Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias is in Skopje today for settlement talks, arriving at the FYROM capital’s airport for the first time since it was stripped of the name Alexander the Great, one of the confidence-building measures to promote a compromise solution.
The trip, which it is hoped may produce a mutually acceptable outline of a bilateral solution, comes after Athens sent FYROM a comprehensive settlement proposal and received counter-proposals from Skopje.
In ten days, Kotzias and FYROM’s foreign minister, Nikola Dimitrov, will meet for talks moderated by EU envoy Matthew Nimetz, in Vienna.
Efforts to merge proposals
“We have drafted a text that constitutes the entirety of our proposals regarding both the outstanding problems that we have with FYROM, and the agenda for future cooperation, which will yield benefits for both sides. I have sent this agenda to Skopje many days ago,” Kotzias said on the sidelines of a 20 March EU foreign ministers’ meeting.
Regarding the name, Republic of Gorna (upper) Macedonia has been widely reported to be Athens’ preference.
Still, there are concerns about the prospects for the talks on the name and other issues, such as what the language and ethnicity of citizens will be called in official documents, such as passports.
Moreover, FYROM’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has so far ruled out a revision of FYROM’s constitution that would enshrine, as Greece demands, the new, composite name in the country’ basic law, and eradicate irredentist territorial claims against Greece,.
No piecemeal solution
A central condition that Kotzias will be setting out with Dimitrov is that Athens insists that there be a comprehensive solution that addresses all the problems in bilateral relations, and not just a name agreement that will leave the resolution of other critical issues until some undetermined time later on.