The uniqueness of the Macedonian language is recognized worldwide and accepted in the United Nations, Matthew Nimetz, former personal envoy of the UN Secretary-General on the name issue, said in an interview with Kanal 5 TV.
When asked about the Sofia-Skopje relations, and that the identity and language were not part of the Prespa Agreement, but was put on the table by Bulgaria, Nimetz explained that for the Greek side the problem was not the identity but the name of the language and in this case, it is a different dispute.
“These issues are unique. There are some situations that are somewhat similar but not very similar. The Prespa Agreement does refer to the language, but it does not use the word identity, because is not a legal world. The Macedonian language has been accepted for a long time, all around the world people know there’s Macedonian language. The issue with Greece was not anything about the language it was about the name of the language. The Greek side did not have any problem that you have a very fine language, a unique language. But their problem was to call it the Macedonian language it gave the impression that it has something to do with the ancient Macedonians. The issue with Bulgaria is a different issue as to the origin of languages. I am not an expert on this, it was not an issue in the Prespa Agreement, it is an issue that they like to talk about, that’s a subject for discussion,” Nimetz said.
Asked if one could negotiate for someone’s identity, which is an inner feeling of belonging, Nimetz said that identity cannot be negotiated.
“You can’t. Between Greece and North Macedonia, there were inner feelings, and there are still inner feelings. People in North Macedonia still feel emotional about it and people in the Greece, especially in Macedonian region of Greece still feel emotional about it. You don’t legislate about emotions, but what you can reach an agreement about is how you speak about it, how you articulate about it, with respect for other people’s point of view in sensitive, historical or emotional things,” US diplomat pointed out.
Nimetz believes that mediation is not needed to overcome the dispute between Skopje and Sofia, but that both sides should resolve the issue themselves, as well as whether they need mediation.
“One mediation in a lifetime is enough. Also, mediation or solution with Bulgaria should not take 20 years, it should not even take 20 months in my view. The two countries should work it out by themselves, whether they need a mediator or not, it should be for them to decide and not for outsiders to decide,” said Matthew Nimetz, former personal envoy of the UN Secretary-General on the name issue.