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Athens News Agency: News in English, 08-04-15

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

From: The Athens News Agency at <>


  • [01] 'Name issue' regional and int'l,

  • [01] 'Name issue' regional and int'l,

    A Greek foreign ministry spokesman on Monday was again drawn into the nagging "name dispute" still separating Athens and neighboring Skopje, this time, however, following comments by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) top diplomat in the Greek capital.

    Envoy Blagoja Hatzinski opened his comments during a conference here by saying that he considered the fact he was invited as the "ambassador of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", instead of the ambassador of the "Republic of Macedonia", as offending.

    In repeating the more recent diplomatic posturing enunciated by the ruling party in Skopje following a NATO summit earlier in this month, Hatzinski added that a resolution favored by Greece -- a mutually acceptable solution that includes a geographic determinant for application in all international uses -- is an abandonment of his country's "national identity".

    Foreign Ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos, who participated as a panelist in the same event, used his second turn at the speaker's podium to reiterate that Athens wants EU and NATO candidate FYROM to join these institutions "without having outstanding and serious differences with an existing member-state (Greece, amongst others) already in the organisations".

    "...Because a great deal has been said about the issue of fulfillment of (NATO accession) criteria by FYROM, I would simply like to stress that beyond each specific technical criterion there is a political condition, namely, that a candidate-state should not have outstanding differences with a member-state of an organisation that it wants to join," Koumoutsakos said.

    He added that the FYROM "name issue" is not a matter left over or emanating from the past, but a political difference that exists in the present ⦠Let me just remind you that UN Security Council resolutions state that the issue must be resolved, because as long as it remains unresolved it affects regional cooperation and stability. Therefore, the issue not bilateral, it is regional and, by extension, international.

    "‚¶We want a mutually acceptable solution that does not justify the existence, in (FYROM's) military academies, of maps that feature the name 'Macedonia' over an area that includes territory beginning from the neighbouring country and extending to Thessaloniki and Halkidiki prefecture; that's the type of solution we want," the Greek spokesman said, touching on one of Athens' main points in the current debate, i.e. state-sanctioned irredentist materials and ideology in FYROM.

    The conference, entitled "Foreign Policy and Defence in the 21st Century", was sponsored by an Athens-based periodical.

    Bryza comments

    Meanwhile, speaking to local reporters here on Friday, visiting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Mat Bryza said he believes last week's statements in Skopje by the US envoy to NATO, Victoria Nuland, who referred to a solution in a matter of "days if not weeks rather than months", is a figure of speech that translates into "sooner rather than later".

    Bryza, who was in the Greek capital to address an Economist conference and who again detailed Washington's positions regarding regional and European energy issues, added that a snap election in the neighboring country (June 2008) could generate a government with a "mandate" to seek a compromise on the "name issue", or it could result in a government that "says our mandate is to stay tough".

    "We absolutely appreciate the historical sensitivities here in Greece ⦠we've been aware of the issue for a long, long time," he concluded in response to a relevant question on whether the US side has been fully briefed by Athens on the background linked with the "name issue" as well as Greece's long-standing concerns.

    Caption:ANA-MPA file photo of Foreign Ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos

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