Need for patience and resolve

The stage is set. The USA is trying to avert a Greek veto by initiating a last-gasp round of frenetic bargaining. It is trying to transform Matthew Nimetz from a mediator into an unofficial arbitrator. In this climate, any side that rejects his proposal will pay a hefty political price, for it will appear to be defying the UN. Washington cares little about the substance of the issue. It wants to be rid of the problem. But Athens has no reason to be led astray in Bucharest. It is in the interests of both parties to find a lasting, realistic solution. It is they, not the USA, who will have to live with the consequences. Bucharest is just one more phase, talks can still continue afterward. FYROM is not facing a «now or never» ultimatum on its NATO accession. Athens has displayed good will by participating in the rather awkward talks arranged by Washington in Brussels. The two sides, however, have not yet reached the point where an agreement is likely and Nimetz’s new proposal is too stale to hold any promise. «Republic of Macedonia (Skopje)» is ridiculous and insulting to our neighbors. The country’s Slav-Macedonian leadership may accept it in the well-founded belief that the clumsy parentheses will eventually disappear in practice. But such slyness is no basis for good relations. Nimetz’s proposal also imposes a composite name, but there are no guarantees that it will be obligatory in international relations. The solution to the problem lies in its roots, not its branches. Instead of certain people in Athens demanding impossible guarantees, the amendment of FYROM’s constitution should be set as a condition. Otherwise, Athens will find itself chasing after third countries to use the new composite name in all their bilateral relations with Skopje. It will find itself trapped with a Sisyphean task, expending valuable political capital in the process.

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