US Official Urges Resolution of FYROM Name Dispute

FILE - US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Aaron Wess Mitchell, during a joint press conference with Kosovo's President Hashim Thaci, at Pristina international airport on March 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Visar Kryeziu)

SKOPJE, FYROM (AP) — A senior United States official on Tuesday urged FYROM and Greece to seize the moment to resolve a decades-long dispute over the Balkan country’s name that has prevented it from joining NATO.

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Wes Mitchell visited FYROM’s capital, Skopje, as part of a Balkan tour. He told media “there is a tremendous opportunity” for Skopje and Athens to reach a deal over the long-running spat.

FYROM and Greece have been at odds for a quarter-century over the name Macedonia, but have pledged to resolve the dispute by the summer. Greece argues the country’s name harbors territorial claims on its own northern province of Macedonia.

The two countries have intensified talks recently in hopes of finding a compromise to end the dispute.

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, speaking at a joint news conference with Mitchell, said he had told the U.S. official FYROM and Greece were “starting the final phase that will ultimately bring a dignified solution to this issue.”

The left-led governments in both countries have been holding talks with a United Nations negotiator, Matthew Nimetz.

Greece wants FYROM to add a modifier such as “north” or “upper” to Macedonia’s name, and Zaev has said he is open to some options.

But the proposals have triggered protests in both countries.

“We acknowledged that the only solution that will last is the one that both parties would work out for themselves,” Mitchell said. “We are encouraged in that regard with the steps that FYROM and Greece have taken, so we want to be supportive.”

Mitchell visited Kosovo before arriving in FYROM, and was scheduled to head from Skopje to Serbia.

2 Comments

  1. Bulgarian state corporations are all named “Balkan” because they believe they own the entire peninsula. This derives from Ignatiev’s abortive Treaty of San Stefano which began the current Macedoni amess a hundred and fifty years ago. It was also the cause of the ethnic cleansing of Eastern Roumelia in 1885 and the second Balkan war in 1913. The USA should take heed lest Putin exploit the disorder of Trump’s eventual impeachment to consummate Ignatiev’s grab for the entire Balkan peninsula.

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