Friday, April 04, 2008

Greece’s Flexibility on Macedonia

Regarding your March 30 editorial “The Republic Formerly Known As,” let me emphasize that Greece supports NATO’s enlargement to those candidates who respect the principles of trust, solidarity and good neighborly relations.

While you say “tiny Macedonia poses no threat whatsoever to Greece,” the authorities in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, or Fyrom, portray Greek Macedonia as “occupied” territory, refusing to remove such claims from textbooks, speeches, articles, documents and maps of “Greater Macedonia,” which includes parts of northern Greece.

Such irredentism and hostile propaganda are more befitting to 19th-century policies than 21st-century NATO membership.

One hundred fifteen members of the United States House of Representatives co-sponsored H.R. 356, asking Fyrom to “stop hostile activities and propaganda against Greece.” Senators Robert Menendez, Barack Obama and Olympia Snowe introduced a similar resolution in the Senate.

The government in Skopje insists on being the exclusive claimant to the name of an entire area, the largest part of which lies outside its borders, and insists on portraying Greek Macedonia as occupied territory. The term “Macedonia” has always been used to delineate a wider geographical region, approximately 51 percent of which is part of Greece, 38 percent of Fyrom and 9 percent of Bulgaria.

We have come to the table with a clear objective: a long-overdue, mutually acceptable composite name that includes the designation of Macedonia, but attaches an adjective to it to distinguish it from the broader geographical area of Macedonia. Greece has engaged in this process constructively and with an open mind.

In an unprecedented policy shift, our government has unilaterally gone two-thirds of the way, accepting a number of proposals from the United Nations mediator, Matthew Nimetz, as a basis for discussion. We have proved to be considerably flexible in our quest for a win-win solution. All we ask is that Fyrom travel the rest of the distance.

Alexandros P. Mallias
Ambassador of Greece
Washington, March 30, 2008

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