Macedonian media cite an interview that Matthew Nimetz gave for the Greek Net TV in which he calls on Greece and Macedonia to focus on resolving the name issue which has stalled Macedonia’s NATO accession.
Nimetz said that both sides so far have been constructive over many of his suggestions but noted that there is still much to be done to reach a solution that would satisfy both sides.
Meanwhile Macedonian daily Dnevnik cites unnamed Macedonian and Greek diplomats as saying that during the latest round of name talks in early July, Skopje asked Athens to bring back the old name to the Thessaloniki airport as a sign of good will.
Since 1992, a year after Macedonia declared its independence from the former Yugoslavia, the airport was renamed from “Micra” to “Macedonia.”
The sources explain that Skopje’s latest attempt to open side issues in the name talks is a reaction to a similar tendency by Athens. Greece strongly opposed the renaming of Skopje’s international airport from “Petrovec” to “Alexander the Great” in early 2007 and is still arguing that it represents a provocation.
“This is an attempt to motivate Greece to focus on the name issue which is the subject of the United Nations sponsored talks,” Macedonian government source says.
Relations between the two countries significantly worsened in April when Greece blocked Macedonia’s invitation to join NATO arguing that the country should change its name first.
Athens argues the name Macedonia implies Skopje's territorial claims over Greece's own northern province of the same name.
The UN sponsored talks have been ongoing for 15 years.