Next year piv­otal for name dis­pute?

Eu­ro­pean and US of­fi­cials see win­dow of op­por­tu­nity for Greece and FYROM

Kathimerini English - - Front Page -

Next year could be piv­otal for the res­o­lu­tion of a long­stand­ing dis­pute be­tween Greece and the For­mer Yu­goslav Re­pub­lic of Mace­do­nia (FYROM) re­gard­ing the Balkan state’s of­fi­cial name, di­plo­matic sources have in­di­cated to Kathimerini.

Of­fi­cials in Eu­rope and Wash­ing­ton be­lieve that there could be a win­dow of op­por­tu­nity to solve the name row in the pe­riod be­tween lo­cal elec­tions in Oc­to­ber this year in FYROM and pres­i­den­tial elec­tions there in 2019.

Hopes of a res­o­lu­tion were raised af­ter So­cial Demo­crat Prime Min­is­ter Zo­ran Zaev formed a gov­ern­ment in June, fol­low­ing months of po­lit­i­cal up­heaval. Af­ter the for­ma­tion of the new coali­tion, FYROM For­eign Min­is­ter Nikola Dim­itrov last month trav­eled to Athens to meet Greek coun­ter­part Nikos Kotzias, with the lat­ter due to visit Skopje at the end of Au­gust.

An­other rea­son di­plo­mats be­lieve a so­lu­tion might be reach­able is that Amer­i­can in­ter­est has shifted back to the re­gion, chiefly over fears that Rus­sia could seek to ex­pand its in­flu­ence over weak na- tions such as Bos­nia-Herze­gov­ina.

Ac­cord­ing to sources, Amer­i­can of­fi­cials have ob­served a re­turn to prag­ma­tism in FYROM, with author­i­ties there ap­par­ently pre­pared to make com­pro­mises and con­ces­sions. How­ever, of­fi­cials in FYROM also ap­pear to be buoyed by an ap­par­ent readi­ness in Athens to dis­cuss com­pos­ite names for FYROM.

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