UN envoy says his mandate concerns only name dispute

SKOPJE -- UN secretary-general's envoy Matthew Nimetz has said that he has no mandate to negotiate about "the identity of the Macedonian people."

(Tanjug)
(Tanjug)

Nimetz, who mediates in the name dispute between Athens and Skopje, said on Tuesday in Skopje that he had no mandate to negotiate on the identity of the people, but about the name of the state.

The Balkan country was admitted to the UN as "the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FRYOM)," but its constitutional name is "the Republic of Macedonia." Southern neighbor Greece considers this unacceptable, as "Macedonia" is a the name of its northern region. Greece believes that this not only usurps the name, but expresses territorial pretensions.

"The UN mandate is very clear, it concerns the name of the country," Nimetz said after a meeting with Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski.

Nimetz pointed out that because of the dispute with Greece, the country was accepted to the UN under the provisional name.

"This is the formulation we use in the UN, not the name, it is a temporary designation until a solution has been reached. The aim of the negotiations is to resolve the issue, the issue of the name," said the envoy.

Nimetz added that "every nation has its own identity and that the UN does not negotiate it."

While in Skopje, he also met with President Gjorgee Ivanov and Foreign Minister Nikola Popovski, and will on Wednesday be in Athens for talks with Greek officials.

The naming dispute, ongoing since 1991, has resulted in Greece blocking its northern neighbor's membership in NATO and negotiations with the EU.