Saturday, July 19, 2008

Athens dismisses latest FYROM quip

Greece on Thursday flatly dismissed the latest diplomatic "fireworks" launched by the leadership of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) this week regarding the pesky "name issue", with a foreign ministry spokesman denying that Athens was placing any new issues on the agenda of UN-mediated talks aimed to solve the 17-year-old dispute.

Foreign ministry spokesman George Koumoutsakos termed comments by FYROM FM Antonio Milososki as a completely "baseless, unqualified and unsubstantiated attempt to create impressions" by the FYROM side.

Moreover, the spokesman reiterated that Greece's negotiating position, "and the way we understand and deal with negotiations, has been unwavering from the first moment; everything was clear, open. In fact, the consistency of Greece's positions was absolutely confirmed at the NATO summit in Bucharest. The validity of our positions is undisputed and our positions remain steadfast to the letter."

Milososki was quoted by local media in Skopje this week as saying "it would be good if we close all the possible issues that could cause misunderstanding in the future", after first accusing the Greek side of "piling on" more issues in negotiations, which acquired a distinct urgency for the FYROM side after Greek leadership more-or-less made clear its position of "no solution, no invitation" to NATO or the EU.

Asked during a regular press briefing at the foreign ministry about the most recent comments by Skopje government officials regarding a "Macedonian minority" in northern Greece and even discussion of such an issue in ongoing negotiations, Koumoutsakos said:

"For Greece there is one specific and defined objective in this negotiation process, in fact, this is the mandate under which the UN Secretary General's envoy, Matthew Nimetz, exercises his duties and mission. The obstructive delay tactics followed by the leadership of Skopje are revealed more and more every day.

"This is confirmed by a series of unacceptable, in terms of manner and content, statements, as well as by this unfortunate attempt to generate non-existent and baseless issues. Greece will not be influenced and will not participate in any attempt to divert negotiations from their objective, which is none other than a mutually acceptable solution to the 'name issue'. Greece will continue to work constructively for a solution," he concluded.

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