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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-04-06

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <http://www.ana.gr/>

CONTENTS

  • [01] PM Karamanlis to brief President on NATO summit
  • [02] Papandreou: Outcome on FYROM name not decided
  • [03] Parliament president in New York

  • [01] PM Karamanlis to brief President on NATO summit

    Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis will brief on Monday President of the Republic Karolos Papoulias on the outcome of a three-day NATO Summit in Bucharest last week and more particularly on developments regarding the "name issue" of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    Greece on Wednesday vetoed an invitation to FYROM to join NATO on the grounds that a mutually acceptable solution on a dispute over the land-locked republic's name had not been reached, due to the neighbouring country's intransigence.

    An off-the-agenda debate on the issue of FYROM's name is to take place in Parliament on Thursday, April 10. The debate will be held at party leader level, following a relevant motion submitted by Popular Orthodox Rally (LA.OS) party leader George Karatzaferis.

    Greece will not consent to NATO entry for the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) while the dispute over its name remains unresolved, Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis repeated on Friday, in statements after the conclusion of a NATO summit in Bucharest.

    He stressed that Greece's goal was that its smaller, land-locked neighbour to the north should have a "clear composite name for all uses," while adding that Athens was prepared to take part in a new round of negotiations under UN auspices in order to find a name that was mutually acceptable by both sides.

    The Greek premier also expressed the opinion that relations with the United States had not been strained as a result of Athens' hard-line stance on this issue at NATO.

    "We have a relationship with the United States as allies but that does not mean that we have identical views. On the specific issue it is clear, that views are different. We went along our own views and raised a veto. I do not see shadows cast over bilateral relations," the Greek premier added.

    He disagreed, furthermore, with the view that Greece's veto would lead to a wider destabilisation in the region:

    "I believe that conditions will soon be ripe to repeat negotiations to find a mutually accepted solution," he said.

    Greece's friendly feelings toward FYROM, in general, were also expressed by Karamanlis, who stressed that there was no hostility on the part of Athens and that Greece wanted to support the country's Euro-Atlantic prospects, provided that the issue of the name was first resolved in a satisfactory way.

    "The framework of negotiations in known, we have already crossed half the distance and it is now up to FYROM to make the steps that form its own share," he said.

    Pointing out that Athens was in favour of the gradual incorporation of all of southeastern Europe into Euro-Atlantic structures, provided that the required terms and criteria were met, he expressed his satisfaction at the invitation extended by NATO to Albania and Croatia, when commenting on the outcome of NATO's decision concerning the 'Adriatic group'.

    "We are glad that we can extend an invitation to begin accession negotiations with the first two countries, which have made major efforts. We have invested in their Euro-Atlantic prospects for development and stability of the region. Unfortunately, the same does not also apply for FYROM, since we are not in a position to give our approval as long as the problem of the name exists," he underlined.

    According to the Greek premier, the ongoing dispute with FYROM meant that it did not meet NATO's criteria of good neighbour relations, while noting that NATO's charter required new countries wishing to join to first resolve territorial differences or disputes of an irredentist nature with existing members.

    In response to questions, Karamanlis indicated that Greece would adopt the same stance when FYROM's application to begin accession negotiations to join the European Union comes up for consideration in September, while saying that there was ample time to find a solution to the "name issue" before that time.

    "I consider that there is enough time to find a solution. On the issue of the accession negotiations, our country's stance was, is and will be consistent," he stressed.

    Questioned about the results of the NATO summit and how Greece's stance was received by the other allies, Karamanlis said Athens had achieved its diplomatic target at Bucharest and that its veto was a tool that could work toward finding a solution and the ultimate goal, which was a mutually acceptable agreement.

    Among the positive points listed by Karamanlis regarding the summit was the fact that all sides had come to understand the true nature of the problem poised by the FYROM "name dispute", which had not been achieved in any of the previous 17 years since it first arose. In addition, Greece was hardly isolated in its views but had received support from several countries, while a general understanding of Greek positions was also expanded during the summit, he said.

    Greece strenuously objects to the use of the name "Republic of Macedonia" by FYROM on the grounds that the country's insistence on the name, which is also that of a major northern Greek province on FYROM's border, forms part of an irredentist strategy and expansionist designs.

    Karamanlis also commented on other NATO-related issues, among them a proposed enlargement toward Ukraine and Georgia. He stressed that no one could impose on the Alliance whether it should accept new members, provided that the party involved was in agreement and fulfilled the criteria.

