Matthew Nimetz, UN envoy in the Macedonia name dispute
Two days of United Nations-brokered talks in New York between ambassadors representing Athens and Skopje on the Macedonia name dispute ended without result, although UN envoy in the dispute, Matthew Nimetz, described the talks as "helpful" and focused on the optimal way to move the process forward in a constructive manner.
"As we move forward, I have asked the parties to demonstrate their commitment to the resolution of their difference by promoting a positive atmosphere through their actions and public statements," Nimetz said after the talks ended on January 17 2012.
Nimetz said that he had been given firm assurances that each Government is sincere in its interest in finding a solution and that they fully respect the UN process.
The talks date back to a 1995 interim accord that sought to resolve difficult bilateral issues between Athens and Skopje, notably the dispute about the use of the name Macedonia.
Nimetz met separately with Greek ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis and Macedonian ambassador Zoran Jolevski over the two days, the UN News Centre said.
Both sides presented the positions of their respective governments on the name issue as they stand at the present time.
Nimetz said that he would consult further with the representatives regarding arranging a visit to the two capitals to continue the discussions.
There have been repeated calls from a wide range of multilaterals and third-party countries for a solution to the dispute to be found, in particular from the European Union and Nato.
The name dispute has proved a problem for Skopje’s EU and Nato hopes. After Greece acted to obstruct an invitation being issued to Macedonia to join Nato, the International Court of Justice found – after being approached on the issue by Skopje – that Athens had acted in violation of the interim accord.
Earlier, Balkan Insight said that US deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, Philip Reeker, was expected to raise the Macedonia name dispute during a January 18 visit to Skopje
Although Reeker’s visit to Macedonia was part of a wider regional tour, his mission was in part connected with the UN-brokered Macedonia name dispute talks, a source at the US embassy in Skopje told Balkan Insight.
Also on January 18, Bulgarian Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov was due in Athens for a brief working visit and would hold talks with his Greek counterpart Stavros Dimas, Mladenov’s ministry said. The agenda included issues in the region of the Western Balkans, the statement said.
In June 2011, after prime minister Nikola Gruevski’s government was returned to power in parliamentary elections, Mladenov said: "I hope that the newly elected Macedonian parliament and government will work even more actively towards regional co-operation and good neighbourly relations. There are important issues facing the country, which await a solution in the interest of its European future".
European Commissioner for Enlargement and European Neighbourhood Policy Štefan Füle, who visited Skopje on September 5 2011, said in a speech: "We are ready to start negotiations with you. However, the name issue needs to be resolved before accession negotiations can begin.
"Member states in the (European) Council have made it clear that this problem will not be imported into the European Union," Füle said.
Centre-right New Democracy is said by exit polls to have largest share of votes, but diminished even from its 2009 defeat, while socialists Pasok – the 2009 victors – gets somewhere around 14 to 17 per cent.
An agreement reached with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) will allow voters with dual citizenship in Kosovo to vote in the upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections in Serbia.
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