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Tuesday, May 22, 2018, 

PMs Zaev and Tsipras unblock EU integration process

PMs Zaev and Tsipras unblock EU integration process

Davos, 24 January 2018 (MIA) - Macedonia and Greece will raise the level of negotiations aimed at solving the name issue. The process will involve the foreign ministers of the two countries under the auspices of the United Nations.

This was stated Wednesday evening by Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev after his first direct meeting with his Greek counterpart Alexis Tsipras in Davos, which lasted almost three hours.

Zaev told reporters that Macedonia's preparedness to show it had genuine willingness to solve the name dispute was expressed at the meeting. To that end, he said, the government will rename the airport and the highway, with the latter being called 'Friendship'.

"Macedonia will remain committed to the process of finding a name solution, which must protect the national identity and the identity of our people. The government will rename the airport and the highway. The highway will be called 'Friendship'."

"It proves we have no territorial aspirations toward our neighbor. On the other hand, they have demonstrated their good will to help us increase our cooperation with the European Union and other international institutions," stated PM Zaev.

He added that majority of the citizens in the two countries wanted close and friendly relations that would contribute to strengthening mutual cooperation.

"We want to become equal partners in the EU and loyal partners in NATO. We want to stand shoulder to shoulder in order to help each other, to support each other in difficult and trying times. We have shown in the past, when the two countries are facing serious challenges, we can work side by side in the interest of the two sides," stressed Zaev.

A complex erga omnes name solution and ways to deal with irredentism in all its forms, PM Tsipras told Zaev at their meeting in Davos on Wednesday evening.

Speaking to reporters after the three-hour talks, the Greek Premier reiterated that Macedonia's Euro-Atlantic perspective required most importantly 'full closure of the name issue.'

'For the EU, NATO accession processes to move forward as our neighbor wishes, we must find a solution to all open issues. I've made it clear that we should agree on a mutually acceptable, compound name for overall use. Within this framework we have also shared ideas and agreed to intensify under our auspice the consultations already underway within the UN,' Tsipras said.

The Greek PM told to all of those following his meeting with Zaev in Davos, 'some with agony and skepticism, others with  genuine hope', that the two PMs wish to iron the existing differences with realism and a sense of responsibility.

'We are not aspiring to settle the name issue only, but to set the relations of our two countries on solid foundations of mutual respect and good-neighborliness. It means that we should first deal with the irredentism in all of its forms and certainly to ensure to leave no room for similar provocations to emerge in the future,' Tsipras said.

Today's meeting in Davos has also brought an agreement for Macedonia to enter the second phase of the Stabilization and Association Agreement (SSA) with the EU, which came into effect in 2004. An agreement was also reached for advancing Macedonia's bid to join the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative.

Zaev and Tsipras held a tete-a-tete meeting to be joined after two hours by the Foreign Ministers, Nikola Dimitrov and Nikos Kotzias. ba/lk/20:41

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