Matthew Nimetz

Matthew Nimetz (left) with George Papandreou during a July 2009 meeting

Matthew Nimetz (/ˈnɪmɪts/; born June 17, 1939) is an American diplomat. He was the United Nations Special Representative for the naming dispute between Greece and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (now North Macedonia).

Early life

Matthew Nimetz was born on June 17, 1939, in Brooklyn, New York City, to a Jewish family. He is the son of Joseph and Elsie Nimetz and was educated in the Brooklyn public school system (Erasmus Hall High School, 1956) and at Williams College where he received a BA in 1960. He subsequently was a Rhodes Scholar and received a BA from Balliol College, Oxford, in 1962, which was upgraded to an MA in 1966. He received his LLB from Harvard Law School in 1965, where he was President of the Harvard Law Review.


He served as law clerk to Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan II from 1965 to 1967, before serving as a staff assistant to President Lyndon B. Johnson until 1969, where he worked on the domestic policy staff under Joseph A. Califano, Jr. He worked with the New York City law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett as an associate from 1969 to 1973 and partner from 1974 to 1977. He also directed the transition of Governor-Elect Hugh Carey of New York in 1974–5, and was a commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and member of the New York Health Advisory Council from 1975 to 1977.

In January 1977, Nimetz was appointed by President Jimmy Carter as Counselor of the United States Department of State. In that capacity he provided advice to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and had special responsibilities in connection with the Cyprus issue, Eastern Mediterrean issues including Greek-Turkish disputes, implementation of the Helsinki Accords and other issues involving Eastern/Central Europe, Mexico–United States border issues, the Micronesian status negotiations, and other matters. In December 1979, he was promoted to the post of Under Secretary for Security Assistance, Science and Technology. He was responsible for the supervision of United States security assistance programs, nuclear nonproliferation and the implementation of the State Department's international scientific and technological programs. These included areas such as scientific and technical cooperation, nuclear nonproliferation issues, environmental matters, and the US Government's international communications activities. He was also responsible for supervising US policy on the eastern Mediterranean and eastern European countries.

After the end of the Carter Administration in January 1981, Nimetz returned to the private sector. He became a partner in the New York law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, where he concentrated in corporate and international law. During his 19-year tenure at the Paul Weiss law firm he served on the Executive Committee, as chair of the firm and as head of the corporate department. He moved to the private equity investment firm General Atlantic LLC in January 2000, where he served as a managing director and as Chief Operating Officer through December 2011, when he became an Advisory Director. In May 2007 he was again appointed as a Commissioner of the Port Authority of New York by Governor Eliot Spitzer but, upon the resignation of Governor Spitzer, his nomination was not acted upon for confirmation by the State Senate.

Matthew Nimetz meeting with the Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos in Athens in 2013

From March 1994 to September 1995, he served as President Bill Clinton's Special Envoy to mediate the resolution of the Macedonian Issue, an awkward diplomatic situation, involving both a national name and a heritage dispute. This effort culminated in the signing of the Interim Agreement of September 13, 1995, by Greece and the Republic of North Macedonia at the United Nations which resolved many of the issues between the two countries. Nimetz has written about the dispute in an article "The Macedonian "Name" Dispute: The Macedonian Question--Resolved?" in Nationalities Papers, Vol. 48, March 2020,

Since 1999, Nimetz has been the personal envoy of the UN secretary-general regarding the naming dispute. Nimetz has continued to work mediating between Greece and the Republic of North Macedonia, for more than two decades. He works for a nominal salary of US$1 a year in order to find a solution suitable for all concerned. Nimetz views the long-running issue will eventually be resolved, just as similar long-running disputes (The Troubles in Northern Ireland and the reunification of Germany) were resolved. On June 12, 2018 an agreement to resolve the dispute with the adoption of the name "Republic of North Macedonia" was announced.

Nimetz has been a director of The Nature Conservancy of New York, trustee and founding chair of World Resources Institute, trustee emeritus of Williams College and former director of the Committee for Economic Development, and former chair of the advisory board of SUNY Global/The Levin Institute of the University of the State of New York from 2009 through 2014.

As of 2017, he serves as a trustee of Central European University, Budapest; and a trustee of American University of Central Asia, Bishkek, Kirghiz Republic. As of 2014, he is a director/founding (former) chair of the Centre for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeastern Europe, Thessaloniki, Greece; a trustee of the Rubin Museum of Art, New York; advisory director and co-chair of Green City Force, Brooklyn, New York; a trustee of National Committee on American Foreign Policy, Landesa Rural Development Institute; and a director of the Interfaith Center of New York.

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