EU official welcomes stance of Macedonia, Greece to solve name issue

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-26 02:58:41|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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SKOPJE, Jan. 25 (Xinhua) -- The meeting between Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras is good news in terms of solving the name row, European Union (EU) ambassador to Skopje Samuel Zbogar told reporters on Thursday.

Zaev and Tsipras met Wednesday evening in the Swiss resort of Davos where they both agreed to intensify talks and dialogues in order to settle the name issue.

Athens and Skopje have been at odds over the use of the name of Macedonia since Greece's northern neighbor broke away from Yugoslavia in 1991.

Macedonia is formally called Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) at the UN. Macedonia is also the name of a northern province in Greece and Athens is worried that the use of the same name by the neighboring state could lead to territorial claims.

During the NATO summit in Bucharest in 2008, Greece vetoed FYROM's application to enter the alliance without having solved the name issue. As Skopje has renewed efforts to join the EU and NATO, Greece has signaled that its position remains unchanged.

In Davos, Macedonian Prime Minister Zaev said his government would change the name of the main airport and highway, thus removing the name "Great Alexander".

After such statements which are expected to give a new stimulus to bilateral talks on this issue, Zbogar said that Macedonia and Greece could solve the pending issues through dialogue and cooperation.

"It seems that Wednesday meeting between the two premiers has laid a foundation for better understanding, which is beneficial not only for the two countries, but also for the entire region, the whole of Europe, and of course for all of us," Zbogar told reporters while on a visit to Bitola.

Meanwhile, UN mediator in name talks Matthew Nimetz issued a statement late Wednesday, confirming his intention to visit Athens and Skopje next week.

The last round of negotiations between mediators of the two countries and Nimetz was held on Jan. 17 in New York, where Nimetz presented a new set of ideas, expressing optimism that a solution is within reach to solve the old dispute between Macedonia and Greece.