Thursday, July 24, 2008

Prime Minister Karamanlis Rebuffs Gruevski’s Letter

Greece rebuffed claims of FYROM raised in a letter sent to Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis by Prime Minister Nicola Gruevski, accusing the leadership of the neighboring country of trying to derail Macedonia name talks. In his provocative letter, Nikola Gruevski spoke of the existence of a "Macedonian" minority in Greece and Greece to pay individual reparations -- ones linked to the Greek civil war (1946-49) -- to citizens of FYROM.

Greek Ambassador to the United States Alexandros Mallias informed the White House, Secretary of State Rice, prominent members of Congress and the presidential campaigns of Senators Obama and McCain on the Greek positions. A letter was also said to Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, by the Greek Permanent Mission to the United Nations.

The Department of State refused to comment on the substance of Gruevski’s letter. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza in an interview with the Greek News criticized the raising of issues other than the name, that complicate the process. “We must stick on the Nimetz process because we are very close”, Bryza told Greek News correspondent in Washington, Lambros Papandoniou.

Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis is expected to send letters to a handful of international leaders regarding the latest eyebrow-raising diplomatic developments in the still festering FYROM "name issue", on the heels of a written response this week by Greek Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis to his counterpart from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).

According to reports, Bakoyannis will address letters to her French counterpart, Bernard Kouchner, who currently chairs the EU Council, EU Commissioner responsible for enlargement Olli Rehn, as well as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

Meanwhile, in a related development, the foreign ministry underlined that Greece is not interested in "throwing up walls" on its borders, in response to various press articles referring to visitors from the neighbouring country arriving in Greece for a festival in the village of Meliti, in the border prefecture of Florina.

Ministry officials merely noted that whoever has valid Schengen Pact travel documents and respects Greek law is more than welcome to visit the east Mediterranean nation.

The Prime Minister in his two page letter stresses that there never has been a "Macedonia" minority in Greece.. In this respect, any allegations regarding the existence of such a minority are totally unfounded, politically motivated and disrespectful of the historic realities of the Region. Mr. Karamanlis also stressed that the letter does not promote negotiations and relations of good neighboring; it raises non-existing and totally unfounded issues which block the efforts of our country, targets at intervening our internal relations and deviates from the goals of the negotiations which are in progress. Mr. Karamanlis concluded that the future of Balkan countries lies in the European and Euro Atlantic institution and not to national rationales, in an era which has passed by and must stay in the past.

The Content of the Letter

Mr. Prime Minister,
As you are aware for the last fifteen years Greece and your country, pursuant to the relevant decisions of the UN Security Council, have committed themselves to negotiations in the framework of the United Nations regarding the name issue which “needs to be resolved in the interest of the maintenance of peaceful and good neighbourly relations in the region” as stipulated by the Security Council in Resolution 817.

In the past few weeks the Special Envoy of the United Nations Mr. Matthew Nimetz presented some ideas that could move the negotiations forward. I regret that it is precisely at this critical moment in the negotiating effort that you have chosen to send your letter dated July 10th, 2008.

I take this opportunity to underline Greece’s firm commitment to the promotion of friendly and good relations with all its neighbouring countries, especially with the countries of the Western Balkans, and the creation of the necessary conditions that will allow them to join, in the near future, the Euro-Atlantic and European families.

Greece, since 1993 has demonstrated good will, under the auspices of the U.N., to find a mutually acceptable solution on the name issue, which would take into consideration the legitimate interests and sensitivities of both our countries. This is within the mandate of the relevant U.N. Security Council Resolutions, but also the wish of all countries participating in the Euro-atlantic and European institutions as was also unequivocally stated in the Bucharest NATO Summit and in the EU European Council in Brussels respectively.

Mr. Prime Minister, your letter far from promoting the negotiations and the good neighbourly relations with my country raises a number of non-existent and unsubstantiated issues that militate against the strenuous efforts made by Greece .It also aims at interfering in the domestic affairs of a neighbouring state and deviates from the objectives of the ongoing negotiations.

There is no Macedonian minority in Greece. There never has been. In this respect, any allegations regarding the existence of such a minority are totally unfounded, politically motivated and disrespectful of the historic realities of the Region. As for any properties issue, any individual could make use of any legal recourse before the Courts, including the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Mr. Prime Minister,
Times have changed. I am convinced that the future of the Balkan countries lies within the European and Euroatlantic institutions and not in nationalist formulas of a bygone era which must be left behind once and for all. Greece remains firmly committed to working towards that goal.

History judges leaders by how they rise to the challenge and assume their responsibilities. Much will depend on your positive attitude and constructive spirit».

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