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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-03-03

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] PM to FYROM: "No solution, no invitation"
  • [02] Bakoyannis meets NATO chief

  • [01] PM to FYROM: "No solution, no invitation"

    Prime minister Costas Karamanlis renewed his warning to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on Monday, stressing that failure to resolve the name dispute would bar its membership of NATO, in statements after meeting his Slovakian counterpart Robert Fico in Athens.

    During talks, Karamanlis and Fico reaffirmed the good climate in relations between their two countries. In joint statements afterward, Karamanlis referred to Greece's relations with Slovakia in the EU and NATO, adding that the prospects for further development of bilateral economic relations had been discussed during the meeting.

    The Greek premier also said that there were margins for further advancing economic relations, and for greater cooperation in the areas of culture, tourism, research and technology, and energy.

    Greece, Karamanlis continued, placed great importance on ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, adding that he and Fico also discussed developments in the Balkans, while emphasis was placed on stability in the wider region and on its European prospect.

    Fico, who was earlier received by President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias, called for closer cooperation with Greece and an increase in the number of Greek investors in Slovakia, while he also invited Karamanlis to pay an official visit to Slovakia, accompanied by a delegation of Greek entrepreneurs.

    The Slovakian prime minister said that the discussions with Karamanlis focused on mainly two sectors: state assistance, on the part of Slovakia, for investments in the tourism sector, and cooperation in the defence industry sector.

    Fico announced that a memorandum on cooperation in the defence industry sector would be signed between the two countries in the immediate future.

    Turning to Kosovo, Fico said his country's positions were similar to those of Greece.

    He said that the creation of an independent Kosovo was a violation of international law, and added that it would be very difficult for his country to recognise Kosovo.

    The Slovakian prime minister further pledged that his country will ratify the Lisbon Treaty.

    Earlier, Fico was received by President Papoulias who said, on greeting the Slovakian prime minister, that the two countries shared common interests and common problems, particularly that of Kosovo, "which we believe requires particular caution so that there will not be reactions".

    Karamanlis message to FYROM

    Karamanlis also sent a new message to FYROM, replying to press questions after his meeting with the Slovakian prime minister.

    The Greek prime minister reiterated that no solution to the FYROM name problem meant no invitation to join NATO.

    "We are seeking a mutually acceptable solution, as mandated by the UN Security Council, as well as the European way of resolving differences," Karamanlis said.

    "We have taken steps forward, and await FYROM to also take steps forward," the Greek premier stressed.

    "We have direct interest in the Balkans, and support the Euro-Atlantic course of the Balkan countries. But stability depends on the relations of good neighborhood, and this is also set out as a criterion of assessment by NATO as well," he said, adding that "Greece cannot consider that these criteria have been met so long as FYROM persists in its stance".

    "Our position is clear: no solution means no invitation to NATO," Karamanlis stressed.

    On Kosovo developments, Karamanlis stressed that a KFOR presence must be ensured, and that the primary goal was peace and stability.

    He reiterated that Greece was interested in the European prospects of the countries of the region, and particularly Serbia, "a prospect that we are working for", while, to a question on a prospective recognition of Kosovo by Greece, Karamalnis said that "Greece feels no pressue" and will take its decisions based on the national interests.

    Fico, in turn, said he knew of no other region in which one ethnicity had two states. "It is a violation of International Law that can lead other countries with minorities to imbalance as well".

    Caption: Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis (left) receives visiting Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico on the steps of the prime minister's offices on Monday. ANA-MPA - Orestes Panagiotou

    [02] Bakoyannis meets NATO chief

    A NATO invitation to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) would not be forthcoming unless its differences with Greece over the name issue are first resolved, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis signalled through her statements on Monday, after a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer in Athens.

    "An inescapable prerequisite for the expansion of any Alliance, for creating and building any bond of allied solidarity, is the unswerving observance of the principles, values and rules that govern the smooth operation of every Alliance," Bakoyannis said.

    "I believe that a fundamental principle of any alliance is that when member-states actively give their support, they justifiably expect this to be reciprocated by partners and allies in their relations with third countries," she added at another point, highlighting Greece's 55-year history and contribution within NATO.

    Another inescapable prerequisite was "that there not be between a member-state and a candidate-state open issues, matters that negatively affect relations between them," she underlined.

    The Greek foreign minister reiterated Greece's conviction that problems should not be allowed to perpetuate but should be solved in ways that were mutually acceptable, final, practical and immediately enforcable.

    "The absence of such solution in crucial issues of good neighbour relations does not allow the creation of relations of alliance," Bakoyannis stressed.

    The minister pointed out that Greece had been a strong ally in NATO for 55 years, one of the oldest of the organisation's allies in this sensitive region of Europe, and repeated Athens' concern about the prospect of destabilisation of the region if problems of a nationalist and irredentist nature remained unresolved.

    "The time for a solution that is mutually acceptable is now," she said.

    Regarding two other issues that are expected to dominate the agenda of the upcoming NATO summit due to take place in Bucharest in April - the two NATO missions to Kosovo and Afghanistan - she said that Greece had sent a contingent of 2,000 troops to the two missions in 2007.

    "This is active proof of Greece's support in its 55-year participation of the overall effort of the Alliance. In this, our contribution to the distribution of Alliance costs has a special place, with defence spending that amounts to 3 percent of our GDP," she pointed out.

    On his part, the head of the Alliance said that NATO's doors were open but that the procedure for joining was based on the performance of each candidate-country and an invitation was only extended if all the 26 member-states of the Alliance agreed.

    Regarding the talks underway between Greece and FYROM over the name dispute, Scheffer said that NATO was directly involved in the process, which was being handled by the United Nations and the UN Secretary-General's special envoy Matthew Nimetz, but was very interested in its outcome and would very much like an agreement to be reached before NATO's summit in April.

    "This agreement must be possible, however," he stressed and repeated that "performance" was the key word regarding the issue of FYROM's name, as well.

    "There is a difference between being a member and not being a member. I hope that a solution is found, it would be a great advantage," he said.

    Asked whether the issue of a name was a violation of good-neighbour relations by Skopje, Scheffer underlined that good neighbour relations were a fundamental principle for NATO, as they were for the UN and the EU. He also stressed that "candidate-states are not members" and that there was a difference between a strong member-state and a non-member.

    The NATO chief was also questioned about whether he had pressed Greece to increase its contribution to the NATO mission in Afghanistan. He replied that he was asking all member-states for greater participation, not Greece in particular.

    Caption: Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis (Left) and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer emerge from their meeting in Athens on Monday. ANA-MPA/Symela Pantzartzi.

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