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Macedonia Says 'Framework' for ‘Name’ Solution is Reached

Καταχωρήθηκε από τον/την Δέσποινα Συριοπούλου on . Δημοσιεύθηκε στο Politics

Image result for kotzias-dimitrovMacedonia and Greece have agreed a 'framework' for a compromise solution to their bilateral name dispute – but it needs more work, Macedonia's Foreign Minister said on a visit to Brussels.
 
By Sinisa Jakov Marusic, BIRN
Macedonian Foreign Minister, Nikola Dimitrov, said after meeting his Greek counterpart, Nikos Kotzias, on Sunday in Brussels, that the two sides had reached a framework for a solution to the dispute over Macedonia's name – but it needed more work. 


“We have a framework that needs more work and at the moment legal teams from both ministries are working on it,” Dimitrov told Macedonia’s state MIA news agency on Monday.

Not disclosing any specifics of the framework, Dimitrov said that in light of a possible breakthrough, an “important” meeting was planned between the two prime ministers, Macedonia’s Zoran Zaev and Greece’s Alexis Tsipras, for the middle of this week, “where I hope that some important things will be decided, from the options that are at the table”.

On Monday and Tuesday in Brussels, Dimitrov and Kotzias attend the EU Foreign Affairs Council where, at the margins, they were expected to resume their bilateral talks.

The last round of UN-sponsored talks on Thursday and Friday in New York, held in the presence of the UN mediator, Matthew Nimetz, ended without a breakthrough.

In the absence of much official information, media reports have speculated that the adjectives New, Upper, Northern or Vardarska - stemming from Macedonia’s biggest river, the Vardar – before the word Macedonia, had been discussed.

The two sides have also yet to agree on the span of use of any possible compromise name.

But in her remarks on Monday, at the start of the Foreign Affairs Council, the EU’s Foreign Affairs Commissioner, Federica Mogherini, said the progress made at the Athens-Skopje talks was very encouraging.

“We are all very encouraged by the progress made especially on the negotiations between Skopje and Athens on the name issue. We will all work to support and accompany, hopefully, a positive outcome of these important negotiations,” Mogherini said.

On Monday morning, Mogherini had a working breakfast with Macedonia’s Dimitrov and with the foreign ministers of EU member states.

During the breakfast, EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn tweeted his “Thanks to @NikosKotzias and @Dimitrov_Nikola for their constructive, hard work!” adding that “Everyone expressed wholehearted support to the negotiations”.

Hahn continued by saying that there was a “consensus in the room that a solution to the name issue will be a game changer for the next steps in the EU accession process” of Macedonia.

The "name" dispute centres on Greece's insistence that use of the word Macedonia implies a territorial claim to the northern Greek province of the same name.

Athens insists that a new name must be found that makes a clear distinction between the Greek province and the country.

As a result of the unresolved dispute, Greece blocked Macedonia’s NATO entry in 2008 and it also blocked the start of Macedonia’s EU accession talks, despite several positive annual reports from the European Commission on the country’s progress.

Macedonia hopes that by solving the dispute soon, it could get invitation to join NATO and green light for start of its EU accession talks as soon as this year.

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