The prime minister of the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) said on Monday that he hopes Skopje and Athens could soon reach a solution to the dispute over the former Yugoslav republic’s name that has dragged on for almost three decades.
Athens has objected to the tiny country’s name and use of symbols relating to the Ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia and argues that the use of the name “Macedonia” also implies territorial claims over Greece’s own northern region with the same name.
The dispute has led to Skopje’s isolation from international bodies like NATO and the European Union.
But Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said he expected the two sides to move fast to find a solution.
“November 21, 20 there will be a first meeting with (U.N. mediator) Matthew Nimetz and I hope we will find a solution rather than postpone it,” Zaev said after meeting his Slovenian counterpart Miro Cerar.
He also said that he expects his nation to start accession talks with the European Union next year.
The Macedonia name dispute has dragged on for almost 26 years with no clear progress.
Athens has repeatedly insisted that Skopje use a compound name such as “New” or “Upper” Macedonia.
The former prime minister, nationalist Nikola Gruevski, built his almost decade-long rule on nationalism and had refused to meet Greek demands, clinging to the notion that his country and people were ancestors of Alexander the Great and the Macedonians of Ancient Greece.
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