The UN mediator in the ‘name’ dispute, Matthew Nimetz, sounded optimistic after wrapping up a fresh round of talks with both sides in New York – but provided no details.After a two-hour joint meeting with Macedonia’s negotiator, Zoran Jolevski and Greece’s Adamantios Vassilakis, UN mediator Nimetz said he saw signs of hope.
This was because they had spent the entire time discussing “the substance of the issues, which I found gratifying,” he said.
Positions on both sides had “crystalized”, and, “We have decided that we would meet again relatively soon, though we have not set a date”, Nimetz said.
Avoiding giving a direct answer to questions about a concrete solution to the row, Nimetz said: “It’s not up in the clouds. It’s coming down to reality and I feel generally that the process is a constructive one, so I am not at all disappointed”.
Neither Jolevski nor Vassilakis offered more details about the ideas that had been discussed.
Nimetz said a number of countries were following the negotiations, urging the two parties to reach a solution. “I think that’s very helpful,” he said.
The fresh talks are part of a new effort to reach a compromise following a recent statement by the EU Council, which said that any decision on opening accession talks for Macedonia would be based on a report by the European Commission, due to be published this spring.
The report will assess whether Macedonia has made genuine steps towards reaching a deal with Greece over its name.
Greece insists that Macedonia’s name implies territorial claims to its own northern province, also called Macedonia.
Macedonia has obtained annual recommendations for a start to EU membership talks in European Commission reports since 2009.
But it has never been offered a date for the talks because of the Greek blockade, related to the dispute over its name.