28 April, 2007
Greece believes that the anti-missile defence shield proposed by Washington should cover all of Europe and all NATO countries, Greek Foreign Minister Dora Bakoyannis stressed on Friday after an informal meeting of NATO foreign minister held in Oslo.
She said the issue had been "extensively discussed" at the meeting, with the controversy fuelled even further by a recent "state of the nation" speech made by Russian President Vladimir Putin, and that the climate "had not been that pleasant".
Bakoyannis additionally underlined the need for extensive dialogue with Russia in order to allay its concerns that the proposed deployment will upset geostrategic balances and was not strictly a defence measure, but one which could target Russia.
NATO foreign ministers had concluded that dialogue on the proposal advanced by Washington must continue on both a technical and political level and that the right forum for these talks was the NATO-Russia Council, she added.
Regarding relations between Russia and NATO, the Greek minister said there were still unresolved problems.
"Our view is that they should be openly discussed in order to build relations of trust," she said.
Apart from the anti-missile zone, the meeting had also covered the situation in Afghanistan, the final status of Kosovo and expansion of the Alliance, Bakoyannis said.
She reiterated Greece's position for Kosovo, which calls for the greatest possible consensus, while underlining that it would not be possible to proceed with a solution without a decision of the UN Security Council that would create a legal framework for the next steps, as well as the need for a unified European position.
The international community could also not overlook Serbia, since without stability in Serbia the area's problems would be harder to address, the minister stressed.
"We are waiting for the formation of a new Serb government and hope that we will have the opportunity for further dialogue," Bakoyannis said.
Talks on Afghanistan, which currently represents NATO's largest commitment, highlighted the need for greater efforts on an economic, political and developmental front, Bakoyannis reported.
"We must intensify our efforts to reconstruct the state [of Afghanistan]. The answer to the problems of the Afghan people is the arrival of better days," she underlined.
On NATO expansion and the prospects of the candidate-countries Croatia, Albania and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, she stressed that Greece supported their entry on condition that they completed necessary reforms and had good neighbourly relations.
She also stressed that the three countries need not be treated as a "package" in terms of their accession progress but could instead proceed based on each country's individual performance to date.
"We ascertained that Croatia has made several steps forward, whereas Albania and FYROM still have a long road to travel," the minister said.
With regard to FYROM, in particular, Greece has repeatedly said that it will not consent to FYROM's accession to NATO under its adopted name "Republic of Macedonia". Greece objects to the name because it is also the name of a northern Greek province that shares a border with FYROM, arguing that it might open the way for future expansionist claims from the landlocked tiny republic.
Negotiations to find a mutually acceptable solution to the name issue are currently underway at the United Nations.
The dispute between the two countries also extends to FYROM's attempt to claim descent from the ancient Macedonian king and conqueror Alexander the Great and to adopt ancient Macedonian symbols, which Greece regards as historically inaccurate. According to historians, Alexander was born in the city of Pella, well within the borders of modern Greece, in a kingdom that roughly coincided with the present-day Greek province of Macedonia.
Source: Athens News Agency