There were no breakthroughs in the Athens-Skopje name gridlock after the prime ministers of the two countries, Nikola Gruevski and George Papandreou, met on Thursday in Brussels.
“The positions of Macedonia and Greece on the name issue in general remain far apart even after today’s meeting,” Macedonia’s Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki told reporters on Thursday.
“Expectations should be based on the reality of the Macedonian-Greek dispute, which is neither new nor simple and will certainly require a lot of effort and good will from both parties for progress to be made,” he explained.
Brussels had invested a lot of hope in the PM’s parley, the third since Papandreou took office last year. EU leaders hoped that the talks would help bring the nearly two decade long spat over the use of the name Macedonia to a conclusion. A resolution to the dispute will allow them to grant a start date for Macedonia’s EU accession talks. Greece currently blocks that move.
However these meetings may significantly contribute to better understanding, an improved atmosphere for negotiations and possibly to certain progress in bringing the two positions closer, Milososki said.
Milososki expects the UN mediator in the name talks, Matthew Nimetz, to invite the representatives of both countries for a new round of talks on the name issue in April.
He had no comment on the statement of Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas that the ‘Republic of North Macedonia’ could be an acceptable solution.
Skopje and Athens are locked in a long standing row over the use of the name Macedonia. Athens objects to Skopje’s official name, Republic of Macedonia, claiming that it implies territorial aspirations on Greece’s own northern province, also called Macedonia.
In 2008 Greece blocked Skopje from entering NATO because of the dispute, and Macedonia did not obtain a start date for accession talks with the EU in December last year over the same row.