Macedonia and Greece set new direct talks over name dispute

Greece and Macedonia will launch a new round of UN- monitored direct talks in an effort to end a bitter name dispute that threatens Macedonia's efforts to join NATO, the UN said Wednesday.

Macedonia and Greece set new direct talks over name dispute
"I think that everyone recognises that stability in the region and cooperation is extremely important and cannot be achieved without this issue being resolved," UN Special Envoy Matthew Nimetz said following talks with Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyianni.

Nimitz said foreign ministry officials from both neighbouring countries would meet in Skopje in January, with a second meeting expected in Athens shortly after.

Skopje and Athens have been in dispute since 1991 over the name.

For the past 14 years, Athens has blocked its neighbour's international recognition under the name of Macedonia, arguing that it implies claims on a Greek province of the same name - the birthplace of Alexander the Great.

The dispute gained momentum in the 1990s where Athens imposed a 18-month blockade on its neighbour.

Instead, Athens has agreed to the UN-given provisionary title of FYROM or the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

The issue has been under mediation for some time, but time is pressing since a decision is to be made in April about the entrance of Macedonia into NATO.

Athens has threatened to veto Macedonia's bid to enter both NATO and the EU unless Skopje agrees on a compromise.

The last round of UN-monitored talks ended unsuccessfully in May.

Greece is the largest foreign investor in Macedonia, according to the Greek foreign ministry, where hundreds of companies have pumped millions of dollars into the economy.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Aralık 2007, 11:58