US Ambassador Calls Timing of FYROM Name Talks ‘Ideal’

The timing for talks between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on the Balkan country’s name is “ideal,” U.S. Ambassador to Athens Geoffrey Pyatt has said.

Pyatt was in Thessaloniki for a Monday meeting with Mayor Yiannis Boutaris, and the two men discussed the issue of the FYROM name. The pair were speaking in the aftermath of Sunday’s major demonstration in the northern city against the use of the word “Macedonia” by Greece’s neighbor.

According to the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (AMNA), Pyatt said the change of leadership in Skopje to the social-democrat government of Zoran Zaev had created the conditions for constructive talks with Greece over the name of the Balkan country.

The Thessaloniki mayor briefed the U.S. ambassador on his own initiatives to open channels of communication with the Skopje administration, according to AMNA.

Greece, FYROM leaders to meet on Wednesday

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev are to meet in Davos, Switzerland this Wednesday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum.

Tsipras has not made any statement about the FYROM name talks and was criticized fiercely by opposition parties for not discussing the issue with political leaders and for not commenting on the five proposals from U.N. mediator Matthew Nimetz, all of which contained the word “Macedonia”.

The prime minister is also under fire from the opposition for briefing only the Archbishop of Athens and All Greece Ieronymos.

After the meeting, the Archbishop expressed his disapproval of the demonstration held in Thessaloniki, saying only a minority of senior clergy backed the rally. The government also downplayed the large attendance at the northern demonstration.


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