Party leaders who were briefed by Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias on the progress in FYROM naming talks were given the impression that the affair has taken a new course after recent talks.

Kotzias had first brief Greek Communist Party leader Dimitris Koutsoumbas, and yesterday he briefed Movement for Change and Pasok leader Fofi Gennimata and Centrists’ Union president Vasilis Leventis.

New Democracy shadow foreign minister Yorgos Koumoutsakos will be briefed today, as party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis refused to be briefed by the foreign minister.

The briefings are being held ahead of a crucial 12 April meeting between Kotzias and FYROM Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov in Skopje, where it will become clearer whether, beyond the name, differences between the two sides can be bridged.

A key sticking point for Skopje is Athens’ demand that they amend their constitution to include the new name and remove irredentist elements.

“When the (settlement) proposal is tabled in parliament, we shall take a position based on the decisions of our Political Council and the statements of the president (Gennimata),” said Pasok spokesman Pavlos Christidis.
The Movement for Change supports a composite name for all uses and legally binding commitments that Skopje will eradicate vestiges of irredentism in relation to Greece.

Leventis reveals details of talks

Leventis reiterated his hard-line stance, rejecting any use of the name Macedonia by Skopje. But he made clear, based on Kotzias’ briefing, that there is progress on the issue of a revision of the FYROM Constitution.

He said the next step is for UN mediator Matthew Nimetz to submit to the UN a settlement plan that will be enshrined in an international agreement and supercede FYROM’s Constitution. Thereafter, Skopje will have to amend its constitution in order to be admitted to international organisations (such as Nato and the EU).

“Kotzias believes that if the side of Skopje makes a few concessions, one can reach a solution, which of course includes the name Macedonia. He said this in the sense that Greece is a bigger country and has nothing to fear from FYROM,” Leventis said.

In an interview yesterday, Mitsotakis said his party will take a position once it sees the settlement that the government has accepted.