The time has come for Athens and Skopje to finally make decisions regarding the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), an issue that the two sides have been discussing for 25 years, UN mediator Matthew Nimetz suggested after meeting Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias in Athens on Tuesday.
“We’ve been discussing these things for 25 years, everyone knows what the issues are. There is a time for decision-making and I think we’re there,” Nimetz told reporters, while urging Athens and Skopje to take advantage of the current momentum for a solution.
“I think there is a momentum here and we should seize the momentum. Waiting, slowing things down doesn’t make any sense here, doesn’t make any sense in the northern neighbour, doesn’t make any sense generally,” he said.
Nimetz reported a constructive discussion with Kotzias, during which the minister briefed him on the views of the Greek side “and some specifics on some of the ideas I have suggested”.
“I know the [Greek] government is very sincere and energised to reach a solution to the problem. There are difficult issues; as we know this dispute has been around for a long time. I think there is a will [in Athens] and I believe also in Skopje to try to reach a settlement,” he added.
Nimetz said he felt positive about the outcome of his meeting in Athens and the position of the Greek government and would now visit Skopje to hold talks with the government there. He refused to discuss the ideas he presented to the two governments, noting that some of these had leaked, noting that “it is really for the two parties to reach an agreement ultimately based on their ideas.”
The mediator also noted that, in his view, the next phase of talks “to see where we are” should last a matter of weeks, “and then we will re-assess it.”
After making statements to the press, Nimetz joined Kotzias for a working dinner.