With the groundwork having been laid for a comprehensive settlement on the FYROM naming issue, neither PMAlexis Tsipras nor Prime Minister Zoran Zaev revealed what name they may have decided on after their talks in Sofia, Bulgaria, on 16-17 May.
In the days leading up to the talks, the names Gorna (Upper) Macedonia and Nova (New) Macedonia were considered the most likely, with many in Greece considering the former the favourite, perhaps because Tsipras had mentioned it in answering a question from a journalist from Skopje recently.
However, some analysts read Tsipras’ statements at a 17 May news conference, after his talks with Zaev, as indicating that Athens prefers the name Nova Macedonia.
In any event, those were the two names, of the five that UN mediator Matthew Nimetz had initially tabled, that were acceptable to both sides.
What is certain is that any solution will have the name Macedonia at its core.
Following the talks in Sofia, there have been uncorroborated reports, including in the Athens daily Efimerida ton Syntakton, that diplomats have tabled a sixth name, which could satisfy both governments, and the opposition parties in both countries, which would place a marker before the name Macedonia.
The A1 On website in Skopje reported that both sides also appear to accept the name Republic of Ilinden Macedonia.
Whatever a final agreement on the name, there is still a way to go as regards mandatory use of the new name domestically in FYROM, and the constitutional revision that this will require. These two elements are the necessary conditions for Greek opposition parties to pass a prospective settlement in parliament.