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Athens and Skopje edging toward Macedonia name row resolution?

Europe
22.03.2018
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Belgrade (dpa) - Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias arrived in Skopje on Thursday amid signs that the two sides may be edging closer to resolving a 27-year dispute about the name Macedonia.

He is set to meet his counterpart Nikola Dimitrov and other officials on Friday.

The neighbours have been wrangling about the name since the former Yugoslavia fell apart in 1991, with Athens accusing Skopje of stealing the name from the modern-day Greek province.

Kotzias‘ flight was the first direct one from Athens to Skopje in nearly a dozen years, another sign of a thaw. The two were to discuss proposals the two sides exchanged in recently restarted talks.

Athens protests its northern neighbour using the name "Macedonia," arguing it shows territorial pretensions against the northern Greek province of the same name and Hellenic heritage, such as that of Alexander the Great.

Flights from Athens stopped when the main airport in Macedonia was named after Alexander in 2006, but that barrier was lifted last month when the it was renamed Skopje International Airport.

Because of the Greek blockade, Macedonia was admitted to the United Nations under the provisional name of Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia. It was barred from joining NATO in 2008.

Athens now proposes several new names as a compromise which would end the blockade. Greece reportedly favours the version "Upper Macedonia."

Kotzias and Dimitrov are to meet again in Vienna on March 30, for more talks brokered by the UN and their envoy Matthew Nimetz. Those talks produced no result since they began in 1995.

 

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