Thursday, April 24, 2008

Greece says "could veto Skopje's EU bid as well"

After preventing Macedonia's NATO membership bid, Athens says its wants the name talks continued.

"Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis repeated yesterday his invitation to the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) to resume talks but added that if the two countries could not settle their name dispute, Athens is prepared to block Skopje’s bid to join the European Union as well as NATO," the daily Kathimerini reported.

Speaking at the end of the NATO summit in Bucharest, Karamanlis insisted that the "use of Greece’s veto to stop FYROM joining NATO was not the end of the matter".

“We want to support the Euro-Atlantic and European course of FYROM but the name issue has to be settled,” he said at a press conference. “We have covered our fair share of ground, now the other side has to move too.”

According to the daily, the prime minister said that Greece wanted to continue negotiations with Skopje under the auspices of the United Nations and made it clear that Athens has a very clear idea of what it wants from the talks.

“Our position is clear – a straightforward, composite name erga omnes (toward all).”

Karamanlis added that it was a “useful tool” for Greece that NATO agreed that the name dispute had to be resolved before Skopje could make another bid to join the alliance, "thereby making the issue more than just a bilateral squabble".

“I never felt isolated and I think that as of yesterday, the understanding of our position has widened,” he added.

There was no response yesterday from Skopje to Karamanlis’s offer to resume talks, the newspaper said. Greek Foreign Ministry spokesman Giorgos Koumoutsakos predicted that"it would take some time for emotional reaction in FYROM to settle down".

Kathimerini also said that "at least two Greek businessmen in Skopje claimed their property was damaged following Athens’s use of the veto".

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