‘I don’t like to give up’: veteran UN envoy reveals how two decades of quiet diplomacy gave birth to North Macedonia

UN News / Alban Mendes De Leon Matthew Nimetz, Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General for the talks between Greece and what was then the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, sat down for an interview with UN News.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


Last June, a historic agreement settled a 27-year-long name dispute between two countries, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece. One man, Matthew Nimetz,  patiently led the negotiations on behalf of the United Nations for over two decades and he told UN News, in an exclusive interview, that his faith in a positive outcome never faltered.

When the UN-brokered “Prespa Agreement” between Athens and Skopje was ratified by the two countries’ parliaments and formally entered into force on 12 February , recognizing the “Republic of North Macedonia,” his mission was finally accomplished.

In a delightful twist of fate, due to various circumstances, the agreement had been signed by the Prime Ministers of Greece and North Macedonia seven months earlier, on 17 June: Mr. Nimetz’s 79th birthday.

Wanting to know more about the kind of determination it took to keep going over the years , UN News invited him to talk about the highs and the lows of the marathon effort, as  he prepares to walk away from his position as Personal Envoy of the Secretary-General, a role he has occupied since 1999, for the princely salary of US$ 1 per year.

Why did it take so long to negotiate a few words? What is really at stake behind the name of a country? What other names were thrown in the ring? Did he ever feel like giving up?

With UN News’s Elena Vapnitchnaia, Mr. Nimetz looked back on his extraordinary labour of peace, and shared some of his more personal recollections of an odyssey in the service of the UN, that ultimately, ended in success:

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

The ECB tells Berlin that a Germanic Eurozone is unacceptable and doesn’t work

Fear casts again a cold, ugly shadow over Europe; Turkey sides with Russia

These technologies are playing a major role at the Cricket World Cup

Stolen colonial-era objects will be ‘unconditionally’ returned, says the Netherlands

MEPs call on Russia to stop illegitimate prosecution of Lithuanian judges

Climate emergency: City mayors are ‘world’s first responders’, says UN chief

New poll shows what people think coronavirus will do to their economies

The four top Americans who flew to Europe perplexed things about Trump’s intentions

2019 ‘a critical year’ for Somali politics and development says Security Council

Is Europe misjudging its abilities to endure more austerity and unemployment?

Building a European Health Union: Stronger crisis preparedness and response for Europe

Member States’ compliance with EU law in 2018: efforts are paying off, but improvements still needed

Hungary: people born in the 2020s won’t have legal rights any more to buy tobacco

From books to bikes: 4 unexpected gender gaps

Medicines from the sky: how drones can save lives

Unity, regional cooperation and international support needed for Horn of Africa to develop sustainably

2019 European Elections gets backing from professional footballers

Natural hazards don’t always spell disaster: UN risk reduction chief

The two big uncertainties shaping our future

Can the EU afford a trade war with China?

The next 48 hours may change the European Union

Metrics of the Sustainable Developments Goals: Can we trust our data?

Coding in Namibia: UN supports young women’s computing career dreams

EU-U.S. Privacy Shield: Second review shows improvements but a permanent Ombudsperson should be nominated by 28 February 2019

3 ways digitalization will help end crime

Changing healthcare systems with simple technological solutions

EntEx Organises 5 Summer Schools for Young Entrepreneurs across Europe in June/July 2014

Talent, not technology, is the key to success in a digital future

SMEs and micro firms sinking together with south Eurozone

UN Envoy urges Burundi leaders to ‘seize opportunities for national unity and peace’

Greece lost a month that cannot be found neither in “mini Summits” nor in Berlin

Belgium: keep up reforms to increase employment and productivity growth

Ebola not an international ‘health emergency’ but risks spreading across DR Congo border, warns UN health agency

“Access denied”: the Greek health system under pressure

South Korea: A cherished partner for the EU

Commission considers anti-dumping duty on Chinese solar glass imports

3 ways sustainable supply chains can build better business in a post-COVID world

Commission issues guidance on the participation of third country bidders in the EU procurement market

How regenerative agroforestry could solve the climate crisis

Davos on Climate Change: citizens demanding more actions while CEOs tried to balance profit with sustainability

UN ‘determined to lead by example’ on disability rights: Guterres

3 reasons why consumer demand matters for the post-COVID-19 recovery

Service Engineer Intern – 1991

This is why many young people have no access to proper education

This man is installing 100 trash barriers in Bali’s rivers to stop plastic pollution

FROM THE FIELD: Weeding out Mexico’s unwanted beach invader

Infrastructural and system barriers to Universal Health Coverage: get in my patient’s shoes

This Kenyan company makes fuel from human poo

We must move from egocentric to ecocentric leadership to safeguard our planet

Ukraine turns again to the EU for more money

The Greta effect? Why businesses are more committed to climate action in 2020

World Maritime Day: Commissioner Vălean calls for support and safe return of seafarers

FROM THE FIELD: South Sudan’s green shoots, highlight environmental recovery from war

Why the way of loving closes doors of health?

3 things to know about our Sustainable Development Impact Summit

After this year’s Climate Action Summit, what happens next?

EU Court of Justice invalidates Safe Harbour and the game for thousands US businesses suddenly changes

How tech can lead reskilling in the age of automation

The European Union continues to lead the global fight against climate change

Britain declares trade war on mainland Europe

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s