Macedonia, Greece Meeting Confirmed

Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas confirmed that he will meet his Macedonia counterpart Antonio Milososki later on Wednesday at the sidelines of the international conference on Afghanistan being held in London.

This meeting was announced in the latest press release by the Greek Foreign Ministry issued late Tuesday.

The parley comes at Milososki’s request. Announcing his meeting initiative last week, he said that Skopje and Athens have a lot to talk about. Besides mentioning the ongoing burning “name” issue, he said both countries should talk about ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation and friendship.

Local media have speculated that at the meeting Milososki might inform Droutsas that Skopje is ready for concessions if Athens loosens its position as well.

According to this scenario that came from unnamed Macedonian diplomats cited by media, Skopje would give up on the so-called double name formula, which Athens has deemed unacceptable, if Greece stops disputing the existence of a Macedonian identity.

While Athens has thus far insisted on a compromise name for its neighbor that would be used by all, Skopje has said that it is willing to change its name only in relations with Greece.

Speculations of new developments were additionally fueled after the last interview that Macedonian President Georgi Ivanov gave on Monday.

“The double formula is just one of the propositions we make to the Greek side”, Ivanov stated, hinting at the possibility of a not too distant solution to the 18 year-long spat.

The dispute involves quarrels over the use of the name Macedonia. Greece says that Macedonia’s name implies territorial claims against its own northern province, also called Macedonia.

Skopje has suffered an informal Greek blockade in EU and NATO over the row. In December Greece prevented Macedonia from getting the desired start date for its EU accession talks. In 2008, Greece also blocked Macedonia’s NATO accession over the same issue.

Observers expect that the UN sponsored negotiations will resume soon, possibly during the next month. The last idea mentioned as a possible compromise name was the name Northern Republic of Macedonia or some variant of it.

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