The rift between Zaev and Ivanov is evident as Kathimerini reveals excerpts from the minutes

Athens, 2 October, 2018 - 12:20 (META) 

The minutes that were seen by journalists of the Kathimerini newspaper from the leadership meetings in Macedonia regarding the negotiations with Greece before the name agreement was to be signed in June show that the political leaders have thought that the agreement would be easier for signing with the left-wing government in Greece, informs Meta’s correspondent from Athens.

The two councils on January 27 and May 19 in Skopje were both chaired by President Gjorge Ivanov, informs Kathimerini. The first meeting took place less than two weeks before negotiations began in earnest under the aegis of United Nations special envoy Matthew Nimetz while the second was convened while the name Macedonia of Ilinden was being floated.

According to the minutes of the meetings – small excerpts of which were published on May 19 by German paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung – most of the elements of the Prespa agreement had already been agreed upon, with the exception of the name.

The minutes also reveal that, in January, Macedonia was not discussing the Greek demand for a constitutional review while the use of the name – internally and internationally – was under discussion.

The minutes make plain that Greece had agreed to recognize a Macedonian identity early on and a Macedonian language shortly thereafter. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was also seen in January to be keen on rapidly wrapping up the deal so that he could head for elections after the summer with a name agreement under his belt along with Greece’s bailout exit.

By May, however, this narrative had subsided. With regard to New Democracy, the minutes of the January council showed that its response to an agreement could be positive. However, this had changed by May, when Macedonia’s leader said a deal would not be achievable with an ND government. Both councils showed a clear chasm between Zaev’s government and Ivanov. The meetings also showed that there was concern about the dangers of Russian interference aimed at no-name deal being struck with Greece.

Meanwhile, the government’s spokesperson, Dimitris Tzanakopoulos, has greeted the high percentage of the turnout of those who have voted “For” at the referendum on Sunday, expressing a concern of the lower turnout.

Regardless of the objections from their coalition partner Panos Kamenos that the low turnout means that the referendum is “invalid” Tzanakopoulos that the outcome is “a positive development for the ratification and implementation of the Prespa Agreement” signed between Athens and Skopje in June.

The New Democracy said yesterday that the referendum results have proven that “the nationally damaging Prespa Agreement is literally hanging by a thread”. Spokesperson Marija Spyraki said that Greece “cannot be a hostage of the situation in our neighboring country”.

MANU: Proposals for the name are absurd, unsustainable, impossible and unfeasible

Skopje, 20 March, 2018 - 18:24 (META) 

The president of the Macedonian Academy of Sciences and Arts (MANU), Taki Fiti, in his opening of the academy’s annual assembly, appealed for finding a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue and encouraged the authorities of Macedonia and Greece to take responsibility and bravely face the present realities.

He went on to say that a solution to a name for general use, is unfeasible and that identity must not be negotiated.

Defining the positions of MANU in his address, Fiti said that the dispute is in fact bilateral, not international, and that it is only negotiating the name, not issues of identity which open the door to the world of elementary human rights that are non negotiable. He also expressed concern against a name in the Macedonian language that will not be translated.

“The proposals for the name Republic of Macedonia, or the possibly of a name with a geographical title, to be pronounced as in the Macedonian language but to be written only in the Latin alphabet, that is, the name of the language, Macedonian, also written in Latin letter and pronounced as it is in our country, are absurd and unsustainable. Acceptance of an erga omnes solution, one name for all, meaning one name for both international and internal use, would mean change to the constitution of the Republic of Macedonia, change to the names of our institutions, cause a revision of all international agreements, bilateral and multilateral, where the constitutional name of the country is used, and so on. Accordingly, this solution is actually impossible and unfeasible”, said Fiti.

Dimitrov and Kotsias are having a meeting this evening in Vienna and tomorrow they will be having a joint meeting with Nimetz

Vienna, 12 February, 2018 - 20:10 (META) 

The Macedonian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikola Dimitrov, will have a meeting this evening in Vienna with the Minister of Foreign Affairs if Greece, Nikos Kotsias, informs the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Dimitrov and Kotsias will have a joint meeting with the UN mediator, Matthew Nimetz.

Dimitrov and Kotsias will meet again on the 15th and the 16th of February in Sofia at the informal meeting of the heads of the diplomacies of the EU’s countries and the countries candidates for a membership.

There will be news on the name dispute after the holidays, says Dimitrov

Skopje, 18 December, 2017 - 13:19 (META) 

The negotiations on the name dispute will continue after the New Year and Christmas holidays, and in the meantime no developments are expected, said Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nikola Dimitrov at a joint press conference with Hungarian Foreign Minister, Péter Szijjártó.

“The next meeting has been arranged after the holidays in January, so there should be no special event during the holidays. The stage is set, the process has started, the dynamic has been established, but there is nothing new which will happen during the holidays”, said Dimitrov said at a joint press conference with his Hungarian counterpart, Péter Szijjártó, who is currently visiting Macedonia.

Regarding the statement made by Bulgarian Vice President Iliana Iotova, that 70,000 Macedonians who received Bulgarian passports are Bulgarians, Dimitrov said she has not seen her, but said that this additionally points to the need for faster integration into the EU.

“The real solution how to handle our citizens applying for passports in other countries is for member states to increase the attractiveness of a Macedonian passport. A real long-term solution how to face this challenge, is making the passport of the Republic of Macedonia an EU member state. That is why it is very important that we do everything we can to use the opportunity that is being drawn slowly for 2018”, said Foreign Minister Dimitrov.

Zaev and rama visit Pustec: We are also enhancing the relations through care for minority rights

Pustec, 16 December, 2017 - 20:02 (META) 

Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and his Albanian Colleague, Edi Rama, visited today the Macedonians who live int he municipality of Pustec, and they had a joint meeting with the Deputy Mayor and the municipality’s advisors.

