Thursday, January 03, 2008

Athens, Nimetz, agree to hasten name issue talks

Foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis and visiting UN special mediator on the FYROM name issue agreed on Wednesday on intensifying and accelerating the UN-brokered negotiations on the issue between Athens and Skopje, during a one-hour meeting at the foreign ministry.

In the framework of the intensification and acceleration of the Athens-Skopje negotiations, it was deemed expedient to hold a meeting in Skopje, hosted by FYROM foreign minister Antonio Milososki, with the participation of the Greek and FYROM negotiators ambassadors Adamantios Vassilakis and Nikola Dimitrov, respectively, with the prospect of a follow-up meeting in Athens hosted by Greek foreign minister Bakoyannis, Nimetz announced after the meeting.

Greek foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos later confirmed the information.

Koumoutsakos said that the continuation and intensification of the talks meant that FYROM has not rejected Nimetz's package of ideas as a basis for the negotiation, and clarified that during Wednesday's meeting between Nimetz and Bakoyannis, which he said was held in a "very good climate", the two officials reviewed the developments in the name issue since the November 1 commencement of the new round of talks meadiated by Nimetz.

"We clarified 'where we are'," Koumoutsakos said.

The Greek side stressed that the negotiation had a timeline up to the day when FYROM will prospectively receive an invitation to join NATO, Koumoutsakos said, whereas Nimetz said that his mission does not have a specific timetable, but that all the developments in the region, such as those concerning the future status of Kosovo and NATO enlargement, were leading to an acceleration of the procedures for settlement of the outstanding issue with FYROM as well.

Nimetz further noted that there was great interest on the part of both sides for finding a solution, and that the "key" continued to be the name issue.

Regarding the Athens-Skopje interim agreement of 1995, Nimetz said that although he had heard "different interpretations", nevertheless "I did not hear anyone disputing it".

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