-->New round of name negotiations yields no progress Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski proposed to add recognition of the Macedonian Orthodox Church and renaming of the Thessaloniki International Airport to ongoing name-dispute talks. However, UN mediator Matthew Nimetz considers those issues outside the talks´ scope.
One more round of negotiations on the name dispute between Macedonia and Greece occurred in New York late last week but made no perceptible progress. In separate meetings with the Macedonian and Greek teams Thursday (August 14th), UN special representative Matthew Nimetz also discussed some new ideas on the name that the parties did not disclose. Some Greek media reported in unconfirmed accounts that Nimetz was bringing back into play the "Northern Macedonia" name in five variants.
Nimetz took a hard line in dismissing Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski´s demand to involve other issues in the negotiations, such as recognising the Macedonian Orthodox Church and restoring the Thessaloniki International Airport´s former name of "Mikra". "My mandate is for the name problem. There are also other issues, and resolution of the main problem with the name may lead to resolving those disputes," Nimetz stated.
Gruevski´s new letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon proposing discussion of the church issue received a cold response from Greece. Macedonian media quoted Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis as saying, "We are expecting the Skopje side [not to] place obstacles in various ways and avoid the essence of the negotiations."
Her US counterpart, Condoleezza Rice, said the name dispute "should not get in the way of the admission of Macedonia to NATO". Greece reportedly interprets her statement as evidence Washington is "pushing" to have NATO admit Macedonia before US President George W Bush leaves office.
The Macedonian Orthodox Church, recognition of which the Serbian Orthodox Church has been blocking, purportedly in collaboration with the powerful Greek Orthodox Church, welcomed Gruevski´s initiative. On the other hand, Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski questioned the wisdom of Gruevski´s move, saying the Macedonian and Serbian Orthodox churches should handle the problem of non-recognition.
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