NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has reportedly told Greek officials he didn’t mean to use the word “Macedonia” to refer to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
Stoltenberg used the reference several times at a meeting earlier this week of European Union foreign and defense ministers, without – he said – doing so deliberately.
The use of the Macedonia rankles Greece, which has been locked for two decades in occasional talks with FYROM officials to settle on a name for that country.
Although Greece gave away the word when it agreed to let it be used in the acronym, successive governments have been trying to find a way to get it back although all negotiations have included it, along with a geographical qualifier.
Despite that, there has been no progress for more than 20 years in on-again, off-again talks brokered by the United Nations and with US input.
Stoltenberg referred to the current unrest in “Macedonia” several times to reporters, prompting a complaint from Greece’s permanent representative at NATO.
Kathimerini said that Stoltenberg admitted he made an error and asked for his apologies to be conveyed to the Greek ministers who took part in the meeting.
FYROM continues to call itself Macedonia, and claims Greek territories and history as its own, which has prevented any progress in talks.