In an interview with Reuters, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said Greece was ready to table draft proposals that would lead to a resolution of the name dispute with FYROM. The full interview as it appeared in Reuters by reporters Renee Maltezou and Michele Kambas:
Greece will soon submit draft proposals to resolve its decades-old name row with Macedonia, its foreign minister said, adding that a settlement could be reached in the coming months.
The two countries have agreed to step up negotiations this year to resolve the dispute, which has frustrated the ambitions of Greece’s small northern neighbor to join NATO and the European Union. Greece is a member of both.
Greece objects to the former Yugoslav republic’s use of the name Macedonia, arguing that it, along with contentious articles in Skopje’s constitution, could imply territorial claims over its own northern region of the same name.
Greeks are proud of their links to Macedonian empire-builder Alexander the Great, who spread Hellenistic culture across the ancient world.
“In life, Alexander the Great … proved we should cut Gordian knots. At some point we should finish with such issues,” Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias told Reuters in an interview.
Asked what would constitute progress for Athens if the dispute with Skopje was not settled by June, he said: “It will be settled.”
Talks between the two states have been inconclusive since 1991, when Macedonia withdrew from former Yugoslavia. It was admitted into the United Nations in 1993 under the name Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Kotzias said there was a new momentum to settle the dispute since a more moderate government was elected in Macedonia last year and following three years of trust-building efforts.
“We want to solve it. It’s in our national interest and in the interests of the region, for stability, security and economic growth,” Kotzias said.
Kotzias said Athens was working on a draft which could form the basis of discussion.
“It won’t be a Greek text containing only our views, nor a done deal-compromise. It will be a text which we consider could be the basis upon which we could start to cooperate,” he said.
Kotzias said he hoped the draft would be ready in February.
For Athens, the name Macedonia refers to a large area of the central Balkans, most of which lies in Greece.
The most profound difference between the two sides was over references in Skopje’s national constitution, Kotzias said. Greece perceives them as implying territorial claims and says they must be changed.
more at Reuters.com