Realism the key to resolving the name issue, FM Kotzias says

The key for a resolution of the FYROM name issue is realism, pragmatism and the realisation that we have to make compromises; not rotten compromises but the kind where both sides stand to gain,” Greece’s Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said on Wednesday, replying to questions during a joint press conference with his Serb counterpart and also Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Ivica Dacic.

“And compromise means that both sides must realise that they cannot have everything, that both sides must have gains. I hope that this is understood by all sides in the negotiations and that we have good developments,” he added.

“It is in everyone’s interests to resolve this matter and for the problems to go away,” Dacic noted, on his part. Serbia had great understanding for Greece’s stance on this issue, he added, repeating that it had been a mistake on Serbia’s part to recognise the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) with its constitutional name. He said that Skopje’s attitude toward Serbia “was not the appropriate one” and offered to host an upcoming meeting between the two sides in Serbia.

In further statements, both men confirmed that neither country would recognize Kosovo. “We do not recognise Kosovo diplomatically,” Kotzias said, “nor will we do so,” but said Kosovo planned to open a commercial office in Athens based on a 2014 agreement. It will not carry the status of a diplomatic mission, he noted.

Dacic confirmed that on his country’s side, Serbia will never recognise Kosovo and that a compromise solution was necessary. Serbia supports all Greek positions on issues related to the area, Dacic added, calling for a permanent cooperation with Greece allowing joint management of regional issues. He also said that the second Greek-Serbian High-Level Cooperation Council would convene in Belgrade within 2018.

Kotzias reiterated Greece’s support in Serbia’s accession to the EU and “Serbia belongs to the European family”, as it is “a developed economy with know-how and technology.”

The two foreign ministers will meet again in May, at the meeting of Balkan-based EU members with the Visegrad group countries and the five countries in EU accession talks. The meeting will be held in Sounio, southern Attica.

Kotzias met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic before he and the Greek delegation departed for Ohrid, the city on the lake bearing the same name, where he is scheduled to meet with his FYROM counterpart, Nikola Dimitrov.