion in a referendum.»