European Western Balkans

Kotzias: Talks on name dispute are not talks about identity

Nikos Kotzias

THESSALONIKI – Talks for solving name dispute are not focusing on the identity, said today in Thessaloniki the Head of the Greek diplomacy, Nikos Kotzias, replying to a question whether during a briefing session with Greek journalists after the meetings in New York he has said that the negotiations include talks about the identity, the language, and the nation.

“I said what I meant. I hope that at some moment there shall be more eventful talks about the name dispute and everything related to this issue. I have never said that this is related to the language or anything else. You can ask the journalists that have said that and have told you that,” said Kotzias.

When asked what things Macedonia and Albania will have to solve in order for Greece not to dispute their entrance in the EU, Kotzias said that the diplomacy’s purpose is for solving problems.

“Our policy is of friendship and development of relations. The goal of diplomacy is to solve problems, and not to create them. When speaking of Euro-integrations, people often talk how Germany and France have friendly relations. We had 600 years of enmities with Bulgaria. We had a triple occupation. But, you see, these issues can be solved. We shouldn’t be frightened of making compromises. They should be in accordance with the international relations and on basis of mutual trust,” said Kotizas.

Dimitrov will not react to Kotzias

The future of the region was the topic of the bilateral meeting between Macedonian Foreign Minister, Nikola Dimitrov, and his Greek counterpart, Nikos Kotzias, as well as the four-way meeting that takes place today in Thessaloniki, attended by government officials from Bulgaria and Albania .

“We discussed what we can do to create a positive vision for the future and closer cooperation of civil society organizations in both countries and universities, organizing a business forum, but also for other things. Basically, it was mainly how to add to this positive window in our cooperation that opens. Previously, in the regional format we were talking about cross-border cooperation, to increase cooperation through the ministries of interior”, said Dimitrov.

When asked whether he would react to Kotzias after Greek customs officers began sticking stickers on Macedonian vehicles that say that Greece does not recognize the abbreviation MK, Dimitrov said that the reality is that we have different views on the issue.

“There will be a process where we will try to close this difference. This should not surprise us. I can open that question, but nobody is asking it right now and we’ll approach this issue differently. In order to solve the issue that divides us, it is important to find issues that connect us”, said Dimitrov.

During his visit to Thessaloniki, the Macedonian Foreign Minister also had a meeting with the mayor of Thessaloniki Yiannis Boutaris, where they discussed the development of bilateral cooperation in several areas.

“We talked about a lot of concrete things and we agreed to form working groups, after the local elections in Macedonia, to come up with a concrete positive agenda for the future. We know that there is one difference that separates our two societies and nations, but there are many areas that connect us. I like the idea of organizing a regional tour of the wine potentials for foreign visitors”, said Dimitrov, after meeting with the mayor of Thessaloniki.

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