Skopje and Athens "optimistic" about solving name dispute
Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has said that he was optimistic about a solution to the country's name dispute with Greece.Source: Beta
Beta is reporting that he also said 2018 could be good for Macedonia's Euro-Atlantic integration.
He told a news conference that Macedonia was resolved to "truly and essentially start solving the name issue" in the first half of the year. The dispute has been a stumbling block in the two neighbors' relations for two and a half decades.
Zaev said he had spoken on the telephone with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias twice and with Greek PM Alexis Tsipras once while in Thessaloniki for the New Year's holidays.
"The year 2018 could definitely be an excellent one for the Republic of Macedonia, because we could get a date for the start of talks with the EU and an invitation to join NATO," Zaev said.
According to Macedonian media, Tsipras said earlier that he was optimistic about the name dispute, but that he expected concrete steps to be taken by the Macedonian side.
Tsipras told a Greek radio station that he was optimistic about efficient and responsible management of the issue inherited from earlier cabinets, as long as the opposite side had the desire to move forward.