Monday, January 22, 2007

FYROM denies hidden agenda

The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) did not rename its main airport after Alexander the Great in order to provoke Athens but believes that the move could help resolve the dispute over the official name of Greece’s neighboring country, FYROM’s foreign minister told Sunday’s Kathimerini.

“There is no hidden agenda or intention to provoke the Greek government behind the decision to rename Petrovec Airport,” said Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki.

Last month’s renaming of the Skopje airport after Greece’s 4th century BC military hero led to criticism from Athens, which saw it as a blow to relations between the two countries.

“Bilateral relations with Greece are so stable, especially in the areas of trade, tourism and business investments, that the issue of the [airport’s] name cannot put these in any great danger,” the minister said.

Milososki added that the renaming “could provide a challenge... to reassess our attitude about what can be disputed and what cannot.”

FYROM’s foreign minister suggested looking at Alexander the Great through a “European prism” and seeing him as a figure who unites rather than divides countries.

Greece and FYROM held separate talks earlier this month with UN negotiator Matthew Nimetz to discuss the dispute over Skopje’s insistence at being known as “Macedonia.”

Milososki said that Skopje will keep insisting that there be a dual-name solution in which Athens uses a different name from other countries in its dealings with its neighbor.

The minister claimed Athens had “fabricated” the name dispute and said a solution could be found more easily if all sides adopted a “logical” approach.

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