Thursday, November 08, 2007

UK stands behind Athens on FYROM

Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Milliband yesterday appeared to support Greek concerns on the Macedonia name dispute, as a European Commission report called on Greece and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to make fresh efforts to reach a compromise.

“We understand Greece’s sensitivities on the name issue and it is very important that a solution is found that respects Greek concerns,” Milliband said following talks with his Greek counterpart Dora Bakoyannis in London. Referring to the possibility of Athens vetoing FYROM’s bid to join NATO if the name dispute remains unresolved, Milliband said Greece would be justified in exercising its rights as a member of the alliance.

Bakoyannis expressed satisfaction on Milliband’s stance and his assertion that Britain supported a July 2006 agreement between the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, which Ankara has failed to honor.

In Athens, Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos said the EC’s report on candidate Turkey “made satisfactory references to all issues of particular interest to Greece,” including the rights of Istanbul-based Ecumenical Patriarch Vartholomaios and Turkish air-space violations in the Aegean.

The EC also issued a critical report on FYROM, saying it had failed to push reforms and curb corruption. It also called for a more constructive approach to resolving the name dispute.

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