Negotiations between Athens and Skopje lead to deadlock

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Map showing the Greek province of Macedonia(white/blue) and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia(red) in the Balkans.

The first part of the bi-lateral negotiations regarding the naming-dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, under the United Nations mediation, ended without agreement in New York. As the U.N. mediator Matthew Nimetz stated earlier there are "substantial differences" - and therefore important disagreements - between the two governments on his proposal made on 19 February, adding that during his separate meetings with the two ambassadors Vassilakis and Dimitrov on Friday, he was listened to the two sides’ questions and views on the issue.

Furthermore, it should be noted that the NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer will visit Athens on Monday morning and he will meet with the Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis regarding the name-dispute between Greece and FYRO Macedonia. The Greek government has made clear that if there is no agreement between the two sides (over the official use of the name 'Macedonia') Athens will veto FYRO Macedonia's process in becoming a member of NATO. Yesterday, Karamanlis stated in a Parliament speech that Greece's "will for a mutually accepted solution is genuine. Our position ’no solution-no invitation’, is clear. If no solution is reached, then our neighbouring country’s aspiration to join NATO will not be materialized. And this because the principle of good neighbourly relations is a fundamental condition for relations among allies".

Today, according to information presented in the News of the Greek TV station Mega Channel, the United States are pressing the Greek side for a quick solution in order to avoid any problems regarding the NATO invitation to Skopje. It should be noted that the government of FYRO Macedonia insists in the use of its constitutional name (Republic of Macedonia) while Greece suggests a composite name which would include a geographic term. A demonstration of nationalists was organized a few days ago in Skopje, while next week the right wing Greek party LAOS organizes a rally in the city of Thessaloniki asking for national referendum and calling the government to use the right of veto.