Friday, August 01, 2008

Stop Gruevski before it’s too late.

Article by Athanasios Ellis
Kathimerini Newspaper 31 July 2008

The recent nationalist fervor of Nikola Gruevski, the prime minister of FYROM, warrants international intervention. At a time when Serbia is finally finding its European footing, the Balkans could do without an outbreak of separatism. If the USA wishes to realize its hope for stability in the region, it must stop Gruevski before it’s too late. The EU and NATO, the two clubs Skopje aspires to join, should act likewise.

Gruevski is no less provocative at home. The leader of the opposition was recently sent to jail while the country’s moderate president, Branko Crvenkovski, has slammed the premier’s populism.

The attitudes of Greece and FYROM are radically different and this is something that the international community should take into account. Most people in both states do not want to back down on the name issue. But while Greece’s political leaders have pushed for a reasonable and fair compromise, FYROM’s newly elected premier has veered in a blatantly nationalist direction. Instead of exploiting the presence in Greece of two mature political leaders, namely Costas Karamanlis and George Papandreou, Gruevski has pushed bilateral ties to the limit by sending bizarre letters in all directions.
Greece’s sober stand should not have escaped the UN, the Europeans and the Americans.
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis has steered clear of Gruevski’s attempts to torpedo Matthew Nimetz’s mediation on the name dispute. PASOK shadow foreign minister Andreas Loverdos has kept a responsible, constructive stance, while the two left-wing parties have also not made any noises. As long as the Americans and Europeans allow Gruevski to pour more oil on the flames, they will strengthen populist voices on this side of the border, such as that of LAOS leader Giorgos Karatzaferis, who has said that the people of FYROM “should not play with fire because they could get their fingers scorched.”

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