Macedonian PM Zaev and Greek mayor Boutaris meet for dinner in Thessaloniki

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, who is paying a private visit to the Greek city of Thessaloniki over the weekend, had dinner Saturday night with the city’s mayor Yannis Boutaris, Greek media report on Sunday.

Exiting the restaurant in Thessaloniki, one of the city’s finest, both Zaev and Boutaris voiced their satisfaction, MIA’s correspondent from Greece reports citing Greek media.

“We had a lovely dinner with Mr. Zaev. The dinner was exclusively a private affair, because we are fostering a private relationship. I hope he will come back soon,” Boutaris told reporters waiting outside the restaurant.

PM Zaev said it was a ‘great pleasure’ to dine with the Mayor of Thessaloniki and his cabinet staff. “Also, I would like to wish all the citizens of Greece, and the citizens of Thessaloniki, a happy new year. It’s always a pleasure to be here,” the Macedonian Premier said after the dinner.

Speaking to reporters outside the restaurant, both Zaev and Boutaris fell short of revealing any details about their discussions at the dinner, MIA reports.

Citing sources, the Thessaloniki web-portal Voria said the Macedonian PM had expressed optimism that a solution to the name issue could be found in the first half of 2018. On his part, Mayor Boutaris mainly focused on opportunities for cooperation.

According to local media, the three-hour dinner featured a menu of sea food, calamari, octopus, fish, salad and white wine.

Greek media are extensively covering PM Zaev’s visit to Thessaloniki, even though he is visiting the city in a private capacity.

On Saturday, Zaev shared a photo on his Twitter profile of the two talking to one another, also writing that they were dining in a positive atmosphere and talking about issues of mutual interest.

“Thessaloniki is beautiful as always, a friendly city in neighboring Greece. At a joint dinner with Mayor Boutaris, we are discussing things that connect us in a positive atmosphere. I thanked him for his hospitality while sharing our expectations to make 2018 a success,” Zaev wrote on Twitter.