Greece, FYR Macedonia May Agree on Name by June, UN Envoy Says

(Bloomberg) -- The Republic of Macedonia and Greece continued UN-mediated talks seeking to resolve a long-lasting dispute on the former Yugoslav state’s official name, which may help bring progress on its European Union and NATO membership bids.

Officials from both countries met United Nations Special Representative Matthew Nimetz in New York on Wednesday. Greece resumed negotiations with the newly appointed cabinet in Skopje in December and agreed to hold monthly meetings after a three-year pause. A mutually acceptable agreement was possible within six months, according to Nimetz, who plans to visit both countries “in the next few weeks” and “see what people are thinking and how to move forward.” He didn’t comment on name options.

“I think the situation in the region is somewhat different, the participants are different, and I think that’s a good set of ideas,” Nimetz told reporters in New York. “I view this as a good set of ideas, a compromise and a package that both sides should feel comfortable with and lead to a dignifying and satisfying solution.”

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev’s government, that ushered in the first leadership change in more than a decade, has promised to solve the dispute with Greece dating back to 1991 when his nation broke away from Yugoslavia and named itself the Republic of Macedonia. Greece believes that to be a territorial claim on its northern province of the same name, the birthplace of Alexander the Great. It blocked the Republic of Macedonia’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization at a summit in Bucharest nine years ago, and then later halted the start of EU negotiations.

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