The Greek Press Today
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16 June, 2007
Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis, speaking in Parliament on Friday during a debate taking place as a result of a question tabled by the main opposition PASOK party on foreign policy, referred to Greece's relations with the neighbouring Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM).
"In the objectively difficult and longstanding issue of achieving an agreement with Skopje (FYROM), the government is following and will continue a policy of determination. The interim agreement does not only apply to us, it also applies to the part concerning Skopje's commitment, to which it is not responding," the foreign minister said.
Called on to clarify the Greek government's policy in relation to FYROM's stance and the prospects of its accession to NATO and the European Union, Bakoyannis reminded that the interim agreement signed by the PASOK government in 1995 gives the neighbouring country the possibility of joining the Euroatlantic structures with its present name (FYROM). However, as she said, "accession to these institutions is not automatic."
Bakoyannis said that "when the time comes, Greece will consider the candidacy of Skopje in its entirety. We shall begin, of course, from whether the government of the neighbouring country is following undeviatingly a policy of good neighbourliness towards a country, Greece, that will be an ally tomorrow, whether, of course, its accession to NATO takes place in the meantime, something that, it is unnecessary for me to remind, necessitates a unanimous decision by the member-states. Actions, attitudes and propaganda of an irredentist logic, such as those mainly adopted by the present government in Skopje, deal a blow at the principles of good neighbourliness, prevent smooth bilateral political communication between the two countries and circumvent specific provisions of the Interim Agreement of 1995."
The foreign minister reminded that the criteria for the accession of candidate countries include "the overall fulfilment of the Ohrid Agreement, the steadfast implementation of a state of law, the democratic and effective functioning of justice and the effective handling of every form of smuggling, including the smuggling of weapons."
She further said that "it is unnecessary for me to add that the prospect of Skopje's accession to NATO with its so-called constitutional name, meaning 'Republic of Macedonia', does merely not exist. However, we shall not exercise, nor shall we be led to policies of domestic consumption and of temporary impressions. And in this hall, the political parties must not allow the repetition of mistakes of the past."
As regards the issue of Cyprus and replying to criticism by the opposition of following a "Pontius Pilate tactic" and of "consciously selecting the strategy of inertia that leads to partition", the foreign minister reiterated that "Greece supports an overall solution to the issue of Cyprus, a Federation and cohabitation on a united island. This, however, does not depend on us alone, but primarily on the Cypriots."
She added that "I think that just as I believe that at the moment the Annan plan is history, PASOK could also see it in the same way, and proceed with its position, whatever this might be, afterwards."
The foreign minister went on to say that "Cyprus is not under guardianship, but it is an independent country. The decisions on the resumption of dialogue were its own decisions, we supported them but, unfortunately, the process froze with the responsibility of the Turkish Cypriot side under pressure by Ankara. I do not think that 2007 is a year of mobility and maybe in 2008 a window of opportunity might present itself, both in Greek-Turkish relations and on the issue of Cyprus."
Regarding developments in Kosovo, Bakoyannis underlined that Greece's position is a "solution without absolute victors and absolute vanquished. This position of ours was also the cause of the EU's decision to give more time for negotiating."
Bakoyannis added that, in any case, the legalisation coming from a Security Council resolution that must have the greatest possible consensus and acceptance, to enable the EU to adopt a unified stance, is absolutely essential.
"The fragmentation of the EU will be a very negative development and the problem will be much greater, if we shall have unilateral actions and unilateral recognitions by various countries," she said.
"No one must accept the possibility of a humiliated Serbia and Serbia must have a tangible European prospect," the foreign minister further said.
Referring, lastly, to the issue of the anti-missile shield, Bakoyannis observed that the issue must be raised in the framework of NATO-Russia dialogue and there should be no actions that will create concerns in a country such as Russia, "which, in any case, is fighting from the same bastion as we are, which is aiming at an effective handling of terrorism and of other asymmetrical threats."
PASOK's Parliamentary representative, Haris Kastanidis, reminded of Russia's "annoyance over past statements by Bakoyannis concerning the anti-missile shield," as well as of the Greek government "being taken by surprise" over the recognition of FYROM by the United States with its constitutional name.
Communist Party of Greece (KKE) representative, Orestis Kolozov, called for a peace-loving policy on behalf of Greece and expressed his disagreement with the deployment of American missiles in Europe.
Nikos Constantopoulos, speaking on behalf of the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology (Synaspismos) party, requested from Bakoyannis to clarify if she is in principle in favour or against the deployment of the missiles, pointing out that "our interests are not housed with those pursued by the United States. In Kosovo we are seeing a model of generalised implementation of singular protectorates."
Bakoyannis responded to this criticism by saying that "we are neither submissive to the United States nor do we accept orders from anyone. On some issues we agree and on others we disagree, both with American and with other foreign policies."
Source: Athens News Agency