15 March, 2005
UN-brokered negotiations between Greece and FYROM for finding a solution to the FYROM name issue will resume in New York in the next few weeks, UN secretary general Kofi Annan's special representative on FYROM, Matthew Nimetz, told reporters on Saturday after a working lunch with Greece's visiting deputy foreign minister Yannis Valinakis and the country's permanent representative to the UN, Ambassador Adamantios Vassilakis, in Manhattan.
Nimetz indirectly but clearly conceded that the two negotiating continued to have different approaches to the issue.
Nimetz told reporters that he had a "very good meeting" with Valinakis, adding that the deputy minister had explained the position of the Greek government.
"Throughout these years, we have had many discussions, but Mr. Valinakis analyzed the position very clearly," Nimetz said, noting that "the Greek government is devoted to resolving the issue in a way that satisfies everyone".
He further expressed hope that progress would be made.
Replying to a related press question, Nimetz explained that "a solution does not mean compromise, but rather understanding by each side", and added that "the two governments are responsible, and recognize that if this problem is solved, it will be good for their countries and the region".
He conceded, at the same time, that "obviously the positions differ, because if they held the same position, then we would have no issue (for discussion)", but added that "despite that, I see real interest for a solution, and we will continue the efforts".
Valinakis, in turn, said that "this was one of the regular meetings we have commenced since last summer...We had a very interesting discussion".
"I can also reiterate that I outlined the Greek government's position, that a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue would facilitate our bilateral (Greece-FYROM) relations, help in achieving stability in the Balkan region, which we all know is particularly necessary, and, naturally, would facilitate Skopje's course to the Euro-Atlantic institutions. It is something that we consider would be positive," Valinakis said.
"The Greek side supports the conversion of the Balkans into a European neighborhood. We hope that the other side will display the same constructive stance that we have manifested, and that it will realize precisely the need to proceed to its European perspective via the road of a mutually acceptable solution," the Greek deputy foreign minister added.
Valinakis had a meeting earlier with the members of Greece's permanent representation to the UN to examine issues concerning Greece's participation on the UN Security Council (as a non-permanent member for the two-year period 2005-2006), particularly in light of Greece's assumption of the rotating Security Council presidency in July.
Greece fully supports UN-brokered talks underway with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) aimed at finding a mutually acceptable name for the neighboring country.
"We immediately reactivated (the process) and we fully support the talks in New York that aim to hold a substantive discussion, not just for the sake of form, in order to find a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue," Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis told the US National Herald newspaper in an interview.
Valinakis made it clear that if FYROM showed intransigence, then its move towards the European Union would be harder.
Greece backed a jointly agreed name to achieve three outcomes: a further improvement of bilateral ties with FYROM; reinforcement of regional stability and cooperation; and a smooth course for FYROM towards Euro-Atlantic institutions, he said.
Deputy Foreign Minister Yiannis Valinakis is visiting the US capital for talks with government officials on bilateral ties and regional issues.
At the White House, Valinakis will meet Daniel Fried, head of European affairs at the National Security Council; and at the State Department, William Burns, acting undersecretary for political affairs.
Valinakis earlier visited New York, where he held talks with Matthew Nimetz, the special UN secretary general's special envoy, on the status of talks under UN auspices aimed at finding a mutually acceptable solution on a name for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.
Source: Athens News Agency