German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday that she felt more confident than ever that Greece and FYROM are close to resolving the long standing name dispute.
Merkel made the comments during a joint press conference with FYROM Prime Minister Zoran Zaev following their meeting and acknowledged the difficulty for his country in joining NATO unless the impasse with Greece is resolved.
“I am very happy and relieved that, with the Zaev government, mobility has returned to the talks. I spoke yesterday with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. There is rapprochement on both sides. The problem has not been solved yet but, on our side, I made it clear that we greatly desire a solution and will help and contribute wherever we can, to encourage the two negotiating parties to take the necessary steps. I would say that in the past 10 years a solution has never been as close as now and it would certainly be very good if the existing difficulties could be bridged,” Merkel said.
Merkel supported finding a solution but stressed that applying pressure to one side or the other during negotiations was likely to do more harm than good. She also expressed her confidence in both goverments and noted that compromises were always painful but must also work.
“My attitude is that the problem should be solved and pressure during a negotiation is often not especially helpful. I have the impression that, for the first time in a long time, both sides are interested in resolving the issue and this is a good initial condition…I have confidence in both sides that they will handle this desire to solve the problem with great care and caution…the high art of diplomacy is to ‘find the eye of the needle’ and this has to be done confidentially, not through press conferences,” added Merkel.