Sunday, March 16, 2008
Greek PM: FYROM name must have geographic qualifier
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on Friday again reiterated Greece's position regarding the "name issue" with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), saying that a composite name containing a geographic qualifier could put an end to a nagging problem that has had a negative impact on regional stability and cooperation.
He was speaking during a press conference in Brussels following earlier meetings to discuss the FYROM name issue with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Cyprus President Demetris Christofias on the sidelines of the European Union Summit taking place in the Belgian capital.
The Greek prime minister reiterated that Athens was participating constructively in the UN-sponsored process for finding a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue, pointing out that this was an issue concerning good neighbour relations.
In calling for a composite name containing a geographic qualifier, Karamanlis said such a solution would be "clear and practical", while noting UN Security Council resolutions referring to the negative impact of perpetuating the problem.
He also stressed that the issue affected FYROM's otherwise excellent bilateral relations with Greece, as well its ambitions to join EuroAtlantic structures.
"No solution means no invitation, in other words no accession to NATO," he emphasised, while underlining that the Greek position was clear and unambiguous.
Relations amongst allies and relations of mutual support could not be built on a basis of unresolved issues, the Greek premier added.
"This is the position that it applies today; it will apply tomorrow and will continue to apply until a solution is achieved that is mutually accepted," he stressed.
Questioned about the political crisis now unfolding in Greece's neighbour to the north, Karamanlis expressed hope that this would not be used as an excuse to perpetuate the problem.
"We want to believe and we hope that political developments in the neighbouring country will not be used either as an excuse or as an alibi for perpetuating a 17-year deadlock through a false, compromise settlement. It is evident that such an approach cannot be accepted," the Greek premier said. He also noted that Greece had already "covered a great distance" in order to approach FYROM's positions and that it was now time for the other side to do the same.
Replying to questions about a meeting held on Thursday between Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis and FYROM's Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski, the prime minister stressed that there was no need to fear discussion when one has clear positions and that no problem was caused.
"I judged it advisable for the foreign minister to attend the meeting. If such meetings serve the interests of the country, no further answer is needed," he said.
For the same reason, he said he met with the leaders of Greece's partners and allies and had shaken hands with Gruevski the previous day, adding that he would have been more than willing to detail the Greek positions if his FYROM counterpart had chosen to raise the issue.