Monday, January 08, 2007

Greece seeks talks with U.N. envoy over name dispute with Macedonia

Greece's Foreign Ministry on Friday summoned a United Nations envoy to Athens, to discuss a name dispute with neighbor Macedonia that has remained unresolved since the former Yugoslav republic gained independence in 1991.

Mediator Matthew Nimitz was invited for talks with Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis on Jan. 12, the ministry said. It was not immediately clear if he had accepted the invitation.

Greece is at odds with Macedonia over the country's name, which Athens says implies territorial claims on the northern Greek province of Macedonia — and has warned it would block the country's efforts to join NATO and the European Union unless the dispute was resolved.

It refers to its neighbor as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the name also used on an interim basis by the United Nations and other international organizations.

Government officials in Athens were angered by decision last week to rename Petrovec airport in Macedonia's capital, Skopje, as "Alexander the Great Airport," after the ancient warrior king.

Greek officials have accused Macedonia of using names and symbols of Greek heritage.

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