Monday, October 2, 2023
 
 

Turmoil in and around Greece may be switching the Greece-Macedonia/FYROM Name Talks into low gear

- Advertisement -

The barrage of Greek domestic politics and this week’s almost-clashes with Turkey in the Aegean have combined to get the Greece-Macedonia/FYROM Name Dispute talks off the front pages at least for a while. While contacts continued in Vienna and Sofia, diplomatic progress apparently ground to a crawl amid indications that some of the parties involved may now consider a push for a solution before the NATO July Bucharest Summit to be unworkable.
Athens has been dealing with two separate front-burner issues this week which clearly pulled attention off of the Name Dispute discussions. The dispute with Turkey over the Aegean islet of Imia was, of course, front page news most of the week and has kept the Greek military on edge. Turkish naval actions and diplomatic pronouncements in the eastern Mediterranean near Cyprus concerning ongoing oil/gas exploration work have also been an important consideration. The domestic political battle over the Novartis bribery scandal moved to a second phase with main opposition party leaders (New Democracy) hitting the government and specific leaders with defamation lawsuits, as well as sustained parliamentary challenges.
On the Name Dispute, a hastily scheduled bilateral meeting between both countries’ foreign ministers was held in Vienna on February 12-13 with UN Mediator Matthew Nimetz present. Curiously the main point in the joint press release was simply that bilateral talks would continue. The Vienna discussions occurred while Macedonia/FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev was in Ankara on an official visit, including a meeting with his Turkish counterpart. A second bilateral meeting of foreign ministers was held on February 16 in Sofia on the sidelines of a long-scheduled informal EU foreign ministers meeting.
In Skopje, rumours surfaced that Zaev has quietly requested government-friendly press outlets to de-emphasise reporting on the Name Dispute until at least through September. This is being interpreted in Skopje as an indication that things will move to a slower track, which is not exactly supportive of what Nimetz has been saying, which is that “now is the time for a deal.”
Meanwhile, the “renaming” process continued with the publication in the official government gazette of the Macedonian/FYROM government’s decision to rechristen Skopje’s airport and main national highway by removing the word “Alexander”, making those changes, promised in Davos, official. Zaev also told the local press during a trip outside Skopje mid-week that he believed “three of seven outstanding issues have been resolved” and that it was time to focus on the remaining open items with Greece.

- Advertisement -

Subscribe to our newsletter

Co-founder and Executive Director for Global Economics and Southeast Europe at NE Global Media.  Former US diplomat with previous assignments in Eastern Europe, the UN, SE Asia, Greece, across the Balkans, as well as Washington DC.

Latest

Iran protesters mark anniversary of “Bloody Friday”

Residents in the southeastern Iranian province of Sistan and...

US announces Israel’s acceptance into the Visa Waiver Program

Israeli citizens will be allowed visa-free entry into the...

UN General Assembly 2023: More progress urgently needed on Sustainable Development Goals

The 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) kicked off...

Don't miss

Iran protesters mark anniversary of “Bloody Friday”

Residents in the southeastern Iranian province of Sistan and...

US announces Israel’s acceptance into the Visa Waiver Program

Israeli citizens will be allowed visa-free entry into the...

UN General Assembly 2023: More progress urgently needed on Sustainable Development Goals

The 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) kicked off...

Europe’s lawmakers see opportunity for regime change a year after Iran’s latest uprising

On September 21, representatives of various political groups held...

UN General Assembly 2023: More progress urgently needed on Sustainable Development Goals

The 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) kicked off in New York as planned on September 18, with global attention focused on the so-called...

Zelensky Athens visit eclipses Mitsotakis’ informal Western Balkans Summit

Receiving a full house of Western Balkan leaders, as well as several EU luminaries, in Athens on an evening when much of northern Greece...

Former UN judges, prominent jurists & politicians demand Iran’s leaders be held accountable for 1988 massacre

During an international conference on August 21, former UN Judges, renowned legal experts, and prominent politicians from the US, Europe, and Africa called on...

The global impact two years after the Taliban’s takeover

Two years ago, the world saw the return of a repressive Taliban regime. The rapid fall of the Afghan government sent shockwaves throughout neighbouring...

Latest gambit in North Macedonia seeks to break impasse with Bulgaria

At the end of July, the largest ethnic Albanian political party in North Macedonia, the Democratic Union for Integration, presented an innovative proposal to...

Back to Business: Greek conservatives rout socialist opposition parties in second round elections

Delivering an undeniable demonstration of Greece’s current focus on stability and the need to generate continued economic growth, the June 25 election produced the...

Strange goings on in Northern Greece seem to worry Ankara

Government-linked Turkish media have indicated concern about a series of visits and events in Greece’s Evros prefecture -- the Greek-Turkish border region -- which...

Serb boycotts, protests trigger new unrest in Kosovo

The latest cycle of unrest in Kosovo, a direct result of Serbian interference in Kosovo’s April 23 municipal elections, exploded into violence on May...