Wednesday, January 14, 2009

resh Macedonia Name Talks Soon -Report

Matthew Nimetz, the UN mediator in the long running Athens-Skopje name row, plans to hold a meeting between the two sides before the end of January, Greek daily Kathimerini said on Thursday citing unnamed diplomats from Athens. The dispute dates from the early 1990s, after Macedonia broke away from socialist Yugoslavia.

Greece blockaded the new state saying the name Macedonia implicates territorial claims on its own northern province of the same name, eventually forcing Macedonia to change its flag and its constitution in order to end the embargo and sign an interim U.N. accord.

In November, Macedonia announced it is taking Greece to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, arguing that Athens broke that 1995 accord when it put the breaks on its NATO invitation last April.


Few expect a breakthrough in any upcoming talks. Media and analysts have said the talks are “clinically dead”, not only due to entrenched positions on either side but also because of more pressing internal preoccupations in both Skopje and Athens in the year to come.

Macedonia is holding presidential and local elections in March, while Greece is busy with its own political troubles after violent student demonstrations in December and an alleged terrorist attack on police earlier this month.

Moreover, the USA, the main political sponsor of the talks, is preoccupied with the change of administration, with Barack Obama due to formally take over the US presidency later in January.

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