NATO's chief in Macedonia to discuss accession bid

There are the preconditions for the process to move forward Skopje says

NATO chief due in Macedonia to discuss membership bid

A two-hour meeting on Wednesday of negotiators on the issue at the United Nations in NY was a "valuable step", Stoltenberg said. "At the summit in Bucharest and all subsequent summits, they agreed that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation will invite [FYROM] to join after a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue under United Nations auspices is reached", he stressed.

Both Greek and Macedonian officials have voiced hopes the dispute can be resolved within months. He added that he "truly" believes both governments have genuine intentions to solve it.

"However, the talks' outcome will depend on the readiness of the two sides to compromise", read the government's statement. "I think this statement is not accidental", Gjorcev said.

During the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation summit in Bucharest in 2008, Greece vetoed FYROM's application to enter the alliance without having solved the name issue.

Zaev's government, which took power last May, pledged to work on resolving the name dispute and accelerate the country's European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation bid. Macedonia is also the name of a northern province in Greece and Athens is anxious that the use of the same name by the neighboring state could lead to territorial claims. He also distanced himself from any stance that his government might have on the matter.

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For his part, Kotzias refused, as he left his meeting with Tsipras at the Maximos Mansion, to comment on rampant media speculation in Skopje about the contents of the name proposal submitted to Greek negotiator Adamantios Vasilakis and his opposite number Vasko Naumovski.

Greece's objections to Skopje's use of the name Macedonia since the country's independence in 1991 has complicated the bids by the former Yugoslav republic to join the European Union and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

"There is no plan B", Stoltenberg told a press conference after talks with Prime Minister Zoran Zaev.

The resumption of the bilateral talks in NY coincided with the first visit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation chief Jens Stoltenberg to Macedonia, which also sent a message of encouragement for a speedy name deal.

Macedonia's must resolve a decades-long dispute over its name, implement judicial reform and build good relations with neighbouring countries to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the Western military alliance's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Thursday.

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