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Greek Officials Investigate Death Threats For Minister Over Macedonia Name Dispute


MACEDONIA -- Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias (L) gestures next to his Macedonia counterpart Nikola Dimitrov at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Skopje, August 31, 2017

Officials in Greece say they are investigating a death threat against the country's foreign minister that is thought to be tied to efforts with Macedonia to resolve a decades-old name dispute between the neighbors.

Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias received a letter that "contains threats to him and his family" including the mention that there were "three bullets" for him, Civil Protection Minister Nikos Toskas said on February 2.

"It was threats to him and his family," Toskas told ANT1 TV.

He added that, in recent weeks, Kotzias has received other threatening letters and calls, as had other government ministries. He did not elaborate.

The two Balkan neighbors have been holding talks to resolve a name dispute that has strained bilateral relations since Macedonia, for decades a part of the former Yugoslavia, gained independence in 1991.

Greece argues that its neighbor's name implies a claim on its own province of Macedonia and wants it changed. The Macedonian government denies the charge.

Greek officials are said to favor a modifier to the word Macedonia by adding "Upper," "New," or "North" to it.

Greece has held up Macedonia’s drive to join NATO because of the dispute.

Greek protesters have held several demonstrations against any compromise on the name, with another planned for Athens on February 4.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and ANT1 TV.
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