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Kotzias in Skopje in confidence-building push, name issue not on the agenda

Kotzias

Ahead of tomorrow’s visit of Greece’s Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias to Macedonia, Foreign Minister Nikola Poposki said he expected the neighboring countries to strengthen bilateral confidence as well as their political communication.

Speaking to members of the media Wednesday before opening the Ambassadorial Council at the MoFA, Poposki said he didn’t expect the name issue to be opened at his meeting with Kotzias adding the improvement of relations and the establishment of stronger ties in as many areas as possible was ‘a top priority.’

Macedonia’s European prospect is expected to be the main topic of discussion between Kotzias and the Macedonian diplomats after he is expected to deliver an address at the event. Talks between the Greek Minister and his Macedonian host Nikola Poposki, recently appointed as Deputy PM, have been also scheduled.

Before the opening of today’s annual working meeting of the heads of diplomatic and consular offices, FM Poposki said one of the messages the meeting was sending was that Macedonia was committed to the region.

“Last year, the ministers of Bulgaria and Albania were our guests, and this year we are hosting the Greek Foreign Minister. Macedonia is continuously sending a clear message that we want to serve as a factor of stability and Greece is definitely one of the key factors,” stressed Poposki.

He said a breakthrough had been made in bulk of the agreed areas.

“Our objective was to enhance cooperation so as to relax relations with respect to education, energy cooperation or business collaboration. Efforts have been made that would have been unimaginable in the past. All of this is considered increase in confidence-building between Macedonia and Greece,” noted Poposki.

This, however, should not be a cause for celebration, it should serve as an inspiration that relations between two countries could be redefined, the Minister stressed.

“In the absence of a solution to the (name) issue, we can foster different bilateral relations that are in the interest, first and foremost, of the citizens of Macedonia and Greece,” Poposki said.

According to him, the dispute cannot disappear, because ‘bilateral relations are complex and strained with a difficult and unfair issue.’

“It is naïve to expect that the issue could disappear in several weeks or months. We should look at the big picture – instead of trading accusations, the countries can build better ties in every field,” the Macedonian FM stated.

Nikos Kotzias on Thursday will be part of the annual working meeting of the heads of diplomatic and consular offices at the MoFA.

This will be Kotzias’ second visit to Macedonia after he visited Skopje in 2015 for talks with his Macedonian counterpart Nikola Poposki.