The representatives of the municipality of Pustec have announced to the prime ministers the priorities for which they are expecting a support, among which is the renovation of the school. Prime Minister Rama has obliged that the school will be renovated and that the municipality will receive support for the communal projects and the projects for the local development that were discussed during the meeting.

Prime Minister Zaev has thanked Rama for the care he shows for the citizens of Albania with Macedonian ethnicity.

-This is a way for opening and solving issues. The presence of the two prime ministers of Macedonia and Albania here in Pustec bears a great symbolism for the promotion of the relations between both countries, since the minority communities are the bridge of that cooperation, and the care for them is of great importance – said Zaev, who also said that the two countries are European oriented and are ready to promote minority rights.

During the meeting with the Pustec’s local authorities, Zaev has announced that the Government of the Republic of Macedonia will help in the solving the issues that are of importance for the citizens of Macedonian ethnicity in Albania.

This is the beginning of a wonderful friendship, Juncker told Zaev

Brussels, 6 December, 2017 - 17:57 (META) 

We are very pleased with the work the Prime Minister has done so far, and even though this is our first meeting, I know that this is a start of a wonderful friendship, said today in Brussels the President of the European Commission, Jean Claude Juncker during the joint press conference with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and the EU Commissioner, Johannes Hahn.

-We want to encourage FYROM to continue on the way it embarked on. The progress is significant and I want to say that what we think of especially important are the relations with the neighbors including the meetings with Greece that will take place this month – said Juncker, and he also stressed that he expects the reformatory processes to continue especially with the reforms in the intelligence services, judiciary, and the public administration.

Juncker stressed that all of the countries in the Western Balkans have a European perspective and that in the next 8 to 9 months they will decide how they will continue with each of them in the process, depending on the achieved results.

Macedonia and Albania on the right path to the EU, concludes Hahn

Vienna, 11 November, 2017 - 20:04 (META) 

The Western Balkans is pushing for the opening of the European Union’s door, and it is possible, in Spring for Brussels to give the green light to starting accession negotiations with Macedonia and Albania, wrote the Austrian newspaper “Kurier”.

The daily newspaper says that EU Commissioner for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn met with journalists from the region this week and confimred that Macedonia and Albania are on the right path to the EU.

The Presidsent of the European President, Jean-Claude Juncker said this week that the EU could welcome new members in 2025, but EU Commissioner Hahn says there are no guarantees that a country will become a member of the Union in 2025. He believes that the setting of a specific deadline may be dangerous for countries next to the Western Balkans who will not reach the deadline, so they will remain waiting and returning.

In February, the European Commission is to present a strategy for the Western Balkans to further strengthen the European perspective and the necessary reforms in the region.

“Kurir” states that because Macedonia and Albania are on the right path, the countries are expected to receive a positive assessment, which should provide the basis for EU member states to pave the way to start accession negotiations.

Vajgl: The “Jean Monnet” process is not a replacement or an extention of the Pržino Agreement

Skopje, 10 November, 2017 - 15:38 (META) 

In the last week of January, next year, representatives of various political parties, MEPs, EU experts, together with EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn and representatives of French Parliament and the French government in Paris, will begin the process of mutual dialogue on important issues, which was called “Jean Monnet”, reported the European Parliament’s rapporteur for Macedonia, MEP, Ivo Vajgl.

He emphasized that this does not mean that the Pržino Agreement will be replaced or an extended, it will remain the same, nor will it change expert Reinhard Priebe’s recommendations.

“The “Jean Monnet” process is an opportunity for interaction between European and Macedonian Parliament and provides an opportunity for an open debate, but without the presence of the public and the media. I am encouraged by the atmosphere I felt at the meetings in Skopje with the coordinators of the parliamentary groups, where the spirit of cooperation prevails, where there is mutual respect and the will to work in the interest of the people”, said Vajgl.

He pointed out that the first meeting will be held in the house of Jean Monnet, which is a symbol of integration, however, other meetings will be held either in Macedonia or in other EU countries.

The mood to resolve the name dispute is at its highest, says Hoyt Yee

Washington, 7 November, 2017 - 18:56 (META) 

Macedonia’s security depends on resolving the name dispute and the country’s entry into NATO, said the Center for International Relations in Washington today, reported the Voice of America in the Macedonian language.

US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State assessed that the mood in resolving the name dispute has so far been at its highest level. He expressed hope that a solution would be found soon.

“There is still a lot of work to be done on both sides. There will be negotiations and I am optimistic that there will be a solution because the mood in both Greece and Macedonia is at its highest level, more than ever before”, says Hoyt Yee.

Responding to a journalist’s question about speculation that he will be the new US ambassador to Macedonia, Hoyt Yee did not confirm the information nor did he deny it. After, he quickly pointed out behind the cameras that there is still no information about his possible appointment.

Young people in the region have a negative attitude towards immigrants

Podgorica, 24 October, 2017 - 15:33 (META) 

Young people from countries in the Western Balkans, have a negative attitude towards immigrants, even though most of them have never come into contact with an immigrant.

The main reason for the youth’s negative attitude towards immigrants is the negative perception of the religion of Islam.

This was shown by research, and a survey on the perception and the attitudes of young people on topics such as Islamophobia and radicalization. The survey was conducted online from late July to mid-September, on a sample of 1,152 young people from Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and four EU countries – Belgium, Italy, Hungary and Germany.

According to results from the research, Islamophobia among the youth, in total, on a scale of 1 to 5, is 2.75.

Young people from the Western Balkans, however, are less Islamophobic than their peers from Europe. The level of Islamophobia among young people in the Western Balkans is 2.5, while among young people from European countries, the number stands at 2.9.