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Greece 'Not Yet In Position' To Announce Deal On Macedonia Name Dispute


Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras (right) meets with Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev at the EU-Western Balkans summit in Sofia on May 17.

The Greek prime minister says his country and Macedonia are “not yet in position” to announce a deal in their long-standing dispute over Macedonia’s name.

"I believe we have covered a major part of the distance, but there is still distance to cover," Alexis Tsipras said on May 17 after meeting with his Macedonian counterpart on the sidelines of an EU-Western Balkan summit in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Greece, an EU and NATO member, has for years blocked Macedonia's efforts to join both organizations, arguing that its name implies a claim on the Greek province of Macedonia.

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Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev appeared more optimistic, saying earlier in the day that an agreement between the two countries could be finalized before an EU summit in June.

"We have discussed one [specific] solution to the name dispute that could be acceptable for both sides, but we need to have further discussions in our countries," Zaev told reporters, without disclosing the option.

Previous comments from the Macedonian side have indicated that solutions could involve adding a modifier to the country’s official name, such as “Upper” or “Northern” to satisfy Athens, although nationalists in Macedonian have opposed such concessions.

Based on reporting by AFP and Reuters