Matthew Nimitz, the United Nations Special Representative for the naming dispute between Greece and fYROMacedonia, appeared modestly optimistic about the prospect of finding a solution to the naming issue during 2018 at the presser that followed the meeting he had in Brussels with the representatives of the governments of Greece and fYROMacedonia, (Ambassadors) Adamantios Vasilakis and Vasko Naumovski. In particular, the UN mediator was confident that in the coming months and certainly during the following year, “it is possible to reach an agreement on the name issue” and assured that as far as he is concerned, “he will make every effort to help the two sides”.
Speaking of the existing mood, the UN Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy spoke of “very positive and constructive discussions” between the two sides and explained why he believes the current conjuncture of events is favourable to finding a solution. Although he refrained from referring to specific timetables and dates, and he simply spoke of the “willingness” of both sides to hold more meetings in New York and in Europe, possibly in January and February, he did not hesitate to warn that “leaving time go by is not to the benefit of any side as it hinders efforts to find a solution.” He said nothing about the content and substance of the consultations that took place yesterday and today in Brussels. Instead, he only said that the two sides discussed the present situation, listened closely to each other’s positions and examined various possibilities that could help them to reach a solution, while he himself was trying his best to make it easier for both parties to reach possible solutions. As he pointed out, the atmosphere is currently “good” during discussions, as both countries have “good leaderships”, that appear to have the political will to resolve the conflict, while there are no longer the tensions of the past. So, the Common Stance the two countries share also shows that “the time to solve the name problem has come.”
Especially the fYROMacedonian government, said Nimitz, has put the issue of the solution of the name issue at the top of the agenda making it a “major priority”. As well, it “appears determined” to move away from the deadlock the relations of fYROMacedonia and Greece have reached, also by avoiding initiatives and actions that would fan the flames of this balance.
As far as Greece is concerned, Mr Nimitz noted that “both the Greek Prime Minister and the Foreign Affairs Minister have said that they want a solution, and he believes that “the solving this issue and the stability of the wider region is a very important priority for Greece”. The problem will not be solved in a ‘magical’ way, but through good diplomacy and political will from both countries,” he summed up.
Regarding the content of a possible agreement, the veteran diplomat refused to refer to specific names / proposals, but did not fail to point out that “the solution must satisfy both sides”. Last but not least, he affirmed that there was European interest about the talks, but he stressed that he could not make estimate the future condition neither could he aim at a specific date related to European decisions on enlargement. He made clear that such a “target date” “is up to both sides to set such.”…/IBNA