US Ambassador: Ending Name Dispute Could Unlock Greek, Balkan Ties



US Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt (file photo).

Amid the ongoing wrangling over the Greece, FYROM name dispute, the U.S. ambassador to Athens has said the issue “holds the key to unlocking deeper economic and global ties between Greece and the Western Balkans”.

Speaking at the 2018 Balkans and Black Sea Cooperation Forum in Athens, Geoffrey Pyatt said Greece had recently used its influence as a regional leader to bring together the Visegrad and Western Balkan neighbors at Sounion.

In Friday’s comments reported by the Athens-Macedonian News Agency, Pyatt also said the U.S. “warmly welcomed” recent progress on the issue.

However, the likelihood of an imminent deal on the ‘Macedonia’ name issue seemed to recede on Friday with a Greek spokesperson claiming Skopje had moved away from earlier proposals.

The claim follows reports on Thursday which appeared to show FYROM President Gjorge Ivanov refusing to accept an ‘erga omnes’ name for the country, curbing the optimism of the country’s premier, Zoran Zaev.

Zaev had announced in a news conference on Wednesday that Athens and Skopje were very close to an agreement and that his talks with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras would seal the deal by Friday.