Matthew Nimetz, the United Nations mediator in a longstanding dispute between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) over the latter’s official name, on Monday described as “very constructive” talks in Athens with Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos that focused on the envoy’s new proposal for a settlement.
Despite the fact that Athens rejected Nimetz’s new proposal for the name Upper Democracy of Macedonia to become FYROM’s official name – objecting to the fact that the determinant “upper” was not placed before the country's name – the mediator said he had gained “a much clearer understanding” of Greece’s stance which would help him in his effort to find a solution.
According to sources, Venizelos set out Greece’s objections in detail but emphasized that Athens is ready to contribute actively to the continuation of negotiations with the aim of finding a mutually acceptable solution. In the event of a settlement, Athens is willing to seek ways of supporting Skopje by boosting trade and supporting the country’s bid to join NATO and the European Union, Venizelos reportedly said.
Nimetz left Athens later in the day to fly to Skopje, where he is to meet with FYROM government officials and seek their response to his proposal, which was submitted to both Athens and Skopje in April.
The mediator reportedly emphasized that the negotiations would be tough and that both sides should show understanding for each other’s position if progress is to be made.