Tuesday

21st Aug 2018

Macedonia expects 'breakthrough' in Greece talks

  • Zaev (l) hopes a deal with Greece will help starting accession talks with the EU (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

Macedonian prime minister Zoran Zaev has said a "breakthrough" on the name dispute is imminent, as he prepares to speak to his Greek counterpart on Friday (1 June).

"I will speak with [Greek] PM [Alexis] Tsipras, after which I expect a breakthrough in the talks," he said in a speech on Wednesday, prior to a phone conference with Athens to be held today.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Zaev said there was already "an agreement on the principles, and the formal and legal aspect of the agreement."

He did not give details, but the MKD news website reported that the name 'Northern Macedonia' was acceptable to both sides.

The deal is also likely to involve changes to the Macedonian constitution to remove what Greece says are irredentist claims.

Greece has blocked the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (its UN designation) progress on the EU and Nato path for decades on grounds that the name Macedonia (its informal title) implied a claim to the Greek region of the same name.

A quick breakthrough could see EU states open accession talks with Macedonia at their June summit and Nato invite it to join at a summit in July.

The deal would then be ratified by Macedonian MPs and by a non-binding referendum, Zaev said.

"We all agree that a referendum will be held in September or October when we expect the citizens to give us directions for our future moves," he said.

Macedonia hopes to be ready to enter the EU in seven to 10 years, providing that the French and Dutch leaders, two enlargement-sceptics, do not block the opening of negotiations in June.

Speaking in Brussels earlier this week, Greek foreign minister Nikos Kotzias also sounded upbeat.

"The documents that have been drafted at a ministerial level will be delivered to the two prime ministers who will discuss between themselves and reach a final deal," he said, after meeting his Macedonian counterpart in the EU capital on Monday.

The EU foreign relations chief, Federica Mogherini, who also spoke to them, said the talks were "extremely encouraging and promising" and that she expected an accord "in the coming days or weeks".

"This will, I believe, have a transformative, powerful effect not only on relations between the two countries, but also on the entire region of the Balkans, and also on Europe," she said.

The breakthrough in the UN-sponsored name talks would help restore faith in the value of diplomacy in turbulent times on the global stage, she added.

Devil in detail of Macedonia name talks

Unlocking Macedonia talks could be this year's big breakthrough in EU enlargement, but the devil's in the detail of Macedonia's constitution, as Macedonian prime minister Zoran Zaev and Greek PM Alexis Tsipras meet in Sofia.

EU delays Macedonia and Albania talks

Accession talks to start in 2019, not this year as hoped, after France, Denmark and Netherlands force delay despite breakthrough on Macedonia name dispute.

News in Brief

  1. Italy allows boat with migrants to dock
  2. France's Total pulls out of Iran due to US sanctions
  3. Trump accuses EU and China of currency manipulation
  4. Swedish conservatives regret unsuccessful integration policies
  5. Record high measles cases hit Europe
  6. Swedish politician declares war on media
  7. Italy threatens to return migrants to Libya
  8. MEP accuses Maltese government of 'hate campaign'

Opinion

Has the time finally come for 'European champions'?

Since Emmanuel Macron took the French presidency in 2017, the concept of consolidating European industries to create continental 'champions', capable of competing on a global scale, has been revived.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. UK sanctions appeal risks highlighting EU divisions
  2. Wind delays launch of European wind-mapping satellite
  3. Greece 'normal' again after end of crisis, EU says
  4. Putin strikes blow against Russia's isolation by Europe
  5. EU-China cooperation on CO2 storage lost in limbo
  6. Greece exits bailouts, but difficult path ahead
  7. EU gets record response on 'summertime' consultation
  8. 'Nativism' and the upcoming Swedish and Bavarian elections

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us