ATHENS, Greece — Greece is promising Macedonia’s new government closer ties but insists a decades-old name dispute should be resolved before it would back future membership of NATO and the European Union.

Athens has blocked membership efforts, arguing that its neighbor’s name implies a territorial threat to its own region of Macedonia.

But hopes of a resolution have been raised after Social Democrat Prime Minister Zoran Zaev formed a government two weeks ago, following moths of political crisis.

On Wednesday, Macedonian Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov traveled to Athens to meet Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias.

Macedonia, fearing a flare up in ethnic disputes in the region, is seeking swift NATO membership. Dimitrov described the Athens meeting as a “good start.”

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.