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Athens News Agency: News in English, 07-11-08

Athens News Agency: News in English Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] 'Time to solve name issue now', FM says
  • [02] Papoulias warns of environmental crisis

  • [01] 'Time to solve name issue now', FM says

    The time for Greece to press for a solution regarding the international name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) is now, before its application to join NATO comes under consideration in six months, Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis said before Parliament's foreign affairs committee on Thursday.

    "We have said: 'You will join NATO from the moment that you fulfill terms of good-neighbour relations and this means finding a composite name," Bakoyannis told MPs.

    She underlined that Greece's policy on this issue had been clear and steadfast, with Athens making it clear that relations of solidarity and partnership could not be developed in conditions of obstinacy, and with one side presenting irredentist positions.

    The minister also stressed that Greece was not prepared to put off a resolution of the issue until 2015. "The time for a solution is now - and before [the NATO summit] - we have six months for negotiations," she added.

    Asked about the possibility that FYROM will join NATO under its current provisional name, Bakoyannis noted that the Skopje government seemed to think it could have things both ways:

    "The latest developments have shown that Skopje considers that it can follow a double policy: On the one hand they consider that they can join (all international organisations) with the name FYROM and, on the other hand, they directly dispute this name. This became clearly evident at the last United Nations assembly, where the FYROM official presiding (over the assembly) referred to FYROM's president as 'President of Macedonia'. In practice, this means that this entire affair is a deception," she said.

    She also pointed out that, in terms of seeking a proper basis for relations of alliance, the name issue was not a psychological problem but a political issue linked to the requirement to actively seek good-neighbourly relations and terms that were self-evident in relations between allied states.

    "This position of ours is put forward and is understood because it is consistent in the direction of encouraging countries in the region to join NATO and the EU but without a carte blanche," Bakoyannis added.

    Main opposition PASOK MP Theodoros Pangalos criticised the minister's statement that Greece was seeking a solution based on a composite name, while fellow PASOK MP Panos Beglitis described the composite name solution as a "last boundary" in negotiations, provided that there was one common international name for all uses.

    Beglitis also warned that Greece would first have to back out of the interim agreement of 1995 at least a year before exercising its veto to FYROM's entry into NATO, asking whether the government had considered the timing involved.

    Radical Left Coalition (SYRIZA) leader Alekos Alavanos also caused a stir, when he cited a "Skopjenisation" of Greece's foreign policy and claimed that the affair with FYROM was being pursued at the expense of the country's interests vis-a-vis Turkey, which was accruing negotiating advantages because of its role, while Greece was undermining its position by its constant preoccupation with its neighbours.

    Bakoyannis denied that Turkey was "accruing advantages" and pointed out that the European Commission had for the first time referred to the problems with the ethnic Greek islands of Imvros and Tenedos, the rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and Turkey's continued 'casus belli' threat against Greece.

    Alavanos also criticised the government for failing to explain FYROM's true significance to the Greek people.

    In her reply, Bakoyannis said Greek foreign policy did not have the luxury of forgetting some issues in favour of others and denied that Athens was behaving in a "phobic" fashion.

    "We do not have any phobic syndrome, nor do we suffer from immodesty or arrogance; we have self-confidence and this may cause annoyance to the people that you spoke with yesterday," Bakoyannis said, referring to Alavanos' trip to Skopje a day earlier and his talks with the country's leadership.

    Responding to criticism over the government's alleged "tolerance" of inflammatory statements by a top Greek cleric on the FYROM issue, meanwhile, the minister said she had made it clear on Wednesday that these did not reflect the position of the government, the Greek people and the country's political forces.

    "Greece does not seek any change in borders, particularly in the Balkans," she underlined.

    Referring to Kosovo, Bakoyannis repeated Athens' position in support of a "clear and stable solution" that was compatible with European values and principles and would allow or even impose a European perspective for the region, as well as enhanced international legitimacy that would ensure its viability.

    On the Cyprus issue, she repeated that relations between Greece and Turkey could never be fully normalised until this was justly resolved, while she criticised the Turkish side for failing to stick to the July 8 agreement.

    Commenting on a recent agreement signed between London and Ankara that referred to the illegal state set up in the Turkish-occupied northern territories of Cyprus as though it were legitimate, Bakoyannis made the following statement:

    "Developments such as that arising with the memorandum signed by the United Kingdom and Turkey do not contribute to the processes for a solution but indicate how important it is to seek a new mobility on this issue, so that we are led to the reunification of the island. During our recent meeting, my British counterpart was clear that British policy has not changed on the issue and that Britain remains steadfast in seeking implementation of the agreement of July 8. And that the references that were made did not seek to leave open to interpretation or misinterpretation the things that were written. I am particularly glad, because from the first I judged this to be a misunderstanding," Bakoyannis said.

    Caption: Greek FM Dora Bakoyannis appears in Parliament on Thursday, Nov. 8, 2007. ANA-MPA / P. SAITAS.

    [02] Papoulias warns of environmental crisis

    "Humanity is hovering on the brink of disaster caused by increasing environmental problems," Greek President Karolos Papoulias warned on Thursday in his address to the World Science Forum held in Budapest. He stressed that governments had to immediately adopt measures to reverse a course leading to the destruction of the environment.

    "Now is the time of decisions. We must join our forces so that there are express commitments by governments to specific measures," he said.

    According to the president, the path before the European Union for protecting the environment involved a head-on clash with major economic interests.

    "The illusion is finished. The catastrophe is here, before us: Overheating of the planet, desertification, extreme weather phenomena, rise in sea levels, recession of glaciers, dangerous atmospheric pollution. Today everyone is in agreement, politicians of all shades and citizens in all classes, that something must be done," Papoulias underlined.

    The president said the international political community and society had delayed too long in recognising the problem and stressed politicians' responsibility toward the people that they represented and future generations to join forces in order to turn the worldwide discussion on environmental protection into political action.

    "The market cannot be the absolute regulating factor," the Greek president stressed, pointing out that most environmental destruction was wrought in the name of profits and growth unrestrained by rules.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Papoulias.

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