UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Talks to resolve a decades-old dispute between Greece and Macedonia over the name of the former Yugoslav Republic have narrowed, and ministers will continue negotiations in Brussels, United Nations envoy Matthew Nimetz said on Friday.
The two countries have recently renewed efforts to solve the long-running dispute, which has frustrated Macedonia’s hopes of joining the European Union and NATO, and are scrambling to reach a deal before an EU summit in June.
Nimetz met with Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias and his Macedonian counterpart, Nikola Dimitrov, in New York over the past day and a half.
“The issues are well defined, the issues have been narrowed. We still don’t have a final resolution of the issues, but both sides are determined to do enough to try to reach an agreement and are working very hard to do that,” Nimetz told reporters.
He said the two ministers would now travel to Brussels and continue talks there.
“These talks have been intensified considerably,” he said.
The dispute with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia began in earnest in 1991, when it peacefully broke away from former Yugoslavia, declaring its independence under the name Republic of Macedonia.
Greece has asked its neighbor to change its name and references in its national constitution, which it says imply territorial ambitions.
(Reporting by Michelle Nichols at the United Nations and Renee Maltezou in Athens; editing by Jonathan Oatis)