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UN Envoy Sees Chance To End Macedonia Name Dispute

GENEVA (Reuters) -- The United Nations mediator seeking to resolve a long-running dispute over Macedonia's name said on June 22 he would visit Athens and Skopje next month to push for a resolution.

"The positions are entrenched but positions can change and accommodations can be made," said Matthew Nimetz, the personal envoy of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the issue.

"I believe there are dignified solutions that meet the needs of both sides," he told a news conference after meeting representatives of both countries in Geneva.

When Macedonia broke away from the former Yugoslavia, Greece objected to the name arguing it implied a claim on Greece's own region of Macedonia.

Nimetz brokered a deal in 1995 allowing the newly independent Balkan state to join the United Nations under the temporary designation "Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia."

Talks since then have failed to settle on a permanent name acceptable to both countries. The dispute has blocked Macedonia's admission to NATO and could hinder its entry into the European Union.

Nimetz will visit Skopje on July 6-7 and Athens July 7-9.