The foreign minister of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Nikola Dimitrov, and Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias agreed to create bilateral working groups to discuss the elements of a settlement on FYROM the name dispute.
In an interview published today by Reuters, Dimitrov referred to his meeting with Kotzias yesterday in Thessaloniki and declared himself a ‘’cautious optimist’’ as regards the prospects for a settlement.
“We parted convinced that there is a will on both sides to move forward,” Dimitrov told Reuters.
The two agreed that they would personally lead their respective delegations in the quest for a rapid settlement.
Dimitrov said he expected the first meeting could be held in February.
That will be preceded by a meeting of their ambassadors, who are conducting the technical negotiations, in New York ,next Wednesday, 17 January, upon the invitation of the veteran UN representative on the FYROM naming issue, Matthew Nimetz.
FYROM is eager to settle the issue as soon as possible, as it hopes for an invitation in June to join the EU, as well as an invitation to join Nato at the Alliance’s 12 July summit in Brussel.
Still, Dimitrov acknowledged the difficulty of bridging lingering differences, especially regarding the issues of ethnicity and language.
“It is clear that the identity is very important for us. We have to find a way to convince our Greek colleagues that there is a clear distinction between our country and a region which includes northern Greece,” he said,