European Western Balkans

Nechev: Macedonian government shows willingness to resolve bilateral disputes

Zoran Zaev and Rumen Radev; Photo: Macedonian Government

The new Macedonian government appears to be prepared to resolve the ongoing disputes with its neighbours, which have inhibited the progress of Macedonia on its European path.

Zoran Nechev, member of the Balkans in Europe Policy Advisory Group (BiEPAG) and senior researcher and manager of the Center for European Integration at the Institute for Democracy ‘Societas Civilis’, states that the developments in relations between Bulgaria and Macedonia are on a “good track” if one was to judge by the initial success following the conclusion of the Agreement of Friendship, good-neighborliness and cooperation, which was signed in the first 100 days of the new government.

According to Nechev, “it also shows the willingness of the new government in Skopje to resolve the outstanding issues with its neighbors as a pre-condition for moving forward on the EU agenda”.

When referring to the unresolved bilateral name dispute with Greece, Nechev points out at the “willingness of Prime Minister Zaev and Foreign Minister Dimitrov to continue and intensify the negotiations over the name dispute with Greece in the future and their readiness to compromise”. In addition, he recalls the expectation indicated by the Greek Foreign Minister Kotzias that the name issue might be closed by mid-2018.

“This sets up the stage in which both sides stand ready to move forward”, indicates Nechev, thus referring to the overtly friendly tone of the meetings between the high officials of both countries, which have nevertheless contributed to the creation of the overall positive climate that is needed for the resolution of the long-lasting dispute.

“The public will just need to wait and see if this positive climate will be translated into concrete actions and initiatives in the period to come”, concludes Nechev.

The publication of this article has been supported by the European Fund for the Balkans

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