Sunday, May 20, 2007

U.S. members of Congress slam Skopje for violations of interim agreement with Greece

Washington, DC - Co-chair and co-founder of the Congressional Caucus on Hellenic Issues Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Europe Robert Wexler (D-FL), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Europe Elton Gallegly (R-CA), and fellow co-chair of the Hellenic Caucus Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) introduced last week a resolution expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) should cease its use of propaganda and work with the United Nations and Greece to find a mutually-acceptable name for itself.

"This resolution sends an important signal to the FYROM that concrete steps must be taken to eliminate the use of propaganda, including textbooks, that show a large portion of Greece are actually part of the FYROM," Rep. Maloney said. "I would hope that the FYROM would meet the conditions established in 1995 that directed it to stop using these materials, and work with Greece to find a mutually-acceptable name for itself."

A statement by the Coordinated Effort of Hellenes states that “The bill points to a television report showing students in a state-run school being taught that parts of Greece are rightfully part of FYROM. The legislation also points to recently-published textbooks of their military academy that contain maps showing ‘Greater Macedonia’ extending many miles into Greece and into Bulgaria. According to the legislation, the UN Accord requires them to not ‘support claims to any part of the territory of the other party or claims for a change of the existing frontiers.’”

“The legislation asks FYROM to adhere to its UN agreement and stop its schools and others from irredentist teachings, such as that northern Greece should be part of their country. As well, the bill urges FYROM to adhere to UN and US policy and reach agreement with Greece on a name for their new country – one that does not encourage FYROM irredentism”.

“American concerns about this irredentism began in 1944 when U.S. Secretary of State Edward R. Stettinius said, ‘This Government considers talk of a Macedonian ‘nation’… representing no ethnic nor political reality, and sees in its present revival a possible cloak for aggressive intentions against Greece.’ That aggression subsequently killed thousands of Greek citizens”.

“Like the ‘Confederate Flag’ issue in the US, the ‘Macedonian nation’ movement in FYROM brings memories and fears of terrible suffering. Adherence to the UN agreement, to American policy regarding a name agreeable to Greece and to historical reality regarding Alexander the Great and the ancient nation of Macedonia is in the best interests of the United States, the people of FYROM and Greece and the Balkan region”.

The Macedonian issue, along with Cyprus, Turkey’s violation of religious freedoms and property rights of the Ecumenical Patriarchate and other Greek national issues, will be discussed with key members of Congress and administration officials during the PSEKA, CEH and UHAC conference, that will take place in Washington D.C. from May 16-18.

The leaders of the Coordinated Effort of Hellenes include Andrew A. Athens, Chairman, National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH); National Chairman, United Hellenic American Congress (UHAC), Honorary President, World Council of Hellenes Abroad (SAE); Andrew E. Manatos, President, National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH); Philip Christopher, Vice Chair, National Coordinated Effort of Hellenes (CEH), President, International Coordinating Committee--Justice for Cyprus (PSEKA); President, Pancyprian Association of America; Executive Board Member, UHAC and PSEKA, Panicos Papanicolaou, Supreme President, Cyprus Federation of America; and Nikos Mouyiaris, Executive Vice President, Pancyprian Association of America.

Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos, referring to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), said Friday that "we do not face interstate relations with the outdated and outside European reality logic of 'winners' and 'vanquished'. Even more so when it is a question of relations with neighbouring countries."

Koumoutsakos was commenting on the fact that a recent decision by the House of Representatives of the United States condemning propaganda exercised by Skopje against Greece was a "defeat", as it was termed by the press in Skopje, for the government of FYROM.

"Greece steadfastly desires good relations with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia," the foreign ministry spokesman said, adding that "in any case, our country was and remains a basic supporter of the neighbouring country's stability."

Lastly, the spokesman said that "we are constructively pursuing a mutually acceptable solution to the issue of the name, through the process of the UN, in accordance with Resolution 817 of the Security Council. We are awaiting the response of FYROM that necessitates the abandoning by various state or not circles of practices of irredentist propaganda towards a member-state of NATO and the European Union, with the use of symbols, maps, brochures, etc, as well as the adoption of an attitude that is compatible with the acquis communautaire. A mutually acceptable solution on the issue of the name will have positive repercussions at bilateral and regional level and, mainly, for the smooth Euro-Atlantic course of the neighbour."

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