Athens.- (GreekNewsOnline, ANA, Kathimerini)
Athens and Skopje appear to have achieved some convergence in regards to the Balkan country’s name since the restart of talks under United Nations mediator Matthew Nimetz in December, but significant differences remain, as was apparent by the tone adopted by the two officials on Friday.
Greece believes in an “honourable compromise” from which both sides will win, Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said during a joint press conference with his FYROM counterpart Nikola Dimitrov in Skopje on Friday.
“You cannot get everything you have in your mind,” he said, following lengthy talks with Dimitrov, as efforts to find a mutually acceptable solution to the name dispute intensify.
Kotzias said relations between the two countries must follow the very good relations between the two people, presenting as an example the thousands of citizens from FYROM who visit Greece every year for holidays.
“I deeply believe that if we manage – and we must manage – to resolve the problems, which neither I nor Nikola [Dimitrov] created […] this will allow both our states to contribute to stability, security, as well as the economic development of the region. I believe that overcoming political obstacles contributes to the economic and social development,” he said.
“We want an honourable, fair and right solution that takes into account the main interests of each side,” he added.
The main sticking point of the negotiations between the two sides appears to be continued Greek demands for changes to clauses of FYROM’s constitution that are seen as expressing irredentist aspirations.
Dimitrov recognized the difficulties but did not exclude a change in the constitution or a composite name in one word. He said talks were very good and more meetings are planned for the future after the one with the UN mediator Matthew Nimetz in a week.
Responding to a journalist’s question on the constitutional changes requested by Greece, Dimitrov said the two sides are trying to find a solution that will be “sufficiently good” for both sides.
“A viable solution is one which, with the help of both sides, will be acceptable to both sides as well as by public opinion and our citizens. It is our duty to come to a point where we will be ready to open this, to propose it and defend it,” he said.
Both ministers expressed their will to move forward with a solution to the name row that “will open the doors to the future”.
“We have to take into consideration that the high courts of certain European countries have decided that the national constitution overrides European treaties,” Kotzias said.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Wess Mitchell who visited Skopje and Athens on March 14 – 15 has sent a message to the government in FYROM that changing the country’s constitution isn’t an “unreasonable demand”. At the same time he told the Greek government that issues like the language of the country and the identity of its citizens should be respected based on what is already practiced for years at the UN.
U.S. Administration is letting UN Secretary General’s personal envoy Matthew Nimetz to continue with his effort but it has conveyed the message to the parties that will be helpful if asked.
According to “Kathimerini”, it appears to be some resistance from Skopje to a Greek proposal for the name GornjaMacedonia, which would remain as one word and untranslated.
“I believe that if we can take the steps, and today we have taken steps, we will solve the problems before us,” Kotzias said after the talks, in which the two sides discussed a set of proposals to end the quarter-century dispute. “These problems were not created by Nikola and I.”
Dimitrov confirmed that the talks covered “all the important points” and said that negotiations are a “very sensitive balancing act.”
“A small step can tip the scales towards a solution,” the FYROM foreign minister said. “We are trying to build trust, as prejudices remain,” he said
On a more positive note, Dimitrov said that “there is a genuine desire for a solution of the issue in a manner that will not dismiss anyone.”
Mr. Tsipras’ (Alexis, prime minister) unserious answer to a journalist from FYROM on Saturday wishing that the next time they meet to represent Gorna Macedonija, unfortunately confirms how irresponsibly, he and his government, are handling our national issues, said a New Democracy (ND) announcement commenting Tsipras’ statements after the EU Summit.
The main opposition party urged the prime minister “to finally be serious and to understand his national responsibilities” adding that “for ND there is no discussion on the name of the neigbouring country without the revision of its Constitution and the elimination of every expression of arbitrariness on its part” said ND’s announcement.