The UN mediator in the Macedonia-Greece ‘name’ dispute, Matthew Nimetz, has called fresh meetings with the two countries’ negotiators next Monday and Tuesday in New York.The mediator’s office said that Macedonian negotiator Zoran Jolevski and Greece’s Adamantios Vassilakis will first have separate meetings with Nimetz to assess the status of the name talks.
The goal is to make progress towards “finding a mutually acceptable name solution”, Nimetz’s office said, noting that both sides have accepted the call.
The meetings come ahead of the December summit of the European Council at which EU ministers should decide whether to extend a start date for Macedonia’s EU membership talks.
In October, Macedonia obtained its fourth recommendation in a row for a start to EU membership talks as part of a generally positive European Commission progress report.
But Europe has not offered a start date for talks owing to a Greek blockade, related to the dispute over Macedonia’s name.
Greece insists that Macedonia’s name implies territorial claims to its own northern province, also called Macedonia.
Both countries are engaged in long-standing talks in the UN to resolve the issue but these have not led to a breakthrough.
The last time officials from Greece and Macedonia met head to head was in September in New York where Foreign Ministers Dimitris Avramopoulos and Nikola Poposki exchanged pleasantries but held no substantive talks on the dispute.
Following their meeting, both countries mulled the idea of signing a bilateral memorandum of understanding that would pave the way towards a name solution but they failed to be more concrete about it.