    On the issue of Afghanistan, he indicated that Greece already participates in the NATO force and can increase its contribution to the effort for reconstruction in the war-ravaged country.

    With respect to Russia, the Greek premier said that NATO-Russia cooperation was extremely important for international stability and security. He also noted that the cold war was over and that the challenges now facing NATO and Russia were new ones.

    Caption: ANA-MPA file photo of Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis.

    [02] Papandreou: Outcome on FYROM name not decided

    The outcome of the diplomatic "war" over the name of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) has not yet been decided, main opposition PASOK's leader George Papandreou asserted on Sunday, during an interview published by the Sunday version of the newspaper "Kathimerini". Papandreou urged the government to steadfastly hold its ground on the "national red line" that formed Greece's position on the issue.

    Commenting on PASOK's stance, Papandreou stressed that the party had "fulfilled its role as main opposition with responsibility to the institutions" and said that his proposal to visit FYROM for talks with the leadership there was more timely than ever.

    He stressed, meanwhile, that a possible recognition of Kosovo's independence by Greece would be a "dire mistake that we will find facing us".

    On the domestic front, he commented on the possibility of cooperation between PASOK and the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) party in Parliament, noting that such a 'grand coalition' was not in touch with Greek political reality while accusing SYRIZA for "remaining stuck in levelling two-fronted thinking and slipping into a political self-satisfaction".

    Stressing that PASOK's goal was to achieve an autonomous majority in Parliament, he expressed hope that SYRIZA would "quickly recover from their giddiness and meet with us on the path of the broadest possible democratic and progressive cooperation".

    He also criticised the agreement handing Deutsche Telecom a large tranche of Hellenic Telecommunications Organisation (OTE), saying the government's policy was not one of "privatisations but lessons in a kleptocratic mechanism".

    [03] Parliament president in New York

    NEW YORK (ANA-MPA - P. Panagiotou) Parliament President Dimitris Sioufas and Deputy Employment Minister Sofia Kalantzakou represented the Greek Parliament and government, respectively, at events organised by the Greek and Cypriot expatriate communities in New York over the weekend.

    These included events by the city's Greek community on Sunday and the Cyprus Federation of America Congress that began on Saturday.

    Sioufas was honoured at an event organised by the Federation of Hellenic Societies of Greater New York held at Manhattan hotel and will later officiate in a Greek parade to take place in the city on Sunday to mark the 1821 revolution for Greece's independence from Ottoman rule.

    In statements he stressed that "a fighting diaspora is the greatest force of our country's foreign policy and you have proved that in the last few days".

    A brief message from Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis was also conveyed by Kalantzakou, who said that the messages of the 1821 Greek Revolution were always relevant and timeless.

    Cyprus Foreign Minister Markos Kyprianou representing the government of Cyprus at the event, presenting the basic positions and goals of Greek-Cypriots with regard to ending the Turkish occupation in the north of the island.

    Other speakers at the event, which also honoured Greek-American business man Dean Mitropoulos and the National Charity of the America Archdiocese president Georgia Skiada who will join Sioufas in officiating the parade, included Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and Archbishop of America Demetrios.

    On Saturday, Greece's Parliament President had been a speaker at the CFA Congress, while he had also met with the leadership of the American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association (AHEPA). During the meeting, he praised and thanked them for their support of all expatriate organisations in connection with the dispute over the name issue with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

    "We have the conviction that a more coordinated effort brought results both in the Congress and the Senate and in the media. It has been established, at least to a great degree, that the demand to find a solution through a composite name that will end this outstanding issue that troubles the region, ourselves and Skopje is not a just Greek foible," he stressed.

    Sioufas' contacts in New York also included a meeting with Connectict State Assemblyman Dimitris Giannaros, a Greek-American who also heads up the World Hellenic Inter-Parliamentary Union.

    Kalantzakou's address to the CFA Congress stressed that Greece was steadfastly dedicated to achieving a just, functional and viable solution for the reunification of Cyprus, based on the decisions of the United Nations and the principles and values of the European Union of which Cyprus was now a member.

    She also conveyed the Greek prime minister's wishes for close and constant coordination between the governments of Greece and Cyprus. "At all times in consultation with the Cyprus government, we will work systematically to give a new momentum to efforts to solve the Cyprus issue," she added.

    Speakers to the Congress on Sunday included Greek Ambassador to Washington George Mallias, who thanked the CFA for their valuable assistance to Greece's effort to mobilise Congress over the FYROM name issue.


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