Nimetz’s end game

Matthew Nimetz is a distinguished lawyer and an extremely capable mediator. So it is unlikely he is suddenly behaving in a foolish and irresponsible manner. Even so, the new proposal he submitted for a solution to the official name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia has justifiably infuriated all of Greece. The knee-jerk reaction is to consider his proposal as dictated by Washington. But a person as capable and ambitious as Nimetz would probably not meekly carry out orders. He took into account American priorities toward the Balkans at the talks on clarifying the situation in Kosovo, whose independence would boost the irredentist tendencies of the Albanians in FYROM. The objective of US policy is to get FYROM into NATO and to strengthen its ties with the EU. For that to be achieved, the long-running name issue had to be resolved for once and for all. A few months ago, Nimetz, who is well acquainted with the present impasse, submitted a proposal which Athens viewed in a positive light but which Skopje rejected out of hand. His recent proposal faithfully reflected the views of the FYROM government and was absolutely unacceptable to Greece. Having fully revealed the impasse, Nimetz will make a compound proposal of his own. It would be deeply disturbing if the Greek government was really caught napping. It would also be depressing if the government thought Washington’s rhetoric about Greece as a strategic partner in the Balkans had any substance or that the purchase of F-16 aircraft by Greece would alter American priorities in the region. Whatever the solution, it will be disheartening because a question of national importance was submitted to international arbitration. But it would be unexpectedly positive if the government did indeed proceed to hold a referendum on the issue.