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Macedonia and Greece are moving closer to solving name dispute: Zaev tells FT

Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev in an interview the Financial Times (FT) said Macedonia and Greece are moving closer to solving longstanding name dispute.

Zaev hopes that they will find a compromise before a Nato summit in Brussels on July 11-12.

I’m optimistic. It’s very difficult, we’re aware of that. But it would be smart for both sides to find a solution as early as possible,” Zaev said. 

“Now the new requirement from Greece is that we need to change our constitution. But a constitution is a home rule book. It doesn’t have implications outside the country. In any case, changing the constitution wouldn’t be a final guarantee, because a new government in the future could just change the constitution back again,” Zaev said.

In regard to the names proposed by UN mediator Matthew Nimetz including the Republic of Macedonia (Skopje), Northern Macedonia, Upper Macedonia, Vardar Macedonia and New Macedonia, Zaev said New Macedonia was unacceptable because it lacked geographical precision, but he was open to negotiation on the other four names.

Zaev said Macedonia’s integration into the west’s alliances should go ahead despite Russian objections to Nato’s expansion.

Russia has nothing against our integration with the EU, but it is not so positive about our integration with Nato. We have good relations with Russia. They should be aware that there’s no alternative for our country to integration with the EU and Nato,” he said.

If they reach an accord, both Mr Zaev and Mr Tsipras will need the support of at least some opposition politicians to steer the deal through their respective parliaments. This may not be easy. “There’s a lot of nationalism, a lot of criticism, persons and groups who are against an agreement in both countries,” Mr Zaev said in an interview with Financial Times. 

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