Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyiannis issues strong warning.

Athens.- The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) approved on Thursday the renaming of the Skopje airport after Alexander the Great in a move Greece said will harm the country’s ties with its neighbors.

FYROM Foreign Minister Antonio Milososki confirmed the name change and pointed out that the historic military leader was an international figure and not the property of one country.

Diplomatic sources in Skopje said that the name “Alexander the Great” was chosen over the other option, “Alexander of Macedonia,” so the title would be closer to the English name for the 4th century BC Greek king. FYROM also approved y the renaming of its second international airport in Ohrid as “Saint Paul.”

Milososki said the move is not a concealed attempt by FYROM to monopolize the name and Greece should not take it as a provocation. But Athens responded by describing the name change as an attempt to use “spurious props from the past” to strengthen its position.

Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis reacted strongly on Thursday to the decision taken earlier in the day by the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia's (FYROM) cabinet to accept a proposal by the public management corporation for the country's two airports to rename Skopje's "Petrovec" airport to "Alexander the Great" and Ohrid's airport to "Apostle Paul."

"Alexander the Great is a leading personality of worldwide range. Spreading Greek civilisation to all over the known world at the time, the Greek military leader established himself in history," she said.

"With its statement today, Skopje, once again, is seeking false support from the past," she noted, adding that 2,300 years later, history can neither change nor be falsified.

"This attitude by Skopje is not compatible with obligations of good neighbourliness that emanate from the Interim Agreement and from commitments towards the European Union, nor does it serve their Euro-Atlantic expectations," the foreign minister said.

"Greece has made its positions known to partners and allies, positions that express all of the political forces of the country," Bakoyannis pointed out.

Two former main opposition PASOK party ministers on Friday placed responsibility on the government for its stance towards the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) on the occasion of the renaming of Skopje airport to "Alexander the Great" on Thursday.

"An inert, confused and passive foreign policy, unfortunately, produces small and big crises. A simple wait does not solve any problem," said Evangelos Venizelos.

"The problem with Skopje is that Greece has a government that is permanently perplexed and amazed and which, as well, does not have the slightest idea of how foreign policy is exercised," Haris Kastanidis noted.

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