Just days after United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz said he wants to step up name talks between Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), the neighboring country’s prime minister, Nikola Gruevski, has sparked a new war of words.
Nimetz heralded a new round of more intense name talks during a visit to Thessaloniki on Friday. However, Gruevski’s comments yesterday seem to indicate that a solution to the name talks is as far away as ever.
“Greece has deep and serious problems,” he said. “You know that a serious scandal breaks out almost every two weeks. They need to focus on the name issue because the government is faced with early elections due to the scandals.
“They are structuring their policy in such a way that they can avoid finding a solution because… they believe it will damage them in the next elections.”
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis issued a terse response. “The intransigent and provocative comments by Mr Gruevski go beyond all reason,” she said. “It confirms the untenable position in which he has chosen to put himself.”
Gruevski went on to indicate that he had made it clear to Nimetz that FYROM is not willing to give up its constitutional name of “Republic of Macedonia” and is only willing to negotiate on a dual name that would be used only by Greece. Athens has already said it is opposed to this idea.
“I told Mr Nimetz that it would be best for him to think again and to press the other side over something that would be a compromise: a dual name,” said Gruevski. “One of the ideas Mr Nimetz expressed was the use of one name internationally. For us, this is not acceptable and that is where we left it.”
Greece vetoed FYROM’s bid to join NATO earlier this year and Bakoyannis pointed out that Gruevski’s stance was not helping his country’s cause. “He will be personally responsible for any complications in the negotiations and any consequences this has on the European and Euro-Atlantic course of his country.”