Friday, March 07, 2008

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".

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