PM Zaev: The best time to solve name issue is by mid-2018

Name talks still lack substance, however there is commitment to solving the name issue, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said Tuesday adding that the most favorable time to settle the row would be the first half of 2018.

Commenting about a statement of Koco Angjusev, Deputy PM for economic affairs, involving the name issue, Zaev said he had took the liberty of commenting the name alternatives openly. “The citizens should be aware that the government will be transparent in the process.”

On Saturday, Deputy PM Angjusev in an interview with a local radio station said the name issue should be settled.

“Northern, Upper or New Macedonia – it is up to the people to say what they think. In my opinion, Northern, Upper or New are acceptable qualifiers,” he said stressing that the name row also affected the economy.

“I’m a democrat, I respect different opinions. We haven’t yet delved into the essence of the talks with Greece. I hope it will be concluded with a final solution… The name process, mediated by (UN envoy) Matthew Nimetz, so far has produced a determination, as shown by the two parties, to commit more to settling the issue Greece has involving the name,” stated Zaev.

I believe, he added, that a solution will be found at every level, between the ministers of foreign affairs, and between us, the premiers.

“The first half of 2018 is an excellent time to finally find a solution to the problem and for Macedonia to move forward, i.e. to get a date for start of EU accession talks and to become a member of NATO,” PM Zaev said answering journalist questions.

Asked to comment on a statement of the Alliance of Albanians (AA) leader, Zijadin Sela, who said that his party would quit the government coalition once the law on the use of languages was adopted, Zaev said he expected to continue to cooperate so as to allow reform implementation in the country.

He said he wasn’t concerned with the ‘thin’ majority in Parliament. It is in fact, the PM added, a sound thing for Macedonia and I don’t plan on being focused on elections next year, I plan on being committed to the pledged we made to the public.

“After announcing the party is going to leave the government, I hope we will be able to continue to cooperate in pursuing reforms, the law on languages, ratification of the friendship treaty with Bulgaria, laws requiring ‘two-third’ majority, and in being committed to improving the overall quality of life in Macedonia,” PM Zaev told reporters in Prilep.