Venizelos Says FYROM’s Turn

NEW YORK – After more than two decades of no progress in name talks for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), Foreign Minister Evangelos Venizelos said it’s up to Greece’s neighbor to make the next move.

After meeting his counterpart Nikola Poposki on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly meeting here, Venizelos said the “next steps” must come from FYROM.

Venizelos reportedly told Poposki that FYROM must be ready to compromise and not expect Greece to do so, nor any new initiatives from the European Union.

Greece allowed its neighbor to take the name “Macedonia” but has been trying to take it back and has blocked FYROM’s hopes of getting into NATO or the EU unless a mutually-agreed name is settled upon.

The Greek foreign minister said Athens is keen for the new round of talks between the two sides, mediated by Matthew Nimetz of the United Nations, to begin as soon as possible, although the envoy has failed to make a lick of progress in years of shuttling between the two countries.

Speaking to FYROM media, Poposki described Greece as having “little interest” in solving the name dispute at the moment.

Venizelos and Poposki also discussed energy issues, with Poposki asking Venizelos to confirm that Greece is willing to agree to connect the Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP), which will carry Azeri natural gas to Italy, with FYROM’s energy network.

Venizelos said Athens is willing to do so and talks on this matter can progress regardless of where talks on the name issue stand.