Macedonia positive on solving name row with Greece

As expected, Nimetz said that he put on the table "a set of ideas" for a name settlement but declined to comment on their exact content. Macedonia, a former Yugoslav province that peacefully gained its independence in 1991, denies that, arguing that it covers an area that has been known as Macedonia for a long time.

Stoltenberg, interviewed shortly before his arrival in Skopje, stressed that the Alliance's position remains unchanged and categorically ruled out the possibility that Macedonia might receive an invitation to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation at the July summit in Brussels if a solution to the name dispute has not been found. Greece, which as a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member blocked its neighbor's North Atlantic Treaty Organisation access in 2008, says it implies territorial claims on its own northern province of Macedonia.

Official Skopje also said that the right conditions exist to move forward with process of finding a solution to the name issue.

Macedonia has also been admitted to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund under the FYROM moniker.

But addressing the parliament in the capital Skopje, Stoltenberg said that "membership is about much more than solving the name issue".

The UN envoy also asked leaders of the opposition parties in both countries to take a "constructive attitude" to help solve the issue.

Nimetz said he will travel to Greece and Macedonia soon to discuss the proposed solution, which was not made public.

But Stoltenberg insisted that North Atlantic Treaty Organisation membership "is about much more than solving the name issue".

After the talks in New York, UN envoy Matthew Nimetz said he was "very hopeful" that a solution was within reach.

The secretary-general explained that he "means sticking to the path of reform", including increasing defense spending to 2 percent of gross domestic product, as required by the alliance. "We hope to see similar progress on electoral reform, reform of the media and greater transparency in government finances".

Stoltenberg, who arrived on a two-day visit to Skopje late on Wednesday, met earlier with Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov and President Gjorge Ivanov.

  • Joey Payne