NAME TALKS ENTER FINALE
Diplomats from Athens and Skopje are to meet Tuesday in New York on what appears to be the last round of UN-sponsored talks in the Macedonia “name” dispute ahead of the key NATO summit. A quick solution to the dispute would enable Macedonia to avoid a Greek veto of its bid to receive an invitation to join NATO at the alliance's forthcoming summit in Bucharest, which is set to commence on April 2.
After having final consultations with leaders in Skopje, Macedonia’s negotiator in the talks, Nikola Dimitrov, did not specify the instructions given to him on Sunday and simply said that he is travelling to New York with “precise directions.” “We are still not at a point where a single name is on the table for consideration,” Greek Foreign Minnister Dora Bakoyannis told media the same day, after similar consultations ended in Athens.
On Friday after a meeting in Brussels hosted by the U.S. Under-Secretary of State Daniel Fried, the Foreign Ministers from both countries declared their readiness to stay committed to finding a solution to the dispute.
A similar meeting between Greek and Macedonian Foreign Ministers is scheduled for Friday in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana.
Media in Skopje and Athens have speculated that U.S. President George Bush might bring the leaders of the two countries together for a personal last-ditch attempt to resolve the issue. They say this could even happen at the NATO summit but only if considerable progress is made in the ongoing talks by then.
The talks between Athens and Skopje on the long-running row, started after Macedonia agreed to enter the UN under the provisional name, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, FYROM. Both sides agreed to stay in talks pending a permanent solution. Greece is obliged not to block its neighbour’s bid to join international institutions such as NATO and the European Union as long as it uses its provisional name.
MD: And the battle continues into it's last days before the NATO summit, will there be a solution?