Kotzias, Dimitrov, Meet Over Name Issue at UN in Vienna; No Statements

Nikola Dimitrov, right, walks next to Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris, FILE)

VIENNA (ANA/D. Dimitrakoudis) – Talks between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) ended at the United Nations in Vienna without statements on Tuesday.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his counterpart Nikola Dimitrov met with UN special representative Matthew Nimetz for several hours towards a resolution to the FYROM name issue.

Their meetings began at 10:30 and continued until 17:40 (both, Greek times), with a break for a joint working lunch at the UN’s third headquarters. The foreign ministers decided to continue their efforts for a solution.

FM Kotzias returned to Athens immediately after the conclusion of the meetings.

Greece, FYROM Lean Toward New Name – Upper Macedonia

Blown out of the headlines by an alleged pharmaceutical scandal, Greece’s negotiations with the Former Yugoslav Republic (FYROM) to find a new composite name for that Balkan neighbor will pick up with reports it could be Gorna Makedonija in Slavic, Upper Macedonia in English.

Greece’s ruling Radical Left SYRIZA said it’s ready to let FYROM keep the word Macedonia in a new name to settle a 26-year-old dispute that began when a New Democracy-led government allowed it on what was supposed to be a temporary basis for a new country forged out of the collapse of Yugoslavia.

But after FYROM got that word Macedonia it began calling itself Republic of Macedonia, now recognized by more than 140 countries, and tried to expropriate Greek heritage, culture and lands, including Alexander the Great.

That led to successive Greek governments vetoing FYROM’s hopes of getting into NATO and the European Union but the anti-nationalist SYRIZA, which has elements which don’t even want any borders between countries, said allowing continued use of the word Macedonia with a qualifier such as Upper is the answer it wants.

So far, all Greece has received in return is FYROM Premier Zoran Zaev carrying out a promise to rename the international airport and national highway in his country that had borne the name of Alexander the Great, but he said he won’t change the Constitution that claims Greek territories, including the second-largest city and port of Thessaloniki as well a the real Macedonia, an abutting ancient Greek province.

Since two rallies in Thessaloniki and Athens drew hundreds of thousands of protesters who don’t want the name giveaway, SYRIZA’s junior coalition partner, the pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) of Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who opposes the name giveaway after supporting it before opposing it, haven’t made a peep.

Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, the driving force behind the name giveaway, and FYROM Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov, who has been provoking Greece, are due to meet next week in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia on the sidelines of the EU’s Informal Meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministers to discuss the next step.

With United Nations Special Envoy Matthew Nimetz, an American lawyer who has failed for two decades to find an answer, resuming talks after a three-year break with the United States keen to get FYROM into NATO as a bulwark against Russian interests in the Balkans, Kotzias and Dimitrov’s meeting is expected to pave the way for a rapid resolution, although there were reports FYROM is pushing Greece to recognize an official Macedonian language and identity belong to FYROM, not Greece.