Senior figures from Greece and FYROM on Tuesday pledged to renew efforts to resolve the countries’ ongoing name dispute, amid earlier rejections by Athens of foreign media reports claiming a breakthrough had been made.
FYROM Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs Bujar Osmani spoke to reporters in Athens after a meeting with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and other senior officials. He was quoted by Reuters as saying FYROM was committed to finding a resolution within six months.
He also described 2018 as a “golden year of opportunity” to settle the issue over the name ‘Macedonia’ which has seen the small Balkan state, which became independent in 1991, blocked from EU and NATO membership.
The name dispute remains an emotional topic in Greece, which sees FYROM’s title as an attempt to claim jurisdiction over northern Greek territory.
However, a December 2016 election saw a new FYROM administration elected, headed by 44-year-old Zoran Zaev, which has attempted to mend frayed regional ties, including with Bulgaria.
A Greek government spokesman was quoted on Tuesday as saying the priority for Athens now was to “create conditions for the widest possible consensus to put behind us a problem which has weighed on the country, and the wider region, for the past 25 years”.
Earlier, Dimitris Tzanakopoulos, refused to comment on claims broadcast in some Albanian media that a deal had been struck on a new name for FYROM, for a ‘Republic of New Macedonia’.