Zoran Zaev and Alexis Tsipras spoke by telephone for an hour on June 11, with a further phone call to follow on June 12 as the prime ministers of the two neighbouring countries pursue a resolution to the dispute over the use of the name “Macedonia” before the European Council meeting in just more than a fortnight’s time.
According to a statement issued by the government in Skopje, outstanding issues were discussed and several ideas for solutions were considered during the telephone call.
Before the phone call, Zaev said that he was hopeful that a solution to the name issue would be found soon, and that this would happen before the June 28-29 European Council, the Independent Balkan News Agency reported.
Zaev said that it was only a matter of days until a solution is achieved.
“We’re drawing closer to a solution and once this happens, we will inform the public about this happy news,” Zaev said.
The government in Skopje is pinning hopes on a resolution to the name dispute clearing away obstacles to the country’s progress towards accession to Nato and the European Union.
Opposition parties in Greece and the Republic of Macedonia have held protests in cities in the respective countries following reports about the supposed parameters of an agreement. Critics allege that a resolution would be less a deal between the two countries than one between Tsipras and Zaev.
Should an agreement be reached, it would be subject to approval in a national referendum in the former Yugoslav republic in autumn 2018.