Athens, Skopje Agree on Boosting Name Talks

The coming visit of the UN “name” mediator Matthew Nimetz to Athens and Skopje should be used for boosting efforts to find a solution to the dispute, Macedonian Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki and his Greek counterpart, Dimitris Droutsas, agreed Thursday at their bilateral meeting in London.

The parley between the ministers lasted half an hour and took place on the sidelines of the international conference on the future of Afghanistan.

The meeting was “well-timed,” Milososki told media.

“We both think that Nimetz’s visit to Skopje and Athens in late February or early March will be a good opportunity for Macedonia and Greece to once again outline their positions on the name issue. The countries can also encourage the UN mediator to boost his engagement in the talks,” he said.

Greek Foreign Minister Droutsas also pointed to the UN framework as a good basis for a solution. Athens expects “substantive and constructive participation” by Skopje on the issue, Greek news agency ANA MPA reported.

Milososki, whose office requested the meeting, presented a proposal for the upgrading of the diplomatic missions of the two countries, which are currently at the liaison level. The prospects for the signing of an agreement on the avoidance of double taxation were also discussed.

The Greek side reportedly said it would look at the proposals in good spirit.

Athens and Skopje are engaged in an 18 year long dispute over the use of the name Macedonia. The row has left Skopje on the doorsteps of NATO and the EU as Athens, a member of both organizations, has blocked its accession bids.

Athens insists that the name Republic of Macedonia implies territorial claims towards its own northern province which is also called Macedonia.

Skopje, however, sees this as unprincipled pressure on the part of Athens that threatens to strip the small nation of its identity.

Macedonia’s Milososki also had a short meeting in London with the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. He detailed Macedonia’s “name” position and the two discussed Macedonia’s contribution to the Afghan mission.

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