Resolving the name issue will benefit both countries, said Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, expressing the wish that this could happen as early as end March.
Zaev spoke to the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN), saying that it would be good to come to an agreement with Greece on the country’s name “because it will encourage decisions on the date of the start of accession negotiations with the EU. At the same time, I know that every month after that will not be in our favor. My wish and ambition, the desire of the government, (Foreign Minister) Nikola Dimitrov, and all involved in this process, is to have a solution by the end of March.”
“If we extend negotiations, it will not help us, because there are always competing currents that lead to not resolving this problem,” Zaev added.
The FYROM prime minister also noted that the Greek government also wants to find a solution to the name issue.
“I remain in my belief that Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wants to find a solution. I see that Foreign Minister (Nikos) Kotzias is also making efforts. I remain in the feeling that leads me from the beginning: that the solution is possible. But we maintain the position that the solution should mean protecting the identity and dignity of both sides,” Zaev said.
When asked what will happen if the change of the FYROM Constitution is set as a necessary condition for reaching a solution, Zaev noted that the two countries should not impose conditions.
“Neither side should impose conditions without which a solution can not be found. I am genuinely trying to find a pragmatic explanation for the Greek side, and I am referring mainly to the Greek people,” the FYROM prime minister said.
To that end, Zaev noted that his country is the northern or upper part of the geographical region of Macedonia:
“I have no doubt that in the geographical area of Macedonia we are the northern or the upper part, the southern belongs to Greece and the eastern part to Bulgaria. If we are guided by the facts, we can find a solution. And let’s not forget that the problem is about the name. We should not touch something with which we would cause additional problems that would lead to reasons for not resolving the issue.”