Saturday, April 18, 2009

FYROM Travel advise: Don't go to Macedonia and other Greek places

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of FYROM has advised FYROM citizens to refrain from travelling or stay for longer periods in larger Greek cities.If the journey or stay are necessary, MoFa advises careful behavior, safe parking space if travelling by own vehicle, avoiding city centers and locations used for protests and unrest, as well as avoiding facilities and institutions, which have been the most common targets of violent attacks.MoFA says that Greece has been hit by a wave of internal unrest, violent protests and armed incidents in the past few months, resulting in endangerment to private property and personal safety of many people."

Such incidents, which unfortunately have still not been put under control, occur especially in larger cities (Athens, Thessaloniki etc), demonstrated by attacks with Molotov cocktails at car dealerships and banks, attacks of police patrols and foreign offices, taking over university centers by anarchist groups, bomb threats to churches, as well as protests at main streets and squares that often obtain violent dimensions.

Moreover, dozens of FYROM citizens, especially transporters, have notified competent FYROM authorities in the past few months on problems related to damage to vehicles during their stay or transit in Greece", reads the recommendation.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs urges FYROM citizens to follow regularly the situation in Greece, as well as contact the Ministry and the country's diplomatic offices in Athens and Thessaloniki (Macedonia).

The Greek foreign ministry spokesman on Wednesday said fYRoM Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki is "obviously confused", when asked about "travel advice" for citizens of the landlocked neighbouring country interested in visiting Greece over during the Orthodox Easter season, advice posted on the fYRoM foreign ministry's website.The foreign ministry in Skopje urged fYRoM citizens to avoid extended stays EU and NATO member-state Greece as well as visits to large urban areas in the country. "

On April 10, Mr. Milososki released a letter toward the (Greek) Foreign Minister [Dora Bakoyannis], in which he requested that we strengthen communication between the two peoples and bilateral tourist cooperation. Five days later, for reasons known only to himself, he deliberately misinforms the citizens of his country and urges them not to visit Greece. Mr. Milososki is obviously confused," Koumoutsakos stated in response to press questions.

"The only serious conclusion that could be drawn from this action was that those governing the neighbouring country had not yet tired of showing their worst selves and had once again damaged relations with Greece," the spokesman added. In a recent announcement, the FYROM foreign ministry warns its citizens to avoid visits to Greece unless this was unavoidable, citing domestic upheavals last December, among others.

It also advised those having to travel to Greece to avoid urban centres and areas where demonstrations might take place and to park their cars in safe places, while claiming that transporters have also had vehicles vandalised.The only verifiable instance of violence directed at tourists occurred in early March 2009 in the lakeside town of Ohrid, in south-western fYRoM, when three tourist coaches carrying Greek tourists had nationalist graffiti written on them, while a handful of local youths also confronted the group of mostly elderly tourists.Athens responded with a verbal protest by its liaison office head in Skopje and issued a travel advisory.

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