UN’s Nimetz calls Zaev-Tsipras meeting ‘of historic importance’

The Davos meeting of PMs Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras is positive, crucial and of historic importance, according to Matthew Nimetz.

In an interview with the Greek newspaper Kathimerini, the special envoy in the name issue appointed by the UN says the parties now are faced with a historic opportunity that must be seized, MIA reports from Athens.

“I’m optimistic that in cooperation with the international community, in coordination with the UN, with Washington, Brussels and Berlin, a mutually acceptable solution could be found,” he notes.

“The meeting of the PMs Tsipras and Zaev in Davos was positive and crucial, a meeting of true historic importance provided that it contributes to settling the important differences between the two neighboring countries. It’s time that talks are intensified as regards the conditions for a final agreement while treating with caution the issues raised by the two premiers. I’m coming to Athens and Skopje for talks in order to accelerate the process. I believe now there’s a dynamic to find a solution,” says Nimetz.

Regarding a timeline for solving the dispute, Kathimerini says that the UN hopes a name settlement could be reached by April, whereas Nimetz says that concrete moves are already being made to intensify name negotiations.

“We can switch to a quick process in order to produce a positive result in several months’ time, perhaps even earlier than that,” the UN-appointed mediator notes.

According to Kathimerini, Nimetz has proposed wide use of the new name once Macedonia is integrated into the EU, but not before the integration process is concluded. In the mean time, the new name can be used in international organizations and at summits. The Greek daily also reports that other countries will be suggested they use the name either in Macedonian, or in English or they translate it in any language they want, MIA reports.

“For example, if the solution involves New or Upper Macedonia, many countries likely will use the English translation, i.e. Republic of New Macedonia or Republic of Upper Macedonia. Others, including Greece, can use the Slavic name Republika Nova Makedonija or Republika Gorna Makedonija. Within the same framework, with regard to a change to the constitution, Nimetz believes it falls under the jurisdiction of the political leadership of FYROM and law professors in the country,” writes Kathimerini.

According to the newspaper, the mediator is aware there are differences in the two countries, which in turn requires compromises.

“I fully believe that now there is willingness in the two countries and in the international community in general to close the open issues between the two neighboring countries. This is a historic opportunity that has to be seized. There’s no doubt that a name solution contributes to strengthening the stability of Europe and it will be beneficial for the citizens of the two countries,” Nimetz says in the interview.

The UN name envoy on Jan. 29-30 will pay a visit to Athens before traveling to Skopje on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1, MIA has reported.