Matthew Nimetz, the Secretary-General’s Personal Envoy for the talks, held talks over the past two days in Skopje with senior officials from the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, including Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, President Gjorge Ivanov and Foreign Minister Antonio Milošoski.Mr. Nimetz – who is heading to Athens for several days of talks with senior Greek officials – said the meetings were constructive and he had presented Skopje with some changes to the proposals he submitted to both parties last October.He voiced hope that these changes will lead to a positive reaction and accelerated negotiations, and noted that the leaders in Skopje had assured him they were eager to move forward.The Envoy had previously proposed several alternatives, but the two Governments have remained far apart on reaching a satisfactory compromise name for the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.The Interim Accord of 13 September 1995, which was brokered by the UN, details the difference between the two countries on the issue. It also obliges the two sides to continue negotiations under the auspices of the UN Secretary-General to try to reach agreement. 7 July 2009The United Nations envoy tasked with mediating talks between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia in the dispute over the latter’s name is in the region for discussions with representatives of both countries.
Industry remains concerned over funding for Powershift grants SMMT has reacted with some concern over Energy Saving Trust (EST) proposals, published today, which set out the funding schedule for cleaner vehicle grants in 2004. While the industry was prepared for cuts in both Powershift and CleanUp grants, SMMT believes that too little has been allocated to Powershift which part-funds new vehicle technologies that deliver the greatest environmental benefits.Overall, funds have been cut by 30 per cent and EST proposes to split £14 million equally between Powershift and CleanUp programmes. While the industry is pleased that EST has heeded industry concerns and will award Powershift grants only to the cleanest hybrid, electric and LPG new vehicle technologies, the reduction in their value remains a concern. By using more of the £7 million allocated to CleanUp, which funds the retrofit of systems to older vehicles, cuts would have been unnecessary. The industry will repeat its message to the chancellor that he should tread carefully when announcing fuel duty rates for the next three years in his budget. Lower fuel duty is a key incentive for buyers of new cars powered by alternative fuels and any erosion of that benefit will damage momentum, making these models less attractive to consumers.SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan commented, ‘We are pleased that EST has reacted to our concerns and set out grant funding for 2004. However, more priority should have been given to the Powershift programme which drives the development of the cleanest new vehicle technologies. Splitting funds down the middle seems to be an arbitrary compromise without thought of long-term goals.’He added, ‘It also seems slightly bizarre that higher grant levels may be available for the same vehicles and equipment for programmes in Scotland and Wales. Surely it makes sense to have a level playing field across the UK?’ The EST proposals also include a quarterly review of grant allocation. The industry supports this measure which means funds will be more closely monitored throughout the financial year. Greater accountability should create more confidence in EST grants going forward and must prevent a repeat of 2003’s debacle where grant funding ran out without warning.Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)