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Greece's foreign minister on FYROM-name dispute

Greece's foreign minister on FYROM-name dispute
By Sarah Taylor
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Greek Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Kotzias speaks exclusively to Euronews about the decades-long 'Macedonia' dispute.


Greece's foreign minister has spoken exclusively to Euronews following Sunday's mass rally in Athens over the decades-long Macedonia dispute.

Hundreds of thousands of Greeks protested outside parliament over negotiations to allow the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to shorten their official name to "Macedonia".

Many say it implies a territorial claim on Greece's northern Macedonia region.

Nikos Kotzias says that FYROM has not prepared its people for an agreement, but recognizes that the Greek government has similar problems.

"I think that the rally was not as big as its organizers expected, considering that the entire center-right, right, and the extreme right-wing opposition supported it, as well as the church and other organizations," he said.

"I’m still waiting for Skopje, finally, to come out publicly and talk about the compound name.

"Which adjective do they want in front of the noun and describe it to their population?"

We are preparing the Greek public and as you can see, we are facing difficulties ... I do not see the same preparation on the other side and I have to say that I’m very concerned, even now, while we are having this interview."

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is to visit Skopje, the capital of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia at the end of the month as part of a tour of six countries of the western Balkans.

"This is something that he has been planning and also announcing already for a long time. This is an area that he knows well from his previous capacities as Prime Minister of Luxemburg and he considers this region to be of great importance," said Kotzias.

Protestors are asking that any agreement should be put to a referendum so that the Greeks can have their say.

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