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Macedonia Upbeat On Talks With Greece Over Name

DUBROVNIK (Reuters) -- Macedonia's foreign minister has said he saw new hope in resolving a dispute with Greece over his country's name that has blocked its progress joining NATO and the European Union.

When Macedonia emerged as an independent country as Yugoslavia collapsed, Greece objected to its name, saying it implied a claim on Greece's own northern region of Macedonia.

"There is a new dynamic in the negotiations between Macedonia and Greece on the name issue," Macedonian Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference on the Balkans.

"The new dynamic is increased communication on the issue, talks, exchanges of views, increased dynamics.

"We should also keep in mind that these negotiations are lasting more than 15 years, so we should be also very careful when we speak about optimism and timeframe."

Matthew Nimetz, personal envoy of the United Nations secretary-general, held talks in Skopje and Athens this week to try for a compromise. Milososki said the next round of talks led by Nimetz were expected in the second half of August.

The dispute has blocked Macedonia's entry to NATO and hindered its EU application. Macedonia applied to join the bloc in 2005 but has yet to start accession talks.