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Greece optimistic on resolving name dispute with Macedonia

Greece optimistic on resolving name dispute with Macedonia

Greece intends to resolve Macedonia name dispute this year, the foreign minister Nikos Kotzias told the press after a meeting of Greece’s inner cabinet on January 4.

The decades-old dispute over the name Macedonia is a painful aspect of the relationships between Greece and the neighbouring state Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM). Since the moment of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s collapse in the early nineties, the name Macedonia was claimed by both the Balkan country and a northern province of Greece.

“I think 2018 will be the year when foreign-policy issues that have been stuck in the mud for decades will be resolved,”

Greece top diplomat said during his press conference on January 4 and added that his government will contribute to the well-being of all the Balkans.

The dispute over Macedonia name should be resolved in 2018

The dispute between Greece, which has the northern territory Macedonia, and the neighbouring state FYROM can be resolved if both governments show the responsibility and good political will. The dispute has for years posed an obstacle for Macedonia’s attempts to join the European Union and NATO.

The Greek and Macedonian prime ministers, Alexis Tsipras and Zoran Zaev, discussed the issue over the phone on January 2. Zaev also visited Thessaloniki, in Greek Macedonia, on December 30 and privately met with the city’s mayor. NATO is due to reopen debate on inviting Macedonia to join in June, after Greece vetoed its bid in 2008.

Athens for years has blocked Macedonia’s bids to join both the EU and the Western military alliance, contending that the name Macedonia implies a territorial claim over Greece’s own northerly region of that name. Athens also contends that by claiming the name, Macedonia is appropriating a part of Greece’s ancient history.

Athens has only agreed to calling the Balkan country the “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” in international venues, as an interim measure until the dispute is resolved. “