Tuesday, July 23, 2024
 
 

Name Dispute negotiations: Getting closer, but is this just a matter of sequencing or is it deeper?

- Advertisement -

While the negotiations over the Greece-Macedonia/FYROM Name Dispute returned to a faster track after the visit of UN Mediator Matthew Nimetz to Athens May 12-13, it remains unclear whether significant progress can be expected at the meeting(s) between the two countries’ prime ministers on the sidelines of the EU-Western Balkans summit in Sofia, Bulgaria May 17-18.
A series of leaks to the Greek media, timed just after the Nimetz-sponsored talks between Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and Macedonian/FYROM Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov near Sounion, south of Athens, indicated that all sides have prepared draft agreements, including Nimetz.
Included in at least one of them was the concept that Greece might give approval for the NATO and or EU accession processes to proceed — via some form of interim agreement — before the requested constitutional revisions have been completed by Skopje. These concepts are reported to form the basis for discussions to be held in Sofia while Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and his Macedonian/FYROM counterpart Zoran Zaev attend the EU-Western Balkans Summit. The possibility of multiple meetings between the leaders in Sofia is envisioned, with the first coming as early as on the evening of May 16, shortly after the leaders arrive.
While there is clearly room in Sofia for diplomatic maneuvering and discussions of the sequencing of the diplomatic and legal processes needed to approve any potential deal, on May 15 Greek Alternate Foreign Minister Giorgos Katrougalos told the semi-official Athens-Macedonia News Agency that core issues remain unresolved.
Referring to both constitutional revisions by Skopje and the “erga omnes” (a single name for use in all purposes) questions, Katrougalos said “These are not small issues, and at the moment Skopje is insisting. The ball is in their court.” For there to be a deal, there must be “a necessary concession by the other side,” he explained. The lack of focus on the precise formulation of the compound name itself indicates both sides have some flexibility, but at least in Greece any compound formulation using the word “Macedonia” entails a heavy political cost and will be a factor in the next Greek election cycle.
American diplomacy has been less visible than that of the EU on the Name Dispute as of late, including in a detailed May 15 phone conversation between EU Council President Donald Tusk and Tsipras. This could change soon as Greek Foreign Minister Kotzias is planning a Washington visit around May 21. While the Name Dispute is only one of many critical regional issues Kotzias will need to discuss in detail with his American interlocutors, he will undoubtedly come under pressure to do what is needed to get an agreement, which likely means Greece will be challenged to reconsider its negotiating stance on the remaining hard issues.

- Advertisement -

Subscribe to our newsletter

CEO/Editor-in-Chief.  Former US diplomat with previous assignments in Eastern Europe, the UN, SE Asia, Greece, across the Balkans, as well as Washington DC.

Latest

Americans deserve far more than a coronation

After the NATO Summit in Washington on July 9-11,...

EU Parliament begins its 10th mandate

The European Parliament was officially constituted on July 16,...

Policies on Deforestation Show Europe’s Internal Splits

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once famously...

NATO Summit: “Trump-proofing” Ukraine support while Biden appearances under a microscope

The July 9-11 NATO Summit was originally envisioned as...

Don't miss

Americans deserve far more than a coronation

After the NATO Summit in Washington on July 9-11,...

EU Parliament begins its 10th mandate

The European Parliament was officially constituted on July 16,...

Policies on Deforestation Show Europe’s Internal Splits

Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once famously...

NATO Summit: “Trump-proofing” Ukraine support while Biden appearances under a microscope

The July 9-11 NATO Summit was originally envisioned as...

Russia failing to replace lucrative European gas deliveries with sales to China

Russia’s attempts to build the Power of Siberia 2...

Americans deserve far more than a coronation

After the NATO Summit in Washington on July 9-11, where Biden-watching essentially became the main focus, and the assassination attempt on former President Donald...

NATO Summit: “Trump-proofing” Ukraine support while Biden appearances under a microscope

The July 9-11 NATO Summit was originally envisioned as a celebration of the alliance’s 75th anniversary at the organization’s founding venue in Washington D.C.,...

G7 Summit focuses on Ukraine support and shattering Russia’s wartime economy

Despite last week’s expert punditry (itself almost indistinguishable from AI) on the latest G7 decisions as exhibited by the “instant experts” on global issues...

World Oceans Day calls for action to protect coastal communities and marine ecosystems

UN World Oceans Day, which is officially on June 8, was celebrated on June 7 at UN Headquarters in New York, focusing on protecting...

U.S.-Kazakhstan Enhanced Strategic Partnership Dialogue deepens political and economic ties

The sixth annual United States-Kazakhstan Enhanced Strategic Partnership Dialogue (ESPD) was held in Washington D.C. on May 31.The U.S.-Kazakhstan Enhanced Strategic Partnership Dialogue was...

Washington orders new sanctions against Russia’s Wagner Group in Africa

 On May 30, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) ordered new sanctions measures to counter Russia’s destabilizing activities in...

Outline for Luzon Economic Corridor takes shape

While most headlines from the Indo-Pacific Business Forum held on May 21 in Taguig, just outside Manila, focused on the latest official data concerning...

Tackling new threats to critical energy infrastructure

The explosions that targeted the Nord Stream pipelines from Russia to Germany in September 2022 and the suspected sabotage of Baltic-connector pipeline, which supplies...