OHRID, MACEDONIA, July 25 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Wednesday that he would intervene personally to speed up the settling of the name row between Macedonia and Greece.
"We will invest maximum efforts in talks with Greek authorities. And I will personally try to contact (Greek) Prime Minister (Antonis) Samaras to help in the acceleration of the process," Ban said after his meeting with Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov.
Macedonia and Greece has been mired in a 20-year-long name dispute. Athens claims that the name of Macedonia suggests its northern neighbor harbors territorial ambitions towards its northern province of the same name.
Greece has been asking its northern neighbor to change its name, saying otherwise it will continue to block its way to join the European Union and NATO, as it has already done.
Ban said immediately after the visit that he will send Matthew Nimetz, the special envoy on the Greek-Macedonian name dispute, to Greece to brief the Greek authorities over the talks held in Macedonia.
"It is unfortunate that two neighboring countries have not managed to fully use their potentials for regional cooperation, reconciliation and development. The UN will do everything in their power to facilitate the process," said Ban.
Commenting on a 2011 ruling by the International Court of Justice that Greece had breached a 1995 interim accord between the two countries by blocking Macedonia's entry into NATO, Ban said "we are aware of the International Court of Justice ruling and will take into account all aspects."
Ban, who arrived in Macedonia on Tuesday for a two-day visit, has left for capital Skopje to continue his talks with Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski and the country's parliament Speaker Trajko Veljanoski. He will give a speech to the Parliament.
Macedonia is still listed at the UN under the name of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, under which it joined the UN in 1993 after it gained independence from former Yugoslavia in 1991.
Ban didn't use the word "Macedonia" in his speech at the press conference with Macedonian President Gjorge Ivanov.