Zoran Zaev : Macedonia PM sees solution to Greece name dispute by July

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Zoran Zaev : Macedonia PM sees solution to Greece name dispute by July

Zaev voiced hope that the decade old name issue that exists between Macedonia and Greece would be solved by mid-2018.

"I believe it's possible to find a solution by the end of the first semester of 2018", Zaev told Greece's Alpha TV in an interview aired on January 7, as Orthodox Christians in both countries celebrated Christmas.

The quarrel between Skopje and Athens dates back to Macedonia's declaration of independence from Yugoslavia in 1991 and has poisoned neighbourly relations.

In the interview, Zaev said that the government is ready to talk about renaming the airport in Skopje, which would showcase his friendly intentions with the Greek people and repeated that Macedonia is not the only heir to Alexander the Great.

Greece's objections have complicated Skopje's aspirations to join North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union.

"Our strategic orientation is conclusively (towards) the European Union and NATO", Zaev said in the interview aired Sunday.

Athens also contends that, by claiming the name, Macedonia is appropriating a part of Greece's ancient history.

Macedonia is 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.

Skopje has long insisted that this designation was only provisional.

Macedonian government will seek national consensus, participation and consent by political factors and of course from the citizens before taking final stance on the solving of name issue with Greece, Macedonian Premier Zoran Zaev was quoted Sunday as saying in a televised interview.

According to the agency, Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias recently also said that he was "optimistic" about finding a solution during 2018.

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