UN Says Macedonia Name Mediator is Active

The mediator in the Skopje-Athens “name” dispute, Matthew Nimetz, is in contact with both parties, and he will set a fresh meeting if and when he sees appropriate, the UN press office said on Friday.

“Ambassador Nimetz is in very frequent contact with both parties, but he will not be responding to specific questions on substantive discussions. However, he will follow his usual practice of announcing formal meetings if and when they occur,” UN Deputy Spokesman Ari Gaitanis said in a written statement.

Nimetz has been relatively silent since February, when he visited Skopje and Athens in a bid to give a new push to the talks, which had been stalled for seven months.

During his visit local media speculated that the name ‘Republic of Northern Macedonia’ had been put on the table as a possible compromise, but no specific details were revealed.

Greek Foreign Ministry Spokesman Grigori Dalavecouras in his latest statement reiterated his government’s stand that a name with a geographic qualifier would be acceptable for Athens but he also insisted that if agreed, this name would have to be used for all purposes.

Skopje, meanwhile, has argued that its official name, Republic of Macedonia, has already been recognised by some 120 countries and that a possible compromise name should not apply to those countries.

Athens and Skopje have been locked in the name row for the past 18 years. Greece insists that Macedonia’s name implies territorial claims against its own northern province, also called Macedonia.

In 2008 Athens blocked Skopje’s attempts to join NATO and last autumn prevented Macedonia from getting a start date for its EU accession talks over the dispute.

As the June European Council summit draws closer, Macedonian President Georgi Ivanov in the town of Ohrid today expressed his hope that the doors to the EU will remain open for his country.

EU officials had said previously that they would once again review the possibility of offering Skopje a start date for accession talks at the summit, but without a solution to the name row few observers think a date will be extended.

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