Tomorrow’s  much-awaited meeting  between PM Alexis Tsipras and FYROM PM Zoran Zaev could produce a major move towards a settlement or it could be yet another  opportunity for both sides to confirm their good intentions. No one knows precisely at the moment, though Athens had said that such a summit would occur only if a settlement was near.

With the name Gorna Makedonija (Upper Macedonia) or Nova Makedonije having been accepted by both sides – the first is considered more likely –  the prospect of a settlement will largely depend on whether Skopje accepts that the new name will be used in all circumstances, including domestically.

If Skopje decides it cannot accept that change domestically, that could very well signal a breakdown in the talks.

The prevailing scenario over the last days is that Skopje will agree that the new name will be used erga omnes (with all parties), including domestically, but  will also receive a two year period to put that in effect.

Zaev could pass that much more easily in FYROM’s parliament than an immediate change of such a magnitude and controversial nature domestically.

Analysts say that a comprehensive settlement that would be enforced in stages could be guaranteed by an international agreement that would be implemented in two phases.

In the first phase, the two countries’ parliaments would ratify the agreement.

In the second phase, Skopje would proceed with agreed upon constitutional amendments, to enshrine the new name and remove irredentist references, which in turn would lead Greece to lift its objections to FYROM’s Nato membership.

Vasilis Kanellis