Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias reiterated on Thursday that 2018 bodes well for solving "foreign policy issues that have remained mired for decades", a direct reference to a pending resumption of talks to solve the long-standing "name issue" separating Athens and Skopje.
Kotzias, in fact, made the statement after exiting a Cabinet meeting convened in Athens on the specific foreign policy issue, while adding that his leftist-rightist coalition government "backs and is negotiating a composite name for all uses (erga omnes), something, in fact, that Greece had presented in Bucharest".
Essentially the Greek foreign minister was merely reiterated a decision taken by Greek political leaders back in 2008, ahead of a NATO summit in Bucharest. The consensus at the time aimed to support a solution based on a composite name with a geographic qualifier for use in all instances by the neighboring state, i.e. "Republic of North Macedonia", "Upper Macedonia" etc.
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (fYRoM), recognized as such at the UN, the EU, NATO and by Greece, insists on the constitutional name of "Republic of Macedonia", something that official Athens has vigorously rejected since the former's independence from one-time Yugoslavia in 1991. At the same time, scores of countries around the world recognize the constitutional name.
Greece's largest province, in the country's north, is called Macedonia, an area that more closely approximates historical and geographical Macedonia. As such, successive Greek governments, as far back as immediately after WWII, have claimed an overt irredentist agenda entailed in the stand-alone use of the name "Macedonia" by the former Yugoslav constituent state.
"We're in favor of an understanding with all (Greek political) parties and forces in the country, with every personality and citizen that is interested and wants solutions to problems affecting the country..." Kotzias said after the Cabinet meeting, which was chaired by Greek PM Alexis Tsipras.
Under close scrutiny is the reaction of Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, the government's right-wing coalition partner and a long-time hardliner on foreign policy issues, including the fYRoM "name issue".
Kammenos attended Thursday's meeting, and by all indications he and the eight deputies in Parliament belonging to his rightist-populist Independent Greeks (AN.EL) are expected to "toe the government" line on any pending solution, even one that includes the name "Macedonia".