Greek, FYROM Premiers Get Ready for Fresh ‘Macedonia’ Talks

Greek FM Nikos Kotzias (2nd left) talks to UN mediator Matthew Nimetz (1st right) at the Greek Foreign Ministry, Athens, Jan. 2018 (courtesy: Greek MFA)

Talks to end the long-running name dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) will resume next week at the prime ministerial level.

After a six-hour meeting yesterday between Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his FYROM counterpart Nikola Dimitrov in Athens, UN mediator Matthew Nimetz said the “serious” engagement had prepared the way for a prime ministerial meeting next week.

The meeting between Alexis Tsipras and FYROM leader Zoran Zaev will take place on the sidelines of the EU-Western Balkans summit in Sofia, Bulgaria.

It is thought efforts are going on behind the scenes to buy more time for FYROM to accept a new name which will be used both internationally and domestically — something which will require a change to its constitution.

However, opposition FYROM parties have said a referendum is required to ratify any constitutional changes. Greece has insisted on the changes to remove irredentist claims to Greek territory.

FYROM is seeking membership of NATO and the EU. It is thought that a deal on the name dispute would see the former Yugoslav state join NATO immediately and begin accession talks with the EU soon after.